Does Thomism Lead To Catholicism? -- By: Norman L. Geisler
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Does Thomism Lead To Catholicism?
Dr. Norman Geisler, Ph.D., is currently Chancellor and Distinguished Professor of Apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Santa Ana, CA. He also serves as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Southern Evangelical Seminary, which he co-founded in 1992. He previously served as a professor at some of the finest seminaries in the U.S., including Trinity Evangelical Seminary and Dallas Seminary. He has authored/coauthored almost 90 books and hundreds of articles.
Thomas Aquinas, the great philosopher and theologian, was a Roman Catholic. And there are a growing number of non–Catholic scholars who have become Thomists. Some of these have become Roman Catholic. Is there a logical connection? Does Thomism lead to Catholicism? It is natural that one would want to examine this connection.
The Reason Some Non–Catholic Thomists
Become Roman Catholic
There are a variety of reasons why non–Catholics become Roman Catholic. Let’s examine some of them. There is the appeal of antiquity, unity, continuity, beauty, fraternity (or paternity), intellectuality, and
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certainty.1 Any one or more of these appeal to some evangelicals. It is noteworthy that not one of these or combination of them is a valid test for truth. Few evangelicals become Catholic because they became convinced by the study of Scripture that Rome is the true Church. Hardly anyone reasons his way to Rome purely by an objective study of the evidence. For example, one recent convert to Catholicism wrote, “My family is Catholic. They wanted me to return, and the Bible says we should honor our parents!” It is clear that none of these reasons are good tests for the truth of a religion for by the same logic one could argue for becoming a Hindu, Buddhist, or even an atheist if their family belonged to that group. Or, one could become Eastern Orthodox if he was looking for a tradition older than his.
We have weighed the many reasons some evangelicals have become Catholic2 and almost no one said it was because his study of Thomistic philosophy led him there. As for the appeal of the intellectual tradition in Catholicism, I have a Ph.D. in philosophy from a Catholic (Jesuit) institution and have never once been tempted to become a Roman Catholic. I have used my scholarly training in both traditions to compare them.3 My co–author Ralph MacKenzie and I both have Catholicism in our background. We have studied both sides carefully, and we see no reason to swim the Tiber.
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