Political Writings

By R. W. Dyson; Thomas Aquinas | Go to book overview
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Religion and politics

(a) Summa theologiae IIa IIae 10: On relations
with unbelievers

articulus 8: Whether unbelievers ought to be coerced into the faith1

It seems that unbelievers ought by no means to be coerced into the faith.

obiectio 1: For it is said at Matthew 13:28f that the servants of the householder in whose field tares had been sown asked him: 'Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?' And he replied: 'Nay, lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.' Commenting on this, Chrysostom says: 'The Lord speaks thus in order to prevent the slaying of men. For it is not right to slay heretics, because if you kill them you will necessarily destroy many holy persons also.'2 For the same reason, therefore, it seems that unbelievers ought not to be coerced into the faith.

obiectio 2: Moreover, it is said in the Decretum: 'Concerning the Jews, the holy synod prescribes that henceforth none are to be brought to believe by force.'3 Nor, therefore, for the same reason, ought other unbelievers to be coerced into the faith.

This quaestio has twelve articles, of which only 8, 10 and 11 are here translated. The others are as follows:
1. Whether unbelief is a sin
2. Where it is located
3. Whether it is the greatest of sins
4. Whether every act of the unbeliever is a sin
5. Concerning the species of unbelief
6. Their comparison with one another
7. Whether the faith is to be discussed with unbelievers
9. Whether communication is to be had with them
12. Whether the children of unbelievers are to be baptised against their parents' wishes
In Mattheum 46 (PG 58:477).
Dist. 45, c. 5: De Judaeis (CIC 1:161).


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