PROLOGUE TO THE THEOLOGICAL SUMMA
In this prologue St. Thomas expresses his intention, namely, to treat of whatever belongs to the Christian religion, in such a way as may tend to the instruction of beginners, because the Catholic doctor must be a teacher to all, even to little ones.
But from the explanation of this purpose it is evident that this work is suitable for beginners, not because it treats solely of the first principles of Christian doctrine, but because all questions are proposed in it according to the order of the subject matter, and not as the occasion of the argument may offer, by which it frequently happens that there are useless questions and repetitions as in many works of preceding authors. Since Holy Scripture includes the order of charity or of the subjection of all affections to God's love, a logical order must also be pursued in the body of Christian doctrine.
Hence this Summa of St. Thomas was not meant to be merely an elementary work; for, as Cajetan remarks, all theological problems are here appropriately and clearly treated. Already in this prologue St. Thomas shows himself the great classicist of sacred theology because of his superior simplicity, which is, as it were, a development of common sense and the Christian sense. There is a vast difference between this simplicity and the complicated exposition of Scotus.
As we shall see at the beginning of the second question, the order observed in this work is didactic and strictly theological. St. Thomas adopts a far better method than that of the Master of the Sentences or of Alexander of Hales in the arrangement of the questions, and this not only as to generalities but also as to particulars. In the Summa of the Angelic Doctor all questions are considered as they refer to God, who is the proper object of theology, rather than as they refer to man and his liberty. This point of view may be called therefore theocentric but not anthropocentric, as the psychological tendency is of modern times.