Timothy Keller Meets Thomas Aquinas: Common Grace, Human Nature, and The Question of Non-Christian Virtue

Can non-Christians ever act with virtue? Is it possible, in other words, for them to do the right thing for the right reason? In Christian language, can they, if only on occasion, avoid sin or act in obedience to God’s law imprinted on the heart or conscience (natural law)? Augustine argued that the answer to all these questions is no, on account of original sin. Although non-Christians may appear to act well, the motive of their action is (ultimately) love of self rather than love of God, such that they in reality act viciously. Bad trees, no matter how beautiful they may appear, bear bad fruit. In the same way, no matter how beautiful the action of a non-Christian may appear on the outside—a mother nursing her son, a magistrate dispensing civil justice, an artist painting a picture—without the love of God, it is rotten, sinful, and vicious on the inside. We all sinned in Adam, and until by the grace of Jesus Christ the love of God is poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit, we cannot love God or act well. To the extent non-Christian virtue might seem to be found in Scripture, Augustine argued that, before Christ, these Jews or Gentiles were Christians (avant la lettre) through faith in the redeemer to come. After the advent of Christ and the preaching of the gospel, however, faith in Jesus Christ is a condition sine qua non for virtue.

Augustine’s view, needless to say, is unpopular today, though if he was right, denying it not only contradicts the teaching of Holy Scripture, but it compromises the gospel itself, implying that fallen human beings can merit justification on the basis of good works, and the Pelagian denial that all need the grace of Jesus Christ for salvation from sin. One might worry, then, that although Augustine’s account of (the lack of) pagan virtue has problems, abandoning it would create greater, heretical ones. Perhaps the grief Augustinians get is a price they pay for fidelity to a harsh, biblical truth. On the other hand, it is not as though simply deferring to Augustine is without risk: if he was wrong, and Scripture countenances non-Christian virtue, then we are in effect slandering our non-Christian neighbors when we repeat his teachings about their vice. To the extent a description of sin is part of the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3), the gospel would be compromised not only by downplaying the extent of sin, but by exaggerating its effects.

It is not widely known today, but many of Augustine’s disciples thought he had exaggerated the effects of original sin. They affirmed, with him, the doctrine of original sin contra Pelagius, but they didn’t affirm the specifics of his theory of the doctrine of original sin.[1] They weren’t Pelagians, but they weren’t the strictest Augustinians either. Some held that, original sin notwithstanding, genuine non-Christian virtue is at least a possibility, or even a biblical reality.[2] Others agreed with Augustine’s denial of pagan virtue but disagreed with nuances of his account of pagan motivation. Their opposition was often expressed in sotto voce, to be sure, so hearing it requires careful listening. And it was, as I say, partial, but of course no less important for that. I have argued that, in particular, Thomas Aquinas’s account of original sin constituted an improvement over Augustine’s, and proposed a modified version of his account that is compatible with contemporary biology (more on the Thomist approach below).[3]

Here, building on that account of original sin, I turn to the question of non-Christian virtue. I don’t intend even to sketch the history of this problem, but I will zero in on a handful of examples and propose an account that brings two of them together. As will become clear shortly, I think an ecumenical approach is needed because, as it happens, no single Christian tradition has solved the problem. I will focus on bringing (parts of) the Thomist and Reformed traditions into dialogue, but in the future I hope Wesleyan, Orthodox, and other traditions will be added to the conversation.

I begin with John Calvin’s account of “special grace,” which would be influential in the Reformed tradition’s development of “common grace.” Calvin was Augustinian in denying pagan virtue, but his theory of “special grace” constituted a break with Augustine’s theory of the order of pagan loves. Later, some Reformed theologians started talking of “common grace,” and today there is a great deal of equivocation regarding the motivation and moral status of the commonly graced act. Some assume that common grace is simply another name for Calvin’s special grace, and that therefore actions enabled by common grace are “vicious,” that is, not virtuous.[4] Since those theologians are only verbally different from Calvin, I won’t discuss them here. Others, however, and I cite Timothy Keller’s influential account as an example, hold that the action enabled by common grace can be virtuous. Keller’s account of the relation between the gospel and common grace looks in the right direction, it seems to me, but he lacks an account of the motive of the commonly graced action.[5] I then draw on Thomas Aquinas’s theoretically clear account of postlapsarian human nature, arguing that it can supplement Keller’s interpretation of common grace by providing an account of the motive of virtuous non-Christian action. Keller’s practical clarity can, in turn, supplement the Thomist tradition, in which there is no current consensus on the possibility or nature of pagan virtue.

Calvin on Special Grace

Calvin is often cited in discussions of common grace, despite his never using—or to my knowledge even mentioning—the term.[6] He did speak of “general grace” and “special graces” bestowed on pagans. There is no question that for Calvin, who operated from within a broadly Augustinian framework, the motive of the pagan act is not good and not done in obedience to God. Not only is the act tainted by sin, stained by concupiscence—as the Christian’s act also is—it is ultimately ordered toward a creaturely good. The pagan is, in a word, an idolater. This is true as long as he is a pagan. For a pagan, then, what need is there for a “special grace” (beyond the grace of his continued existence) that ex hypothesi does not cleanse or justify him?

Special grace is given to restrain postlapsarian self-love from running rampant.[7] The idea seems to be that pagans left to their own devices (that is, a mere amor sui) wouldn’t even be capable of civil justice, but would live in an anarchic hellscape. How could a pagan magistrate be concerned with the good of his kingdom if he was only concerned with himself? How could men and women marry and raise children if every man and woman was only concerned with his or her private, self-centered good? To the extent this is not the case, we have God’s “special grace” to thank. As quoted, he explicitly states that special grace is not such grace as to cleanse it (human nature). Relatedly, the sensus divinitatis—the dim knowledge or awareness of God that remains after the fall—only gives enough knowledge of God to render its possessor culpable for suppressing it. As I say, then, special grace does not move the pagan from the love of an idol to the love of God; it seems rather to move the pagan from a love of self to a love of some other creaturely good, still pursued however as an idol: family, civil justice, and so on.

This represents a modification (intentional or not, on Calvin’s part) of Augustine’s account of the effects of original sin, insofar as Augustine didn’t posit an intermediary category between God sustaining postlapsarian existence and the healing grace of charity. Whether this modification was necessary is not clear to me, given that for Augustine self-love need not be narrowly understood as an unstoppable urge for instant gratification but can encompass a disciplined, even ascetic pursuit of one’s own glory.[8] But in any case, for present purposes, we have seen enough. For Calvin, there is no pagan virtue; special grace is vice restrained.

Keller on Common Grace

Does Calvin’s “special grace” or Augustine’s “self-love” account for all non-Christian action? At some point, influential Reformed discussions of “common grace” began to assume, at least implicitly, that the answer is no. As an example, let us consider the late Pastor Timothy Keller’s account of “common grace,” forged in the context of what might be considered the quintessential City of Man: New York City. But that phrase, in the strict Augustinian sense, doesn’t do justice to Keller’s attitude toward the city’s non-Christians. Though he was certainly bold enough to attempt naming the idols of its denizens, he denied that they do nothing but vicious actions. Citing James 1:17, Keller stated, “This means that every act of goodness, wisdom, justice, and beauty—no matter who does it—is being enabled by God.”[9] He also cites Genesis 20:6, where God vindicates the pagan King Abimelech’s motive, as an example of God giving courage to pagans, without converting or sanctifying them.[10] And later, Keller mentioned that common grace helps explain why non-Christians “so often exceed Christians in morality and wisdom” (emphasis mine). Non-Christians possess genuine wisdom and virtue. He didn’t restrict the effects of common grace to limiting the external consequences of sin, or changing the object of the internal vicious motive of sin. No, common grace extends to the heart, enabling the non-Christian to commit good, wise, just, and beautiful actions while simultaneously needing the justification and sanctification of Jesus Christ. These are not isolated remarks of Keller’s but quite representative, it seems to me, of his broader ministry and preaching, indeed his general attitude toward the non-Christians he befriended. As an example of how this informed his preaching, and moreover how it facilitated rather than hampered his evangelistic efforts, let us consider an illustration he used in a 2007 sermon, “The Meaning of His Death.”[11]

Early in this sermon, Keller posed an objection that could be raised against the doctrine of the atonement: it makes God seem bloodthirsty. Wouldn’t a loving God have forgiven us without the cross? He explicitly addressed the non-Christians in the room, and invited them, if they were inclined to agree with that objection, to reconsider. He asked them—again, the non-Christians in the room—to reflect on their experience. For example, he asked the parents in the room whether they suffer for their children. It’s a rhetorical question; some knowing chuckles are audible. Why are they willing to sacrifice their time and energy for their children? Because they love their children, of course, and know that if they don’t suffer for their children as parents, their children will suffer more. Don’t you know, he asked, that “unless you sacrifice your freedom enormously, unless you sacrifice your time enormously, [your children] will not grow up?” Extending the point, Keller asked, is it not the case that “all life-changing love is substitutionary sacrifice?” He pressed the point and in the course of the sermon, proclaimed the gospel.

Keller’s affirmation of genuine non-Christian virtue was no barrier to his evangelism; it was part of his evangelism. It has nothing to do with Pelagianism or “semi-Pelagianism.” Keller assumed and indeed taught explicitly in this and many other sermons that non-Christians are sinners, and that their virtues do not, in any respect, merit their justification. It seems that the accusation of Pelagianism here could easily trade on a Pelagian assumption, namely that non-Christian good works would merit justification, if they were a reality. For Keller, by contrast, good works simply do not merit justification: a work of God’s sheer grace.[12]

But is Keller’s view coherent, one might ask, even while granting that it is of course not Pelagian? How could non-Christians be sinners and capable of (some) truly virtuous actions? As we have seen, Keller did indeed break with Augustine and Calvin here, who held that the doctrine of original sin makes non-Christian virtue impossible. One might be tempted to assume that Keller, more pastor than theologian, hadn’t thought deeply enough about the need for an account of the ultimate love underlying these apparently virtuous human expressions of love, and that if he had, he would have sided with Augustine and Calvin. There is another option, however, for those sympathetic to Keller’s instincts.

Thomas on Nature’s Grace

Although Thomas was in many respects deeply Augustinian, including several hamartiological ones, he nevertheless differed from Augustine on several of the finer points of the doctrine of original sin, finer points which, for all their subtlety, have major theological and practical implications. Due in no small part to their subtlety, the differences between Augustine and Thomas on original sin are often papered over or simply misunderstood. For an in-depth discussion, see the first four chapters of Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution. Here I summarize salient points of Thomas’s views.

In a nutshell, and prescinding from some of the more technical aspects of the doctrine of original justice, Thomas argued that Adam and Eve were created in a supernatural state of grace, and that as a result of Adam’s fall subsequent human beings are born without that grace, in a state of bare human nature. The lack of original justice that ought to be present is original sin. The human being sans justice is in a state of sin until receiving sanctifying grace, and yet retains the goodness of human nature. Thomas is also happy to call Adam and Eve’s original justice “natural” in a broad sense, namely, insofar as it is good for human nature, and its loss can be called a “corruption” of human nature. Yet, and this has confused many scholars—including not a few expert Thomists—that which is said to be corrupted is also uncorrupted, only in a different sense. Strictly speaking, the “nature” that survives the fall refers to the principles and properties of human nature, and nature in this respect is uncorrupted, intact. Loosely speaking, the “nature” that does not survive the fall refers to the just ordering of the principles and properties of nature, and nature in this respect is corrupted, finito. The human nature that survives the fall stands in need of a grace that is the key to the kingdom of heaven: sanctifying grace, which justifies. Still, the unjustified human being’s human nature is itself a gift of God and therefore a “grace.” What difference does this grace—call it “nature’s grace”—make for Thomas’s anthropology?

It differentiates Thomas’s account of the postlapsarian human being from Augustine’s in the following way. The human being with original sin is not oriented to a creaturely good as its ultimate end from birth, but God. This is because human nature is not ordered to idolatry of itself; if it were, grace would not perfect but destroy nature, and (absurdly) nature would be intrinsically idolatrous. How is it possible for the human being with original sin to be oriented to God? Thomas distinguishes the ultimate end of the beatific vision, which requires sanctifying grace, from the penultimate end of knowing God as creator. The precise nature of that penultimate end, and the related question of the natural desire for the beatific vision, has been (and still is) the subject of a massive amount of controversy, but that there is such a distinction of two ways of having God as one’s end, one from nature, the other from grace, is explicit in Thomas.[13] The details of these debates need not concern us here; we have seen enough to apply Thomas’s principles to the question at issue.

Which requires a rather different approach than the one Thomas himself took. Thomas was concerned to avoid the severity of Augustine’s view that after Christ, the lack of explicit knowledge of the gospel or access to the sacraments damned one of necessity. He argued, in effect, that what Augustine thought had happened before Christ could still happen after Christ, that is, the Holy Spirit could save erstwhile pagans by granting them implicit faith. This implicit faith is just as supernatural and salvific as explicit faith, only it is, well, less explicit, involving perhaps knowledge of God as the creator and judge. There are tricky interpretive issues afoot here, because Thomas also had a very strict view of how error can compromise faith, so his account was not intended as a basis of inter-religious ecumenism or what have you.[14] Certainly, a pagan who persisted in idolatrous religion or who denied an article of faith would thereby forfeit whatever implicit faith he had been offered, from Thomas’s perspective. Such a pagan, now in a state of mortal sin, could still have imperfect virtue — imperfect both on account of its not being supernatural and on account of its not being ordered to God, the author of nature.[15] For example, the pagan could drink wine for nutrition, an action good in its kind (as opposed to drinking for drunkenness), and thus not a mortal sin in its kind, but still ultimately ordered to a creaturely good and thus done in a state of mortal sin. The action of imperfect virtue in this sense, then, is much like Calvin’s action of special grace; it is not as vicious as it could be, but it is still ultimately motivated by a merely creaturely end. It is therefore not, by my lights, genuine virtue. What is needed is an account of non-idolatrous non-Christian virtue.

Could implicit faith help provide one? Implicit faith was an ad hoc hypothesis to ensure no pagan adults were damned through no personal fault of their own, not a full-blown theory of non-Christian or extra-sacramental human action. Indeed, Thomas never, to my knowledge, speculated about what from his perspective was a counterfactual: what would have been the case if an unbaptized pagan who reached the age of reason obeyed God without receiving implicit faith? In my view, Thomas’s implicit faith theory, whatever merits it had in his thirteenth-century context, is not up to the task of solving the problem of non-Christian virtue. For one thing, if one holds that anyone who commits an action of genuine virtue is either moved by explicit or implicit faith, one has, in a deep sense, ruled out the possibility of non-Christian virtue, because ex hypothesi all have the same sanctifying grace which makes disciples of Jesus Christ. Everyone with virtue is, in other words, an explicit or implicit (anonymous) Christian. In any case, that is, even if one wanted to insist—implausibly, to my mind—that one with implicit faith should not be called an “anonymous Christian,” it is nevertheless the case that this would muddle the proclamation of the gospel. Ex hypothesi, the church couldn’t assume that the world needs the gospel, because for all she knows the world already has it (implicitly). So at most, the church could provide greater clarity and explicitness to what the world already knows. This is, it seems, a far cry from the Great Commission. But in any case, even if one held that the church’s mission could be understood along the lines of bringing greater knowledge of God to those already in Christ—again, that is the view I am rejecting—the hypothesis of implicit faith is unnecessary to account for non-Christian virtue.

It is unnecessary because nature’s grace supplies us with a plausible candidate for the end of virtuous non-Christian action: God. My proposal, on broadly Thomist grounds (though as I have just stated, not Thomas’s own views), and in dialogue with Keller’s interpretation of common grace, is that human beings outside Christ, without sanctifying grace or justification, can commit actions of obedience to the natural law, ordered to God qua author of nature as end. They can do this by virtue of human nature, that is, common grace, the two of which I propose identifying. That is, nature’s grace is common grace, and common grace is human nature, and fallen human nature (which is, de facto, human nature short of supernatural grace) is such that not every single action must be vicious, or disobedient, or ultimately ordered to an idol. Non-Christian virtue is, in other words, obedience to God’s law. Actions which appear virtuous but are actually disobedient to God’s law are vicious in reality, imperfect, ersatz virtues (whitewashed tombs). The virtuous action enabled by common grace is an action obedient to natural law, but it is done in a state of original sin and does not bring about friendship with, or justification before, God in Christ. My view is that no non-Christian obeys the natural law perfectly, but even if one did, it would not be contributory to friendship with God or justification.


The acid test of any theologoumenon is its conformity to Holy Scripture. My hope is not only that this proposal is compatible with biblical teaching—if not, it should be rejected—but that it helps us read Scripture more faithfully than alternative proposals. If it does, then I take it that it is worth the cost, that the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. Perhaps the most significant cost or disadvantage is the proposal’s complexity. It is simpler to claim that non-Christians only sin, and Christians are the only ones who can avoid sin; or to claim that since sin is concupiscence no one after Adam save Christ has avoided sin, and Christian and non-Christians alike are in the same, sinful boat.[16] It is more complex to claim that the state of original sin is in itself compatible with obedience or disobedience to the natural law, such that justified Christians in a state of sanctifying grace are not the only human beings capable of acting in obedience to God. Yet if Scripture itself requires a complex account of non-Christian virtue, then what seemed to be a disadvantage is actually a desideratum.

I would contend that it does, and that it is an advantage of my proposal that it does not force every biblical character into the Procrustean bed of exemplifying vicious sin or implicit faith. King Abimelech of Gerar, for example, is a paradigmatic pagan; it is quite implausible to think of him as a member of the people of God—it is Abraham, of course, who had just been chosen as Patriarch of Israel. And yet God vindicates not Abraham but Abimelech’s motive, agreeing in Gen. 20:6 with Abimelech’s protestation that he had done nothing wrong. God states that Abimelech had acted with a “clear conscience” (NIV), in the “integrity of thy heart” (KJV); that “you are innocent” (NLT). It was Abraham who foolishly underestimated the probity of Abimelech, which led him to mislead the pagan king and put Sarah at risk in the first place. Theories that deny non-Christian virtue must implausibly make Abimelech out to be an anonymous Christian, or simply pass over this element of the story, as Calvin ignores it in his Genesis commentary. My broadly Thomist proposal, however, allows that Abimelech acted in accordance with the natural law and exemplified genuine virtue, without however becoming a member of the people of God.

The wisdom of Abimelech suggests a direction for further conversation: the biblical theme of wisdom. As Tremper Longman observes, the famous statement in 1 Kings about the superiority of Solomon’s wisdom over Egyptian wisdom, “works as a compliment only if the writer believes that Egyptian wisdom is profound. One cannot imagine a comparable statement about an Israelite prophet (‘Elijah was a wonderful prophet, even better than the prophets of Baal’).”[17]

Longman seems open on the moral status of pagan wisdom, noting that, “while one can live with wisdom on a practical and perhaps even on an ethical level, without fear of the Lord there is, in the final analysis, no foundation to that wisdom.”[18] A direction for future work would be to apply my proposal regarding human nature and common grace to pagan wisdom, allowing it to provide genuine ethical direction, without however leading to the personal fear of the Lord that comes with sanctifying grace and justification.

Another area for future discussion is Paul’s theology. Consider Romans 1–2. Paul lists pagan vices in Rom. 1, but did he think that pagans only acted in accordance with them? He knew that for every vice that generally characterized Gentiles, not all Gentiles engaged it, and of course as he argues in Rom 2., some Jews did. For example, he speaks of children’s disobedience to parents, but of course not every Gentile son always disobeyed his father, and not every Jewish daughter always obeyed her mother. Romans 2:14–15, which speaks of Gentiles having the law written on their hearts (not the writings of Scripture which they would have after conversion), with their consciences sometimes defending them, fits nicely with this proposal. The other two extremes—Augustinianism which denies pagan virtue, and various pluralisms which, in one way or another, deny pagan sin—have difficulty accounting for the full scope of Scripture’s witness.

The grace of God in Jesus Christ is needed by every human being, Jew or Gentile. That all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that all are indeed born in original sin (outside of Jesus Christ, who is the only path to friendship with God and forgiveness for the sins that have been committed) does not require the claim that all have only committed acts of vice. Works of human virtue, even when genuine, do not save. The church, in humility, can acknowledge that she is not the sole possessor of virtue, even as, in boldness, she proclaims the sole source of salvation.

[1] See c. 1 of Daniel W. Houck, Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020) for a discussion of the doctrine of original sin’s pre-Augustinian origins, Augustine’s mature view of the doctrine, and three medieval theologians who, to a greater or lesser degree, offered accounts of original sin in partial disagreement with him: Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, and Peter Lombard. Chapters 2–4 offer a reading of Thomas Aquinas’s account of original sin.

[2] John Marenbon, Pagans and Philosophers: The Problem of Paganism from Augustine to Leibniz (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).

[3] See chapters 5–8 of Houck, Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution. For a conversation, see season 2, episode 115 of The London Lyceum Podcast.

[4] Although the word “vicious” in English now connotes a high degree of nastiness, I use it simply to refer to an action that is not virtuous, on the assumption that every action is either done with virtue or vice. As will become clear in the course of this piece, the distinction between virtue and vice, in addition to the distinction between sin and non-sin, is crucial for a theological account of non-Christian virtue.

[5] For anyone working in the broadly Augustinian tradition, however—really, anyone working in this area, period—an account of the motives (or, if you like, the loves or ends) of actions is needed. The following explanation of John Marenbon, which includes a particularly pellucid statement of Augustine’s, sums up what is well known about the Bishop of Hippo’s views: “Augustine defines virtue (CG XV.22) as “the order of love.” He sees this love as manifested in actions, but it is not enough to perform certain sorts of actions in order to be virtuous. The love must be rightly directed; that is to say, the actions must be referred to the right end. As Augustine puts it explicitly in Against Julianus (IV.2; written 420–1), “Virtues should be distinguished from vices not by their functions (officia) but by their ends (fines). The function is what is to be done; the end that for which it is to be done. When therefore a person does something where he does not appear to sin, if he does not do it on account of that for which he should do it, he is shown to sin.” Augustine has no doubt at all about the end to which love should be directed and actions, if they are to be virtuous, referred: it is God.” Pagans and Philosophers, 35.

[6] Rather than “common grace,” Calvin spoke of “general grace” and “special graces.” J. Mark Branch, “The Idea of “A General Grace of God” in Calvin and Some of His Reformed Contemporaries,” MAJT 28 (2017): 7–42.

[7] “Amid this corruption of nature there is some place for God’s grace; not such grace as to cleanse it, but to restrain it inwardly. For if the Lord gave loose rein to the mind of each man to run riot in his lusts, there would doubtless be no one who would not show that, in fact, every evil thing for which Paul condemns all nature is most truly to be met in himself.” II.3.3. “These are not common gifts of nature, but special graces of God, which he bestows variously and in a certain measure upon men otherwise wicked.” Institutes II.3.4.

[8] Some scholars have gotten themselves confused about this, thinking that because Augustine holds that actions of non-Christians have various motives aside from self-love (ignorance and weakness, for example), he does not posit that disordered self-love is their ultimate motive. Remembering his account of original sin, however, dispels the confusion: every human being descended from Adam was in Adam according to seminal nature, and participated in his act of disordered self-love (pride), which can only be healed by the charity of God.

[9] Timothy Keller, “What Is Common Grace?” Redeemer City to City (2010), 1–4.

[10] Calvin’s Genesis commentary ignores this point, focusing only on the fact that the story indicates that one could lapse into sin unintentionally, as Abimelech could have had God not intervened. That is true of course, but doesn’t address the basis of God agreeing with Abimelech’s self-defense that he acted with integrity.

[11] https://gospelinlife.com/downloads/the-meaning-of-his-death-5477/. I thank the Rev. Ben Cunningham for drawing my attention to this sermon.

[12] For a discussion of the doctrine of good works in the Protestant tradition, see Thomas H. McCall, Caleb T. Friedman, and Matt T. Friedman, The Doctrine of Good Works: Reclaiming a Neglected Protestant Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2023). They do not focus on the question of non-Christian virtue,

but show that the classical Protestant tradition denied that good works subsequent to justification merit justification or salvation (see c. 4). What Keller does implicitly is extend this logic to good works prior to justification, such that no good works, before or after justification, merit justification.

[13] See chapter 8 of Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution for further discussion of the nature-grace relation.

[14] Daniel W. Houck, “The Thomist Case Against Natural Theology,” Festschrift for Bruce Marshall, edited by David Whidden, Adam Van Wart, and Justus Hunter (Steubenville, OH: Emmaus Academic, 2023), 51–65.

[15] See STh I-II, q. 65, a. 2 and II-II, q. 10, a. 4.

[16] For an argument that concupiscence is not sinful, see “Toward a New Account of the Fall, Informed by Anselm of Canterbury and Thomas Aquinas,” Pro Ecclesia 25 (2020): 429–448.

[17] Tremper Longman III, The Fear of the Lord Is Wisdom: A Theological Introduction to Wisdom in Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017): 160-1

[18] Longman III, The Fear of the Lord Is Wisdom, 146.


  • Daniel Houck

    Daniel W. Houck (PhD Southern Methodist University) has served as senior pastor of Calvary Hill since 2018. Before coming to Calvary Hill, he completed his MDiv at Princeton Theological Seminary, a PhD in theology at Southern Methodist University, and worked as a research fellow at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He teaches theology at the John Leland Center for Theological Studies and is an author and speaker on the topic of Christianity and science. He is the author of Aquinas, Original Sin, and the Challenge of Evolution (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

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