Reviewed by John Frame
Scholasticism names a type of theology that matured in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. In the post-reformation period, both Protestant and Roman Catholic thinkers adopted many of the methods and conclusions of scholasticism, and some of these are even reflected in the Protestant confessions. In the “Enlightenment” of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many philosophers and theologians reacted strongly against scholasticism, so that in the nineteenth century scholastic and anti-scholastic agendas contended for supremacy in the theological academies.
I studied with Cornelius Van Til, who was in turn influenced by but critical of the Dutch neo-Calvinists such as Kuyper and Dooyeweerd. They accepted some doctrines characteristic of scholasticism—divine simplicity, aseity, supratemporal eternity—but in general they treated scholasticism as a theological blind alley. They were highly critical of Aquinas, saw him as a “synthesis” thinker, who tried to combine Christianity with Aristotelian and neoplatonic philosophy. When one neocalvinist referred to another as “scholastic,” that was a term of reproach. The general consensus was that those who do theology in the scholastic way were on a slippery slope that could end only in Roman Catholicism.