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Dr. Thomas F. Weinandy OFMCap

Interview with Dr. Thomas F. Weinandy OFM Cap - 10-09-2004

 

1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers?

I am an American Capuchin priest and for the past thirteen years I have taught History and Doctrine at the University of Oxford .  I grew up (born 12 January 1946 ) in a small Catholic town, Delphos Ohio , and entered the Capuchin Seminary when I was 14.  I obtained my BA in Philosophy at St. Fidelis College in Herman, PA.  I obtained a Masters in Systematic Theology at the Washington Theological Union and my Doctorate in Historical Theology at King's College, London.  I have taught theology in a number of American Catholic Colleges and Universities before I came to Oxford . As of January 2005 I will be the Director for the Secretariat of Doctrine and Pastoral Practises at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2. What research are you doing at this moment and what courses are you teaching?

Most of my teaching, especially at the University of Oxford , has been in Patrisitics, primarily on the Trinity, Christology and Soteriology.  I have also taught Medieval Theology, especially on Aquinas, as well as courses on Contemporary Christology and Trinitarian thought.  Nonetheless, much of my research and writing has almost always had a Thomistic component.

3. What is the most important thing you learned from Aquinas?

Of of the most important things that I have learned from Aquinas is first of all the importance of ‘Act', that is, the importance of ‘esse'.  This is the case both for my understanding of God as ‘Pure Act' and the Trinity of persons as being ‘subsistent relations fully in act', and thus that God as a trinity of persons is a ‘verb' and not a ‘noun'.  Moreover, it is this notion of ‘Act' that accounts for creation.  God as Pure Act brings others into ‘act', that is, brings others into existence and it is because they are in act/existence that all of creation is dynamic.  Equally, it is the relationship between the eternal Act to created act that founds the primordial intimate relationship between God and creation, especially human beings.

Moreover, I have learned from Aquinas the importance of metaphysics and epistemology and their inter-relationship.  Only a realistic epistemology allows for a true metaphysics of reality and only a proper understanding of metaphysics, especially the metaphysics of human beings, can ground a realistic epistemology.

Moreover, I have learned from Aquinas how to consider philosophically the doctrines of faith, especially the Incarnation and the Trinity.  These doctrines contain there own inherent philosophical principles that must be adhered to in order to grasp clearly their inner truth.  Faith that is seeking understanding is seeking to grasp more clearly the philosophical and theological distinctions that must be made, such as, the Incarnation being the one person of the Son existing as God and as man, and that the Trinity is three persons/subjects/who's existing as the one God.

Lastly, then, Aquinas has taught me the true relationship between faith and reason.  Reason allows one to know the truths of faith, and then reason also allows one to grow in my knowledge and love of the mysteries of faith.  Moreover, it is faith that keeps reason truly rational and it is faith that forces reason beyond what it is capable of on its own - the knowledge and the communion with the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit.

4. In which way were you introduced to the thought of Thomas and whom do you consider to be your teacher in Aquinas?

I was first introduced to Aquinas as an undergraduate seminarian.  At that time we had a number of excellent Thomists teaching us, especially Rev. Dr. Ronald Lawler, O.F.M., Cap. and Dr. Joseph Boyle.  It was primarily through their teaching that I came to love Aquinas.  Moreover, it was through reading the works of Maritain, Gilson, Pieper, Mascall, Copleston, Maurer, and Grisez that I also came to a great appreciation of Aquinas.  I very much consider myself a Gilsonian Thomist.

5. What is the importance of Aquinas for our times?

I think Aquinas is important today precisely for the reasons that I have just given above.  Too many contemporary theologians do not trust reason's ability to know the truth and thus to know revelation.  Thus they construct their own faith that is contrary to revelation.  Moreover, then, they do not theologise from faith and the doctrines of faith, but from reason, and thus from a faulty sense of reason.  In the UK not only is the above true, but also the need to see that language is not arbitrary, but is intimately grounded in a metaphysics that gives rise to a realistic epistemology.

6. Which publications of yourself do you consider to be the most important for Aquinas' researchers to read?

The books that most represent my Thomistic work and which might be of interest to scholars are the following: Does God Change? The Word's Becoming in the Incarnation (Petersham: St. Bede's Publications, 1985); The Father's Spirit of Sonship: Reconceiving the Trinity (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1995); Does God Suffer? ( Edinburgh : T & T Clark and University of Notre Dame Press, 2000); Aquinas on Doctrine: A Critical Introduction, (ed. with Daniel A. Keating and John Yocum), ( London : T&T Clark/Continuum, 2004).   In this volume I contributed an essay entitled: 'Aquinas: God IS Man: The Marvel of the Incarnation'.   We also have a forthcoming volume of essays on Aquinas' Scriptural commentaries where I have contributed an on essay Aquinas' Commentary on Hebrews.  Articles that may be of interest are the following: 'Fides et Ratio: A Reply to John Webster,' New Blackfriars, 81(2000) 225-235; 'Doing Christian Systematic Theology: Faith, Problems, and Mysteries,' Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, 5/1(2002)120-138; and ‘Jesus' Filial Vision of the Father', Pro Ecclesia, 13/2(2004)189-202.  I have 11 entries on various attributes of God in the revised New Catholic Encyclopaedia ( Washington , D.C. : Catholic University Press, 2002). I also have two forthcoming articles: ‘Faith and Reason in John Paul II and Aquinas' to be published in a volume entitled, John Paul II and the Renewal of Thomism; and ‘Of Men and Angels' to be published in Nova et Vetera.

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