Ingolf U. Dalferth
A Relaxed View of Metaphysics. Neo-Aristotelian Thomism and the Theological Legacy of Thomas Aquinas
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The paper discusses the importance of Aristotelian metaphysics in Thomas Aquinas and its (alleged) relevance for today. It argues that the metaphysical underpinning of his theology should not be taken as an iron law. For Thomas, philosophy does not play a foundational, but only an ancillary role in theology. Contrary to the abstract approach of analytical Thomism that uncritically continues the anti-modernist view of Thomas from the beginning of the 20th century, the Summa theologiae must be taken seriously as a piece of theology in the tradition of Chalcedonian Christology. In order to see this, one only has to read it backwards from part III through part II to part I. Its argumentative structure is not a foundationalist chain of thought that moves from metaphysical foundations to theological superstructure, but the unfolding of a theological vision that progresses from the abstract elemental to the complex concrete in unfolding a Christological pattern of Christian theology.