Aquinas in Anglican Thought

Thomas Aquinas—known for centuries within the Roman Catholic Church as the “Angelic Doctor” and the “Universal Doctor,” among other titles—has received increased attention from Protestants in recent years. Some have explored the value of his thought as a whole,[1] while others have constructively engaged him as part of a larger treatment of a particular topic.[2]

In the course of Aquinas’s resurgence among Protestants, there has not (to my knowledge) been a published essay or article devoted to the role Aquinas has played in Anglican thought specifically. Therefore, as a small contribution to the ongoing Protestant retrieval of Aquinas, I will here attempt an inexhaustive historical survey of Anglicans who have drawn on him. In so doing, I hope to show that Aquinas offers valuable resources that Anglicans can still appropriate today, and that these resources encompass a broad swath of topics: biblical interpretation, metaphysics, natural theology, and ethics, to name just a few.[3]

The Sixteenth Century

Richard Hooker seems like an obvious person to start with in a discussion of Aquinas’s role in Anglican thought. After all, he is a seminal figure in the Anglican tradition, and the influence of Aquinas on Hooker’s presentation of natural law in his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity is apparent.[4] However, it is possible to trace Aquinas’s influence even further back in Anglican history to none other than Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489‒1556), one of the chief instigators of the English Reformation. Cranmer “owned and annotated Aquinas’s Pauline commentaries…and collected notes on various topics, including Scripture and justification, from both Aquinas’s biblical commentaries and the Summa Theologiae [ST].”[5] Moreover, “Cranmer was especially interested in Aquinas’s views on grace and free will, referring with approval to Aquinas’s commentary on Romans 9 in the midst of extensive notes on Aquinas’s doctrine of grace.”[6]

Martin Bucer (1491‒1551) and Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499‒1562) are perhaps not Anglicans in the fullest sense. But considering the influence they exercised on the English Reformation alongside Cranmer during the reign of Edward VI—as Regius Professors of Divinity at Cambridge and Oxford, respectively—it is reasonable to include them here.

Prior to aligning himself with the Reformation, Bucer had joined the Dominican Order in 1507. It is no surprise, then, that “among the first-generation Reformers active in the 1520s, Martin Bucer excelled in knowledge of Thomas.”[7] Bucer “distanced himself from Aquinas” for much of the 1520s, but “beginning in 1529, he adopted a less polemical tone and emphasized continuity with church fathers, canon law, and Thomas.”[8] Indeed, beginning in the 1530s, Bucer numbered Aquinas among what he called the “saniores scholastici or ‘sounder scholastics,’” as opposed to the “sophistes, often identified with recent or contemporary scholastics, especially of the Sorbonne.”[9]

During this later period, “Many of Bucer’s subsequent works…are sprinkled with citations of Thomas, sometimes negative, but often positive.”[10] In his commentary on Romans, Bucer writes that “faith perfects [and] does not destroy nature,”[11] which closely resembles Aquinas’s principle in the Summa Theologiae that “grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.”[12] In the same commentary, Bucer’s attitude toward the relationship between philosophy and theology largely corresponds to Aquinas’s own: “Philosophy considers the same things [as theology], but neither so clearly [clarè], nor so purely [purè], nor so certainly [certè], nor so richly [locupletè], nor finally with so much authority as the word of God.”[13]

In addition to the prolegomena mentioned above, Bucer cites multiple points from Aquinas’s account of natural law, including the opinion that “the passions corrupt knowledge of natural law… [and] Aquinas’ opinion that an unjust law does not bind the conscience.”[14] He also favorably cites Aquinas’s treatment of predestination[15]—in which Aquinas holds that “it is impossible that the whole of the effect of predestination in general should have any cause as coming from us”[16]—and “follows Thomas in arguing that free will is opposed to coercion (coactio) but not to all kinds of necessity.”[17] These are but a few examples indicating that Bucer not only possessed “remarkable knowledge of Aquinas’s works,” but was happy to follow Aquinas on several points.

Vermigli, like Bucer, had a strong background in Aquinas’s thought. Indeed, “Among the second generation of Reformed theologians who joined the Protestants in the 1530s and 1540s, there was no one more learned in the works of Aquinas than Peter Martyr Vermigli. He entered the Canons Regular of St Augustine in 1514, and shortly after 1518 enrolled at the University of Padua, where he ‘acquired a thorough training in Thomistic scholasticism.’”[18] This is reflected in Vermigli’s writings, wherein “the number of his citations [of Aquinas]…exceed those of every other medieval scholastic with the exception of Lombard.”[19] Vermigli also followed Bucer in identifying Aquinas as one of the saniores scholastici.[20]

In his doctrine of God, Vermigli agrees with Aquinas “on the analogical predication of divine attributes,” in addition to sharing his “essentialist explanation of Exod. 3:14 as teaching that God is the supreme being” and the belief that God is “pure act.”[21] He draws from Aquinas’s anthropology as well, “[holding] to the priority of the intellect over will”[22] and the belief that “the soul is the substantial form of the body,” while also largely agreeing with Aquinas’s “enumeration of the powers of each part of the soul.”[23]

Vermigli also joins Bucer in approving Aquinas’s ST I.23.5 on predestination and his conception of free will.[24] Moreover, in the realm of christology, “Vermigli rejects Scotus’ opinion on the satisfaction of Christ’s death as due only to the Father’s acceptance, and instead agrees with the opinion represented by Anselm and Aquinas, that Christ satisfies on account of the infinite worth of Christ’s person as both God and man.”[25] As with Bucer, this brief rundown is anything but comprehensive or in-depth, but it should serve to show that Vermigli, too, was much inspired by Aquinas.

Moving to the next generation, we find that this pattern of citing Aquinas appreciatively continues among multiple Anglicans, such as William Whitaker (1548‒1595) and Richard Hooker (1554‒1600). Unlike Bucer and Vermigli, Whitaker was not trained in the Thomist tradition as such. Even so, he was “immersed in Aquinas’s systematic and exegetical works”[26]—joining Bucer and Vermigli in designating him as one of the saniores scholastici[27]—and Whitaker’s familiarity with Aquinas manifested in citations of him as early as 1581.[28] One work by Whitaker in which Aquinas’s influence is particularly marked is his Disputatio de Sacra Scriptura. This work went on to become influential in the subsequent Reformed tradition, being praised and cited by such authors as Matthias Martini, Bartholomäus Keckermann, Johannes Maccovius, and Petrus van Mastricht.[29]

The Disputatio is a response to Cardinal Robert Bellarmine’s treatment of Scripture, De verbo Dei scripto et non scripto.[30] While Whitaker is critical of Aquinas’s overreliance on the Vulgate—and the resultant occasional disjunction between Aquinas’s exegetical conclusions and the actual import of the text[31]—he nonetheless cites Aquinas “in support of the authority and perfection of the Scriptures,” particularly Aquinas’s commentaries on “1 Timothy…Ephesians, Philippians, and 2 Timothy.”[32] Whitaker also cites aspects of Aquinas’s hermeneutical approach, specifically commending Aquinas’s belief that “obscure passages should be interpreted by clear passages within the canonical Scriptures,” as well as Aquinas’s treatment of the four senses of Scripture, in which “the literal sense establishes an unequivocal basis of argument for doctrine, and the traditional spiritual senses (allegory, tropology, anagogy) are based on the literal.”[33] By drawing on Aquinas for these topics, Whitaker, in turn, “led Reformed theologians to draw increasingly on Aquinas’ hermeneutics and commentaries.”[34]

In Hooker’s view, Aquinas was “the greatest amongst the school-divines,”[35] making it no surprise that in writing his Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity he “adapted Aquinas’s definition of law in ST 1a2ae.90.1.”[36] Moreover, Hooker’s treatment of the nature of law resembles that of Aquinas in its “neo-platonic metaphysical logic. Just as the neo-platonic cosmology accounts for the genesis of the world by means of a downward emanation or procession from the principle of original unity, so also Hooker derives a diverse hierarchy of laws from the eternal law as their ‘highest wellspring and fountaine.’”[37]

However, Torrance Kirby takes care to point out that Hooker did indeed adapt Aquinas rather than merely adopting him. For example, “Hooker’s adaptation of this [Aristotelian and, by extension, Thomistic] definition [of law]…goes beyond any ordinary Aristotelian or Thomistic account of causality. Working from the definition, Hooker asserts that everything works according to law, including God himself.”[38]

Interestingly, Daniel Westberg writes that “in many ways Richard Hooker does not deserve his reputation as a transmitter of Thomism to the Anglican tradition. Although he provides an accurate summary of the Thomistic view of practical reasoning and the nature of law, he leaves out much of the prima pars and virtually ignores the virtues and related matter of the secunda pars.”[39] This objection may be somewhat overstated—Hooker’s use of Aquinas is real, even if it is not as broad as it could be—but there is some truth to it in that, as we have seen, Aquinas’s influence on the Anglican tradition predates Hooker considerably.

The Seventeenth Century

Following the Elizabethan Settlement, Anglican authors of the seventeenth century continued to positively cite Aquinas with some frequency. As E. A. Litton later remarked of this period, “No writer is appealed to with greater deference by the Protestant theologians of the seventeenth century than Thomas Aquinas,”[40] so it is not strange to find Anglicans among them. On a number of occasions, these uses of Aquinas occur in the context of polemical discourse between Anglicans and Roman Catholics.

One such case is that of King James I (1566‒1625), who engaged in a dispute with Bellarmine over whether the pope has the power to absolve people of political oaths to civil laws or rulers. Against Bellarmine, the king argues in A Premonition to All Most Mightie Monarches that “all Roman Catholike writers doe not concurre with this Libeller [Bellarmine], in thus collecting from Christs wordes, Matth. 16” the idea that the pope has such power. To the contrary, he continues, in John 20 Christ only grants the power to loose people from their sins, “not mentioning any absolution from Lawes, Vowes and Oathes in this place. So doe [say] Theophylact, Anselme, Hugo Cardin & Ferus in Matth. 16. So doe [say] the principall Schoolemen, Alexand. Hales in Summa. part. 4. q. 79. memb. 5. & 6. art. 3. Thom. in 4 dist. 24. q. 3.[41]

In this matter, King James received help from Bishop Lancelot Andrewes (1555‒1626).[42] Andrewes himself “cites the authority of St. Thomas for the subjection of clerics to the state in civil matters” in Tortura Torti, and he also “appeals to Aquinas against Bellarmine [on] oaths and dispensations from them, the divine influence upon human acts, natural law, excommunication and the gravity of Peter’s denial.”[43] Andrewes’s use of Aquinas was not confined to this occasion, either. To mention just a couple of examples, Andrewes cites him on “the veneration of images, paradise and heaven and limbo” in Latria autem fidei protestatio, and in Judgment of the Lambeth Articles he “cites him on the difficult subject of predestination.”[44]

Several other prominent Anglicans in the seventeenth century respected Aquinas as well and made positive use of him. In the earlier part of the century, John Donne (1572‒1631) approvingly cites Aquinas’s definition of martyrdom in the statement, “Mors est de ratione Martyrii.”[45] He also effusively endorses Aquinas’s contention that “it is an Article of our Belief, that the world began,” rather than this being a sure conclusion of reason, and “likewise…quotes Aquinas on the relation of studiousness to the virtue of humility, on mercy, on the relation of the Old Law to the New, on creation, on the divine essence, and on other subjects.”[46] Bishop John Davenant (1572‒1641) was “indebted” to Aquinas, and in his works he “cites Aquinas more than any other theologian except Augustine.”[47] Bishop Joseph Hall (1574‒1656) names Aquinas as being among those who offer “the most safe and likely interpretations”[48] of Scripture, and in general considers him “the honour of the schools.”[49] Robert Burton (1577‒1640) quotes Aquinas “with [great] frequency” in his The Anatomy of Melancholy, and “appeals to the authority of St. Thomas and others both with regard to the nature of the demonic intelligence and in refutation of extravagant and superstitious claims as to the powers of the fallen angels.”[50]

In the latter part of the century, Archbishop John Bramhall (1594‒1663) “makes use of Summa Theologica, II-II, 88, 2 and 10, with regard to vows, and of De Veritate on the distinction between knowledge, faith, opinion, and doubt.”[51] Bishop John Pearson (1613‒1686) refers to Aquinas “usually with deference to the Thomistic doctrine” in his Exposition of the Creed, citing him on “the act of faith, the fact that the existence of God needs proof even though it is self-evident in itself, the distinction between God the Father and God the Son, the communion of saints, and the doctrine of purgatory.”[52] Bishop Gilbert Burnet (1643‒1715), while discussing Article XXX of the Thirty-Nine Articles, points out that “even Aquinas speaks of the taking away the chalice as the practice only of some Churches” in his day, as opposed to all.[53] And John Braddocke (1656‒1719) cites as instrumental Aquinas’s approach to the problem of “how to reconcile the Author of that [Athanasian] Creed to himself; that it was lawful to say, Three Co-eternal Persons, and yet at the same time forbidden to say, Three Eternals in the Masculine Gender.”[54]

The figures mentioned here, as well as their specific uses of Aquinas, are meant to be a sampling rather than a comprehensive catalogue. But even this abbreviated overview shows that Aquinas continued to enjoy esteem and respectful appropriation in mainstream Anglican thought all throughout the seventeenth century.

The Eighteenth Century

Reginald M. Lynch comments that “it is not usual for intellectual historians to associate the eighteenth century with Thomism,” but he goes on to add that “[Aquinas’s] thought continued to be an important frame of reference for many Catholic thinkers during this period.”[55]

The same, perhaps, cannot be said for Protestantism. According to Manfred Svensson and David VanDrunen, “Since the end of the age of Protestant scholasticism and the rise of the so-called age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, Protestantism has been mostly negligent in its relationship to Aquinas and its critiques often prejudiced.”[56] The impression that Protestant engagement with Aquinas was more or less on break during the eighteenth century is only bolstered by Steven J. Duby’s essay on “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran Reception of Aquinas,” which, despite its title, does not discuss a single eighteenth-century figure.[57]

Yet however scarce Aquinas may have been in eighteenth-century Protestant thought, he was not altogether absent, at least not within Anglicanism. In expositing Article XXIV’s condemnation of public prayer conducted in tongues “not understood of the people,” Bishop William Beveridge (1637‒1708) appeals to Aquinas’s commentary on 1 Corinthians, writing, “Aquinas himself saith, ‘In the primitive church it was madness for any one to say prayers in an unknown tongue, because then they were ignorant of the ecclesiastical rites, and knew not what was done there.’”[58]

Archdeacon Daniel Waterland (1683‒1740) draws on Aquinas repeatedly in his Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist. Waterland notes that while we are united to Christ in the Eucharist, nevertheless, “saith Aquinas, the first union between God and man is begun in Baptism by one Spirit.”[59] In the same work he also cites Aquinas’s definition of a sacrifice, observing that on Aquinas’s view, “A sacrifice, properly, is anything performed for God’s sole and due honour, in order to appease him. He [Aquinas] plainly makes it a work, or service, not a material thing: and by that very rule he determined, that the sacrifice of the cross was a true sacrifice; which expression implies both proper and acceptable.”[60] Waterland cites Aquinas in other works as well, noting in his Critical History of the Athanasian Creed that despite common usage, Aquinas holds that the word “creed” is “not so proper a name for it.”[61]

Another eighteenth-century use of Aquinas can be found in the work of Joseph Smith (1670‒1756), who was Provost of Queen’s College at Oxford beginning in 1730. In a treatise on the doctrine of God, Smith invokes Aquinas while discussing divine immutability, noting that while the Bible sometimes speaks of God repenting, this should not be taken to mean that God’s will actually changes. In support of this idea, he cites Aquinas as holding to the principle, “Mutationem quidem vult, sed Voluntatem suam nunquam mutat Deus; the Meaning of which is that though God wills a Change, yet he never changes his Will.”[62]

In all likelihood, there are Anglican uses of Aquinas from the eighteenth century in addition to the ones mentioned above. Nonetheless, these examples suffice to show that even if the eighteenth century was not a high watermark for Aquinas in Anglican thought, his influence did not disappear entirely.

The Nineteenth Century

The early decades of the nineteenth century saw the beginning of the Oxford Movement. This movement was characterized by, among other things, a renewed interest in the catholic roots and sources of Anglicanism. As such, it is unsurprising that some of those associated with the movement drew on Aquinas.

Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800‒1882) “employs Aquinas alongside various patristic and mediaeval theologians in order to make a case that the Church of England is part of the catholic church.”[63] One example of this is Pusey’s insistence that “the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception…prevailed [in Roman Catholicism]…with no foundation in antiquity…opposed by a chain of later writers whom Rome too has canonized,”[64] with Pusey specifically naming Aquinas among them. Pusey also invokes Aquinas in opposition to the idea that “the anointing of the sick accomplishes the forgiveness of sins,”[65] observing that “Aquinas speaks of unction of the sick as ‘not being of necessity to salvation.’”[66]

This practice of occasional citation concerning specific points or topics is in continuity with earlier Anglican use of Aquinas. In addition, however, a new manifestation of Aquinas’s influence on Anglicanism appears in the nineteenth century, in the form of lengthy dogmatic works—arguably inspired, at least in part, by Aquinas’s own Summa Theologiae—designed to systematically and comprehensively exposit what their authors took to be the catholic faith.

Two such works published during this century were by Darwell Stone (1859‒1941) and Alfred G. Mortimer (1848‒1924). Stone cites Aquinas multiple times, as when he looks to Aquinas’s account of divine immutability, like Joseph Smith before him: “The…thought was tersely put by St. Thomas Aquinas: ‘It is one thing to change the will; it is another thing to wish for the change of certain things.’”[67] He also draws support from Aquinas for his contention that “the body is different from what it would be if the soul were not in the image of God. In the phrase of St. Thomas Aquinas, ‘The likeness of God is in the mind of man after the manner of an image; in his other parts it is after the manner of a footprint.’”[68] And on the question of why so much time was allowed to pass between the Fall and the Incarnation, Stone suggests that

Such explanation as is possible has been well put by St. Thomas Aquinas: “God first left man in the freedom of his will under the natural law, so that he might in this way come to know the strength of his own nature. Then, when he had failed, he received the law. On the law being given, the disease gathered strength by the fault, not of the law, but of man’s nature, so that when his own weakness was thus made known, he might cry out for the Physician, and seek the help of grace.”[69]

Mortimer begins his own work by explicitly acknowledging Aquinas’s influence, fulsomely praising him as “the greatest doctor of the Church, one of its most eminent saints, and one of the most profound intellects the world has ever known.” Going further, he adds that “to-day no theologian would venture to pronounce upon any important question without asking, ‘What does S. Thomas say?’”[70]

A strong sentiment indeed, but even this pales in comparison to the degree of approbation Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772‒1834) shows for Aquinas, or at least Roman Catholicism understood through Aquinas:

It is my full conviction, a conviction formed after a long and patient study of the subject in detail; and if the author in support of this competence only added that he has read, and with care, the Summa Theologiae of Aquinas, and compared the system with the statements of [Antoine] Arnold and [Jacques Bénigne] Bossuet…that the rites and doctrines, the agenda et credenda, of the Catholics, could we separate them from the adulterating ingredients combined with, and the use made of them, by the sacerdotal Mamelukes of the Romish monarchy, for the support of the Papacy and papal hierarchy, would neither have brought about, nor have sufficed to justify, the convulsive separation under Leo X.[71]

Such a statement would not be out of place among the more Romanistically inclined members of the Oxford Movement, upon which Coleridge exercised an influence not only poetical but, as Christopher Snook has argued, “theological and philosophical” as well.[72] As the above-quoted excerpt indicates, later in his life Coleridge became quite familiar with and fond of the work of Aquinas. An annotation left on a volume of Wilhelm Gottlieb Tennemann’s Geschichte der Philosophie reads, “When I hear a Theologian speak of the emptiness, and poverty of Thought, of all the School-men, I shall venture to tell him, that he has never read the Summa Theologia of Thomas Aquinas.”[73] To be sure, Coleridge overstates his case in the above block quote, but he is nevertheless a striking illustration of Aquinas’s continuing hold on the Anglican imagination in the nineteenth century.

At this point, the reader might suspect that glowing paeans and sprawling systematics from those who would later come to be known as Anglo-Catholics are the only evidence I can offer of Aquinas’s presence in Anglican thought of the nineteenth century. This is not the case, however—other nineteenth-century Anglicans, those who would not likely be mistaken for members of the Oxford Movement, continue to cite Aquinas as well, critically yet appreciatively.

To mention a few examples, in discussing Article XXIV Bishop Edward Harold Browne (1811‒1891) notes, as Bishop Beveridge does, that “eminent schoolmen and Roman Catholic divines, as Lyra, Thomas Aquinas and Harding, have fully allowed that in the primitive Church prayers were offered up in the vulgar tongue, that the people might be the better instructed.”[74] E. A. Litton (1813‒1897) cites Aquinas’s formulation of the truth that “there is no actual distinction between the ‘substance’ [of God] and the hypostatical character of each Person taken singly.”[75]

Bishop Edgar C. S. Gibson draws support from Aquinas on the fittingness (or at least adequacy) of the word “person” for denoting the distinctions in the Trinity: “And S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa. 1a, Q. 29 a, 3, ‘Conveniens est ut hoc nomen (persona) de Deo dicatur; non tamen eodem modo quo dicitur de creaturis, sed excellentiori modo.’”[76] Finally, G. F. Maclear (1833‒1902) and W. W. Williams quote Aquinas as teaching the substance of Article XXVI, that the unworthiness of some ministers does not nullify the efficacy of the sacraments:

We may well be content with the dictum of S. Thomas Aquinas himself, when he says, “The Minister of a Sacrament acts as the representative (in persona) of the whole Church of which he is the Minister; in the words which he utters the intention of the Church is expressed, which suffices to the perfection of a Sacrament, unless the contrary be expressed outwardly on the part of the Minister, or the recipient of the Sacrament.”[77]

It appears, then, that Aquinas enjoyed popularity among Anglicans of all kinds in the nineteenth century, be they “High Church,” “Evangelical,” or “Anglo-Catholic.” Real differences existed between these various Anglican “parties,” but they all agreed that Aquinas was someone worth considering and learning from.

The Twentieth Century

The theology of some Anglican thinkers in the twentieth century was less than orthodox—witness, for example, the universalist eschatology of Bishop John A. T. Robinson, or the adoptionist christology of John Macquarrie. Even so, those who were more traditionally minded continued to look to church theologians of centuries gone by for inspiration and guidance, not least Thomas Aquinas.

Francis J. Hall (1857‒1932), like Stone and Mortimer before him, published an extensive work of systematics, titled Dogmatic Theology. At ten volumes, it has been referred to as the “Anglican Summa” by some—not inapt, considering the final volume is dedicated to “the blessed memory of St. Thomas Aquinas,” whom Hall identifies as “the greatest constructive theologian of Christian ages.”[78] Of Aquinas’s own Summa Theologiae, he says it is “without doubt the greatest of all treatises in systematic doctrine (moral topics are considered also) ever written; nor has the progress of theological development nullified its value.”[79]

In addition to this effusive praise, Hall defends a broad understanding of theology as pertaining to “the whole range of Christian doctrine,” rather than the doctrine of God alone, by appealing to Aquinas’s “statement that ‘since all things which are treated of in sacred doctrine are considered in their relation to deity, sub ratione deitatis,…God is its subject.’”[80] He also discusses Aquinas’s five ways to God, noting that “his treatment of [theistic arguments] determined the lines of theistic thought for ages, and has had much influence even to the present day.”[81]

Austin Farrer (1904‒1968) presents Aquinas’s account of analogy as “a solution”[82] to the problem of theological language, and he adopts Aquinas’s understanding of theology as not just a science, but a “contemplative science” whose “aim…is the sheer satisfaction of knowing.”[83] In the realm of biblical hermeneutics, Farrer also cites Aquinas’s understanding of the multiple senses of Scripture in support of the idea that, in a sense, “the story of redemption is mythical.”[84]

E. L. Mascall (1905‒1993) makes no secret of Aquinas’s influence on him: “I do not consider Thomas locutus, causa finita as the last judgment to be passed on any theological problem; though my approach might be summed up in the words, Thomas locutus, causa incepta.”[85] Mascall’s extensive oeuvre, throughout which he frequently cites Aquinas, bears him out on this point.

Like Farrer, Mascall takes Aquinas as his starting point for defining theology as “a science, in the sense of a kind of knowing, since it is based upon God’s own knowledge, which he shares with the blessed in heaven and communicates in various ways and degrees to us…. It is speculative rather than practical, though it has its practical aspects too.”[86] Mascall, too, draws on Aquinas’s account of analogy in order to answer the question, “How is it possible for men to talk about God?”[87] And Mascall praises Aquinas’s hylomorphism as a “brilliant and profound synthesis” of Aristotelian and Platonist conceptions of the human soul.[88]

Heny B. Veatch (1911‒1999), similar to Mascall, is upfront about the role Aquinas plays in his own thought. He relates that as a young man from Indiana, he found Aquinas to be far more understandable than his own philosophy professors, someone who offered, as he puts it, “nothing if not just such philosophical nourishment as even Hoosiers might be ready for.”[89] This affinity for Aquinas was a hallmark of his career: the introduction to his Swimming Against the Current in Contemporary Philosophy is titled, “On Trying to Be an Aristotelian or a Thomist in Today’s World,” in which he states, “Nearly all of the essays and papers that follow in this volume have a common concern—a concern with how either an Aristotle or an Aquinas might be made philosophically respectable and competitive once again.”[90]

Beyond this particular volume, Veatch’s intent to rehabilitate Aquinas in the realm of philosophy is evident throughout his work. In multiple places he articulates theories of value and goodness by “relying on some of the more significant insights of what we might loosely term the Aristotelian and the Thomistic ethical traditions,”[91] over and against competing theories such as Kantianism. Elsewhere, he argues that Aquinas’s conception of logic as intentional is a superior alternative to what he calls the “function-argument schema of modern logic.”[92] Veatch also, while appreciating the work of John Finnis in reviving natural law theory, criticizes Finnis not only for attempting to construct a theory of natural law in which it is not rooted in “laws of nature at all, or in any sense discoverable in nature,” but also for claiming “no less a one than St. Thomas Aquinas as being on his side in this regard.”[93] To the contrary, Veatch contends, in De Veritate, “St. Thomas seems to give the unmistakable impression that ethics must discover its own principles directly in being and in the context of the discipline of metaphysics (Bonum est in rebus, ut Philosophus dicit).”[94]

Here it might once again be said that Anglo-Catholics bear the burden of proof, so to speak, in my contention that Anglican use of Aquinas was alive and well in the twentieth century. (If it is not correct to call Veatch an Anglo-Catholic, he was at least “Catholic” enough to be president of the American Catholic Philosophical Association in 1980.) Even in the twentieth century, though, the Anglo-Catholic role in this endeavor is prominent without being completely dominant.

One example that could be presented as evidence is Robert Farrar Capon (1925‒2013). Capon, who was not Anglo-Catholic, says of himself, “I am a lifelong Episcopalian who began as an old-fashioned high churchman and a Thomist to boot. With some minor attenuations of the rigors of those positions, I remain such to this day.”[95] Capon does indeed follow Aquinas in defending an analogical approach to theological language, as well as promoting Aquinas’s five ways to God.[96] That said, the idea of concurring with Capon’s self-assessment as a “Thomist” sticks in my throat, given that so many of his other views—that the Bible contains “contradictions;”[97] that God, far from being constantly and intimately active in the cosmos, “doesn’t seem to interfere much, if at all, with the general downhill slide of world affairs;”[98] that the Eucharist is just a reminder to the church of “the Jesus it already has;”[99] that “God is an accomplice in the world’s evil”[100]—would have literally been anathema in Aquinas’s eyes.

Capon aside, A. C. Bouquet (1884‒1976) formulates a teleological conception of human life that he explicitly says “[harmonizes] in general with the position outlined by Aristotle and accepted by St. Thomas Aquinas.”[101] C. S. Lewis (1898‒1963) begins his chapter on divine omnipotence in The Problem of Pain by quoting Aquinas: “Nothing which implies contradiction falls under the omnipotence of God.”[102] Later on, he positively cites Aquinas to the effect that suffering is “a thing not good in itself, but a thing which might have a certain goodness in particular circumstances.”[103] And J. I. Packer (1926‒2020), in a lecture on penal substitution, positively invokes the “doctrine of analogy”—which he specifically characterizes as “going back to Aquinas”—as “the time-harbored account…of how ordinary language is used to speak intelligibly of a God who is partly like us (because we bear his image) and partly unlike us (because he is the infinite Creator while we are finite creatures).”[104]

In sum, although it may be that Anglo-Catholic works constituted a somewhat greater percentage of overall Anglican use of Aquinas in the twentieth century than they did in the nineteenth, Aquinas continued not to belong to any one “party” or faction within Anglicanism. He was (and remains) a universal, one might say catholic, figure for Anglicans.

The Present Day

In these first two decades of the twenty-first century, Aquinas’s role in Anglican thought is as strong as it has ever been. Scholars draw on him for a number of topics, as we will now see.

Contemporary Anglican reflections on the doctrine of God are much inspired by Aquinas, as they have been for centuries. Katherine Sonderegger begins the first volume of her systematic theology by positioning herself as an intellectual heir to Aquinas, seeking to answer precisely the same questions he did:

Who is God? And what is God? (Qui sit et quid sit Deus). These are the questions of an entire lifetime. Nothing reaches so deep into the purpose of human life, nor demands the full scope of the human intellect as do these two brief queries. They stand at the head of Thomas Aquinas’s majestic Summa Theologica, and by right they belong to the capital and the footing of any systematic theology. This book offers one answer to these haunting and demanding questions in the doctrine of God.[105]

For the rest of this volume, and the one that follows it, Sonderegger regularly cites Aquinas in her discussion of various aspects of the doctrine of God, including chapters on “The Divine Oneness as Foundational Perfection,”[106] “The Perfection of the One LORD’s Holy Humility: His Omnipotence,”[107] and “The Intellectual Legitimacy of the Trinity.”[108]

In a similar vein, John Webster (1955‒2016) greatly avails himself of Aquinas in God and the Works of God. Indeed, Aquinas is so pervasive in Webster’s discussion that attempting to catalogue discrete citations feels a bit ridiculous, and the same goes for Webster’s Virtue and Intellect.[109] Readers interested in pursuing Webster should be aware, however, that his turn to Aquinas was a later development, as earlier in his life he was much more influenced by Barth.[110]

As part of the recent retrieval of the doctrine of divine participation, Anglicans have more than once looked to Aquinas in their discussions of the subject. Hans Boersma notes that while Aquinas is often blamed for the “demise” of the “Christian-Platonist synthesis” that arose in the years of the early church, the reality is that “in many ways, the angelic doctor still continued the synthesis between Christianity and (other-worldly) Platonism.”[111] In Andrew Davison’s richly substantive treatment, he explicitly gives a “central place to Thomas Aquinas, as a clear master of the participatory perspective.”[112] This is borne out by the two-page prefatory section containing “Works of Thomas Aquinas: Texts, Translations, and Abbreviations,” as well as the numerous citations of Aquinas scattered throughout.

Some Anglican ethicists have adopted Aquinas’s principle of double effect and made it a central component of their own ethics, particularly in the area of just war theory. Nigel Biggar, in his presentation of the principle, engages at length with Aquinas’s account of it and notes that it “comes from the same Thomist stable” as Christian just war theory.[113] In his own account of just war theory, Oliver O’Donovan adopts the principle of double effect as well, although he does not mention it or Aquinas by name.[114]

Concerning ethics more broadly, Biggar cites Aquinas with some frequency in his book-length critique of natural rights.[115] Daniel Westberg (1949‒2017) sees in Aquinas the possibility of developing a “virtue-centered moral theology based on reason, desire for the good, and union with God ‒ which also avoids subjectivism, relativism, individualism, and indifference to God’s law.”[116] To this end, Westberg wrote Right Practical Reason, a “careful study of Aristotelian and Thomistic practical reasoning and its connection to human action and the virtues, ” and Renewing Moral Theology, designed to “[articulate] an overall Thomistic structure of ethics,” which Westberg himself characterizes as “Thomistic in foundation, evangelical in conviction, and Anglican in ethos.”[117]

Lastly, some contemporary Anglicans, while they do not engage with Aquinas in the sustained way the authors mentioned above do, are nonetheless happy to cite him occasionally. For example, N. T. Wright adopts Aquinas’s account of evil as “the absence or deprivation of good,”[118] and he also commends the power of music to act as a species of natural reason that, in Aquinas’s words, can “serve faith just as the natural loving tendency of the will serves charity.”[119] Likewise, Archbishop Rowan Williams approvingly cites Aquinas to the effect that, far from thinking of creation as “an event, with a before and after,” we should remember that “creation depends on [God] moment by moment, carried along on the current of his activity.”[120]


One could, with some justification, reductively characterize this essay as a list of names and dates. The very fact that it is a list, however—one that spans the five hundred or so years from the English Reformation up to the present—captures precisely what I have sought to convey. Thomas Aquinas has been a fruitful source for Anglican thought ever since there has been an independent Church of England, and the sheer variety of topics on which Anglicans over the centuries have drawn from him—metaphysics, the doctrine of God, natural theology, biblical hermeneutics and interpretation, christology, the sacraments, ethics, and more—is a resounding testament to this fact.

It is both heartening and natural, then, that so many learned Anglicans in our day still productively engage with Aquinas. I pray such engagement will continue and deepen in the future, for the sake of an Anglican church that seeks to defend and preserve true catholicity for the ages, and I pray also that through their labors more ordinary Christians will be introduced to the riches of his thought.

  1. See, e.g., Norman L. Geisler, Thomas Aquinas: An Evangelical Appraisal (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1991), and Manfred Svensson and David VanDrunen, eds., Aquinas Among the Protestants (Hoboken, NJ; Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2018).
  2. See, e.g., David VanDrunen, Divine Covenants and Moral Order: A Biblical Theology of Natural Law (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014); J. V. Fesko, Reforming Apologetics: Retrieving the Classical Approach to Defending the Faith (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2019); and Steven J. Duby, God in Himself: Scripture, Metaphysics, and the Task of Christian Theology (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2019).
  3. My treatment of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries draws heavily on the work of David S. Sytsma and John K. Ryan, respectively, to whom I am indebted for my own derivative account.
  4. See Torrance Kirby, “Richard Hooker and Thomas Aquinas on Defining Law,” in Svensson and VanDrunen, Aquinas Among the Protestants, 91‒107.
  5. David S. Sytsma, “Thomas Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation: The Contribution of William Whitaker,” in Svensson and VanDrunen, Aquinas Among the Protestants, 51.
  6. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 51. See also ST I-II.109‒112, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province (London: Benzinger Brothers, 1920),
  7. David S. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception of Aquinas,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas, Matthew Levering and Marcus Plested, eds. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), 124.
  8. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 125.
  9. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 129.
  10. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 125.
  11. Martin Bucer, Metaphrases et enarrationes perpetuae epistolarum D. Pauli Apostoli, vol. 1: Metaphrasis et Enarratio in Epist. D. Pauli Apostoli ad Romanos (Strasbourg: Wendelin Rihel, 1536), 385b, cited in Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 134.
  12. ST I.1.8 ad 2,
  13. Bucer, Apostoli ad Romanos, 36b, 37a, cited in Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 133. See also ST I.1.1,
  14. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 137. See also ST I‒II.94.4,, and ST I‒II.96.4,
  15. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 136.
  16. ST I.23.5,
  17. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 136. See also ST I.82.1‒2,
  18. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 126.
  19. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 126.
  20. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 131.
  21. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 135. See also ST I.13.5,; I.2.3,; and I.13.11,
  22. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 136. See also ST I.82.3,
  23. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 136. See also ST I.76.1,
  24. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 136.
  25. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 137. See also ST III.1.2 ad 2,; III.48.2 ad 3,; and III.48.6,
  26. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 52.
  27. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 67.
  28. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 53.
  29. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 54.
  30. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 54‒55.
  31. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 56‒58.
  32. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 59.
  33. Sytsma, “Aquinas and Reformed Biblical Interpretation,” 62‒63. See also ST I.1.9 ad 2,, and I.1.10,
  34. Sytsma, “Sixteenth-Century Reformed Reception,” 135.
  35. Source cited in John K. Ryan, The Reputation of St. Thomas Aquinas among English Protestant Thinkers of the Seventeenth Century (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1948), 3.
  36. Kirby, “Richard Hooker and Thomas Aquinas,” 91.
  37. Kirby, “Richard Hooker and Thomas Aquinas,” 93. See also ST I-II.90‒96,
  38. Kirby, “Richard Hooker and Thomas Aquinas,” 93.
  39. Daniel Westberg, “The Influence of Aquinas on Protestant Ethics,” in Svensson and VanDrunen, Aquinas Among the Protestants, 274.
  40. E. A. Litton, Introduction to Dogmatic Theology on the Basis of the XXXIX Articles of the Church of England (London: Elliot Stock, 1882), 6.
  41. The Political Works of James I, ed. Charles Howard McIlwain, cited in Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas Aquinas, 23‒24, emphasis original.
  42. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 25.
  43. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 26.
  44. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 27‒28.
  45. John Donne, Pseudo-Martyr, cited in Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 13. See also ST II-II.124,
  46. John Donne, Essayes in Divinity, cited in Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 16, emphasis original.
  47. Michael J. Lynch, John Davenant’s Hypothetical Universalism: A Defense of Catholic and Reformed Orthodoxy (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021), 44, 149.
  48. Joseph Hall, Paraphrase upon the Hard Texts of the Whole Divine Scripture, cited in Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 32.
  49. Joseph Hall, Roma Irreconciliabilis, cited in Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 32.
  50. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 40. See also ST I.64.1,
  51. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 59.
  52. Ryan, Reputation of St. Thomas, 101‒102.
  53. Gilbert Burnet, An Exposition of the XXXIX Articles of the Church of England (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1814), 473. See also ST III.80.12,
  54. John Braddocke, The Doctrine of the Fathers and Schools Consider’d: Concerning the Articles of a Trinity of Divine Persons, and the Unity of God (London: W. Rogers, 1695), 58, emphasis original.
  55. Reginald M. Lynch, “Eighteenth-Century Catholic Reception of Aquinas,” in Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas, 295.
  56. Manfred Svensson and David VanDrunen, “Introduction: The Reception, Critique, and Use of Aquinas in Protestant Thought,” in Svensson and VanDrunen, Aquinas Among the Protestants, 14.
  57. Steven J. Duby, “Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran Reception of Aquinas,” in Oxford Handbook of the Reception of Aquinas, 343‒57.
  58. William Beveridge, An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England (London: James Duncan, 1830), 457.
  59. Daniel Waterland, A Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist with Four Charges to the Clergy of Middlesex Connected with the Same Subject, ed. William Van Mildert (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1823, repr. 1896), 187.
  60. Waterland, Review of the Doctrine of the Eucharist, 459. See also ST III.48.3,
  61. Daniel Waterland, A Critical History of the Athanasian Creed (Oxford and London: James Parker and Co., 1870), 164.
  62. Joseph Smith, A Clear and Comprehensive View of the Being, Nature, and Attributes of God, 2nd ed. (Oxford: W. Jackson, 1756), 95. See also ST I.19.7,
  63. Duby, “Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran Reception of Aquinas,” 351.
  64. E. B. Pusey, The Church of England a Portion of Christ’s One Holy Catholic Church, and a Means of Restoring Visible Unity. An Eirenicon (Oxford: John Henry and James Parker and Rivington’s, 1865), 175‒77.
  65. Duby, “Reformed, Anglican, and Lutheran Reception of Aquinas,” 351.
  66. Pusey, Eirenicon, 227.
  67. Darwell Stone, Outlines of Christian Dogma (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1900, repr. 1913), 12.
  68. Stone, Outlines of Christian Dogma, 41. See also ST I.93.6,
  69. Stone, Outlines of Christian Dogma, 53‒54. See also ST III.1.5,
  70. Alfred G. Mortimer, Catholic Faith and Practice, vol. 1 (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1897), 1‒2.
  71. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, On the Constitution of the Church and State, ed. John Colmer (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976, repr. 2015), 134, emphasis original.
  72. Christopher Snook, “‘Thy Word is All, If We Could Spell’: Romanticism, Tractarian Aesthetics and E.B. Pusey’s Sermons on Solemn Subjects” (Master’s Thesis, McMaster University, 2001), 7, See also Snook, “‘Thy Word is All,’” 6‒19,; Luke Savin Herrick Wright, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the Anglican Church (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), 30, 145; and Stephen Prickett, “Tractarianism and the Lake Poets,” in The Oxford Handbook of the Oxford Movement, ed. Stewart J. Brown, Peter Nockles, and James Pereiro (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 67‒78.
  73. Coleridge, On the Consitution of the Church and State, 134n1.
  74. Edward Harold Browne, An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles, Historical and Doctrinal, ed. J. Williams (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1874), 579.
  75. Litton, Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, 126, emphasis original. See also ST I.39.1,
  76. Edgar C. S. Gibson, The Thirty-Nine Articles of the Church of England, 2nd ed. (London: Methuen and Co., 1898), 113n1.
  77. G. F. Maclear and W. W. Williams, An Introduction to the Articles of the Church of England (London: Macmillan and Co., 1895), 314. See also ST III.64.8 ad 2,
  78. Francis J. Hall, Eschatology: Indexes (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1922), v.
  79. Francis J. Hall, Introduction to Dogmatic Theology (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1907), 267‒68.
  80. Hall, Introduction to Dogmatic Theology, 11. See also ST I.1.7,
  81. Francis J. Hall, The Being and Attributes of God (New York: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1909), 85. See also ST I.2.3,
  82. Austin Farrer, Reflective Faith: Essays in Philosophical Theology, ed. Charles C. Conti (London: SPCK, 1972), 65. See also Farrer, Reflective Faith, 64‒81.
  83. Austin Farrer, God Is Not Dead (New York: Morehouse-Barlow, 1966), 94.
  84. Austin Farrer, Interpretation and Belief, ed. Charles C. Conti (London: SPCK, 1976), 167.
  85. E. L. Mascall, He Who Is: A Study in Traditional Theism (New York: Longmans, Green and Co, 1943, repr. 1948), viii. See also E. L. Mascall, Saraband: The Memoirs of E.L. Mascall (Herefordshire: Gracewing, 1992, repr. 1995), 123, 125.
  86. E. L. Mascall, Theology and the Gospel of Christ: An Essay in Reorientation (London: SPCK, 1977), 31, emphasis original.
  87. E. L. Mascall, Existence and Analogy: A Sequel to “He Who Is” (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., 1949), 92. See also Mascall, Existence and Analogy, 92‒121; Mascall, He Who Is, 95‒112; and E. L. Mascall, The Openness of Being: Natural Theology Today (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1971), 33.
  88. E. L. Mascall, Christian Theology and Natural Science: Some Questions in Their Relations (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1965), 210.
  89. Henry B. Veatch, Swimming Against the Current in Contemporary Philosophy: Occasional Essays and Papers (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1990), 27.
  90. Veatch, Swimming Against the Current, 1.
  91. Henry B. Veatch, For an Ontology of Morals: A Critique of Contemporary Ethical Theory (Evanston, IN: Northwestern University Press, 1971), 106. See also Veatch, Swimming Against the Current, 117‒140.
  92. Henry Veatch, Realism and Nominalism Revisited (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 1954), 13. See also Henry Babcock Veatch, Intentional Logic: A Logic Based on Philosophical Realism (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1952).
  93. Veatch, Swimming Against the Current, 289. See also Westberg, “Influence of Aquinas on Protestant Ethics,” 281.
  94. Veatch, Swimming Against the Current, 289. See also Veatch, Swimming Against the Current, 293‒311.
  95. Robert Farrar Capon, The Romance of the Word: One Man’s Love Affair with Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1995), 2.
  96. Capon, Romance of the Word, 248‒49, 252.
  97. Capon, Romance of the Word, 14.
  98. Capon, Romance of the Word, 21.
  99. Capon, Romance of the Word, 23.
  100. Capon, Romance of the Word, 32.
  101. A. C. Bouquet, The Doctrine of God: Final Studies in the Divine Nature and Attributes, with Chapters on the Philosophy of Worship (Cambridge, UK: W. Heffer & Sons, 1934), 109.
  102. C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (Québec: Samizdat University Press, 2016), 11, See also ST I.25.4,
  103. C. S. Lewis, Problem of Pain, 78, See also ST I-II.39.1,
  104. J. I. Packer, “What Did the Cross Achieve?: The Logic of Penal Substitution” (Tyndale Biblical Theology Lecture, 1973),
  105. Katherine Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, vol. 1, The Doctrine of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2015), xi.
  106. Sonderegger, Doctrine of God, 26, 30‒35.
  107. Sonderegger, Doctrine of God, 174‒79.
  108. Katherine Sonderegger, Systematic Theology, vol. 2, The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity: Processions and Persons (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2020), 123‒50.
  109. See John Webster, God Without Measure: Working Papers in Christian Theology, vol. 1, God and the Works of God, and vol. 2, Virtue and Intellect (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016).
  110. See Tyler Wittman, “John Webster (1955‒2016): Reflections from One of His Students,” The Gospel Coalition, 1 June 2016,
  111. Hans Boersma, Heavenly Participation: The Weaving of a Sacramental Tapestry (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), 36.
  112. Andrew Davison, Participation in God: A Study in Christian Doctrine and Metaphyiscs (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 7.
  113. Nigel Biggar, In Defence of War (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 92‒110. See also Nigel Biggar, Aiming to Kill: The Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia (Cleveland: Pilgrim Press, 2004), 10‒13, and Nigel Biggar, What’s Wrong with Rights? (New York: Oxford University Press, 2020), 225‒33.
  114. Oliver O’Donovan, The Just War Revisited (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 43‒44. See also Westberg, “Influence of Aquinas on Protestant Ethics,” 281.
  115. Biggar, What’s Wrong with Rights?, 38, 137‒39, 155, 160, 168, 171.
  116. Westberg, “Influence of Aquinas on Protestant Ethics,” 267.
  117. Westberg, “Influence of Aquinas on Protestant Ethics,” 282‒83. See also Daniel Westberg, Right Practical Reason: Aristotle, Action, and Prudence in Aquinas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), and Daniel A. Westberg, Renewing Moral Theology: Christian Ethics as Action, Character and Grace (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2015).
  118. N. T. Wright, Evil and the Justice of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 113. See also ST I.48.1,
  119. N. T. Wright, “Resurrection: From Theology to Music and Back Again,” in Sounding the Depths: Theology Through the Arts, ed. Jeremy Begbie (London: SCM Press, 2002), 210.
  120. Rowan Williams, Tokens of Trust: An Introduction to Christian Belief (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007), 36.

James Clark

James Clark is the Book Review Editor at The North American Anglican. His writing has appeared in Front Porch Republic, Themelios, and Evangelical Quarterly, as well as other publications.

'Aquinas in Anglican Thought' has 1 comment

  1. July 28, 2021 @ 1:05 pm Jacob Andrews

    This article is an excellent resource for scholars.

    Looking at this as an Aquinas scholar, some of the citations evoke very complex, very Thomistic ideas. For example, that “the body is different from what it would be if the soul were not in the image of God” implies a whole anthropology. Others are more general scholastic ideas—e.g., the soul as form of the body—and it’d be interesting to see further evidence that shows influence from Aquinas.

    The claim that Aquinas is a “catholic” figure for Anglicans is a powerful one, and a reassuring one for this not-entirely-high-church not-quite-but-almost-Thomist.

    I’m also impressed with the very wide use of scholastics among some of the Reformation authors cited. I know John Davenant cites William of Auxerre over Aquinas on at least one point. I had no idea people were still reading Alexander of Hales at that point. Definitely one of the most exciting “lists” I’ve read in a while.


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