Saint Thomas Aquinas is one of the people accredited for having brought theology into the limelight. However, though theology existed long before the emergence of philosophers and fathers if the church, individualistic drives such as those of Aquinas brought a deeper understanding into the mysteries of theology. Modern day theology would not have gotten any bearing without the impact of philosophers and scholars who simplified the understanding of theological concepts. While it cannot be independently verified what the motivation was behind the interest in theology, it is clear that theology is what it is because of the input of the philosophers and scholars (Thomas & Pegis, 1997).
Aquinas, being motivated into the world of theology, sought to bring a number of issues into perspective. One of the critical concepts that Aquinas sought to define was the theological virtue of charity. In this endeavor, he wanted to derive the basic understanding of the virtue of charity from the perspective of theology. To make sense of this concept, Aquinas borrowed heavily from other sources to help broaden the scope of his discussion as far as a theological virtue of charity was concerned. Even though he was one of the most distinguished theologians of his time, he never wanted to be a man of his own. Aquinas borrowed heavily from the works of Aristotle, whom he thought was the giant of ideas and thoughts during that generation. Another critical source that Aquinas used to be the Summa Contra Gentiles (Thomas & Pegis, 1997). In this source, there were scriptural elements that helped him to bring out is arguments as far as a theological virtue of charity was concerned. It is critical to note that Aquinas used other sources to outline his arguments. There are principles that make moral life animated by supernatural charity, thus making life enlivened by the Holy Spirit. The St. Thomas Aquinas explanation of the theological virtue of charity helps in putting the principles into perspective (Marion & Tracy, 2012).
Aristotle wrote and discussed some critical issues to some extent levels. Aquinas sought to use the same writings and thoughts to further his agenda for making clear his thoughts. Aristotle based his arguments on the goodness of man. He noted that the man has to develop from within an aspect of being admired based on the characters that are not as controversial. In essence, he meant that it is critical for people to leave a life that is a mirror to others and other generations to come. Aquinas borrowed this concept of the understanding of man to outline the essence of theological value of ethics. In his arguments, Aquinas noted that for one to achieve some level of charity from the perspective of theology, two things were critical. Faith and hope, according to him covered a wide area in understanding or attaining some charity and moral standards. Virtues, according to Aquinas are the driving force towards achieving some certain ‘telo’. Human beings are ever in pursuit of happiness and as such are always motivated to identify such things that bring about wellbeing. To this end, Aristotle talked about Beatitudes as a means through which human beings derive their happiness.
According to Aquinas, virtues that are theological in nature drive the human race towards the supernatural while the other virtues drive people to achieve some specific ends. The theological values that include faith, hope and charity drive people to God. In essence, he sought to distinguish the theological virtues and the other virtues. The distinction was that the two play different roles though they are almost similar in what they are to achieve. When Aristotle talked about the beatitudes, his focus was that human beings are in constant search of happiness and therefore, they are pushed to do to others what they would want other people do to them. This, to a large extent, was the basis of charity, according to Aquinas. In a theological sense, people have a general responsibility to God that compels them to do well. The drive to do well as a general responsibility to God drives people to do is charitable to others.
Charity brings about hope and faith a factor that is synonymous with the Holy Spirit. The three are the theological values of theological charity. However, there is a chain and a sequence through which they occur. Faith comes before hope. A person has to have faith and be hopeful waiting for the substance of things not seen. In a broader sense, hope, therefore, comes before charity. It is critical to understand Aquinas against his background of thinking. The theological virtue of charity revolves around three significant elements (Velde, 2006). These elements are a charity, faith and hope. To gain charity, faith and hope should be active to some significant levels to ensure that there is a means to an end. Charity is a critical aspect that activates the elements of faith and hope. However, to some extent, the three elements are not isolated. Hope and faith can be independent. However, charity depends the individual’s ability to have faith and to be hopeful. To this end, Aquinas was trying to point out the theological aspect of charity largely depends on the individualistic tendencies to do well.
The Holy Spirit emanates from the supernatural. Aristotle’s arguments only had a basis of the human nature and not the supernatural. The obligations of a person with respect to doing what is right pushed Aristotle to put some issues into perspective. Aquinas based hi9s arguments on God and the responsibilities that man has towards fulfilling the duties to the supernatural. However, Aquinas used the basic understanding of the works of Aristotle to elaborate on the essence of being responsible in the art of life. In essence, the things that drive man to get into actions that is less harmful informed Aquinas to connect the components of being Godly and the need to be responsible to humanity as well as to God (Thomas & Pegis, 1997). The theological virtues of charity emanate from two components of responsibility to God and humanity. When Aquinas talked of the need to be virtuous, his point of argument was that charity exists when there is good will from the people. To some extent, Aquinas was quoting Aristotle and his thoughts concerning humanity. Faith and hope are metaphysical elements. This means that the two virtuous are directly informed based on being inclined to the supernatural. To some extent, charity would be derived from the need to be responsible to God. Faith and hope could only come because of a belief system. The act to do well is derived because of an inborn feeling of being responsible to both self and the other people. Hope and faith came as a direct consequence of charity. This in a wider sense informed the basis for theological virtue of charity (Thomas & Pegis, 1997).
A life enlivened by the Holy Spirit is vibrant through the inception of critical virtues. The virtue of charity for a long time has been the subject of discussion. Charity and theological issues are critical components that warrant in-depth analysis to come up with some conclusive outcome. Aristotle noted that one could only have a satisfying life by following the examples of those who have lived better lives before. The fact that living a good life that can be emulated by other people influences virtue, charity makes the discussion centered on the need to be responsible. Aquinas did not believe so much in the moral virtues carried by human beings. However, though the thoughts helped him in deriving, meaning and making people understand his thoughts; he had a very different perspective of the virtues. Aquinas believed that the only responsibility that a man has been with God and not a fellow human being. In his arguments, he noted that the virtues of love, faith and hope were the major consequences of virtue. Aquinas noted that any person who had the three virtues had some reverence to God and by extension to man. The first point of contact was therefore to God, then from the submissions to the supernatural; man would find a place of refuge.
According to Aquinas, the virtues were on relevant to the extent that one has full submission to God. Anything to the contrary hindered the full manifestation of the virtues. To some extent, Aquinas failed to recognize the fact that there are people who are virtuous, yet do not subscribe to any of the supernatural. His arguments were theological centered to the extent that they did not figure out other virtue sources.
In Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas extended his thoughts on theological virtue charity. The sacredness of human life forms the basis of analysis. In this context, the Holy Spirit gives guidance as to how people understand the nature of God. In his arguments, he noted that God was the final point of reference (Velde, 2006). All things, according to Aquinas started and ended with God to the extent that no one could suggest otherwise. His point of argument I borrowed from his reference person, the Aristotle. Aristotle noted that everything started and ended in the metaphysical and no one could question the idea behind that point of reasoning. In Summa Contra Gentiles, Aquinas talked more about wisdom. The search for knowledge and wisdom was based on the fact that God was the final analysis. Aquinas points out to proverbs 8:7 that states, “My mouth will meditate upon your truth and my lips will hate what is impious” (Hendrickson, 2008). Aquinas noted that for one to attain a level of wisdom that is necessary to make a sound judgment, it was critical that an individual had to go through some philosophical stages. The metaphysical was the main point of view in his arguments about the ultimate search for wisdom.
St. Thomas in his advancement of the theological virtue of charity noted some critical issues. He notes that the fact that people were filled with the Holy Spirit brought about a sense of direction to the extent that people were guided based on the perspective of the Holy Spirit. To him, being filled with the Holy Spirit was the beginning of attaining virtue of charity and ensuring that people lived a life worth of their calling. St. Thomas mentions faith in this excerpt of the Summa Contra Gentiles (Emery, 2001). To him, through the various occurrences in the Christian faith, it is easier to believe than to wish away the issues of faith. He gives the example of a prophecy happening. St. Thomas notes that such things can only happen when there is strong belief. Belief in this context is largely connected to the faith vested in an individual. Belief and faith are the major points of departure in the Summa Contra Gentiles. In this context, the argument is that the search for wisdom depends on how much a person believes in God. Aquinas elaborates on the spread of the church in the early days. He notes that the spread of the early church was based on faith, belief, and not any prompting (Pope, 2002).
Largely, Aquinas’ arguments point to the fact that the essence of theological essence is by making the people their own choices based on their belief and knowledge. It then means that Aquinas did not agree with the fact that some people had to be pushed to join other religions. Aquinas condemned other religions as being baseless with no truth behind them. In fact, he was trying to dismiss the charity behind the different religions (Velde, 2006). To Aquinas, the Christian faith was most ethical to the extent with which they reached and identified with God. This is a sharp contrast of what he thought about other religions. St. Thomas criticized the Mohammed doctrine to the extent that he failed to recognize it as a religion of choice. His point of argument was that the doctrine employed violent tactics in trying to influence people to join a particular religion. This was not a charity and did not agree that this was the essence of virtue ethics.
Aquinas noted that there were reasons to believe that God was an eternal figure, a being beyond the metaphysical. Aquinas through the assumption of the existence of God also noted that motion and other complex issues were eternal. His arguments concerning the eternity of motion raises a number of doubts that arise based on the simplicity of his reasoning. To this extent, Aquinas believed that everything had reference from God and not any other thing (Levering, 2007). The theological virtue of charity is all connected to the belief in God and carrying out the duties with reverence to God. In fact, he noted that there was no need to prompt people to subscribe to a give religion. Faith and belief, according to Aquinas should be the driving force that makes people take up decisions. This is the essence of the theological virtue of charity. In the event that there is violent prompting of people to subscribe to any religion, the essence of virtue of charity loses meaning.
St. Thomas Aquinas in his analysis brings into perspective the concept of the theological virtue of charity. While Aristotle was for the following of human example for the basis of living a good life, St. Thomas Aquinas was for the virtues of faith, love and hope as a reference point for living a virtuous life (Velde, 2006). The benchmark is nothing but God as being the ultimate reason for compliance. The virtues of love, faith and hope were a direct consequence of charity. To this extent, it can be noted that Aquinas placed all referencing towards God as a means of achieving the ends in life. These to him were the basis of the theological virtue of charity. St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the theological virtues of charity aid in understanding the principles that makes moral life to be animated by supernatural charity, a factor that makes life to be enlivened by the Holy Spirit.
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