Aquinas and Calvin on Romans: God's Justification and Our Participation

ISBN : 9780198708254

Charles Raith, II
256 Pages
155 x 223 mm
Pub date
May 2014
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Aquinas and Calvin on Romans is a comparative study of John Calvin's and Thomas Aquinas's commentaries on the first eight chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans. Focusing on the role of human participation in God's work of salvation, Charles Raith argues that Calvin's critiques of the "schoolmen" arising from his reading of Romans fail to find a target in Aquinas's theology while Calvin's principal positive affirmations are embraced by Aquinas as well. Aquinas upholds many fundamental insights that Calvin would later also obtain in his reading of Romans, such as justification sola fide non merito (by faith alone and not by merit), the centrality of Christ for salvation, the ongoing imperfection of the sanctified life, the work of the Spirit guiding the believer along the path of sanctification, and the assurance of salvation that one obtains through the indwelling of the Spirit, to name only a few. Even more, numerous identical interpretations arising in their commentaries makes it necessary to consider Calvin's reading of Romans as appropriating a tradition of interpretation that includes Aquinas. At the same time, the nonparticipatory dimensions of Calvin's reading of Romans becomes clear when set beside Aquinas's reading, and these nonparticipatory dimensions create difficulties for Calvin's interpretation, especially on Romans 8, that are not present in Aquinas's account. Raith therefore suggests how Calvin's reading of Romans, especially as it pertains to justification and merit, should be augmented by the participatory framework reflected in Aquinas's interpretation. The book concludes by revisiting Calvin's criticisms of the Council of Trent in light of these suggestions.


1. Justification (1:16b-17
2. Abraham (4:1-25)
3. Peace with God, Hope of Eternal Life, and the Adam-Christ Typology (5:1-11
4. The Spirit s Work of Transformation: Part 1 (6:1-23)
5. The Spirit s Transformation: Part 2 (7:14-25)
6. Life in the Spirit (8:1-18)
7. Conclusion

About the author: 

Charles Raith II (Ph.D., Ave Maria University) is Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy and Director of the Paradosis Center for Theology and Scripture, and presently holds the J. Vernon McGee Chair of Biblical Studies at John Brown University.

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