« Bradshaw, William Bradwardine, Thomas Brady, Nicholas »

Bradwardine, Thomas

BRADWARDINE, THOMAS: Archbishop of Canterbury; b. probably at Chichester, Sussex, 1290; d. in London Aug. 28, 1349. His name is variously spelled (Bragwardin, Brandnardin, Bredwardyn, etc.), in public documents he is usually called Thomas de Bradwardina, and a title often given him is Doctor Profundus. He studied theology, philosophy, mathematics, and astronomy at Merton College, Oxford; lectured there; became chancellor of St. Paul's Church at London; in 1339 accompanied Edward III as his confessor in campaigns in France; in 1349 was chosen archbishop of Canterbury, was consecrated at Avignon and died a few weeks afterward. He was highly esteemed by Wyclif, Jean Gerson, and Flacius. He was the author of a large work entitled De causa Dei contra Pelagium [ed. Sir Henry Savile, London 1618], in which he attempted to show that the theology as well as the Church of his time were Pelagian. He gave the name Cainites to those who gave up hope in God and depended upon their own merits; his personal experience gave him a different conception: "In the schools of the philosophers I rarely heard a word concerning grace, . . . but I continually heard that we are the masters of our own free actions." Rom. ix, 16 had seemed to him to be wrong; "but afterward . . . I came to see that the grace of God far preceded all good works both in time and in nature—by grace I mean the will of God." Bradwardine wished to support this position on theoretical grounds. He acknowledged Augustine as his master. The sum of his teaching is as follows: God is complete perfection and goodness, is good action itself, free from the potentiality of imperfection. He is not limited by mentality. He is the first cause, the absolute principle of being and motion. Therefore, no one can act nor can anything "happen"; God works or orders events. Divine foreknowledge is will exercised long before, or predestination of [man's] will. God's will, moreover, is unchanging. Everything takes place by virtue of the immutable antecedent necessity caused by the divine volition. Hence man can say nothing "more useful or efficacious . . . than 'thy will be done.'" The effects of predestination are the gift of grace in the present, justification from sin, award of merit, perseverance to the end, and unending bliss in the world to come. The result of this line of thought is, of course, determinism of a Thomistic type. In spite of this theory, Bradwardine, like Augustine, asserted the reality of free will. His historical importance consists in the fact that he was one of the most powerful champions of the Augustinian movement which took place toward the end of the Middle Ages. This movement contributed to the dissolution of scholasticism and to a new understanding of Christian doctrine from the point of view of personal faith.

R. Seeberg.

Bibliography: The scanty notices of his life are collected by Sir Henry Savile in the preface to his edition of the Causa Dei. For his mathematical works consult M. Cantor, Geschichte der Mathematik, ii, 102 sqq., Leipsic, 1892. Consult further G. V. Lechler, De Thomas Bradwardino, Leipsic, 1862; idem, Johann von Wiclif und die Vorgeschichte der Reformation, i, 229 sqq., Leipsic, 1873; Eng. transl., pp. 88–96, London, 1878; K. Werner, Der Augustinismus in der Scholastik des späteren Mittelalters, pp. 337 sqq., Vienna, 1883; R. Seeberg, Dogmengeschichte, ii, 192, Leipsic, 1898; DNB, vi, 188–190.

« Bradshaw, William Bradwardine, Thomas Brady, Nicholas »
VIEWNAME is workSection