Praeambula Fidei

Praeambula Fidei

Thomism and the God of the Philosophers

by Ralph M. McInerny

6.00 x 9.00 in

  • Paperback
  • 9780813214580
  • Published: November 2006


  • eBook
  • 9780813216270
  • Published: November 2006



WINNER OF THE 2007 CHARLES CARDINAL JOURNET PRIZE awarded by The Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University

The praeambula fidei ("preambles of faith") are regarded by Thomas Aquinas as the culmination of philosophy: natural theology, the highest knowledge of God that is possible on philosophical grounds alone. The natural home for such considerations is the Metaphysics of Aristotle and Thomas's commentary on that work. Yet Thomas's view has been cast into doubt, with philosophers and theologians alike attempting to drive a wedge between Aquinas and Aristotle. In this book, renowned philosopher Ralph McInerny sets out to review what Thomas meant by the phrase and to defend a robust understanding of Thomas's teaching on the subject.

After setting forth different attitudes toward proofs of God's existence and outlining the difference between belief and knowledge, McInerny examines the texts in which Thomas uses and explains the phrase "preambles of faith." He then turns his attention to the work of eminent twentieth-century Thomists and chronicles their abandonment of the preambles. He draws a contrast between this form of Thomism and that of the classical Dominican commentators, notably Cajetan, arguing that part of the abandonment of the notion of the preambles as philosophical involves a misreading and misrepresentation of Cajetan.

McInerny concludes with a positive rereading of Aristotle's Metaphysics and Aquinas's use thereof. In the end, the book argues for a return to the notion of Aristotelico-Thomism—Thomistic philosophy as the organic development of the thought of Aristotle.

Ralph McInerny is Michael P. Grace Professor of Medieval Studies in the department of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is cofounder of Crisis magazine and author of several books published by CUA Press, namely, the bestselling Ethica Thomistica, The Question of Christian Ethics, Aquinas on Human Action, and Boethius and Aquinas.

"When it comes to defending Thomism, McInerny, long-time distinguished professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, is without peer.... [McInerny] provides a keen exposition of the most contentious discussions that, during the twentieth century, pitted students of Thomas Aquinas one against the other. Ralph McInerny writes with both precision and the novelist's flair.... The book should be required reading for all Catholic seminarians, graduate students of theology, and anyone who wants to understand better the merits of Thomism, both Renaissance and contemporary."—Romanus Cessario, First Things

"Both believers and non-believers who think that modernity needs to be tempered by antiquity's wisdom will sympathize."—Douglas Kries, Claremont Review of Books

"McInerny's book is a powerful and controversial restatement of a classical Thomistic doctrine concerning the relations between faith and reason, philosophy and theology.... In our metaphysical tone-deaf age, the book reopens important discussions on the topic of fundamental theology, and ought to be read by all those seriously interested in the renewal of genuine ontological reflection within Christian theology."—Thomas Joseph White, O.P., The Thomist

"[McInerny] provides a full review, with supporting documentation, of Aristotle's vital contribution to the Thomistic development of natural theology, and with it, a respectful demonstration why scholars who have held an opposing view are mistaken."—The Maritain Notebook
"McInerny has produced a work that rightly clarifies the obligation of Christian theologians and philosophers to reflect on the natural truths that are preambles to the faith. It further reminds us of the all too human foibles that can taint otherwise precious cont