What is Scholasticism? How did it impact church history?

Scholasticism was a philosophical movement combining Catholic thought with the ancient philosophies of Augustine and Aristotle, among others. The movement grew from Charlemagne's system of schools in every church in the Holy Roman Empire. Monks and learners from all over Europe were drawn to these schools. It is called Scholasticism because it began in schools.

From about AD 1100 to about 1600, Scholasticism flourished through these schools and universities, which awarded degrees in philosophy, theology, Roman and ecclesiastical law, and medicine. The idea driving Scholasticism was to weave theology and reason together through several distinct truths that revealed consistent wholeness.

Scholasticism systematized learning and created a teaching method. By not only teaching facts but also teaching learning systems such as word study and comparative logic, Scholasticism produced a consistent and growing body of knowledge for centuries. The ideas and understanding of Aristotle, Plato, Socrates, and others would be lost to history without Scholasticism. Scholasticism not only preserved these ideas, but worked to understand them.

René Descartes, John Locke, Benedict de Spinoza and others were products of Scholasticism. And not only philosophy, but theology was systemized and shaped. Scholastic theologians included Peter Abelard and Peter Lombard.

When Neo-Scholasticism arose in the 1800 and 1900s, scholars focused on the works of the pinnacle of Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas (1224—1274).

Now, Scholasticism influences apologetics in that theologians use analysis, explanations, and defense of faith to reveal truth. Note, Scholasticism does not create or define truth, but works to unveil it through reason and study.

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