Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Aquinas for Armchair Theologians” as Want to Read:
Aquinas for Armchair Theologians
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Aquinas for Armchair Theologians (Armchair Theologians)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  110 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
Thomas Aquinas was one of the most influential thinkers in the history of Christianity and in western civilization. Yet his theological views are complex and presume acquaintance with technical philosophical language. Now Timothy Renick has produced an attractive and accessible account of Aquinas's life and thought that will make his views clear to nonspecialists. The topi ...more
Paperback, 172 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Westminster John Knox Press (first published February 15th 2002)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Aquinas for Armchair Theologians, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Aquinas for Armchair Theologians

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Jan 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: ministry, textbooks
Very good intro into aquinas. Though a tad flip at times. Didn't need to smartass commets or references to current culture. But still a good introduction and insight into Aquinas.
David Goetz
Super accessible with decent summaries of Aquinas on faith and reason, the existence of evil and the question of free will, metaphysics, law and morality, sex, just war, abortion and the role of women, and politics. The final chapter includes some good advice for first-time peeping Thomists (thanks, Ralph McInerny) on how to read Aquinas, especially the Summa. The writing style of Renick himself is annoying, though--exceedingly irreverent and often perpetuating unhelpful stereotypes.
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
Aquinas for Armchair Theologians is a great high level overview of Aquinas. It also provides good advice on how to delve into the Summa and his other writings. The author also makes his arguments relevant to current debates of our day and acts as apologist for some Aquinas’ out-of-step view without being anachronistic. It is a good balance of biography and cross-sectional survey of Aquinas’ major works.
Mike McVey
Jul 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I thought this was a fun look into Aquinas life and works. Many have commented that they did not appreciate the humor, but I thoroughly enjoyed the author's humor.

A good introduction to hopefully encourage more to read the Summa.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Simple, breezy and insightful. While it is not going to satisfy anyone who knows anything about the subject, for someone who knows nothing it is a great start.
Feb 18, 2013 added it
This is the second book I read from the series of books “for Armchair Theologians.” I’m beginning to doubt these books are for armchair theologians. For this series, the editors picked a professor of religion at Georgia State University. In the beginning of the book the author reveal his interests for Aquinas through his professors in his graduate studies at Princeton University. The first chapter was a good and concise biography of Aquinas, and I learned that Aquinas was actually a name of the ...more
Justin Tapp
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Unlike the previous Armchair Theologians book I read (on Calvin), this book discussed very little of Aquinas' life and instead focused on his philosophical works and their impact on the Western world. Renick is a professor of religion at Georgia State and does a good enough job making the complex somewhat humorous, and using some simple analogies to explain difficult concepts. Renick looks mostly at the Summa Theologica, but also explores some of Aquinas' other works. This is not a comprehensive ...more
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Understand truth by thinking, via 1200's, prove truth thru reason, evil as a lack of good thus seek good, creation is only good, God makes only good and you can choose evil, evil is privation of good, metaphysics is after/beyond physical realm, trust in God/relationship with God, moral and natural law based on reason, what is end result of action, end result of sex is procreation--love/unity--pleasure(all 3), just war is just cause-authority-intent, double effect is 1 good/1 bad, do no harm, mor ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian, theology
A simple explanation of who Thomas Aquinas was and why he is still important today. As a Protestant, I had only a vague idea of who he was before I read this, and I did not realize what his contributions were. He was one of the three or four most influential thinkers not just of Christianity but of Western thought in general. He founded the principle of using reason to explore and defend Christian dogma, rather than accepting pronouncements by pure faith, which was crucial to defending it agains ...more
Sep 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm tempted to give this book three stars instead of four solely because of the terrible writing style, but credit where credit is due. Renick has indeed done the unlikely by giving a brief, readable, and somewhat comphrensive survey of some of the thought of Thomas Aquinas. It is impressive to engage Aquinas in less that 200 pages without being trite or fluffy, and Renick does it well.
Having said that, the book can be an annoying read at times. No doubt Renick is an excellent lecturer, but many
Eric Nelson
Jul 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
I, too, found this book to be an excellent summary of Aquinas and his teachings. I found Renick to be witty, yet informative, and exceedingly accessible. He indroduces complex ideas with clarity and simplicy that is hard to find.[return][return]Renick did a wonderful job helping the average person see the importance of Aquinas in our lives today. I did, however, find it interesting...almost see Renick attempt to apply Aquinas's teachings to modern issues and place the theologian on ...more
Jun 17, 2010 rated it liked it
this is an informal, somewhat lighthearted (maybe even, occasionally irreverent) introduction to the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. In a few short chapters (9 i believe) you get a brief bio of Aquinas, why he matters and a gentle introduction to his thoughts on evil, sex, politics, just war and a few other subjects. The last chapter describes how the summa theologica is laid out and how to tackle reading it.

In all I am very satisfied with this first book of my summer reading program of becoming
Adam Shields
Nov 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Short review: This is a short, very readable introduction to Aquinas. It is not going to go deeply into depth, but it does give a good overview to Aquinas' major contribution (understanding of God, Natural Law, Just War theory, sexuality, politics, etc.). People seem to be split on whether you like it based on if you think it is a funny book. It is a bit corny, but respectful of the subject and very easy to listen to and still get the point. This is the second of the armchair series I have read. ...more
Great intro to Aquinas. I enjoyed the book but the author's constant poor attempts at humor detracted from my overall enjoyment of the text.
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I love these "...for Armchair Theologians" books. This is my fourth or fifth. Very enjoyable. Personally, I find Thomas Aquinas unreadable, but I get a lot out of reading about him and his thinking. What a remarkable mind he had. My late grandfather and namesake Michael J. Cremin Jr. was a Thomist, and has a quote from Saint Aquinas on his gravestone: Do Good, Avoid Evil.

Excellent advice.
Kessia Reyne
Jul 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: prsnl-intrst
A basic, straightforward overview of Aquinas and his contribution to modern thought. Written with a touch of humor, Renick seems to have a healthy suspicion of Aquinas. It was a little more simplistic than I was hoping for, but it served as a great introduction. I especially appreciated his guide at the end about the structure of and how to read Summa Theologica.
Aug 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I did this on the audio approach – only three CDs. A very accessible discussion of Aquinas, his methods, his effects on western philosophy, and some of his thousands of points. It motivated me to look into the actual writing - besides its messages, it is an excellent example of logical thought and presentation.
May 15, 2011 rated it it was ok
The book provides a general introduction to Aquinas, focusing more on his political and legal influence than on his theological insights. The book is greatly marred by the author's jokiness and entire absence of wit as he attempts to wink at the reader. Aquinas deserves better than such stupidity.
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion
I really enjoyed learning about Thomas Aquinas and I find I agree with a lot of his theology. But, I found the author of this book, Timothy Renick, to be rather flippant. He tried too hard to attempt to be "funny," and he just wasn't.

Still, I really appreciated the summary of Aquina's thought.
Pastor Jamie Strickler
May 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Good introduction to the thought of St. Thomas. Most of Aquinas' writings are written like legal arguments and are not very fun to read. This book will give one an wntertaining overview of this great Christian mind.
Caleb Gibson
Mar 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
I like this Armchair Theologians series! This is my first book to read. I got the Audiobook for free, so that was why I read this one first. They covered the history well!

5 star for book. I'm just not Catholic, so idk how I feel about Aquinas
Jul 30, 2007 rated it liked it
The book is a surface read. It only delves into philosophy very lightly. The story of Aquinas resisting temptation as his canonizing miracle was funny. I did not enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
Carson Banks
Oct 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This was such a joy to read.

Renick makes learning about Thomas Aquinas fun, concise, and yet very informative for people wanting to learn. :)
Jul 02, 2014 rated it liked it
The voice of reason regarding religion just before the Renaissance
Dec 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Good introduction!
rated it really liked it
Dec 26, 2016
Daniel Pandolph
rated it it was amazing
Feb 15, 2014
rated it really liked it
Jun 04, 2012
Timothy Huang
rated it really liked it
Feb 17, 2012
rated it really liked it
Jun 19, 2014
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Other Books in the Series

Armchair Theologians (1 - 10 of 14 books)
  • Calvin for Armchair Theologians
  • Luther for Armchair Theologians
  • Augustine for Armchair Theologians
  • Wesley for Armchair Theologians
  • Martin Luther King Jr. for Armchair Theologians
  • John Knox for Armchair Theologians
  • Heretics for Armchair Theologians
  • Reformation for Armchair Theologians
  • The Niebuhr Brothers for Armchair Theologians
  • Liberation Theology for Armchair Theologians