Vos on Thomas and Barth

“Aquinas’s claim that God is the formal object of faith has been made in a slightly different way by a number of twentieth-century Protestant theologians, most notably Karl Barth, who has insisted that God must always remain the subject–the one who speaks–and never become an object in theology. Theologians must listen to God, nor can they ever free themselves from this demand. We can presume Aquinas would have agreed with the substance of Barth’s claim, but he would have bridled at the epistemological assumption that Barth seems to accept–namely, that a self-revealing subject cannot become an object. A faulty notion of objectivity is at the root of the problem. If it is the case that in attaining objectivity the mind constitutes the object rather than conforms itself to it, then God cannot become an object. For Aquinas, however, nothing of the sort is involved. For him it is precisely by holding fast to the first principle, God himself, that one arrives at the content, the material object, of theology.” (Arvis Vos, Aquinas, Calvin & Contemporary Protestant Thought, Eerdmans, 1985: 14-15)


One Response to Vos on Thomas and Barth

  1. […] and Arvin Vos’s book “Aquinas, Calvin, & Contemporary Protestant Thought” (which I’ve mentioned here before) references this question several times, especially in the second chapter which discussions […]

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