Aquinas has taken a bad rap from some protestants - mainly Francis Schaeffer from what I remember. Schaeffer thought that Aquinas had divided reality into a two-story building, ‘nature’ being the bottom floor, ‘grace’ being the top floor; and over time ‘nature’ had ‘eaten up’ grace, by which he (FS) meant that men had reduced all of reality to the natural, and explained away all so-called ‘supernatural’. In any case the results have been tragic. I think the book of FS is Escape from Reason, a good read that may have a flaw or two.
I don’t read Aquinas in that same way. I’ve been influenced by a wonderful translation, with introductory comments for each section, of the Summa Theologiae. The editor is Timothy McDermott, and he has take the 66 volumes or so of the standard 1960"s translation and miraculously saved the ‘meat’ of Aquinas’ teaching into a concise translation, very readable, in one volume. Here is a short section of introductory comments on Volume 14 “Human Life as a Journey to God”:
Do you think that the following is an acceptable representation of what God has been ‘up to’? Or do you opt more for the Stern Calvinist God, or the airy ethereal new-age ‘god’? (Ok, that was a false dichotomy - there are nuanced positions ‘in between’) Or do you like the way that it is put below?
What the scriptures teach is that man failed the gardening task and ruined God’s creation, but that God graciously came, as a friend and
cooperator, to help him salvage and recreate. In choosing that way to help man with his original goal God gave man’s life a new goal - that of fellowship with God himself as friend. The journey of this life is no longer simply a journey to the fulfilment of man’s nature, for that journey has been taken up into a journey into the presence of God HImself, into the good and happy state which God himself is.
This is Thomas’s preferred way of describing the relationship between what later commentators called man’s natural and supernatural ends. He does not talk, as they do, of man first knowing God as author of nature, and then as author of supernature. Rather he consistently talks of God, known to man’s learning as the author of nature, becoming through God’s teaching the object of his happiness. The word translated ‘happiness’ has more the sense of ‘happy state’ or ‘blessed state’, meaning a state which has blessedly happened or turned out well - a state of goodhap rather than mishap. It corresponds to the Aristotelian word ‘eudaimonia’, which some modern scholars translate as ‘flourishing’. When Thomas uses happiness as a name for God himself he is thinking of God as fulfilled life; and this explains why he talks of happiness as being accompanied by delight, rather than as consisting in it.
God has destined us for a goal beyond the grasp of reason.
amazon.com/Summa-Theologiae … +mcdermott