Aquinas and theology as conversation
I regard it as a privilege to be asked by Dr. Michael Whelan, SM to contribute to this series of lectures marking the Diamond Jubilee of Aquinas Academy. Given the name and originating spirit of the Academy, it is also fortuitous and fitting that one of the topics concerns Thomas Aquinas himself. He lived from 1225 till 1274 as one of the early members of the Order of Preachers.
I would like to build this paper on three quotations. One is from Dr. John Thornhill, SM, second Director of the Academy. In introducing a Course in Theology in Adult Education at the Academy in 1976 he notes that Aquinas’ vision, properly understood, ‘was ready to assimilate all that is valuable in other theological achievements.’ The other two quotes are from Aquinas himself. ‘All truth is from God’ and elsewhere he remarks that ‘whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit’.
Building on these quotations the argument of this paper is basically this: Thomas Aquinas sees theology as a critical conversation and as such, even in its thirteenth century context, this approach seeks and anticipates our democratic sensibility. Aquinas engages in a set of interlocking colloquia about human experience with a range of participants.
Ryan, T. (2006). Aquinas and theology as conversation. In M. Whelan (Ed.). Issues for church and society in Australia: The Aquinas Academy jubilee lectures. Strathfield, NSW: St Pauls Publishing.