Who Was Thomas Bradwardine?

New Dictionary of Theology  If you’ve read a bit into the discussion of the bondage of the will, predestination, and grace, you may have heard of Thomas Bradwardine.  Who was he?  Paul Helm has a helpful summary found in the New Dictionary of Theology (edited by Sinclair Ferguson, David Wright, and and J. I. Packer).  Here it is:

Sometimes called ‘Doctor profundus’, Bradwardine (c. 1290–1349) was a member of Merton College, Oxford, and a student of mathematics and theology. He was chosen Archbishop of Canterbury a few weeks before he died of the Black Death.

Bradwardine’s chief work, ‘De Causa Dei Contra Pelagium,’ is a massive and profound metaphysical polemic against both the characteristic doctrines of Pelagianism and the Pelagian temper. The work was edited in 1618 by Sir Henry Savile, with the help of William Twisse (1575–1646), who later became the prolocutor of the Westminster Assembly. In that work the Augustinian (and biblical) themes of the bondage of the will, predestination and the need for prevenient grace are developed with an unrivalled subtlety and precision (by one who had tasted the sweetness of divine grace for himself), from a dominantly theocentric standpoint: that of a God who in timeless eternity unchangeably wills and controls all that comes to pass, without being the author of sin. The extent to which this represents a hardening of Augustine’s position is a matter of continuing debate.

Bradwardine is regarded (with, for example, Wyclif) as an important influence preparing the way for the Reformation, and thus as an important element of continuity between the medieval church and the Lutheran Reformation and its effects.

Paul Helm, in New Dictionary of Theology.

shane lems
covenant presbyterian church,
hammond, wi

2 thoughts on “Who Was Thomas Bradwardine?”

    1. Now that’s a good question! I admit I’ve only read a little on Bradwardine – which is part of the reason I put this brief summary of his life/work here – so others can read! Sorry, can’t answer your question, but thanks for asking!


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