Tag Archives: Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther on Salvation: The Heart of the Difference


I’m currently waist deep in writing my thesis to complete my MA. This is one of the main reasons I haven’t blogged for months! My thesis compares Thomas Aquinas (the preeminent theologian of the Roman Catholic Church) and Martin Luther (the great reformer) on their understanding of salvation. I’ll share the finished product in a few months, but here’s a spoiler: All of the old polemical comparisons (e.g. protestants teach salvation by faith, while Catholics teach salvation by works) are just wrong. Nonetheless, there are real differences. Here are four statements I’ve crafted to get to the heart of the difference between Thomas’ and Luther’s understanding of salvation. What do you think?

  • Thomas’ problem is that we cannot get the good we desire (though that desire is itself a gift from God). Luther’s problem is that we cannot desire what is good.
  • For Thomas, salvation is like falling in love. For Luther, salvation is like being loved.
  • For Thomas, salvation is like the blind receiving sight. For Luther, salvation is like the lost getting found.
  • Luther worries about whether God will really save me. Thomas worries whether it is really me that God is saving.
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New Essay: Nature and Spirit in Aquinas

I just finished the first essay for my master’s degree, “Nature and Spirit in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas.” Here’s the abstract:

In this essay I am concerned with defending two theses. In the first part I will argue that, for Thomas Aquinas, humans necessarily lack the natural capacity to reach our final telos in beatific vision. This deep human problem is intrinsic to Aquinas’ anthropology and is, therefore, logically prior prelapsarian. Then in the second part I will argue that both law and grace, (especially the theological virtues), which together for Aquinas constitute the solution to the problem, can rightly be labeled Spirit. The outcome is that law and virtue, which traditionally have been considered keystones of ethical theory, are found properly under the rubric of soteriology and pneumatology.

You can read the entire essay here.

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