January 28, 2018

St. Thomas Aquinas’ Rejection of Islam was Based on Divine Truth, Not Political Correctness

St. Thomas Aquinas

In honor of Saint Thomas Aquinas' feast day, [January 28th] here is the Angelic Doctor’s consideration of Islam and the teachings of its prophet Mohammed. It is noteworthy but hardly surprising that one of the most brilliant theologians in the Church’s history was beholden to truth, not morally devoid political correctness.

Aquinas rarely discusses Islam expressly, save for two instances.* In one, he defends Christianity against Muslim objections [See Summa Contra Gentiles] noting that; the blood of Christian martyrs leads to coverts, whereas Islam is spread by the sword. Moreover, Aquinas compares and contrasts Christ’s selfless divinity with Mohammed’s ruthless inhumanity. To wit, in Aquinas’ own words:
He [Mohammed] did not bring forth any signs produced in a supernatural way, which alone fittingly gives witness to divine inspiration; for a visible action that can be only divine reveals an invisibly inspired teacher of truth. On the contrary, Mohammed said that he was sent in the power of his arms – which are signs not lacking even to robbers and tyrants. What is more, no wise men, men trained in things divine and human, believed in him from the beginning. Those who believed in him were brutal men...utterly ignorant of all divine teaching, through [Whom]... Mohammed forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms.
What is more, Aquinas directly impugns Mohammed's message and method's: "Mohammed seduced the people by promises of carnal pleasure to which the concupiscence of the flesh urges us. His teaching also contained precepts that were in conformity with his promises, and he gave free rein to carnal pleasure. In all this, as is not unexpected; he was obeyed by carnal men. As for proofs of the truth of his doctrine, he brought forward only such as could be grasped by the natural ability of anyone with a very modest wisdom. Indeed, the truths that he taught he mingled with many fables and with doctrines of the greatest falsity." (From the Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 1, Chapter 16, Article 4, Footnote 1.)

Read Twelve Things About St. Thomas Aquinas Every Catholic Should Know

In today’s increasingly secularized society, particularly in the arenas of academia, entertainment and the public square, such forthright commentary would be met with condemnation and disdain. Aquinas was concerned with empirical evidence and objective truth that are at the heart of his marriage of faith and reason. His moral insights are unencumbered by any kind of politically correct sentimentality.

O God, who made Saint Thomas Aquinas outstanding in his zeal for holiness and his study of sacred doctrine, grant us, we pray, that we may understand what he taught and imitate what he accomplished. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. St. Thomas Aquinas, pray that our minds seek God's will.

*The other instance of Aquinas addressing Islam was his brief tract, De rationibus fidei contra Saracenos, Graecos et Armenos ad Cantorem Antiochenum, wherein he discusses and defends Christianity's dogmas in the face of Muslim criticisms.

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