Tradition and Aquinas


I am listening to a lecture by a priest and he explains that the ‘Tradition’ of the Church has it’s roots in Jesus who gave it to the Apostles who in turn passed it to their disciples who passed it to their disciple all the way to the present time.

Strictly speaking then, the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas (and a serious error it has due to the fact that he used Aristotle’s thinking to demonstrate that Christianity is rational and logical) are not part of Church Tradition although it is of catholic tradition. Correct?

If so, then the writings of the mystics of the medieval ages and everything that we have come to know through venues other than rooted in Jesus from His time on earth which He passed on to the Apostle are not part of the Traditions of the Church. Correct?

Have the exact teachings been documented that constitute the Traditions (with a capital ‘t’) of the Church?

An individual work of a Father or Doctor of the Church is not, in itself and as a whole, part of the deposit of faith, that is true. But I’d be careful about creating a dichotomy there. For one thing, part of the “documentation” you seek is found in those very Fathers and Doctors, especially where they agree. Ultimately it is the Magisterium that decides what belongs to Tradition. But just because something is not part of Tradition itself, it doesn’t mean we can disregard it. There are infallible teachings that are not part of the desposit of faith, and teachings that are not infallible but are still more or less binding. Some things are so closely connected with Sacred Tradition that they are morally certain; others are only likely, so that it would be rash to dismiss them.

There’s no official catalog of dogmas, but some theologians have compiled lists. The most complete and systematic one I know of is that of Ludwig Ott, titled Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

The Church disagrees with your assessment, by the way, that the writings of St. Thomas are flawed because he used Aristotle. On this point see, for example, Aeterni Patris, Studiorum Ducem, or for a sampling of short quotations, see this page.

It is not necessarily the logical and rational system of Aristotle as a whole that I am referring to but a particular deduction of Aristotle which Aquinas adopted and which is not refuted by scripture. Yet, I think it is wrong and influenced many wrongfully. That exactly is his assessment that a fetus does not count as a life.

I remember an experience I once had which left me without a doubt that the fetus has a soul. I had traveled from far to be with family and mourn the unexpected death of a loved one. One of my sisters was sitting on the sofa in the livingroom and I went to hung her and we got close together and rested our heads on each other. I was very close to her and in an instant I sat up and told her: you are pregnant. She said: yes. She was only on her second month and it was a secret she was keeping from the family until the appropriate time. I sensed another life and it wasn’t a fetus - it was another soul.

For centuries Catholic thought that until the 6 month of a pregnancy the fetus did not have a soul as per Aquinas. This is the error I am referring to not Aristotelianism per se, much to the contrary - hat’s off to Aquinas for doing such a great and monumental job.

Hat’s off to Aquinas :tiphat: for using Aristotle’s rational to demonstrate that Christianity is rational and logical - except for the Catholic error noted above.

Thank you for your contribution. You appear to be well educated and well versed in Catholicism. I am self taught here - just a fish learning to swim or a bird learning to fly. :slight_smile:

Oh, I see what you mean. If it helps, St. Thomas still taught with the Church that abortion is wrong, even though he followed, with virtually everyone else, the science of the time on animation and consequently when “ensoulment” occurs. (I’d have to do some digging to quote you chapter and verse on that.)

If you think that’s a blight on the Summa, wait till you get to the section on the Immaculate Conception! There’s some disagreement, though, on what exactly he meant, and even whether he penned that part of the Summa (it could be an interpolation) – especially in light of the fact that in another work (I think a commentary on Peter Lombard), he affirms that she was exempt from original sin.

Btw, I’m just another fish.

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