Frederick Christian Bauerschmidt

In recent years there has been an amazing amount of interest in the ethical and political thought of Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224—74). The growth of interest in the "ethics of virtue," both in philosophy (e.g. MacIntyre 1991) and theology (e.g. Porter 1990; Pinckaers 1995), has naturally turned people's attention to Aquinas' subtle and sophisticated analysis of virtue. In other cases, the role of "natural law" in Aquinas' thought has attracted the interest of some legal and political theorists (e.g. Finnis 1998), and even of liberation theologians (Gutiérrez 1993). In what follows, I will argue for the contemporary relevance of Aquinas for political theology, though not primarily on the basis of his appeals to natural law. Rather, by examining some texts from Aquinas that do not appear at first glance to have much at all to do with his moral theology, much less his political theory, I hope to show that the chief importance of Aquinas for political theology is his belief that truth is stronger than kings, and his identification of truth with the God of Israel, incarnate in Jesus Christ.

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