Introduction to Theology, Serial No. 01119

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AI Summary: 



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In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of those who believe in you, and kindle within them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. Let us pray, may the outpouring of your Holy Spirit, O Lord, cleanse our hearts, and make them fruitful by the inward sprinkling of His dew, through Christ our Lord. Well, today I've called this the problem of presenting theology as a coordinated body of knowledge, which I mentioned a little bit about this yesterday, and I don't really intend to go into all the theories that lie behind this coordination here, but you can see that there is really a scheme of organized knowledge which applies to this particular


period when St. Thomas is writing. I hope you understood that it was not my intention yesterday to present the opening pages of the Summa Theologica in such a way as to be expecting of St. Thomas things we have no right to expect. But it was, I believe, necessary to draw your attention to some of the sorts of difficulties a modern beginner might experience in trying to use it. The beginners of St. Thomas were, of course, going to be working in an academic framework totally different from ours, and even from the more haphazard form of things which the founder of knowledge, St. John of Nevaskus, envisaged. But it's precisely because St. Thomas asks a very fundamental question about the work we have in hand that he may seem to expose us to further questions to which he cannot, in his chosen framework, at least directly be expected to have an answer to offer us. Although he was acutely aware of the existence of Islam, as people in Europe had been forced


to be before his time, because remember, in 810 Islamic forces came as far north in France as Poitiers, they were only stopped there, and then of course later, there was the possibility that Europe could easily become Islamic. Although St. Thomas was aware of Islam in the way that Europeans were in general, he himself knew it through reports of the works of Islamic philosophers which never perhaps confronted him precisely with Islam as a religious problem. I suppose even Seymour, whom he always calls Abyssinian, in that in nice form, is a fairly, I suppose we could say a fairly agnostic kind of Islamic type. And certainly it seems to me doubtful if he was ever in a position to think of the Quran


as a book claiming, in a serious way, to be an alternative to the Christian scriptures. Nor naturally could he have known there might be other books making at least similar claims to speak about the destiny of man even further east. An obvious example is the Bhagavad Gita, one of the later Indian scriptures, which also in their term would seem to imply the notion of being reports of something heard rather than thought out. How many of you know the Bhagavad Gita? Who do I say? Nobody else? I'm not going to give you an introduction to that in this course. It's a book you should someday look at, I think. Now, insofar as St. Thomas's layout of his material can fit in conveniently in relation to an article later in this same question, one of the first part of the Summa, which


encourages we shall see whether this sacred teaching is wisdom or not, it seems this is really where we should have to place them. For the Second Vatican Council, it was the first council of the Church to take positive cognizance of the place and influence of non-Christian religions in the world. Just for the record, the Muslims are mentioned twice in the council documents. In the document Lumen Gentium on the Church, Chapter 2, Paragraph 16. And in the Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions in Paragraph 3. While Hinduism and Buddhism are both mentioned positively in the same document, Paragraph 2. So, if you like, the council has taken cognizance of these at least without trying to take any


special view of their religious significance. I think at least their moral significance is recognized as being of some importance for the human race in general. But to return to the Summa, I think it's perhaps not unfair to say that what the first article, the first question we examined yesterday does for us, and I think did for us rather well in our discussion yesterday, is firstly to separate firmly for us, as was perhaps even more necessary to do 40 or 50 years ago than it is today, the kind of theology which is based on sacred teaching from the kind of talk about God, if any, which may be a part of philosophy. It's true, of course, that in the thoughts of St. Thomas himself and in the neo-scholastic theology which was being taught when I was young, the word philosophy referred mainly to an organized body of reflection about ultimate principles developed in the Greek tradition


of whom Aristotle is the representative of St. Thomas' predilection. So he frequently refers to him quite simply as the philosopher. The philosopher in St. Thomas always means Aristotle. Part of, but I suppose subsidiary to, this formal separation between one kind of theology and another is the assertion that holy teaching is a divine response to a genuine need of every human being, not all of whom are by temperament or circumstances fitted for or likely to achieve many or any moments of transforming philosophical insight. In connection with this, it's further asserted that there are aspects of this needful fulfillment which of their nature exceed the grasp of even the profoundest human investigation. So as I say, in fact, in the other summa of St. Thomas, the summa continentae is the anti-Islamic summa.


St. Thomas puts an even stronger case for the difficulty of a philosophical view of God being attained by very many people. And in any case, part of his specific purpose in the summa is to ensure that we are clear that he is talking about the kind of theology which is dependent on divine revelation. As we shall see in the next two articles which justify the existence of a systematic theology, St. Thomas is not here concerned with the defending of the truth of revelation, which is the basis of his theology, and thus the burden of accepting or rejecting this or some other body of doctrine which may claim to revelation, lies outside the scope of what we should be doing here. I am, of course, going to bring it in in some way later on. In fact, I've been working on this this morning, and that was going rather well,


and so I wasn't aware of the breeze until suddenly I'd start thinking. I obviously cannot, in a course which is meant to be an introduction to traditional Christian theology, give you a carefully mounted course on comparative religion. Though I hope you'll be noticing as we go along some of the principles we may need to invoke when considering these other religions. I cannot see that it is as loyal of a monk to have an interest in such matters if he happens to have it spontaneously. Father Thomas Merton had it, as you'll know, and he was and is by no means alone in having such interests, especially since monasticism in one form or another is a phenomenon which goes across the entire spectrum of religious experience and practice. I suppose one of the ways in which one or two of us have newly been mentioning this more recently


is especially the characteristic Hindu and Buddhist phenomenon whereby a great number of people take up monastic life for a number of years, in fact quite a considerable period of time, and then leave and marry and bring up a family. I saw the interesting film while I was in Norway of a Buddhist father teaching his young baby daughter to read after having had twenty years in a monastery. He'd come out and got married and had a very small daughter of about three whom he was starting to teach. And this is by no means common, uncommon in the East. And I suppose in many ways there have been Western parallels, at least in earlier times.


It's largely tightening up a canon law that's made it more unusual for people to be monks, simply for a time. Having said this by way of commentary on the opening article of the first question of the Summa Theologica, I hope to pass through articles two to five, inclusive, rather rapidly, in this part of the question, because they're mainly concerned with questions with largely historical interest for us today. I think I should be able to clarify to you sufficiently the kind of thinking they presuppose, which is of course absolutely not necessary for understanding how they function. And I hope also to suggest why they will no longer quite satisfy our classificatory needs. Article two asks whether the body of holy teaching is a science. It would of course be wrong to translate the word scientia in the Latin here by the modern word knowledge,


because as articles two to five reveal, St. Thomas is thinking of the technical use of the notion of science in the Aristotelian view of the world as he understood it. To be a science in this sense, a body of knowledge has to be capable of being organized on the basis of principles which are self-evidently true, either directly or indirectly, as the answer to the first contrary opinion of question two makes clear. The objection says that every science proceeds from self-evident principles, but it's quite obvious that theology can't be doing this, because the principles of theology are not so self-evident that they are revealed.


A more serious objection to theology being regarded as self-contained science is expressed in the second contrary opinion, namely that Holy Scripture does seem to be about such a confusing number of individual persons and things. St. Thomas adopts a mediating suazio from Augustine's great book on the Trinity, where I need hardly say that St. Thomas is not asking the historical question as to what the word scientia means. Occurring in the phrase he quotes from Augustine, as Augustine might have understood it. This of course very often happens. St. Thomas is sometimes using authority to say something which is not necessarily the meaning of the author. He quotes. It's sufficient, I think, to enable St. Thomas, in giving his considered view in the body of the article, to make a distinction between the two kinds of ways in which a body of knowledge may be thought of and function as a science.


He says that a science may work from its own self-evident perverse principles, in the way that arithmetic and geometry do, or it may depend upon some other science in which the necessary self-evidences are established. Now, theology must evidently be this kind of a science, because it depends upon what is clearly known to God and the blessed, aspects of which knowledge are communicated to us by revelation. So, I suppose you can say that what he's saying is that this is a dependent science, where the first principles are known not to us, but to God. God knows, and the blessed know. So, these are the basic principles, and these are revealed, in so far as they are necessary for us.


Article 3 makes a natural extension of this point. For even if we say, as the replies to the objections of Article 2 have done, that the stories of individual persons in Scripture are only there as moral examples, or general principles of action, or as ways of establishing the authority of what is revealed through them, holy teaching can be one science. It's evident in a certain way, you can look at the Scriptures like this. It's not very satisfactory to do so, but you can say that everything that appears there is really an illustration of some principle, or helping you to extend your understanding of it. It was, I think, most justly say, over this question, that Celestia's marvels of St. Thomas broke down most seriously.


For in spite of the insistence of St. Thomas that theology is one science, it gradually came to be taught as at least two, and generally several more, separate departments as it were. Thus, when I was first faced with teaching ascetic theology, as it was then called, and covers the sort of material which is covered by what eventually became my Asking the Fathers, I was expected to pretend that it formed one unit with what was being taught by the professors of dogma, moral, scripture and pathology, which I knew very well in advance it could not do. So that in order to teach it at all, I had gradually to draw more and more from these other areas into my teaching, since I could not assume my students would appreciate the dogmatic and moral presuppositions of what I was saying. And I'm really doing the same for you at the moment in these twelve lectures.


I'm not really trying to split these disciplines up at all. Because I think, for instance in the stuff I'm preparing for you for next week, when we're going to be talking a bit about man, about theology of man, it's obvious that the area of moral theology can't really deal with the question of man sufficiently, because some of the things we have to talk about here are really dogmatic. They concern revelation about man's nature. As St. Thomas was still able to see theology as one science, he defends by saying that in spite of the fact that it deals with the huge diversity between the creator and the creature, everything dealt with in theology is related to the whole in some way, by the fact that it comes to us by the light of revelation. I think nothing more really needs to be said about Article 3. Though of course, as far as my particular work in Aesthetic Theology was concerned,


an earlier point, I felt it was my duty to do just the very thing that St. Thomas puts in his Swazio after the objections, by using a quotation from the Book of Wisdom, which speaks of Jacob having been given the Scientia Sanctorum, the science of the saints, where of course the words do mean the kind of knowledge God's holy ones have, and it's certainly not an Aristotelian science. Nor need I say is it either organisable or communicable in the way that such a science would proceed, even though, as we've seen, St. Thomas is working in such a different frame of thought from any we would be likely to use, he does in fact ask in Article 4 whether the science of holy teaching is speculative or practical, which would also come as a natural question for us here, I imagine.


In other words, are we just looking at a body of theory, or are we just looking at something we can do something about? He answers, of course, that in practice it must be regarded as both speculative and practical, though it gives the primacy to divine things, being concerned with human things only in so far as they direct us to the fulfilment which is revealed. I think we're going to see, for instance, it's rather curious, a weakness which I hadn't noticed so vividly before, that when he comes to the first part of the second part of the Summa, he says that we're going to talk about man, chiefly because at least what is spiritual about him comes into theology, and what is bodily about him only comes in, as it were, by accident, which is not, I think, a very satisfactory point of view from him, as you can see. At any rate, you can see how in his early parts, Thomas still holds dogmatic and moral questions in an interrelated position,


which is, as I've already said, highly desirable because, in fact, very often something dogmatic is involved before we can see what's in a moral issue. Even though we must admit that the degrees of specialisation in both fields have now become so advanced that it's very difficult for one and the same person to hold them together. I must say that in trying to keep myself in touch with what theologians are writing at the moment, just to make sure that I don't say anything which you're suddenly going to be puzzled about when you see them, it is really very bewildering what is happening and how much these are becoming highly specialised areas of discourse and even sometimes using a framework which it takes quite a time to master. Unless, perhaps, these specialists have consciously developed what I've entered to call in my first lecture a theological sense,


so very different, I must say, from the kind of knowledge likely to be developed by anyone who is preoccupied, first and foremost, with morals as though it were a series of problems largely consisting of what can easily slip over into canon law or case law. Obviously, in some ways, the way in which morals was very often taught in the past was really very, very close to a legalistic approach and no serious attempt was made to try and form a picture of man as a real person. And even the conception of sin was made infinitely more difficult to cope with because people were thinking about sins rather than about the person who is living through a series of differing situations. For all its disadvantages, this is perhaps the one factor which tells in favour of this, for us, almost impossible sense of perspective,


namely that it keeps in view the human being as a whole in relation to God at this particular point, which is really why I thought it necessary to keep it in the picture here, rather than getting lost in the maze of particular difficulties. This is, I believe, what enables St Thomas to think of this in Article 5 as the highest of the sciences. He asks whether it's, in fact, what is its status as a science in comparison to the other sciences. And he says that it's the highest of the sciences not just because of the greater dignity of the things with which it deals, but even because, even though, as he fully admits in his answer to the first case to the contrary, it may leave us in a great deal of doubt as to what is the morally right course, it does at least give us a measure of clarity which could not come from human reasoning alone.


For as he says, then the doubts lie on the side of our capacity to understand all the aspects of our situation rather than the side of revelation. A notion which perhaps ought to be mentioned more often than it is. You see, it does seem to me when we come to thinking about human problems and moral dilemmas, it ought to be quite normal for us to think that we can be in doubt as to what to say about a given situation. And find ourselves having to devote our main attentions to really trying to understand what may be the underlying principles from which a solution could conceivably be reached. Neoscholasticism, as to say the kind of scholastic teaching which was given fairly recently,


and perhaps is still being given in some places in some form, was at last very reluctant to admit that it didn't know the answer to everything. And I think we are still suffering from this legacy. Only one of many ways in which that legacy was very untrue, I think, to the mind and spirit of St. Thomas himself, whom you can see here, is saying that it can happen that we may be clearer about the principles from which we have to work than to know how to apply these in a given situation. Now come two articles, I imagine, of more direct interest to most of us. First of all, Article 6 of Question 1, which asks whether holy teaching is wisdom. Perhaps the most important of the arguments against thinking this is the one which is formulated thus. This teaching is learned by studying, but wisdom is possessed by infusion,


and this is why it is none but among the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The main reply of St. Thomas is that this kind of theology is the highest kind of wisdom there is, because it is concerned with the highest of all causes. And so, whether on the theoretical or practical plane, it is indeed the truest wisdom, since it deals with things that go beyond the plane of the most highly developed human knowledge. But here of extreme importance is the provision St. Thomas makes in answering the third objection. He says, and we shall all, I think, recognize the truth of this, judgment is the quality of one who is wise in two different ways, and accordingly wisdom is understood in two different senses. It can happen, as you know was reminding us yesterday, that someone habitually virtuous judges correctly of matters to be handled virtuously,


insofar as he feels an inclination in that direction, a con-naturality, as you know was saying. That can be a kind of wisdom. And this is why Aristotle says in his Ethics that the virtuous man is the measure and rule of human action. In another way, a judgment may arise from knowledge, so that anyone who understands morals may judge what is the virtuous thing to do, even though they may not necessarily possess the virtue themselves. Thus he concedes that the first way of judging is indeed a gift of the Holy Spirit, while the second is acquired simply by study. Can you see the difference, Peter, between those two? That is to say, he is saying that really when you are using the word wisdom, you might be talking about two different kinds of things. There is the kind of wisdom which even a man who has never read any books might have, because he is particularly virtuous or intuitive about given situations.


And by affinity, by con-naturality, he will make judgments which are sound. If he is a good man, he will be, in a way, a rule in his own right. But it would be possible to conceive a sort of wisdom, at any rate, which would be based on knowledge, and which would not necessarily be really possessed as a personal quality by the person who had it. Although St. Thomas doesn't say this, I think we should most of us prefer to meet the two together. You will find a rather frightening example of a somewhat frightening book, The Imitation of Christ, where it says, for instance, I would rather have contrition than know its definition. Which, of course, I suppose is true, all of us could honestly say. But it is quite important to know, at the same time, what one is talking about,


if one is going to talk about it. One shouldn't just dismiss knowledge as such. It's obvious, I think, that if we really study our theology, we should, then we should certainly be developing a kind of con-naturality with what we're talking about. We should have compunction and not just be able to talk about it. For the labour of study itself, when pursued for the love of God, ought to incline our hearts towards the kind of love-knowledge which true wisdom is. I think this is why the study of theology is often such a struggle. You've really got to do it for the love of God before you can get through. Because there is some thinking to be done,


and it requires a good deal of willingness, a good deal of virtue, to bend one's mind every day to this. And sometimes, of course, I need hardly say that, even having thought about certain kinds of things for years and years, one will begin, as we're in the middle of a puzzle, and you'll think, where on earth am I going to begin with this now? And I'm pretty sure that one doesn't waste one's time when one's wandering about and looking for the really vital thread, which requires quite a lot of patience. You may spend the whole morning, and I spent the whole of yesterday before I could move ahead today at all, really, until suddenly things began to come together. Yesterday, I thought, oh dear, I shall never get anywhere here. And of course, some people would be inclined to give up at that point. But I don't think we should do this,


because in one way, I suppose this is something we owe to each other, the ability to use our minds as best we can upon divine things, because we're certainly going to, just as I was suggesting when Gino brought up the question of connaturality yesterday, just as I think we can, by living the wrong way, lose our natural feeling for certain kinds of things, so I think we can lower the general level of life if we use our minds less well than we can and should. Then next comes something that ought to be a puzzle to us, even if it isn't, namely, what is the subject of this study? And the first contrary argument, the answer being God, is taken straight out of St. John of Damascus, who says, in the part of his found of knowledge on the Orthodox faith,


it's impossible to say in regard to God what he is, and so God cannot be the subject of this study. This kind of statement is naturally entirely representative of one element in theology, to which, as we shall see, St. Thomas, in common with classical theologians of both East and West, adheres. This is why, if we were going to look at them, which I'm not proposing to do, in connection with the five ways, which it's theoretically possible to conclude, on his view, that the proposition that God exists is true, St. Thomas doesn't say that they prove, as we were saying yesterday, the existence of God, as is so commonly said. St. John of Damascus also says, in the same chapter from which St. Thomas is here quoting, that we can know that it's true to say that God exists. What we cannot conclude to is a knowledge of what he is. For that is, if you like, a what for which there is no word.


The mystery of God being simply what he is, whatever that may be. This is what you call, of course, what is generally called apophatic theology. You'll remember, at some point, since we started, we heard St. Thomas saying that, for us, it's very much easier, on the whole, to say what God isn't, is not, than what he is. And it's all those statements about God, which deny something that are apophatic, ineffable, cannot be spoken,


immeasurable, cannot be measured, and so on. But let's see how St. Thomas handles this problem in the body of Article 7. I shall try to report this, rather than translate it, since the language poses a good many problems for our use of the words which he uses. Different things may become the object of our study, under some respect they share in common. For instance, we could look at men and stones, simply from the point of view of their being coloured objects. Now, to coin a convenient word, divinity concerns itself with God, either in respect of things that can be correctly said about him, or in respect of being related to him in some way,


as to the one who is their goal. It is in this way that God becomes our subject in this kind of study. That's to say, even though we may have to make a whole lot of statements about God, which deny something about the world we know, we're also going to have, in relation to this science of the mystery of God, we're going to have certain things on this world which can be related to him, particularly ourselves, which are organisable in these terms. They're going to be related to each other under the aspect of coming into divinity. He says that some people, thinking only of the individual things we study in theology, have suggested other subjects. But since all of these things are things seen in relation to God,


it is God who is really our subject. You see, when we are going to talk about the dogmatic things that concern man, when we're going to talk about what is obviously a dogmatic, dogmatic thing, that man has made an image of God, this is a revealed thing, it's not just a theory, then it is the... One of the things we've got to consider is in what way man as image can be said to image this ineffable, immeasurable God. And so, insofar as we are going to consider the God-likeness of man when we're thinking about the image, then it's going to be related to the main science of knowing about God. In an important answer to the first contrary argument, he agrees with St. John of Damascus that we cannot say what God is,


but in this teaching we use his effects, either in nature or grace, in place of definition. For something which is known to be an effect will tell us something about its cause, which is why, for instance, we can say that God is infinite, because everything we know is finite. Now, this may seem to be telling us very little, which is exactly what it's meant to do. If we're going to maintain that the heart of our faith is a mystery. And thus one might wish to know how anyone could argue or reason about it at all, which is the subject of Article 8. Again, I shall not attempt to translate what the article says, but simply to interpret it. We can readily understand that,


insofar as the starting point of theology is revelation, there are two kinds of reasoning about it which are open to us. We may have to defend our faith, which is not something very likely to occupy a central role in monastic life, but St. John of Damascus does say one thing in this connection which may be important for us to remember, even for ourselves in moments of difficulty, namely, that since our faith depends upon a truth which is infallible, it is clear that any arguments which anyone may bring against that faith are in principle soluble. Shall I repeat that? It's a rather important idea. St. Thomas says that it's important for us to know that any arguments which anyone could conceivably bring against the truth of faith could have an answer. Now, this doesn't mean, of course, I think sometimes it's been taught,


it's exactly as though you and I could necessarily know what these answers were. But it's a very important thing that we should be able to feel, because God is absolutely true in revealing, cannot be deceived, so if we've understood the truth of faith itself properly, it must be possible to solve any argument which may be brought against it, however plausible this argument may look. It doesn't at all mean, as I say, that we ourselves will be able to see this. Perhaps only very few people will, and perhaps some people will have to wait a very long time to see it at all. I suppose that this is once again, in St. Thomas, and we shall find it also, I think implicitly in a great number of fathers too, the absolute conviction that divine truth and natural truth,


although they're not the same, cannot possibly be incompatible. Am I right, Ken? I think it is an important thing, don't you? I mean, otherwise, you see, I think what really happens to people who have not understood this conception is that they tend to get into a kind of two-truth world, a world which is only true for religion and another world in which they actually move and live. Because after all, both of these worlds, according to our theology, proceed from God. The world of nature, which we can observe and measure and think about and so on, proceeds from God. So somewhere, somebody will eventually be able to find out what is wrong with even the most formidable argument against faith. Let me just add in passing


that St. Thomas is, of course, speaking precisely of matters of faith. There may be, as we all know, a great number of things which Christians say and do which are pretty indefensible. And we shouldn't expect to be so successful in defending those. You see, again, it's a question of keeping one's mind quite clear. Is this really a matter of faith? In fact, of course, in certain cases, we may have a moral duty not to defend what Christians are saying, I would have thought. But to admit how shabby these points of view can be, if they're not based on faith, if we can't show that they are, or if somebody can't, even if we can't do it. I think we ought to be aware of ever allowing ourselves to slip, as Islamic philosophers were sometimes tempted to do, into a kind of double-truth theory about the world.


And thus, we do need to know what our faith commits us to, which, in terms of things we can say in words, is very much less than many people might imagine. The Nicene Creed is quite short. And the number of principles which are really absolutely defidae, things of faith, is very small, relatively speaking. They sometimes have important consequences, but notice that the further we get away from what is central about the faith, the greater the possibility of error in our having understood what is involved. So, as I say, I think we ought both to have peace of mind about the truth of faith, in relation to every other kind of truth, but not to have laziness of mind about getting clear


about what is really involved in faith. Then, in connection with our faith, there's a second point, that by the use of various kinds of arguments, of greater or less value and probability, we may find ourselves having to draw conclusions which follow, as it were, naturally from what is certainly revealed. Looking back to what we saw the Second Vatican Council was saying about gradual penetration into doctrine, we can see that this is the area in which such penetration is likely to occur, as I say, in the consequences of matters of faith. Always supposing, of course, that we are, by prayer and proper study, developing our theological sense. This is why, of course, sometimes when you're picking up some of the newer theological books, you've got to try to make up your mind how far these really are compatible with the doctrines of faith,


insofar as you can understand what is being said, which is not always the case. It can sometimes be very difficult. But do remember that it is perfectly possible, in fact, it's part of the normal work of theologian, to reflect about faith in such a way that he draws conclusions about things which are compatible with it or not. And then, we shall need to have developed a theological sense in order to see whether this is so or not. Now, if Articles 2 through 8 of this first question of the Summa have been a little painful, though I've tried to make them as painless as possible, I think I may reassure you that with Articles 9 and 10, we emerge into a country which ought to be more familiar to monks, in so far as they are directly concerned


with the relation of scripture to theology. But I suppose I ought not to say farewell to those middle articles with a sensible word from Father Bernard Lonergan. Not, at least in my view, the most lucid of writers himself. We have, I hope, seen that although they each have something of permanent value to say to us, it could have been said in another way. And I've often chosen to do so. There can be little doubt that it was necessary for medieval thinkers to turn to some outside source to obtain a systematic substructure. There is little doubt that they could not do better than turn to Aristotle. But today it is very evident that Aristotle has been superseded.


Magnificently, he represented an early stage of human development, the emergence of systematic meaning. But he did not anticipate the late emergence of a method that envisioned an ongoing succession of systems. His ideal of science in terms of necessity has been set aside not only by modern empirical science, but also by modern mathematics. Again, there is to his thinking a certain blurring of the difference between the common names developed by common sense and the technical terms elaborated by explanatory science. I feel only some reserve about Lonergan's somewhat lofty attitude towards early stages of human development, since some of them, not very well represented by Aristotle in any way, will perhaps always have to remain authentic aspects of what it is to be human. This is, I believe, the issue behind the question of Article 9,


whether holy teaching should use metaphorical and symbolic ways of speaking, which of course fit rather poorly into an Aristotelian worldview. The objections are the ones we should expect. First, that this way of talking is proper to popular poetry, which is the lowest of all forms of teaching. Second, this kind of teaching ought to manifest the truth, and metaphors and symbols make it darker. Thirdly, the higher the subject, the nobler should be the way of talking about it. Scripture often talks about the lowest things. A point which reminds me, as I think I said as an Irishman on the staff when I was once teaching, who asked me why the Bible was so extremely gross and vulgar. As we shall see, St Thomas has an answer


even to that one, though it's one on which I wish to expand a little bit later. The body of his answer is, I fear, one which will satisfy no one. Namely, that since we reach intellectual things through our senses, God condescends to our natural needs in this matter. He adds that since Scripture is intended for everyone, it must use the kind of language that less intellectual types can understand. In answering the objections, St Thomas says that poetry is for delight, which explains its appeal to our senses, while sacred teaching uses metaphors both because it must, and out of the usefulness of doing so, presumably in relation to people by and large. It is like you and me. For he replies to the second and third difficulties raised in advance by saying that,


by turning really to the work of Denis on the heavenly hierarchy. We've already seen from the few passages we selected from St Thomas's inaugural sermon, as a master, that the essential world picture which Denis uses was a framework which was a mediation of higher to lower, which accounts for the strong feeling of difference between teacher and pupil, which would have been as foreign to Socrates as it is to most of us here. In other words, I really do feel very strongly, very much on a par with you in these matters, in the sense that I am also investigating them, and not just imparting them from above, as it were. Here, in connection with the veiled things of scripture, St Thomas will see it as an advantage, as Denis believes, that deep things are veiled because they will raise us through the veils


if we penetrate them to the understanding of higher things. But he adds the important proviso that all such things are also to be found in scripture spoken of more openly. We will find St Thomas saying this several times during the course of the sermon that scripture manages to say in a dark way, in certain places, things which it says more openly, in other places, if these are really necessary. Pearls are not to be cast before swine. In answer to the third difficulty, invoking Denis once again, Thomas answers that crude images for sublime things are best because no one is likely to take them for anything less than the images. Secondly, such images are nearer to our way of knowledge in this world since, as far as God is concerned, we know better what he is not than what he is. And thirdly, divine things remain thereby more hidden from those


who are unworthy of them. I'd just like to finish this before we take a break. I think we can. Finally, the last article of this question, Article 10, asks whether the scriptures of this doctrine should be expounded according to different senses. Did Father Casimir talk anything about this? Did he say anything about the senses of scripture? He didn't. Well, as you know, we have to face this somewhere, somehow, so it's us as well to do it here. This, as you know, is a question which has a long history behind it and since St Thomas' day, but it will at least be useful to be aware of the position of St Thomas in these debates. I shall only notice the third of the contrary arguments, that the type of story which is called a parable is not included in the various


traditional lists on the different senses of scripture, as it is particularly this point which makes St Thomas' view easiest to sympathise with, I think. In other words, St Thomas puts it as an objection because he says it's a very strange thing with all these schemes you don't get a separate section for parables, so the traditional four senses don't seem quite fit. Here, too, is the usual swazio, preceding the formal answers. We get our first important quotation from Gregory Great, speaking in the first chapter of his Mirada in Job, where he says, I quote directly from Gregory, In its own way, Holy Scripture transcends all other kinds of knowledge, for in one and the same language, by telling a story, it unveils a mystery. It's the lovely thing


that comes in the preface to the Morals on Job, where Gregory says, of course these are waters in which the elephant can wade and the lamb can swim. St Thomas' formal answer to the problem is as follows. God is the author of Scripture and he can not only, as human beings can, make words signify other things, but also, rather like Humpty Dumpty and Lewis Carroll, but also make real things function that way. And thus, what is proper to this science among all the sciences of language is the fact that the real events signified by the words can also, in their turn, signify other things. So if you like, you can say that although we can, in fact of course, it's one of the lines of T.S. Eliot's poems, remember, talking about the poet


purifying the language of the tribe. In other words, the poets do tend to use a word suddenly which makes us see a new significance in it. St Thomas is saying God does this with words, but he also does it with things in Scripture. Where what these words signify has another meaning, this is the spiritual sense which is founded on the literal and presupposes it. This spiritual sense is subdivided into three insofar as according to the letter to the Hebrews the old law is the figure of the new and the new the figure of future glory. So here you've got a very simple, clear scheme. You've got


two fundamental divisions that between the literal sense of Scripture and the spiritual sense. And so we can say old law related to new law is a very interesting thing. It means for St Thomas that the old law is going to be an allegory. So he's a thorough supporter of saying the allegory is the spiritual sense of the literal words of the old law.


Then the relationship between the events of the new law and our immediate situation is going to give us the moral sense. Insofar as these some of these point towards future events they're also going to give us in fact an


analogical sense. It's particularly true of course of the book of Revelation where in fact we're going to talk about the heavenly Jerusalem and stones and gates and so on. And these are an analogy for something which cannot really directly be spoken of in our present language because of course you'll remember one of the things the book of Revelation manages to say is that there's no religion in heaven. Which sometimes rather shocks people when one says it but there isn't. Because religion is the virtue of our separation from God. We need religion. But in heaven


there's no temple in heaven because God is immediately present to us. Always. Father, do you mean anagogical? I think that's the word you want rather than analogical. Yes, I do mean anagogical. Actually there are a number of different words the words that can be used for this are there are several of them actually. In fact I think St. Thomas actually has another one now that I come to think of it. What does he call it? Yes, he calls it etiological. I think it's obvious


it means referring to a future time. But you're quite right to point out that most medieval writers do in fact use the word anagogical about that. If you like I suppose we can say that last one is there really are broken reflections of what we shall one day see quite clearly. Now we see in a glass darkly. Just to underpin his position he quotes the 12th book of St. Augustine's Confessions which says that all the senses are derived from the literal sense. And this of course as a principle


sufficiently copes with any objections which can be raised including that of the parable for the parable is by intention part of the literal sense. All right? John Baptist? It's very important to see that, isn't it? Let's say a parable is simply what it is it means what it is it means what the words say. In other words St. Thomas is quite clear as not everyone easily is including it as some preachers that a parable is not an allegory. For its details do not independently mean other things though they may allude to them. It means really only itself and that's why a parable is so rich and so one can come back to them and see new things about them all the time. I hope that any of you


who either feel tempted to deny the usefulness of this neat and clearly debated little summary of very traditional Protestant position will read if you can the modest and careful pages of Fr Henri de Lubac in the second part of his great study of medieval exegesis. I don't think it's been translated into English perhaps it never will be. But I hope which also appears to show that the claims to originality which used to be made have no serious foundation in either St Thomas's theory or his practice. He says in my view with complete justice of this conclusion to the first question of the summer this is indeed a Romanesque porch which is going to be leading into a Gothic structure and beyond it. I think it's a nice image that. A Romanesque porch. Have any of you been to Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire? You have? It's a very


wonderful church with a very splendid Romanesque porch. And of course I suppose the view through a Romanesque porch at Vézelay is even more striking because of the tremendous light in the church of Vézelay. Vézelay is on top of a hill an old Benedictine church and you go through underneath a great figure of a majestic Christ and then come into this open building full of light. And in a certain way this question finishes on a very old-fashioned note and then suddenly you get the question on whether God is coming after that and so it's all it moves suddenly moves into a different world. I think it was a very nice idea to say it was rather like a Romanesque porch leading into a much bigger building. Just to underline this view with two questions from elsewhere from elsewhere in St Thomas


I cover from the following which I might not otherwise have noticed. In Prima Secundae Question 102 Article 6 He says The cult of the law prefigured the mystery of Christ hence all the things they did prefigured things that pertained to Christ. According to the words of 1 Corinthians 10 Now all these things happen to them in figure. So you see really that this does justify the enormous amount of allegory sometimes of course very much exaggerated in medieval writing but it's very important to see that even for somebody like St Thomas the old law will be being read being seen all the time as a figure of things to come. And this


from the prologue to a commentary on the Psalms In expanding the Psalter as in other prophetical books we should avoid the error condemned in the fifth synod. Theodore of Mopsuestia said that in Holy Scripture and the Prophets nothing is expressly said of Christ but of certain other things and these have been adapted to Christ. But this view was condemned in the council and anyone who asserts that Scripture should be explained like this is a heretic. And so the Blessed Jerome as you say in America gave us his rule which we keep in relation to the Psalms namely that concerning everything that happens all is to be explained as prefiguring something about Christ and his church. It is of course a great pity isn't it that at any rate the Roman breviary has actually cut out the end of the 136th Psalm by the waters


of Babylon about dashing the children against the stones which comes of course in the Rules of Benedict interpreted exactly as St Thomas says it should be namely dashing the thoughts against the Rock of Christ. They have just dropped the verse it doesn't appear in the revised Roman Breviary. Well forgive me having taken slightly longer than usual to build that little porch I think tomorrow we shall turn round and take our distance a little bit further back and go a bit further forward. But I think it was rather useful to place it all in relation to St Thomas somehow or other and we'll come back and see whether there are any odds and ends which we need to pick up when we had a break in the sunshine. In relation to


what we've just been doing as I say it seems to me that in many ways the advantage of looking at this first question of the Summa is that although St Thomas is trying to fit his theology into a framework which would need quite a lot of explanation still it does at least give us a certainty of clarity as to the sort of areas which are properly theological his clear distinction I suppose which goes back which ultimately perhaps refers to his very traditional attitude towards the intentions of Scripture in the end in the long run which gives a kind of a kind of unity


to his view of the Old Testament which I suppose we most of us wouldn't have today and so you can say that even if we wouldn't say it in quite this way we're going to say that the sort of things theological we're thinking about will be either those things which the church regards as directly revealed or some things which may be consequences of revelation and sometimes of course the investigation of the consequences of revelation are going to lead to important new penetrations into doctrine perhaps what makes this kind of presentation so different from that of St. John of Damascus


I think quite apart as I was saying from the for the absence of a Christological centre to this is the fact that you can see that in many ways St. Thomas is at a point where he's got behind him the inheritance in the West of a number of specialised kinds of questions which have never been quite explored in the same kind of way or the same spirit in the Eastern Church since the schism and I suppose most people are not in the West are not generally aware how complex the question of even the things like the number of the sacraments was for a very long time in the West


itself there's a fairly early controversy about the sacrament of the altar but do remember that the definition of seven sacraments depends on asking a certain kind of question doesn't it I mean the initial question which gives rise to a desire to specify something special about what goes on in Church is something that doesn't really naturally occur in the East Eastern way of thinking where the sort of images and the sort of feeling about theology which I've tried to present earlier on is still very much alive that liturgical books are being read in public and the liturgy is being performed in the episodic tradition although of course it's now got a very 19th century sort of disguise in the East as it is in the West


I mean let's say the average chant being used in Byzantine liturgy is not very ancient and the liturgy of St John of Chrysostom is only honorifically called St John of Chrysostom liturgy because although some of the text is fairly early the main body of the rite is not older than the 9th century but I think this feeling of the church as a functioning body has remained so much more alive in the East than it has in the West and I once spent quite a long time in the days when I still had my close at hand in the old library in Oxford so many manuscripts looking through some of the first discussions about the number of the sacraments and some of the lists are very curious indeed quite a number


of them include things like the blessing of Nevit or Nebis as one of the sacraments which rather looks as though in some cases people were looking at rather the solemnity of the occasion than anything else in asking themselves what is a sacrament because I suppose if we'd ask a father like Sir Alexander how many sacraments there were he might be able to answer one the church it's where we meet the mystery isn't it where we encounter the mystery is in church in church as a body this is not of course to say that the western development


can be avoided now that we've done it and obviously there has been some use and clarification in in asking whether certain of the things we did were of apostolic origin or not but it has I suppose tended to mitigate our sense of the sacramental character of liturgical life this with the enormous decline of preaching since the patristic period it's really rather terrifying yes I'm not sure I've got a handle on what this I'm understanding but it seems like the more sacramental view yes and I recall


reading something not very long ago which was by Father Schmemann yes yes exactly I think it was the book before last if it wasn't the book on baptism and confirmation it might have been that one I'm not certain but anyway where he was saying that they numbered if they were pressed against the wall perhaps 250 was a good round number something along that line in terms of sacramental yes and it just seemed to me that from what you've said so far that perhaps the sacramental sense is something like the theological sense and that as soon as you come down hard on something you don't have to detect you don't have to be sensitive because you have something clear-cut yes I think there's a very good point there John Baptiste I'm sure there is do other people see the point John Baptiste is making there I think it is really very true that in one sense we're much closer


to the as long as we retain a sense that God may be using any kind of small ordinary thing visible thing sign symbol and so on then we're very very close to the spirit and feeling of the undivided church one of the things I felt consoled about our discussion yesterday was that it did seem to me to be a good example of the way in which monastic life ought to be without being consciously so ecumenical because in so far as we can get a feel for what the church feels like as undivided in the tradition we are already making possible a unity I think the unity has got to begin in us in a sense in our recovering a sense of theology which is primitive so I'm not going to take you any further most of the time as you see


St. Thomas himself occasionally I should be looking at him simply because he sometimes makes the kind of distinctions which western people want to make but I think you're right in saying and I have this feeling too that by asking the question as to what is sacramental to just for instance like asking what is essential about the validity of the mass does tend to give people a very limited sense of the value of the whole liturgy if you want to specify specific words or specific actions and of course I suppose one can say that some of the liturgical revisions since Vatican II has tended to take a step


in the direction in which we're speaking in so far as it's quite clear that the four revised canons have all made rather a point of giving us a very obvious epiclesis everybody knows what epiclesis is it's the part of the canon which involves an invocation of the Holy Spirit the new canon four is clearly has clearly been composed as giving as nearly as we can in the Latin rite a very Greek or oriental looking canon because of the strong feeling amongst primitive Christians Christians of the East that the invocation of the Holy Spirit on the gifts is an essential part of the consecration no formal things have been said about this but I think


it is a concession to the antiquity and venerability of this tradition that those of you who have ever looked perhaps we might even have to do this together in the end it would be rather fun if we did I have done a lot of research at one time if you ever look at the big work of Jungmann which I couldn't find in the library it's here somewhere isn't it yes if you ever look at the big work of Jungmann on the canon one does include the equivalent in every piece it's not very we have nearly a sustainable head to make it work but it can be done but I think that's only sort of my illustration of the way in which when the


attitude of scripture which is here being talked about is extended to the liturgy and to our life and church in general you get a much more unified view of theology as a whole and of course as I was saying to Paul in answer to one of his questions yesterday it's not by any means uncommon for the fathers to need to invoke what is actually done in the liturgy as a reason for some theological point they wish to make I wonder


if it's worth saying anything more about the question of whether this is a science of this kind of study is concerned mainly with well what St. Thomas calls speculative things I think perhaps in some ways the distinction between especially for those of us who lead the kind of life that we do whether this isn't also a rather unhelpful kind of distinction let's say when we pray and much of what we're going to be saying all the time is very closely connected with our prayer which is rather a tiny bit aside looking at it as we're almost from outside it's


hard to know whether you should say that our sonship of God is a speculative or practical question isn't it because in fact St. Thomas's answer that it's really both does apply to nearly all the really important things we're going to be talking about because if you like being a son doesn't give you a list of specific things to do but it does already suggest to you the kind of person you should become but this can only happen in so far as you reflect upon it theology is really essentially a contemplative exercise which ought to shape the way we look at things don't you think? That make our actions accidental to the


fact of being sons of God because what I'm thinking of is do I act like a son and therefore I'm a son or am I at first a son so it seems to me what strikes me a lot is that you first have to realize you're sonship and I think that's what Marcus was getting at in terms of the essence he was saying that we're studying God Yes I think you're right there Peter I think you're absolutely right Peter it is of course essential that we should that's why as I say it's very important for us when we come to the Doctrine of Man to realize that it's not just the sort of thing which is usually covered in moral theology which we'll be talking about because those if you like give you the sort of things sons do but if you haven't asked yourself first of all as you say the question what does it mean to be a son at all then you really haven't got a point


to start from and that's a dogmatic point so there really is here we really have what is essentially a contemplative subject let's say something for our own deep reflection and prayer and which of course inevitably also has or should have results in our life it gives a certain quality to our way of looking at things and our way of acting so does that seem alright Gino do you think? yeah well actually my intention is what you were saying theology as contemplative is an act of contemplation which we which ought to shape our axial path


yes and that's something obviously in many ways as I was also saying incidentally as we went along some of the some of the work involved in theology is not always going to be so very obviously contemplative because sometimes we're going to have simply to have to inform ourselves of what other people have thought and said and how they have done it and so on because especially at this particular period in the history of the west church we have tend to get rather separated from the sources of our our liturgy and our theology in general I certainly would have thought that when I heard


older men when I first entered the religious life six years ago this year older men would often talk about something as being very traditional which certainly wasn't more than fifty years old and many of these people had very very little idea of what any of the fathers of the church would seriously have thought about anything I think there have been two great attempts to revive this kind of study I suppose there was one which swept Newman into the church and one to other people as well notably Newman it didn't affect everybody in that way but it has affected certainly it has affected the whole of the people connected with anachronism as it also affected John Wesley incidentally as he did in fact read the fathers I wasn't aware quite how much he did until this last conference when I heard an extraordinary


notion talking about the enormous number of journals John Wesley took on horseback with copies of the fathers which he read and although this doesn't come across in a very obvious way in the way he preached afterwards it certainly I thought comes across very clearly in Charles Wesley's hymns which are some of them very very orthodox indeed in their theology and can more safely be decided by Catholics than some of the things which occurred in the old Westminster hymn which were very doubtfully orthodox I think on certain subjects. So I think there was that 19th century movement in England it was very extraordinary how widespread it was and what sacrifices people made I know somebody who's travelled around a lot of country vicarages in my time


that the effects of the translation of the fathers which Newman put out and Mrs Pusey sold her jewels to pay for some of the expenses of putting out that series it reached every remote country vicarage it was very frightening for me to read one of the last times I was in England that a social survey of the Gathic church clergy revealed that 47% were unable to give any account of what had happened in Vatican II which is very frightening isn't it really and that's to say they know what it told them to do in church but they often don't know why so in fact in a way the 19th century attempt to make the fathers known at least in English speaking areas was rather more successful than the series like Socrates has been as far as I can see largely because I suppose you


do know that there is a French series called Christian Sources which was started by Cardinal Danilo and originally intended to be a kind of modern thing modern version not the sort of thing the French were doing in Oxford in the 19th century in order that people might be reading the fathers again so first of all they started putting out translations then only gradually did some people say look we want the text as well so now of course it's tended to become very very expensive indeed because the printing of Greek text requires rather special typesetters and all the rest of it and where the text is Greek or even Latin text doesn't need anybody and so they are more expensive and I was talking to Father Mondesir who is now apparently retiring from the practical organisation of the Socrates and he was saying that they are having very serious conferences as to how they are going to bring the price down somehow to make it more accessible but I think


it is very sad that it does mean that this kind of knowledge which we can share with each other in a class like this which I hope to try and give you the feeling for in the 12 days we have together some of which are less or really gone and we are only just kind of warming to each other it hasn't really yet reached as large a public as it should have done even in monastic life an enormous number of places where these books are on the shelves and nothing is being done very much with them and this is very sad because of course my eye has just fallen on the article which asked whether this doctrine is wisdom and it is obvious that in saying as I said that I think the Society of Theology is a very contemplative exercise


obviously it is so provided we really are soaking ourselves in these kinds of things and I think the there is no doubt about it the habit of reading these texts and thinking in this way the way which fathers do which we try to do tomorrow with other noses I think it's tomorrow yes this is something which immediately makes this tradition very alive for us and these people become very much our contemporaries because they are talking to remember to a world which is very like our own the fathers were in fact all of them yes you see even Lesley and John Damascus although he was doing a very defensive kind of work in an islamic atmosphere all the fathers


in it are writing in essentially what is still a world penetrated with very ordinary pagan conceptions and I suppose they are suddenly much more around us now than they were some time ago at any rate especially because I take it that even the more fundamentalist kind of presidents probably read their bibles less than they used I've certainly lived in my time in England with a car man and his wife on a farm who never read anything except the bible and one Sunday newspaper they read the bible everyday I wonder how widespread that is in the United States do you have anybody have any idea how wide the bible is in fact read by ordinary people and that's


only talking about scripture and not talking at all about any other more fundamental books and this is a very real problem I think we ought to feel a very strong sense of duty to the church to do this work as well as we can because this is not meant to be unkind to the secular clergy because just as in monasteries there always are exceptions so there are amongst the secular clergy too but I was very interested on one occasion when I was teaching many years ago I was living in a house that had belonged to an old catholic family where they still had something of the library of former chaplains of the household and the difference between the kind of books those men had and the kind of books the modern clergy would have was really rather shocking I mean say the older men were much better read in classical things


than they would tend to be nowadays . [...]