In the body of I, 1, 8 of the Summa Theologiae St. Thomas discusses the question of arguing from and about the teachings set out in the Bible. He does not say in so many words that there is nothing about the Bible that could not be defended. But what he does say comes to the same.
No science, he notes, can prove its own principles, though the principles of a lower science can be proved by truths known in a higher one. With regard to the "science" of Sacred Scripture, like Metaphysics in the order of natural reason, we do not have a higher "science" to appeal to. Nonetheless, as with Metaphysics, we can dispute with one who denies the principles of the sacred science (i.e. its supreme truths, upon which all others depend). To do this however we have to get the questioner to acknowledge something within the scope of our science. In Metaphysics this simply involves getting him to concede something as true, anything at all, even if it is that there is nothing certain, for then what he denies can be shown to contradict his use of "is".
Correspondingly, in arguments about matters set out in Sacred Scripture we have to get the questioner to acknowledge some at least of the truths revealed by God or some article of faith. Then we have scope for proving him wrong from such texts or articles of faith.
If nothing is conceded, or the questioner does not accept the Bible as the revealed word of God, then, as St. Thomas says, "there is no longer any means of proving the articles of faith by reasoning, but only of answering objections ...". Such difficulties as are put, however, can always be answered. For, "the contrary of truth can never be demonstrated".
Don Boland is a lecturer at the Centre for Thomistic Studies, in Sydney, Australia.
This article posted July 2000. It was published in Universitas, Number 6 (2000).
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