A study of Thomas Aquinas’s expression of salvation history as a programmatic model that serves as a lens through which salvation history can be viewed

By Theodore J. St. John MS, MA, Ph. D.

04 Mar 2022

This is the model that will be discussed in this article.

Part 1: Introduction

The theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas (CE 1225–1274) came under attack shortly after his death, but eventually his work was revived and recognized “as the paladin [or champion] of philosophy in its true sense, as over and against the vagaries of modern thought since Descartes.” (McInerny and O’Callaghan 2018) But this wasn’t until long after the beginning of the Protestant Reformation of 1517 and only after Pope Leo XIII published the 1879 encyclical, Aeterni Patris, “On The Restoration Of Christian Philosophy,”[1] which focused heavily on his soteriology. Some scholars claimed that Vatican II brought that stage of the Thomistic Revival to a close and even that the council had “dethroned Thomas.” But others felt that this was more a ploy to invoke contemporary philosophy popular “among cultured lay people and young priests who choose to breathe a new air and either do not know or reject the sober way of Thomistic metaphysics.”[2] The result was a philosophical split in the Catholic Church[3], which is still seen today. In a sense, that split marked the end of an era.

A reading of that encyclical leaves no doubt as to the pope’s true opinion about Aquinas. He referred to him as “the chief and master of all towers” and said, “he most venerated the ancient doctors of the Church, in a certain way [that he] seems to have inherited the intellect of all.” (AP, 17) There are numerous other accolades for Aquinas as well, such as:

Clement XII in the bull Verbo Dei, affirm that most fruitful blessings have spread abroad from his writings over the whole Church, and that he is worthy of the honor which is bestowed on the greatest Doctors of the Church, on Gregory and Ambrose, Augustine and Jerome; while others have not hesitated to propose St. Thomas for the exemplar and master of the universities and great centers of learning whom they may follow with unfaltering feet.”

Based on what J. Mark Armitage wrote in “Aquinas on the Division of Ages,” it seems likely that Aquinas could have even predicted the philosophical split when he pointed out “the way in which he divides history into a series of ages through which God guides humanity toward its goal of perfection.”[4]

How Aquinas gave salvation history a natural structure

Armitage pointed to where Aquinas quotes Galatians 3:19: “God left human beings under the Natural Law, with the freedom of their will, in order that they may know their strength; when they failed in it, they received the law…”[5] Because they failed to understand the primordial, complementary principles of nature, as we now understand in quantum physics, they chose the default, static, incarnate form and ignored the complimentary, dynamic and necessary process of grace. To a well-balanced, but mostly analytical, “left-brained” person like Aquinas, the ability to accurately predict the outcome of natural systems based on a model that can be described in terms of phases, is an ideal teaching aide and a means of allowing nature to prove itself.

Armitage’s intent was to develop a salvation-historical approach to reading Aquinas that focuses attention on how he presents a “covenantal structure” constructed around the Old and New Covenants as twin pillars. That structure “underpins Aquinas’s treatment of incarnation, law, liturgy and sacraments.”[6] Then he proceeded to use these four “underpinnings” as the pillars of his article, labeled: (1) Salvation History; (2) Legal History; (3) Liturgical History; and (4) Sacramental History. In his conclusion, he explains that Aquinas followed Augustine’s tradition of dividing salvation history into successive stages that seem to automatically integrate spans of history and capture familiar characteristics that echo themselves in every level. “God,” he said, “exercises his government of history… by means of a divine pedagogy built into the structure of the divisions of time, each of which prepares for the one that follows.”[7]

To anyone who understands the basics of quantum physics, characteristics being built into the structure (static) of the divisions of time (dynamic), describes the same concept known as the particle (static)/wave (dynamic) duality paradox. And characteristics that echo at higher levels are themselves echoes of atomic and molecular structures that give matter its characteristics. With that in mind, it is apparent that the methods used in modern science are relevant and may be used to better understand how God “exercises his government of history.” Quantum physics is beyond the scope of this paper, but in principle, one could develop a science-style pedagogy for teaching the faith and/or Scripture to a much broader audience. Teaching the scientific community in their own language would be a parallel (recapitulation) of when the apostles Barnabas and Paul used “nature” as a yoke to communicate with the Gentiles who didn’t know the psalms or prophecies of the Old Testament. (Acts 14:8-20)

According to Armitage, Aquinas already used the scientific method, and this was mildly criticized because it does not allow him to consider salvation history. But he also explained how a salvation-historical reading of Summa Theologica could be “extrapolated from the relevant texts.”[8] He argued that Aquinas “constructs a distinctive soteriology according to which God leads humanity from one age to the next”[9] and outlines a covenantal structure to support his arguments. T. F. O’meara, et al., describes this “construct” by saying it “unfolds from a pattern which lies deep in the human thought form, and which reflects the cyclic nature of things according to myth and philosophy: the Platonic emission and return of the Many from and to the One.”[10]

The Philology of Aquinas

Thomas Aquinas lived during the fourth quarter of the Middle Ages (CE 500-1550). In his day, the term or idea of “salvation history” had not been expressly distinguished from what we might consider regular or “general history”. Instead, he used methods of interpretation and explanation that had been taught by Aristotle and Augustine. He used a type of formal argument to structure the Summa that was not mentioned by Armitage. The key feature that stands out, and in fact might make it as challenging as math is for most people to read, is that rather than getting right to the point and answering the question, he starts with a series of “objections.”

It would seem rational to most of us to make one’s most convincing argument to support one’s case and define one’s opinion with maximum certainty, and leave it to the reader or “opponent” to bring up objections and alternative explanations. Even students who learn to write a thesis are taught to state their argument first, then present counterpoints followed by rebuttals and a conclusion. But Aquinas used a process of elimination that is identical to the way doctors and forensic scientists eliminate suspects and very similar to techniques used in math to cancel out irrelevant terms in fractions. In math, it is very common and extremely helpful to use graphical models to help visualize the relationships. Therefore, a graphical model will be presented near the end of this paper.

Aquinas presents specific questions in a number of “Articles” that all address a more general “Question.”  These are written in the form: “Whether…” something is the case; then he provides “Objections;” then “On the Contrary…;” and then he brings the specific question to closure with his “Answer.” After that, he replies to the objections as if to encourage the reader to think and eliminate suspects. This creates a sense that he is shaping his answer into a well-rounded form. Then he replies to each objection. Why? If his answer was the end-all-be-all, then this would not be necessary. It leaves the reader with a feeling that the matter might not fully closed, that more questions will help reduce the uncertainty and that the case should be reopened if found lacking in the future.

Therefore, in the Spirit of Aquinas, Part 2 will follow his philology. Notice I said philology and not philosophy. Philology is the branch of knowledge that deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language or languages. Rather than diving deep into his ocean of questions, the intent here is to find and understand pertinent questions and articles, but to focus on the structure and flow of his philology in order to show how that static/dynamic combination creates an image with a characteristic that is a direct reflection of his philosophy. The hope is that it is relevant for modern style of teaching the faith and/or Scripture today.

In Part 3, his philology and logic will be expressed in the form of a graphical model, and could be expressed mathematically. One of the beautiful things about math is that it uses symbols that are not emotionally charged, (like most religious symbols are) to represent concepts, such as things and even events. The “characters” in an equation can represent characteristics of matter or characters in stories that capture general history as well as salvation history. It doesn’t matter whether the stories are mythological or records of actual event. And it doesn’t matter if the events are historically verifiable or not, which is a subject that Oscar Cullmann wrestles with in his defense of salvation history[11] As long as they express the truth, the solution to the equation will be an expression of truth.  However, the mathematical model that applies is beyond the scope of this paper and will not be presented here.

Part 2: Whether Aquinas’s philology is a model or reflection of his philosophy of truth

Aquinas clearly states that God is truth. In his answer to the question, “Whether God is Truth?[12]” he quotes John: “Our Lord says, ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (Jn. 14:6)” and he finishes with, “Whence it follows not only that truth is in Him, but that He is truth itself, and the sovereign and first truth.” The purpose of this part then is to present a relatively simple logic-based model of the unfolding pattern that he presents in the Summa and examine how it works to intensify truth and thus outshine untruth.

Objection 1: to process philosophy

It would seem that Aquinas’s philology is NOT a model or reflection of his philosophy about truth because it is a model that represents a type of Process Philosophy,which as of 1986 was “regularly greeted with strong negative feelings and even hostility” by most Catholics[13]. There are a number of reasons why process theology and process philosophy have not caught on in the American Catholic theological community. Many of the reasons are spelled out in his paper. He concludes with a metaphor that identifies process philosophy with an enormous, fast-blooming flower that dies and falls away in time. Then he claims that the main “plant” is “the empirical tradition”[14] as if that is the equivalent of the Catholic theological tradition.

Objection 2: to questioning dogma

Further, the Church has published volumes of doctrine and dogma for the purpose of understanding scripture. They are the models that the bishops and popes have approved and if this “Aquinas model” raises questions or doubts about that dogma, it could lead to more heretical conclusions and attempts to alter the established structure of the belief system. These have historically led to and resulted in heresies that then require more ecumenical councils to produce even more dogma, which most Catholics know little about and the average person in today’s society refuses to read, much less learn.

Those who serve as Christian leaders may read the dogma, but they already have their disagreements about it. Disagreement about the value of ancient Church doctorates like Aquinas leads to a decline in interest in philosophy of history and even more schisms. For example, focusing too much on Aquinas’s idea of “stages” led to the ideas of Joachim of Fiore, who concluded that three stages of increasing holiness correspond to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Despite the fact that Aquinas himself attacked this by explaining that the Old Law corresponded to both the Father and the Son[15], [16], a sect known as the Joachimites, or Joachites, arose from the Franciscans in the thirteenth century[17]. In fact, it could be argued that the entire Protestant Reformation was the result of similar attempts to over-simplify the sacred mysteries without fully grasping their underlying meaning.

Objection 3: to selling out religion to comply with the models of science

Further, even if Aquinas’s philology is a reflection of his philosophy, not everyone believes that his philosophy is a true reflection of the intent of God’s word. As mentioned in the introduction, his scientific method was criticized because it “does not allow him to consider salvation history”. Also, there is a tendency for some to place science at the center of reality, to try and force theology to fit the model and then to “sell out” religion. To “sell out” means that it betrays some cause for the purpose of advancing one’s personal theory or perspective. One example appeared[18] to have been presented by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., a French Jesuit priest and Paleontologist who, according to an article in the New York Times, “was all but declared a heretic in his own time by the Catholic Church he loved.”[19] The Times reported that he even said, “When Christ entered the universe, he was crucified ‘not to carry the sins of a guilty world,’ but ‘to carry the weight of an evolving world.’…” Not surprisingly, “The Roman Curia disagreed.” Eventually, he was “ordered into exile by his Jesuit superiors, to Tientsin and Peking.”

On the contrary:

The failures that have presented throughout “general history”, including those used in the above objections, serve as examples of the problem of choosing the static/literal part the whole as the end-all-be-all and ignoring the dynamic/spiritual part. It is very rational to choose because a choice makes us believe that we can actually have 100% certainty. In quantum physics, we have learned and can demonstrate that this is impossible. It attempts to collapse reality into a single “literal,” like a charged particle, and ignores the spiritual (like ignoring the electrostatic field surrounding the particle). The particular answer chosen may capture a certain amount of truth with a high value of certainty, but only certain to those who have acquired enough knowledge, experience and empirical evidence to see it. To everyone else, it presents with a “dark cloud” around it.

Metaphysically, true events get “captured” inside an implicit sphere, like an electron cloud captures the nucleus of an atom. In that analogy, electrons represent the tiniest details that make up an event; electron orbitals or energy levels represent a collection of related events and whole atoms represent a series of ages. At the level of ages, we can tell that they are all related to truth because we can see how they resonate the self-sustaining theme of truth as recapitulations. That effect of resonance is what ties physics to the idea of salvation history.

Once an event happens and the implicit spheres are formed, they never un-happen or disappear from existence, but our perception of them fades by events that are irrelevant to salvation. And the assumptions we must make in science that limit the applicability of our models also limit our understanding of “God’s truth.” In essence, they cloud our judgment, i.e. they form the cloud that “covered the tent of meeting” (Ex 40:34). It’s the same cloud that “filled the house of the LORD so that the priests could no longer minister” (1 Kgs 8:10-11). It doesn’t matter that the “cloud” wasn’t a real rain cloud or if the “tent of meeting” really existed. The “cloud” represents what we call our minds. Most importantly, as long as we remain centered on God (because “the LORD intends to dwell in the dark cloud” 1 Kgs 8:12), they also capture the essence of eternal life. Through honest investigation to reduce uncertainty, the bits of truth that form as minimal uncertainty are the “rain” in 1 Kgs 8:35-36 that allow our minds to grow in grace and mature as children of God.

My answer:

The systematic model of Aquinas’s philology is a reflection of his philosophy of truth. In order to present and better explain this and how his approach logically leads one from a state of ignorance (the unanswered question) to a higher state of knowing – a state that is a better reflection of truth – the visual is presented in Part 3. The following replies are provided for completeness.

Reply to objection 1 on process philosophy:

Rather than the flower in Mueller’s metaphor; process philosophy itself should be identified with the syrup – the dynamic flow of nutrients from the roots to the main plant. The flower is just the part we see (literal) and smell (spiritual). And that should be expected to wither and die with the changes in our knowledge. The proposed model is actually a logical and reasonable systematic model that integrates a quantitative (literal) model with the qualitative (spiritual) process by which the model works. As mentioned above, the quantitative and qualitative aspects of physics are called statics and dynamics respectively and they can be associated with the literal and spiritual sense of interpretation explained in the Catholic Catechism (CCC 115). Therefore, they work together as a whole in a way that can serve as a tool for mathematicians, physicists and other scientists in their quest for truth.

Reply to objection 2 on questioning dogma:

Presenting a model of Aquinas’s philology as a representation of his philosophy does indeed appear to be a simplification. However, it is not meant as a be-all-end-all or an attempt to reform existing dogma. Rather, it should reform our understanding of dogma. And it is not expected to replace the Summa. The intent is to give the reader a taste of the sweet “syrup” that Aquinas used to feed every one of his flowers (his articles). Although many people may not like the complexity of formal logic or even the simple mathematics that I present in Part 3, logic and math are like complex carbohydrates that we need and some people are craving in today’s flat and bland world.  

In essence, the Aquinas-model is simply a representation of his approach to answering questions. It does not contradict Church dogma or doctrine and it does not draw any heretical conclusions. Using his model does not encourage one to reject of even ignore any failed or heretical theories, but rather to treat them as a collection of “not-arguments” (the collective “cloud” of ignorance or the “fog of war”). Many people intuitively know that we are at a critical point in the “Church phase” of salvation history and an Aquinas model may help relieve some of the eschatological tension.

Reply to objection 3 on selling out:

To put it bluntly, Aquinas “cut the crap” by organizing his questions and articles the way he did and there is no indication of a sell-out. On the contrary, by starting each and every article with a list of objections, he exposes potential flaws (chaff protecting the flower pod) that might be covering the “product” of the process (his not-yet-revealed answer). Then, by presenting the “contrary” argument, he puts the objections to rest (the chaff relaxes to let the flower start to bloom) and then turns the discussion inside-out, revealing truth as he sees it via his answer (the flower pod unfolding). In many cases, he included a bunch of branches that he might “leaf out” (pun intended) if he were here today and had the discoveries of modern science and theology. For example, based on modern physics, which has revealed the complementary particle-wave nature of matter, he might reconsider his position on “Whether truth resides in the thing, or only in the intellect,”[20] but that is the nature of the beast and a topic for another paper. Without the science, it is expressed as salvation history in the bible. Like the OT (many seeds of truth) is contained within the NT (the flower pod) and the NT reveals the OT.

Part 3: The Aquinas model

As a whole, the structure of Summa presents as a cycle (notice the dynamic nature of the word cycle) that starts with God (truth itself described as alpha and omega) in Part I as his first priority, knowing that this is also his intended destination. He moves to questions about the creation of the universe,[21] then about a “creature” (Man) that is capable of developing a mind of its own. That creature is introduced in Question 75: “Of man who is composed of a spiritual and a corporeal substance”, i.e. an implicit or phatasmic spirit (which implies dynamic) and an explicit or physical “model” called the body (which implies static but flexible and animated by spirit).

As a sub-part of the whole, Part II “describes how the Christian life develops in a human being”[22] but Aquinas starts with the end in mind, i.e. man’s purpose and the meaning of life, which he states explicitly to be “happiness”. He reiterates and reminds us of this in several places, for example in ST I-II Q. 75, A.2, he says, “the end of the soul is the same as that of an angel—namely, eternal happiness,” and Q.82 A.I, “for as the intellect of necessity adheres to the first principles, the will must of necessity adhere to the last end, which is happiness.” That is obviously not a sell-out.

Every article in the Summa addresses a basic question, worded as “whether…” something, call it “C” for “conclusion”, is true. For example, “Whether sacred doctrine is a science?”[23] The way he words it is a clue that something koan-like[24] is going on. Most of us, left to our own volition would word it more directly, like “Is sacred doctrine a science or not?” The way he words it is an implicit form of a question that doesn’t include “Is” or “or not”; it implies both but also implies that we really don’t know the answer. It is understood that he means, “Whether the statement ‘sacred doctrine is science’ is true or not.”  Note that “not” implies “not true” which means “false” and “statement” implies that the sentence is in one of two “states”: true or false. But we won’t use the word “false” here because it hides what is going on behind the curtain (which we will see is a logical inversion). Instead, we will use the term “not-true” for reasons that will be clear below.

By not answering directly, and not even saying the words “true or not,” Aquinas leaves the reader hanging. In theory, the truth will prove itself so the goal is to allow the truth to explicate and express itself as the one that is in the state we call “true”. This is in effect the scientific method, which has proven to work when scientists don’t “sell out”. Sadly, many do and that has given science a bad name to many theologians and religious people.

By leaving the words “true” or “not true” unsaid, he invites us to look beyond the domain of opposites for something nonphysical – to unwittingly move our perspective into the non-physical realm of reality that (some) modern physicists have learned to call “the implicate order.” [25], [26]Most people might call that “implicate order” the mind or perhaps the instinct. Simply put, (in my opinion) it is just a dimension of mind where we can “rise above the opposites.”

So rather than presenting a logical argument (call it “A”) to support his hypothesis, Aquinas plays the devil’s advocate and points in a direction that seems weak and illogical to someone who has a preconceived answer. It seems weak because it is obvious that he doesn’t have a good answer that he’s willing to defend. Instead, he presents a number of “Objections” like “It seems that sacred doctrine is not a science,” which address the implied “or not”. They are not actually conclusions; so let’s call them “not-conclusions” or “not-C’s.” Then in the same paragraph, he supports the objection with an argument, call it a “not-argument” or “not-A.” The “not-A” attempts to convince us that the Objection is true and thus imply that his original statement, which we know will be his conclusion “C”, is not true.[27]

His modus operendi is this: first he throws us off balance and creates a degree of uncertainty with the objection; then he provides the argument for that objection and then the contrary argument, which is the contrapositive of the original statement. This is a critical move that would have been missing if he had gone the explicit route and given a direct answer. It is critical because, if the original statement is in fact true, then the contrapositive is also true. The contrapositive provides the negative-inverse perspective of the same truth, unfolded in a way that automatically reflects and folds back on itself. The effect is that the two perspectives literally resonate perfectly with each other, even though they are mutually exclusive in their outward appearance. In physics, this is expressed as the collapse of the quantum wave function.

Here’s how this could be worded as a conditional (an “if it is true then” statement). Original condition: If sacred doctrine (is true then it) is a science. Inverse: If sacred doctrine is not true then it is not a science. Contrapositive (reverse order of the inverse): If it is not a science then sacred doctrine is not true. This discussion is reduced to the circular model shown in Figure 1 to visualize the “mental moves” that Aquinas takes. It shows the linear and non-linear nature of these moves and illustrates how different perspectives can form mirror images of each other (original and contrapositive, inverse and converse) are described below. The original statement shown in the upper right quadrant, (“If C then A”) means that if his original conclusion (C), turns out to be true, then his argument (A), which he will give as his Answer, is true.”

Figure 1 Circular model of formal logic. Normally, giving the original statement as an inside-out perspective, we would be motivated to move to the left, to express the best argument, which is the CONVERSE. But Aquinas takes us left to the INVERSE to consider several objections. “On the contrary” explains what’s wrong with the objections and that brings us to the “other side” of the truth. The result is that we see the same truth from the outside in and that allows us to unfold our mind like a plant unfolds a flower bud.

The curved arrows show how Aquinas takes us in the Summa. He has us consider the inverse first: If “not-C” is true (based on the objection) then the implication is that his yet-to-be-revealed answer, A is not true. Then he presents a counter statement (“On the contrary”), which moves us around the circle farther to the right again and argues that the “not-C” argument that the objection just made is NOT true. That’s the contrapositive. If the original statement is in truth true, then the contrapositive is true – absolutely. We can say it is one with God. The “wet sidewalk” example in Figure 1 should help to make that clear. It also shows how and why the inverse and converse are not necessarily true (NNT). (There could be plenty of other reasons why the sidewalk is wet.)

The linear arrow in the upper part of the circle shows how we normally move. The example in the figure makes it obvious that this is the realm of “not necessarily true”. There, if the conclusion is not true, and if we are not committed to truth, then we can simply ignore the reasons why it’s not true and “spin it” to support what we claim or want to be the truth. That’s relative truth and it feels comfortable. If it actually is true, which is often is, then the inverse (its reflection) will also be true. (We would need to change the wording in the figure from “A is not” to not-A (or ~A)… all models are limited). Being a reflection of truth is what gives it real substance. The value in using Aquinas’s direction is that it is not comfortable because there’s no feeling of closure with in the “not-state”.

Salvation historical wrap up

Oscar Cullmann presented a lecture in 1964 to bishops and cardinals during Vatican II and acknowledged that, in speaking about salvation history, he used “language and concepts foreign to the bible,” and that he understood how some people would object. “But,” he said, “the idea is there.”[28] This paper is far more unconventional than his lecture, but the idea in there. “The idea” is that salvation itself is a state of mind that one reaches by living in truth and thus living in God. Like it or not, we can only see salvation history in the mirror of our mind so it is critically important to have a mirror that actually reflects the truth. The circular philology of St. Thomas is an excellent model to use for framing that mirror.


[1] Leo XIII. “Aeterni Patris.” Vatican Website. Aug 4, 1879. https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_04081879_aeterni-patris.html (accessed Feb 22, 2022).

[2] Komonchak, Joseph A. “Thomism and The Second Vatican Council.” Continuity and Plurality in Catholic Theology: Essays in Honor of Gerald A. McCook, 1998: 53-73.

[3] “Catholic” will be implied in the word Church in the rest of the paper. Otherwise, a fraction (i.e. denomination) will be specified.

[4] Armitage, J. Mark. “Aquinas on the Divisions of the Ages; Salvation History in the Summa.” Nova et Vetera 6, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 253.

[5] Ibid., 255

[6] Ibid., 254

[7] ibid., 269

[8] Ibid., 253

[9] Ibid., 254

[10] T. F. O’Meara and M. J. Duffy. Superstition and Irreverance. Vol. 40, in St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica (Sections 92-100). Cambridge University Press, 2006.

[11] Oscar Cullmann, Foundations: The Theology of Salvation History and the Ecumenical Dialogue. 1968, 26

[12] ST I Q.16 A.5

[13] J. J. Mueller, “Process Theology and the Catholic Theological Community.” Theological Studies 47 (1986), 414

[14] Ibid., 425

[15] Armitage explained that Aquinas firmly rejected this “Trinitarian structure of salvation history.” See Armitage, “Aquinas on the Divisions of the Ages: Salvation History in the Summa,” 260.

[16] ST I-II, Q.106, A.4, ad.3

[17] Marjorie Reeves,The Influence of Prophecy in the Late Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism. Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1969.

[18] It only appeared that way from the article. One would have to study his theory and intent to make a judgment. However, the conclusion stated in the article regarding his thoughts on Christ’s purpose suggests that his perspective was warped and he missed the mark.

[19] New York Times. “Teilhard.” New York Times. Feb 20, 1977.

[20] See his answer to ST I, Q.16 A.1

[21] Creation is a word that expresses both a static event or a dynamic a process depending on its use

[22] O’Meara and Duffy. Superstition and Irreverance, xix

[23] ST I Q.1 A.2

[24] A “koan” is a Zen practice to provoke doubt, which turns one’s attention away from any “particles” of certainty and toward the “great unknown”.

[25] David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge Publishing, 1980.

[26] The implicate order is a higher level of reality that Aquinas alludes to when he mentions “phantasms” (ST I Q.54 A.4) and “the medium of the angelic knowledge” (ST I Q.55 prologue). A complete justification of this correlation is too lengthy to include here, but briefly, Aquinas references De Anima III where Aristotle defines and explains.

[27] We know this because, by knowing the process, one can predict his yet-to-be-stated conclusion simply by taking the inverse of the “Objection”. In the example here, the first objection starts with, “It seems that sacred doctrine is not a science,” and later says, “I answer that, Sacred doctrine is a science.”

[28] Oscar Cullmann, Foundations, 22


Aquinas, Thomas. “Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas.” New Advent Website. 1920. https://www.newadvent.org/summa/ (accessed Feb 2022).

Armitage, J. Mark. “Aquinas on the Divisions of the Ages; Salvation History in the Summa.” Nova et Vetera 6, no. 2 (Spring 2008): 253-270.

Bohm, David. Wholeness and the Implicate Order. London: Routledge Publishing, 1980.

Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican Website. 1995. https://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG0015/__PQ.HTM (accessed Feb 24, 2022).

Cullmann, Oscar. Foundations: The Theology of Salvation History and the Ecumenical Dialogue. 1968.

Komonchak, Joseph A. “Thomism and The Second Vatican Council.” Continuity and Plurality in Catholic Theology: Essays in Honor of Gerald A. McCook, 1998: 53-73.

Leo XIII. “Aeterni Patris.” Vatican Website. Aug 4, 1879. https://www.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_04081879_aeterni-patris.html (accessed Feb 22, 2022).

McInerny, Ralph, and John O’Callaghan. “Saint Thomas Aquinas.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Summer 2018. https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2018/entries/aquinas/ (accessed Feb 25, 2022).

Mueller, J. J. “Process Theology and the Catholic Theological Community.” Theological Studies 47 (1986): 412-427.

New American Bible, Revised Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Corp., 1986.

New York Times. “Teilhard.” New York Times. Feb 20, 1977. https://www.nytimes.com/1977/02/20/archives/teilhard-sin-was-part-of-the-plan.html#:~:text=Pierre%20Teilhard%20de%20Chardin%2C%20S.J.,the%20Catholic%20Church%20he%20loved. (accessed Feb 20, 2022).

O’Meara, T. F., and M. J. Duffy. Superstition and Irreverance. Vol. 40, in St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica (Sections 92-100). Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Reeves, Marjorie. The Influence of Prophecy in the Late Middle Ages: A Study in Joachimism. Oxford:Clarendon Press, 1969.

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