Theology and Philosophy: Faith and Reason 9781472551436, 9780567410337, 9780567526021

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Theology and Philosophy: Faith and Reason
 9781472551436, 9780567410337, 9780567526021

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Foreword If theology is about the truth, it has to be engaged – intensely, riskily, carefully – with all the ways in which human beings in general talk about truth and believe they discover and cope with it. Thomas Aquinas, in response to the well-intentioned but disastrous idea that ‘religious’ truth belonged to a different order from other truth claims, insisted that there were not several different kinds of truth but ultimately one. Equally, he and the tradition he represents reject the two obvious mistakes that can arise in the wake of this. We cannot say that theology simply supplies ‘truths’ that are lacking in other disciplines in the sense of giving supplementary information; and we cannot proceed on the assumption that the way in which truth claims are arrived at in other discourses can be borrowed and expected to work in theology. In other words, theology has to think about what its claims to truthfulness mean, and it has to have at least some purchase on the question of what it is simply to think and to know. Because theology is not based on a set of revealed propositions (which is not the same as saying that it can manage without propositional content), it can slip into a sentimental and impressionistic mode at times, focusing on the edifying effect of certain ways of talking, taking refuge in an appeal to metaphor or the ‘poetic’ in ways that are both dated and muddled. Any useful discussion of metaphor, as recent decades have abundantly shown, demands some hard thinking about language and reference. And any working poet would be surprised to be told that their work was absolved from precision or from the inexorable difficulty of truthtelling. If theology is indeed to be a participant worth listening to in the conversation of the academy, it needs, perhaps not to have a theory of language and reference, but certainly to be able to display what it thinks about thought and knowing. And it will do this as it always has when it is serious – by grappling with what is being said more widely about these things. As the historical essays which follow demonstrate this sometimes means that theologians become both embroiled in unwinnable arguments (unwinnable because no one defines their terms properly) and seduced by what look like decisive and compelling models.

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But without false starts no progress is made: it is almost always the interesting mistake that really generates fresh mental energy. There is no honest avoiding of these risks. And in the second volume of this collection, we are helped to see how a wide variety of ‘sense-making’ practices and discourses can be involved with theology in the work of finding sustainable, defensible ways of talking about humanity that do not leave out what is awkward or settle for what works in the small scale and short term. As has often been said, theology is bound to be an anthropology – and if it is, it is immediately bound up with other anthropologies, discussing, affirming, contesting and, so theology would claim, always enlarging. What theology constantly looks to is a way of characterizing what is human that makes it clear that there is no adequate ‘humanism’ without reference to God, and, more specifically, to the Second Adam. These essays, then, make the ambitious presupposition that theology cannot escape ontology of some sort, and so has to do the work that is so comprehensively and clearly set out here. And in a university world where what counts as knowing, what counts as sustainable truth claims and, ultimately, what counts as ‘humanistic’ are all issues surrounded by some confusion at the moment, theology’s contribution to the conversation is not trivial. The humanities sorely need defences against functionalist barbarity – and so, for that matter, do most of the sciences. And what happens to these questions in the university is significant for what happens to them in our culture overall. Academic questions are not – as it were – purely academic questions. Theology has the opportunity of saying essential and properly awkward things into current debates about scholarship and learning. These essays provide an impressively comprehensive resource as we seek to make the best use of such an opportunity. Archbishop Rowan Williams

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Notes on Contributors Nicholas Adams teaches philosophy and theology at the University of Edinburgh. He is active in the American Academy of Religion, the Society for the Study of Theology and the Society for Scriptural Reasoning, and is a consultant for the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme. He has published one book, Habermas and Theology, together with numerous articles on German philosophy and scriptural reasoning. Paul Avis is the General Secretary of the Council for Christian Unity of the Church of England, a Research Fellow in the Department of Theology of the University of Exeter and Canon Theologian of Exeter. He is the Convening Editor of ‘Ecclesiology’ and the author of a number of books on Anglicanism, ecumenical theology and ecclesiology. Oliver D. Crisp (editor and contributor) is Professor of Systematic Theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, US, and formerly Reader in Theology at the University of Bristol, UK. His publications include Jonathan Edwards and the Metaphysics of Sin (Ashgate, 2005), Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered (Cambridge, 2007), An American Augustinian: Sin and Salvation in the Dogmatic Theology of William G. T. Shedd (Paternoster and Wipf & Stock, 2007), God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology (T&T Clark, 2009), Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology, edited with Michael Rea (Oxford, 2009), Retrieving Doctrine: Essays in Reformed Theology (Paternoster and IVP Academic, 2010/2011), Revisioning Christology: Theology in The Reformed Tradition (Ashgate, 2011) and Jonathan Edwards on God and Creation (Oxford, 2012). Mervyn Davies (editor) is Scholar in Residence at Sarum College, Salisbury where he lectures on the MA in Christian Spirituality and is Programme Leader for the MA in Christian Approaches to Leadership. He is also an honorary Senior Lecturer in Theology at the University of Bristol supervising postgraduate students in Newman studies. He has organized and contributed to numerous conferences in the UK on Newman especially aimed at the wider public. He

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also works nationally with Anglican, Methodist and Catholic organizations on ecumenical, theological and organizational approaches to Christian Leadership. He was formerly Director of Studies at Wesley College, Bristol and for 11 years Principal of a Sixth Form College. His recent books include editing A Thankful Heart and a Discerning Mind (2010) and (co-authored) Leadership for a People of Hope (Continuum, 2011). Gavin D’Costa (editor) is Professor of Catholic Theology, University of Bristol. He advises the Church of England and Roman Catholic Committees on Other Faiths on theology and other faiths and also the Pontifical Council for Other Faiths, Vatican City. In 1998 he was Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University, Rome. His publications include: Christianity and World Religions, Disputed Questions in the Theology of Religions (Oxford: Blackwell, 2009); Theology and the Public Square: Church, University and Nation (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005); Sexing the Trinity. Gender, Culture and the Divine (London: SCM, 2000); The Meeting of Religions and the Trinity (Maryknoll, New York: Orbis Books, 2000) and other books and journal articles. G. R. Evans is Professor Emeritus of Medieval Theology and Intellectual History, University of Cambridge. She has published a number of books on medieval theological themes and authors. She has served on the Archbishops’ Group on the Episcopate and the the Faith and Order Advisory Group of the General Synod of the Church of England. She has been consultant to a number of ecumenical committees and has written in this field on Problems of Authority in the Reformation Debates, The Church and the Churches and Ecumenical Method. Martin Ganeri OP is Prior of Blackfriars, Cambridge. As well as Lector and Tutor in World Religions at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford, he is Lecturer in Theology at Heythrop College, University of London and Director of the Centre for Christianity and Interreligious Dialogue, Heythrop College. His main areas of teaching and research are Catholic approaches to other religions, World Christianity and Asian religions. Paul Gavrilyuk is Associate Professor of Historical Theology at the University of St Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota. He also taught at Southern Methodist University; Harvard Divinity School; Pontificia Università San Tommaso, Rome, Italy; and Institute of St Thomas Aquinas, Kiev, Ukraine. He is the author of numerous articles and two books, The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) and Histoire du catéchuménat dans l’église ancienne (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 2008). He co-edited with Douglas Koskela and Jason Vickers, Immersed in the Life

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of God: The Healing Resources of the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008). Peter Hampson (editor), formerly Professor of Psychology at the University of the West of England, Bristol, UK, is Visiting Research Scholar at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He has published numerous articles in various psychological and theological journals, and co-authored (with Peter Morris) Imagery and Consciousness (Academic Press, 1983) and Understanding Cognition (Blackwell, 1996) and co-edited (with David Marks and John Richardson) Imagery: Current Developments (Routledge, 1990). His current research interests include moral psychology and existential security, theology–psychology dialogue, the rationality, assumptions and fideistic bases of different intellectual traditions, and religion, theology and interdisciplinarity in contemporary higher education Paul Helm is Emeritus Professor of the History and Philosophy of Religion at King’s College, London. He is also currently a teaching fellow at Regent College, Vancouver, BC and adjunct Professor at Highland Theological College, Dingwall, Scotland. Previously he was J. I. Packer Chair in Theology and Philosophy, Regent College, Vancouver, BC (2001–05). He also served as President of the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion. Before joining King’s College in 1993, he was Reader in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool. Paul has written many articles and books. His books include The Providence of God; Eternal God; Faith with Reason; Faith and UnderStanding; John Calvin’s Ideas; and Calvin at the Centre. Robert W. Jenson joined the Center of Theological Inquiry in 1998 as Senior Scholar for Research after a long career teaching theology at St Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Oxford University. He helped found the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology, which he continues to serve as associate director. A co-founder and co-editor of the journal Pro Ecclesia, he was a member of the North American Lutheran-Episcopal Dialogue I and II, and served as a permanent adviser to the International Roman Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue III. His two-volume Systematic Theology was published in 1998 and 1999 by Oxford University Press. Terrence Merrigan is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He has published extensively on the theology of John Henry Newman, and in the areas of Christology and the Theology of Interreligious Dialogue. His publications include Godhead Here in Hiding: Incarnation and the History of Human Suffering (Peeters, 2008), Orthodoxy: Process and Product, edited with M. Lamberigts and L. Boeve (Leuven University

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Press, 2008), and Newman and Truth (Peeters: W.B. Eerdmans, 2008) and The Cambridge Companion to John Henry Newman (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), both edited with Ian Ker. Marcus Pound is Lecturer in Catholic Studies in the Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University. He is currently directing the research project on Receptive Ecumenism and the Local Church, as well as lecturing on French post-war theology and critical theory. His publications include Theology, Psychoanalysis, Trauma (SCM, 2007), Žižek: A (Very) Critical Introduction (Eerdmans, 2008), as well as journal contributions to New Blackfriars, The International Journal of Žižek Studies, Psychoanalytische Perspectieven, Philosophical Writings, and The Letter: A Journal of Lacanian Analysis. Michael Rota received a doctorate in philosophy from Saint Louis University in January 2006. His dissertation (directed by Eleonore Stump) was on the conceptual analysis of causation in contemporary analytic philosophy and in the thought of Thomas Aquinas. During the 2002–03 school year, under the auspices of the Midwest Consortium of Catholic Graduate Schools, he was a visiting student at the University of Notre Dame, where he studied with Michael Loux, Alvin Plantinga and Peter van Inwagen. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of St Thomas. While on leave for the 2006–07 academic year, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard Divinity School. Peter Manley Scott is Senior Lecturer in Christian Social Thought and Director of the Lincoln Theological Institute at the University of Manchester, UK. He is the author of Theology, Ideology and Liberation (CUP, 1994; paperback edition 2008) and A Political Theology of Nature (CUP, 2003); co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to Political Theology (Blackwell, 2004; paperback edition 2006), Future Perfect (Continuum, 2006), Re-moralising Britain? (Continuum, 2009), Nature Space & the Sacred (Ashgate, 2009); and guest editor of Ecotheology 11:2 – special issue on theology and technology (Equinox, 2006), and the International Journal of Public Theology 2:1 – special issue on urban theology (Brill, 2008). James Wetzel teaches philosophy at Villanova University, where he holds the Augustinian Chair in the Thought of St Augustine. He writes about Augustine, grace, the inner life of virtue, memorialized redemption, and other matters of philosophical piety. His most recent essay ‘Agony in the Garden: Augustine’s Myth of Will’ is due to appear in the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Augustine, ed. Mark Vessey. Merold Westphal is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University. Among his many books are: History and Truth in Hegel’s Phenomenology;

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Kierkegaard’s Critique of Reason and Society; Becoming a Self: A Reading of Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript; God, Guilt and Death: An Existential Phenomenology of Religion; Suspicion and Faith: The Religious Uses of Modern Atheism; Overcoming Ontotheology: Towards a Postmodern Christian Faith. He has served as President of the Hegel Society of America and of the Sǿren Kierkegaard Society and as Executive Director of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy. He is editor of the Indianan Series in the Philosophy of Religion.

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Introduction Theology in Search of a Handmaiden: Reason and Philosophy The Editors In this volume and the next, we have assembled commissioned essays to argue a point of view. That point of view, which we shall call ‘Christian culture’, took something of a back seat between the seventeenth century and recent times, although it was always present in some circles. The phrase ‘Christian culture’ could be unpacked in terms of a two-step argument, but first a few words on the phrase itself. It can have various meanings. Here, we take it to mean the ability of Christians, with the aid of philosophy, to engage with all intellectual disciplines as Christians, while recognizing that different disciplines, including philosophy, have a rightful autonomy. If this type of engagement were to happen in any serious way, we maintain it might help generate a ‘Christian culture’. This would entail fresh developments and continuing research cultures within the natural, social, human and creative sciences that would, in the long term, help human flourishing as well as create an environment where the gospel would penetrate all aspects of human existence. Let us turn to the explicit twostep argument. The first step, this volume of essays, is concerned to show that philosophy, virtually all forms of philosophy, might act as a suitable handmaiden to theology. Theology acts on the datum of revelation and tradition, and, for some Christians, the latter also includes a magisterium (an authoritative teaching office). Theology seeks to both testify to that which has been given to Christians in revelation and to explicate it as robustly as possible so that which has been ‘given’ can be passed on, illuminating, challenging and constructing our cultures. Theologizing involves the intellect explicating faith. In this process, various branches of theology help the operation: scripture, patristics, mediaeval, modern, dogmatics, missiology, moral, pastoral and so on. When all these branches work together, which would be a rare and interesting phenomenon, given the tendency of the contemporary university towards the cult of specialism, theology reflects on its normative sources and gives an account of itself, defends its

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claims, engages with the particular context and questions of Christians living; while always kneeling in wonder and awe at the object of its enquiry. When it engages in these operations it must inevitably engage with philosophy, first and foremost. This is the first step of the argument – this volume. And it must then inevitably engage with other intellectual disciplines, in a secondary fashion. This is the second step of the argument – the next volume. The first step requires a historical demonstration of the necessity of philosophy for theology’s final ends. We claim that the relationship with philosophy is thus crucial for theology, but also implies a structuring hierarchy. Theology works on revelation and philosophy is employed to defend, elaborate, explicate and understand this revelation. Philosophy cannot have final authority on the question of God’s self-disclosing, but what theology teaches about God’s self-revelation cannot be philosophically indefensible or philosophically inexplicable. Philosophy thus has at least two roles as handmaiden, formally and materially. Formally, it helps theology with the formal tasks of developing coherence, logical rigour, intelligibility and rhetorical elegance – among other things. It helps theology engage with its cultured despisers, but only provisionally and strategically on the ‘despisers’ territory, for theology must always be grounded in its formal object: God. Materially, it helps theology in providing complex and sophisticated systems of conceptuality that have been employed to address a huge variety of questions ranging from cosmology, maths, the sciences, the nature of the human person and their ends, the good life, and so on. Once more, the use of these conceptualities is a complex and contested process, always in danger of encoding theology within an alien world view, rather than allowing theology to find rigorous intellectual expression to tell of the scandal and novelty that it proclaims. This account is far too neat for a historical reality that is hugely complex and contested. But it is a defensible account and one that underpins this volume: there is a confidence that all philosophies, even those that have often been associated with anti-Christian spokespersons, are capable of acting as handmaidens to theology in some way or other and of course in varying degrees. Many modern philosophers have often been thought of as in opposition to orthodox Christianity. While that is true about some figures, we are particularly keen to explore how giants like Kant and Marx, or movements like existentialism and postmodernism, might actually provide grounds for theological hope, rather than descend into black and white antagonism. The claim is not that Marx would be theologically friendly, but rather Marx’s philosophy, in the hands of theologians, might prove theologically productive. This cannot be an a priori claim, but only a historical contention. We want to trace this long history of theology’s interaction with philosophy into premodern times to indicate a continuous telos within theology. Hence, this volume begins with the ancient

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philosophical Greek tradition that is the bedrock of Christianity. The particularity of God’s action in Jesus Christ was already a scandal to both Jews and Greeks. The further scandal was that through metaphysics that particularity was also seen, with the action of the Holy Spirit, to be a universal. Greek philosophy was well suited for this ambition: to relate the particular to the universal. The volume moves forward with different snap shots, both historically and denominationally. It begins with the Greeks and ends with the non-Western philosophical traditions which are the cradle for future Christian civilizations. But we also look carefully at the modern West, after the decline of Christianity in Europe, its traditional heartland, for one of our chief concerns is the revival of Christianity worldwide. And without philosophy, such a revival is impossible, for philosophy provides the bridge by which Christians engage with cultured despisers – and its own intellectuals to develop the tradition. If we look at the early Church this same dynamic is present. When Jesus preached to his own people in Jerusalem, the authority of Moses, the prophets and the law were the key hinges upon which the gospel hung for its validity – and still do. But when St Paul is in Athens to speak to the Jewish communities there, he also meets those sophisticated urban Athenians (Acts 17: 18ff.) who accept the authority of figures like Zeno of Citium, Cleanthes and Chrysippus – the founders of Stoicism; or Diogenes Laertius’s depiction of Epicurean’s works – the founder of Epicureanism. These urban intellectuals also know their classic poets who are sometimes philosophers, like Aratus and Epimenides. So Paul searches for points of contact, whereby he is able to show there is a bridge, an indirect implication embedded within that which they hold dear, to make the scandal to Jews and Greeks, clear to the Athenian mind. It is a crucial moment of the Nazarene sect’s development into a universal church and a world religion. Paul does not make these references to endorse the truth of these philosophers and poets as such, but rather he is trying to show that these traditions, in part, indirectly point to the truth of Christ – if only the Athenians could see, what in their blindness, they are missing. Clement of Alexandria, about a hundred years later, reflects on Paul’s strategy. He writes in the Stromateis 1.19: It is clear that by using poetic examples from the Phaenomena of Aratus [Paul] approves the best statements of the Greeks. Besides, he refers to the fact that in the person of the unknown god the Greeks are indirectly honoring God the Creator and need to receive him and learn about him with full knowledge through the Son. For Clement, as with most of the early Fathers, this did not mean that the Greeks were other than blind to the truth of the Gospel. Rather there was a bridge from their blindness, given that some of what they held had vestiges of truth. Clement

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continues a line later: ‘So these are the “opened eyes of the blind,” which means the clear knowledge of the Father through the Son, the direct grasp of the thing to which the Greeks indirectly allude.’ Some half a century later, Venerable Bede, in his commentary on Paul’s actions in Athens, pushes the critique of pagan cultures hard, but in a way that today holds little intellectual credibility as a proper grasp of the philosophies he speaks of. He wants to establish the total depravity of those philosophies and writes in his Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles: ‘The Epicureans, following the stupidity of their teacher, put the happiness of humanity in the pleasure of the body alone, while the Stoics placed it solely in the virtue of the mind.’ It makes for a nice contrast with the unity of mind and body in the incarnation, but it lacks some of Clement’s generous intelligence. Augustine, later than Clement but earlier than Bede, when discussing the same passage in The Trinity, book 16, could see that philosophies might reflect on ‘natural order’, and from there, recognize there might be a God who orders all things. For Augustine, ‘revelation’ was that God speaking and inviting us into a personal and redeeming relationship, and philosophy at best could recognize that a being, God, does exist. This meeting at Athens also reminds us of the oft-cited Tertullian. In De praescriptione, 7, he was uncompromisingly clear: ‘What has Athens to do with Jerusalem’ or indeed, ‘the Academy with the Church’? In some ways Tertullian makes an important point about the truths of faith that are only accessible through revelation, but he has sometimes been deployed wrongly as an ancient authority who was purely anti-philosophy. He was critical of philosophy of course, but only in terms of its inability to deliver the truths of the faith. But Tertullian is not averse to skilfully using technical methods derived from Stoicism as are found in his elaborate arguments in De anima when arguing against the heretic Hermogenes. The purpose of our present book, with, rather than against, Tertullian, is to suggest that Athens and Jerusalem could have and should have much to do with each other. The purpose of the second volume on the intellectual disciplines is to develop that argument, so that one might see that if the church and academy came together, this might ensure huge productivity and cultural generation, so that both mutually benefit. It is important to stress that none of these Christian writers reckoned that philosophy could deliver the truths of salvation, even if some philosophers believed that this is what they could offer. And the exciting element of our project is to trace the different strategies employed by Christians in the light of changing philosophies, while continuing doggedly with the conviction that faith and reason should not and cannot be divorced. The value of a philosophical education was too deeply ingrained in leading intellectuals who converted to Christianity. They realized that formally and materially philosophy was an essential handmaiden, or theology would be stuck in the ghetto. Augustine was

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an important turning point for the Latin West. His widely influential writings bear all the hallmarks of his rigorous and long philosophical training. He knew how to argue with the most learned detractors of the faith, while simultaneously recognizing that what he was arguing about might be grasped by the unlearned. Faith was primary; followed by the intellect. Augustine drew upon forms of Platonism to explicate and defend the truth of the gospel, for while arduously opposing various Platonic tenets, he realized that Platonism provided a conceptual vocabulary to get to the heart of the participation in God’s life that the incarnation opened to the world. Augustine with others would inevitably generate what has been called Christian neo-Platonism. Tertullian might not have been happy, but it is not clear that he would complain, for Augustine insisted that the truth of salvation was only to be found in Christ and his Church. But there were other truths about the natural world and the cultural world that needed to be integrated and related to the Christian vision. Augustine’s massive re-narration of history is found in The City of God and his grasp of music and its meaning in De Musica. By using philosophy, as handmaiden, to explicate the gospel, Augustine used the bridge to build further into other areas. In this he was followed by Boethius who, in his endeavour, like Cicero, to bring the riches of Hellenistic philosophy before the minds of educated readers, depicted ‘Lady Philosophy’ as the handmaiden of theology and in so doing made an important and influential contribution to the language about God and virtue in succeeding centuries (The Consolation of Philosophy). When Aristotle’s broader legacy slowly became accessible through the mediaeval Islamic translations by Al-Farabi, and later by Ibn Rushd, known in the West as Averroes, and Ibn Sina, known as Avicenna, a new ‘handmaiden’ had arrived. Al-Farabi believed in the ultimate harmony of Plato and Aristotle, but that was increasingly difficult to argue. As Aristotle filtered through to Aquinas in the University of Paris, Aquinas conducted a masterly synthesis of Augustine and his neo-Platonic heritage with an epistemology and metaphysics drawn from Aristotle. Aquinas’s great synthesis generated what might be qualifiedly called Christian neo-Aristotelianism, although Plato is always present. Neither Augustine nor Aquinas would finally say they were doing anything other than ‘plundering the Greeks’, to adapt Exodus 12:36. Aquinas’s great synthesis was also mirrored, although poorly, in the idea of the mediaeval university which drew on Aristotle’s depiction of the sciences and their divisions and subdivisions. It provided a possible structure for a sacred canopy whereby the study of all disciplines would be related under the fundamental telos of Christian culture. It failed. And it possibly failed because the relationship between theology, philosophy and the disciplines had not been fully worked out. In Pope John Paul II’s account of the relationship between philosophy and theology in his magisterial encyclical, Faith and Reason (1988), he sees in the

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foundation of the mediaeval universities both a great possibility as well as the seeds of what he calls ‘the drama of the separation of faith and reason’. We cite him in detail, not to suggest this argument is unique to Roman Catholicism, but because it so well articulates the concerns of this and the next volume: With the rise of the first universities, theology came more directly into contact with other forms of learning and scientific research. Although they insisted upon the organic link between theology and philosophy, Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas were the first to recognize the autonomy which philosophy and the sciences needed if they were to perform well in their respective fields of research. From the late Medieval period onwards, however, the legitimate distinction between the two forms of learning became more and more a fateful separation. As a result of the exaggerated rationalism of certain thinkers, positions grew more radical and there emerged eventually a philosophy which was separate from and absolutely independent of the contents of faith. Another of the many consequences of this separation was an ever deeper mistrust with regard to reason itself. . . . The more influential of these radical positions are well known and high in profile, especially in the history of the West. It is not too much to claim that the development of a good part of modern philosophy has seen it move further and further away from Christian Revelation, to the point of setting itself quite explicitly in opposition. This process reached its apogee in the last century. . . . In the field of scientific research, a positivistic mentality took hold which not only abandoned the Christian vision of the world, but more especially rejected every appeal to a metaphysical or moral vision. . . . As a result of the crisis of rationalism, what has appeared finally is nihilism. As a philosophy of nothingness, it has a certain attraction for people of our time. . . . Nihilism is at the root of the widespread mentality which claims that a definitive commitment should no longer be made, because everything is fleeting and provisional. It should also be borne in mind that the role of philosophy itself has changed in modern culture. From universal wisdom and learning, it has been gradually reduced to one of the many fields of human knowing; indeed in some ways it has been consigned to a wholly marginal role. Other forms of rationality have acquired an ever higher profile, making philosophical learning appear all the more peripheral. These forms of rationality are directed not towards the contemplation of truth and the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of life; but instead, as ‘instrumental reason’, they are directed – actually or potentially – towards the promotion of utilitarian ends, towards enjoyment or power. In the wake of these cultural shifts, some philosophers have abandoned the search for truth in itself and

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made their sole aim the attainment of a subjective certainty or a pragmatic sense of utility. This in turn has obscured the true dignity of reason, which is no longer equipped to know the truth and to seek the absolute. (Faith and Reason, paras 45–47) We would tend to agree with this evaluation, but importantly, we also want to show that this turning away by some philosophers, even to the extent of claims by philosophy that theology has no subject matter, does not mean that their philosophies do not provide the bridges that the ancients found in the Greek tradition to point to the truth of the subject matter they wish to deny. Indeed, these essays testify to the profound insight of faith that reason strives to discover the fullness of truth, even when hindered by fallen philosophers. And reason also shows how philosophy helps faith avoid what some theologians have fallen into: fideism and subjectivism. The Pope’s point about genuine autonomy of the disciplines is also very important for it also applies to philosophy, for ‘handmaiden’ is misunderstood if it means that theology bullies, badgers and blinds the search for truth in philosophy. Rather, the term handmaiden is to be understood as theology’s drawing upon philosophy (often despite itself) to explicate, defend and commend the truth of revelation. And theology has a confidence that the truth in both disciplines, philosophy and theology, cannot finally conflict, but can actually mutually aid each to reach their fulfilment. This is a rather smug way of putting it, for historically that relationship is often a difficult struggle, sometimes with innocent casualties, but it is important to put the matter like this, for the confidence that philosophy is the handmaiden of theology must be argued. And here is one such argument.

The Essays in This Collection Part I In the first part, Paul Gavrilyuk begins the discussion in his essay on ‘The Greek Fathers and philosophy’ with a selective overview of the early Christian engagements with the philosophical traditions of the Greco-Roman world. In the study of Christian origins, the character and extent of Greek philosophy’s influence on patristic theology is, he notes, a highly contested issue. He illustrates this by looking at the specific ways in which Greek philosophy served as Christian theology’s (at times rebellious) handmaid. He emphasizes that the Fathers did not canonize any one specific metaphysical or epistemological option on offer in late antiquity. From the standpoint of Eastern Orthodox

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historiography, the doctrines of the incarnation and trinity represent successful paradigms of using philosophy as theology’s handmaid, inasmuch as the metaphysical vision expressed by these doctrines is informed by, but not subordinated to non-Christian philosophical teachings. In this regard, he argues that patristic theological explorations have an enduring value for the present-day discussion of Christianity’s interaction with culture. More generally, from the standpoint of Eastern Orthodox theology, philosophy accomplishes its servant function successfully if it provides theology with the linguistic, metaphysical, epistemic, and other tools for adequately expressing the truth of the divine revelation. G. R. Evans argues that the question of the relationship of faith and reason was central to the Western intellectual tradition from Augustine to the Renaissance and beyond. It was raised again and again by generations of scholars with a strong respect for ‘authority’, a respect tempered by a nervous consciousness that in reading such classical authors as Aristotle and Cicero they were relying on authorities who were not Christian. Anselm of Canterbury was confident that a faith seeking understanding would not be a faith disturbed; he taught that reasoning would lead to the orthodox conclusions of Christian belief. But with the rise of the universities and the emergence of a syllabus which required students to master the liberal arts with some philosophy added, it became usual to think of ‘philosophy’ and ‘theology’ as separate disciplines. Thomas Aquinas began his Summa Theologiae with an analysis of the ways in which they might be related. The essence of the problem was whether man as an intellectual being, Aristotle’s rational animal, could think his way to faith or whether faith requires a leap of trust. This part provides a matrix for some of the detailed studies in Part II. Robert Jenson argues that there is no such thing as ‘the Lutheran view’ of the relation between theology and philosophy. What developed were a number of sometimes incompatible relationships between Lutheran theologians and philosophy. Martin Luther’s view of philosophy is often thought to be summed up in his remark that ‘reason is a great whore’. What is sometimes not noted is that in a less prudish world than ours, this was not necessarily a rejection. It simply meant that she would go with anyone. It follows that reason will also go with the gospel. A case in point, and a paradigm of Lutheran theology’s later relation to philosophy, can be Luther’s explanation of how faith makes us actually just. For this, he appropriated and revised the Aristotelian/scholastic doctrine that nous is on the one hand a sheer potentiality of apprehension and on the other what is apprehended. For Aristotle the paradigm of apprehension was sight: ‘I as nous am what I see.’ Luther makes hearing the paradigm: ‘I as nous am what I hear.’ Thus if what I attend to is the gospel of God’s participatory justice, my inner self is just. And faith simply is such hearing. What we see here is Luther indeed

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not bowing to the officially so labelled philosophers, but not thereby rejecting the enterprise on which they are embarked. Instead he does philosophy himself, in critical conversation with them, bending their doctrines to accommodate the truth of the gospel. In this, his actual procedure is remarkably like that of Karl Barth. In the seventeenth century this principle carried through into a full-scale effort of revisionary metaphysics; principal names are Balthasar, Meisner and Jacobus Martini. The object was not now to accommodate the doctrine of justification by faith, but to accommodate its corollary, Lutheranism’s radically Cyrillean christology and sacramentology. If we must say without qualification or equivocation that the bread on the altar is the body of the risen Christ, and indeed the only body he has, then the notions of substance and attribute and indeed all the main topoi of inherited metaphysis needed to be redone. This work was terminated when Germany’s Lutheran university faculties were scattered by the Thirty Years War. It was never directly taken up again. But perhaps we may say that in the nineteenth century Hegel and others were moved by the same impetus. In ‘Religion and Reason from a Reformed Perspective’, Paul Helm argues that it is possible to discern three foci of the relation of reason to religion; reason as reasoning, in the sense of the use of inductive and deductive logic applied to sets of religious sentences and their possible meanings; reason as a tool for providing some limited understanding of the divine mysteries, and in this sense the Reformed tradition sees itself as exemplifying the Augustinian ‘faith seeking understanding’ project; and the place of reason in the articulation of theological method(s). In addition the tradition sees a place for reason in religious epistemology, including natural theological approaches, though historically these issues have been addressed rather eclectically. Such positive relationships between reason and religion provide grounds to counter the common belief that due to the Reformed emphasis on the effects of sin on human nature the proper approach to theology is fideistic and paradoxical. Paul Avis’ essay begins by tracing the legacy of patristic and mediaeval thought and the influence of the major Continental Reformers for the Church of England’s theological and philosophical method. It will then outline the relation between theology and philosophy, faith and reason, in a number of representative Anglican thinkers, including Hooker, Locke and Butler, up to the mid-eighteenth century. The reception of the Enlightenment and the impact of historical consciousness and of the natural and human sciences will be evaluated. In the period from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth, writers such as Maurice, Gore, Tennant and Temple will receive attention. The contribution of later twentieth-century Anglicans (e.g. MacKinnon, Swinburne, Mitchell, Ward and Hebblethwaite, Milbank as well as examples from the United States) will set the scene for some brief concluding reflections on whether a coherent

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Anglican approach to the relation between theology and philosophy, faith and reason, can be discerned and defended.

Part II James Wetzel begins this Part by arguing in his essay on ‘Augustine and Platonism’ that it has often been assumed that Platonism – particularly of the Plotinian variety – gives Augustine his spiritual itinerary, his path from the shadowy confusion of material desires to the limpid clarity of immaterial live. His Christianity enters this picture as the ritualistic prop or a motivational help to his Platonism. Although this kind of reading is not without merit (some of Augustine’s early works seem to support it outright), the deeper truth is that his Platonism gets thoroughly taken up and transformed by his reading of the Christian witness. Platonism remains an important ingredient in the dialectic of Augustine’s faith (intramural and secular), but it finally has no status for him as an independent source of wisdom. Indeed no philosophy exists for him as an independent source of wisdom, and it is only within that recognition that he takes philosophy to be possible. Following this, in his essay on ‘What Aristotelian and Thomistic Philosophy Can Contribute to Christian Theology’? Michael Rota addresses the relationship between Christian theology and the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions in philosophy. More specifically, he considers the question, ‘What aspects of these philosophical traditions can be of service to Christian theology?’ In Section One, the focus is on two very general tenets of the Aristotelian tradition that are essential to a proper reception of Christian revelation: (i) the notion that there is such a thing as objective truth, and (ii) a certain epistemological optimism according to which we really can know some important truths about reality. In this section he also briefly commends the openness and attention to a wide variety of sources which we see in Aquinas’s work. In Section Two he focuses in on two specific ways in which Aquinas’s thought can contribute to Christian theology. After briefly discussing Aquinas’s virtue ethics, he examines Aquinas’s views on the rationality of religious belief, arguing that the conception of faith and reason found in Aquinas’s works provides a sound orientation for fundamental theology. Thomistic views on the rationality of religious belief can both account for the certainty of the believer and offer something to the agnostic inquirer who has not yet received the gift of faith. The discussion then moves to the Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment traditions. Merold Westphal asks: ‘Can philosophy in the Kantian tradition be a handmaiden to theology, a helpful resource?’ No, and Yes, and Yes. No, insofar as the

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Kantian tradition represents the project of religion within the limits of reason alone; a tradition that both predates and postdates Kant’s own version. This project fails to deliver the promised universality that overcomes religious particularism, since reason itself is plural and particular. In the process it eliminates some of the essential claims of various theologies. Yes, insofar as post-Hegelian Kantianism understands understanding hermeneutically and refuses to tie the notion of truth to the illusory ideal of some unsituated absolute knowing. And Yes, insofar as the Kantian tradition invokes the primacy of practical reason over theoretical reason, whose limits are recognized. The claim is that theology is better off when it embodies a hermeneutical humility about its theoretical powers and their penultimate significance in any case. In his essay on Hegel, Nicholas Adams suggests that the relation between philosophy and theology in Hegel is best understood when one takes account of three factors. (1) The renaissance of interest in ancient Greek culture and philosophy at the turn of the nineteenth century; (2) the reconfiguration of the modern university in Germany, with a new separation of theology from philosophy; (3) the increasing recognition by German thinkers that all thinking – including articulations of faith – are historically shaped. Taken together, these three factors lead Hegel to offer an historical account of forms of human selfunderstanding, including religious faith, in a new university context, drawing on an idealized image of ancient Greek culture. Hegel refuses a conflict between faith and reason, bequeathed by Jacobi during the so-called pantheism controversy; he refuses a reason limited by transcendental idealism to make room for faith, bequeathed by Kant; he refuses a theology forced to defend itself in the terms set by the new critical philosophy, and refuses a philosophy whose assumptions are solely determined by doctrine. In place of these refused directions, Hegel offers an account of human action and history in which divine selfconsciousness gradually unfolds through particular historical forms of human culture and life. This produces a rethinking of key topics in Christian (especially Lutheran) doctrine, including incarnation, the cross, the Trinity, theodicy, sacraments, the relation of Christianity to Judaism, and many others. It also produces a corresponding rethinking of key topics in philosophy, including substance, time, self-consciousness, morality, judgement and many others. Understanding Hegel’s handling of the relation between theology and philosophy means understanding the simultaneous rethinking of theological and philosophical topics. Peter Scott, in his contribution on Marx, argues that central to critical/ Western Marxism is the criticism of ideas and discourses that obscure or misrepresent the true, emancipatory interests of social agents. If thought and social being do not coincide, as Marx argued, ideas may serve the dominant order and legitimate and sustain relations of domination. It is this tradition of the interpretation of Marx that has most concerned Western political theology. Thereby

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political theology has been confronted by an epistemology for testing true and false knowledge and a critical theory of human freedom in society. In theological discussion, the issue is old and new: the truth shall set you free but what is its cognitive content and how is such truth emancipatory? As noted by Latin American liberation theology, an oppositional theology needs more than fine appeals to Christian freedom. What is required is the development of theological speech that specifies the social conditions of theology’s emergence but is not reducible to these same conditions. Interpreted thus, the appropriation by theology of Marx may be understood as the extension of the critique of idolatry. That is, does the concept of God legitimate capitalist order and support relations of social domination? Just as there is no agreement on the significance of the social sciences for theology, neither is there any consensus on the theological employment of Marx’s writings. The options include: (1) If revelation judges reason, Marx may be employed in the paradoxical task of undermining the claimed selfsufficiency of capitalist reason; (2) if ‘modern’ epistemologies of social theory are injurious to the claims of revelation, then appeal to Marx’s ‘modernist’ epistemology should be resisted; or (3), in a natural theology framed for a political theology, Marx specifies the conditions for true knowledge of God and world under capitalism. An unfashionable question now presents itself: do the first and third of these remain viable options in the theological appropriation of Marx’s writings? Terrence Merrigan in his discussion of ‘Theology’s appropriation of the Existentialist tradition’ suggests that the presence of variations in Existentialism, Personalism and Phenomenology within theological reflection is the fruit of a shared concern to accord human experience a place in reflection on God’s relationship to the world. The category of ‘experience’ has a very troubled theological history, whether that history be Protestant (F. Schleiermacher) or Roman Catholic (J. H. Newman – Modernism). That being said, however, to pose the question of experience is to point to a fault line within Christian theology itself – the fault line that opens up between Catholicism and Protestantism regarding the nature and reception of revelation. This chapter treats the theological deployment of these philosophies as so many attempts to come to terms with the peculiarly modern question of the place of experience in theological reflection (especially as regards the theology of revelation). It will also challenge the rather blithe dismissal of experientially based (or existentialist) theologies that has characterized some portrayals of the rise and (apparent) fall of these movements within modern theology, and inquires whether they do not in fact represent very genuine attempts to accord reason (in the fullest sense of the term) its rightful place in theology. Oliver D. Crisp argues that philosophers in the Analytical Tradition have made one of the most significant contributions to theology in the past quarter

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century, with the revitalization of philosophical theology as a distinct subdiscipline. There has also been discussion of the project of Christian philosophy as a way of approaching the whole discipline from a properly Christian world view. Finally, there have been important contributions to central topics in philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, by Christian philosophers. More recently, theologians have begun to invest in the tools of analytical philosophy for theological ends. In this chapter, he explores what analytic philosophy is, how it has been related to Christian theology and a Christian world view more generally, and what the prospects are for future engagement between philosophy in an analytical mode, and Christian theology. He also sketches out ways in which theologians might appropriate this philosophical tradition for a properly ‘analytic theology’. Marcus Pound in the introduction to his essay on ‘Postmodernism’ places the theological challenge of the postmodern era as being to think of what may be the place of religion when the ‘wager of representation’ in which God becomes simply one sign among others is taken seriously. He then discusses three examples of the re-enchantment of philosophy: Derrida, Vattino and Badieu. He begins briefly with a discussion of Lyotrard and Heidegger and examines in particular the influence of this Existentialist thinker. He highlights the postmodern incredulity with metanarratives and the destruction of modernity’s metanarratives. His connection with ethics in the work of Derrida is particularly highlighted. Derrida shows the importance of faith to reason but also the opposition he draws between faith and institutional religion. Derrida and others also argue for a faith that is not circumscribed by metaphysics. Whereas one of the results of modernity was to privatize religion, now the private increasingly occupies the public square. Likewise Vattino argues that theology has been enslaved to metaphysics and celebrates the rise of secularism which, he feels, will enable the recovery of Christianity, a position echoed also by Badieu. What links these writers is the welcome they give to the post-metaphysical shift and the passing of institutional religion. Martin Ganeri OP in his essay considers the relationship between Christian theology and the study of non-Western thought in the contemporary Western academy. It offers a critical appraisal of the emergent discipline of comparative theology, as exemplified in the work of Keith Ward and Francis Clooney. Comparative theology is promoted as a a way of doing theology in general, rather than a discrete area of study within theology, one in which all areas of Christian theology are open to enrichment and challenge through engagement with non-Western traditions. This is a natural way in which contemporary theology responds to the fact that religious and philosophical pluralism now plays an increasingly routine part in reflection and planning both in the Western academy and in Western society in general. Comparative theology continues and

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expands earlier Christian theological encounter with non-Christian thought, be it Greek, Muslim or Jewish. At the same time, it is more dialogical in character than earlier engagements. This chapter considers how leading comparative theologians define their task and what results they achieve. It explores to what extent comparative theology can defend itself against the charge that it is simply a form of intellectual imperialism in which non-Western traditions are made conceptual resources for colonization and exploitation by Christian theologians. This chapter takes as a particular example the considerable Christian engagement with the Indian tradition of Vedanta, appraising the work already done and suggesting future avenues of exploration. These, then, are the ‘snapshots’ which do not represent or claim to be a full account but provide sufficient evidence to support our contention that the relationship between Theology and Philosophy has been, and can continue to be, mutually beneficial and a necessary stimulus to considerable further enquiry and exploration. How this example of the interrelatedness of human knowledge can raise possibilities for the other disciplines including theology then becomes the subject of volume 2.

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Chapter 1 The Greek Church Fathers and Philosophy Paul L. Gavrilyuk (University of St Thomas, Minnesota) Introduction Early Christian missionaries, preachers and theologians were the first to face the problem of relating the gospel to the intellectual culture of their time. In the history of Christianity, patristic theology provides the earliest paradigms of relationship between faith and reason. What are these paradigms and to what extent might they serve as points of departure for contemporary reflection? Did the Church Fathers subordinate the Christian message to ‘Greek metaphysics’ or did they use the Hellenic intellectual treasures wisely? The options identified in this question, as well as other more nuanced possibilities, are a matter of much controversy among the historians, philosophers and theologians. This controversy, which shows no signs of abating, tends to reveal as much about the evidence under consideration as it does about the historical, philosophical and theological assumptions of those involved in it. For example, a presentday Christian Platonist will read, say, Origen or pseudo-Dionysius, in a way different from a Barthian theologian, Neo-Kantian philosopher or an agnostic historian. There is little hope of reconciling their interpretations without first considering their philosophical differences. The suspension of the interpreter’s philosophical views, even if it is achievable, does not secure a hermeneutical high ground. The matter is so contested that most scholars of Christian doctrine have abandoned all hope of offering a grand narrative, and limit themselves to contextualizing the contributions of particular patristic figures. In what follows I do not claim to settle the debate of how the story of Christian theology’s first meetings with philosophy is to be told. I expect the subject to be perpetually contested, as the other contributions to this volume will attest. My own reading of what is a vast and complicated body of evidence has been informed by careful navigation between the two extreme interpretations: one associated

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with the German Protestant historian Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930) and the other with the Russian Orthodox historian Georges Florovsky (1893–1979). For Harnack, the Hellenization of Christianity was a sign of intellectual capitulation of the Christian message to Greek philosophy. For Florovsky, on the contrary, ‘Christian Hellenism’ was philosophia perennis, a transcultural and transhistoric norm by which all subsequent theological projects were to be judged. Harnack’s and Florovsky’s positions are important limiting cases, which may serve as convenient ‘bookends’ on a ‘bookshelf’ that receives several volumes a year.1 Full disclosure: I am a historical theologian steeped in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, whose schooling in the United States was largely post-Protestant, and who has been teaching for the last decade at a private Catholic college in Minnesota. Whatever the reader makes of my ecclesial and academic (dis) locations, she should not be surprised to discover that I sympathize more with Florovsky’s position than I do with that of Harnack.

Early Christian Apologists: Philosophy as Theology’s Handmaid The story of Christianity’s first encounters with philosophy begins on the pages of the NT. One may recall the use of the ‘Logos’ concept in the prologue to the Gospel of John, the Apostle Paul’s musings on how the knowledge of God available in creation could be turned into idolatry by sinful passions (Rom. 1.18–23), the contrast drawn between the worldly wisdom and the gospel in 1 Cor. 1.18–31 (cf. Col. 2.8), Luke’s sample of an early Christian sermon preached to the target audience of the Stoic and Epicurean philosophers gathered in the Athenian Areos Pagos (Acts 17.18, 22–31), as well as numerous other passages of the NT, are clearly not philosophy-free.2 Despite these important precedents, it would be safe to say that Christian forays into philosophy in the apostolic period were, compared to later periods, ad hoc. I say this not to diminish their import, but primarily to register their character. Later Christian commentators would draw on the just mentioned and other biblical loci classici continually. The writings of the second century Apologists mark an important turning point in the early Christian engagements with Hellenistic philosophies. In the hands of the Apologists, philosophy became a polemical weapon, an apologetic tool and a cultural bridge to the Greco-Roman world. Many Christian intellectuals adopted, for example, select sceptical arguments against such traditional religious practices as augury and divination. When Christians expressed reservations about the crimes and misdemeanours of pagan deities, they echoed earlier philosophical sentiments.3 Moreover, a philosophical tendency towards monotheism, however vague and tentative, proved equally useful in the development of the Christian understanding of God.

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However, unlike the philosophers, who were concerned to simply reinterpret polytheism, the Apologists attacked all forms of polytheism as idolatry. Basing their views in part on philosophical critique and on the OT, the early Christian authors maintained that the gods, if they could be said to exist at all, were deified heroes and rulers, personified human passions or malevolent angels (demons). Such important vehicles of social cohesion as the Emperor Worship, mystery cults, theatrical shows and other forms of entertainment were relegated by the Apologists to the realm of the demonic. The Apologists were certainly not afraid to offend their non-Christian interlocutors. In fact, one could count on the fact that many pagans were indeed offended by a harsh rhetoric of some apologetic tracts, commonly written in the form of public addresses and open letters. What strikes one in reading the Apologetic tracts is the resilience and courage with which a tiny minority of Christian intellectuals was determined to build a potent and enduring counterculture. If we take into account the absence of mass media and the relative difficulty of access for Christians, at least in the first three centuries, to the people in power and other shapers of public opinion, we can especially appreciate how daring and precarious the apologetic project was. It would seem that the ‘inclusive’ pagan society was sufficiently threatened by the presence of a Christian minority to begin excluding Christians, first by marginalizing them socially, then by persecuting them in an increasingly more organized manner. Apparently pagan inclusivity, then as now, had its boundaries. Under such circumstances, it may have been tempting, but not particularly constructive, for Christians to simply burn all bridges with the dominant pagan culture. Merely saying ‘no’ to all aspects of pagan culture would have had the social effect of turning Christian community completely inwards, perhaps even converting it into a marginal apocalyptic group. Towards the middle of the second century CE, philosophy became the main and most dignified line of communication with the non-Christian culture. It is telling that one apologetic manoeuvre, commonly made by early Christian authors, was to refer to the Christian teaching as ‘our philosophy’.4 Thus, the Christian message was presented as not altogether antithetical to philosophical enterprise. The defence of the faith against the objections of its pagan ‘cultured despisers’ made the use of philosophical considerations expedient, even necessary. It is in such circumstances that philosophy became for the first time theology’s ‘handmaid’. The main inspiration for this approach came from the first-century Jewish theologian and apologist Philo of Alexandria (20 bce–50 ce). In his writings Philo wove philosophical reflections with the scriptural exegesis in a rich tapestry that would set an influential precedent for future Christian theology. One could say that Philo had attempted a dehiscence, a conceptual bursting out of the domains of knowledge that were commonly viewed as separate. In Philo’s works, ethics and epistemology, philosophical anthropology and biblical

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exegesis, theory of perception and mystical theology emerged as interlocking components of a single synthetic vision. These domains of knowledge are so closely intertwined in Philo’s thought that disentangling them with the purpose of determining whether he was more a philosophical theologian, than, say a mystic or an exegete, is a rather futile endeavour. Conversant with all major philosophical teachings of his time, Philo Platonized scripture and ‘biblicized’ Plato. He read the cosmology of Timaeus into the book of Genesis.5 He derived the anthropology of Phaedrus out of the Mosaic writings. Even more tellingly, Philo’s Moses climbed Mount Sinai to receive the vision granted to the dweller of the Republic’s Cave.6 It would be misleading to view Philo as an eclectic Middle Platonist thinly disguised as a scriptural exegete. Such a characterization misses the intellectual audacity of Philo’s synthesis. While his Platonic leanings are undeniable, it could be shown that Philo subordinated, with varying degrees of consistency, Plato’s metaphysics of the intelligible and sensible realms to the scriptural distinction between the uncreated God and his creation. Furthermore, Philo operated with more robust notions of the divine revelation and grace than those available to the founder of the Academy.7 The Philonic strategy of integration and subordination of philosophy with revelation will be followed by the early Christian theologians. The Christian Apologists, notably Justin Martyr (c.100–165), Clement of Alexandria (c.150–215) and Athenagoras (second century ce) received a philosophical schooling comparable to that of Philo. Justin came to Christianity after a long quest for true philosophy. It should be noted that in late antiquity, the study of philosophy presupposed more than a mastery of a set of subjects, such as logic, ethics, physics and metaphysics. More importantly, philosophy was also a mental attitude, a way of life worthy of emulation.8 Seeking a philosophical guide whom he could follow, Justin tried, according to his own account, four philosophical schools. He recalled spending much time with the Stoics and deriving most benefit from the teaching of the Platonists. Justin’s account of his philosophical quest, even if its historicity is questionable,9 reveals how a second-century philosopher-convert to Christianity could retrospectively evaluate different aspects of his philosophical education. According to Justin, among all Greek philosophical teachings, Platonism ranked the highest because its ultimate goal was the contemplation of God (Dial. 2.6). Roman Stoicism occupied a less conspicuous place, for this philosophical school taught much about virtue, but, Justin opined, little about God. Such a view of the respective values of Platonism and Stoicism would become relatively common among patristic theologians. In late antiquity Aristotelianism usually garnered less attention than Platonism, and Epicureanism was invoked in a polite company as a foil for more acceptable philosophical positions.

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Upon his conversion to Christianity, Justin came to believe that the fullness of the knowledge of God was available only in the divine revelation. Such knowledge depended upon God’s sovereign will to reveal Godself and upon the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.10 Justin drew on the rich biblical imagery of light to emphasize that revelatory experience brought about a transformative illumination in the darkened soul.11 This account of knowledge found echoes both in Plato and in scripture. For Justin, the divine revelation was self-authenticating. For the converted, the arguments from the fulfilment of prophecy and from miracles did not make the revelatory knowledge conveyed by the Holy Spirit more certain.12 Justin taught that unlike the revealed truth, the opinions of philosophers were derivative, partial and often contradictory.13 Justin also argued, in line with Paul’s reflections on the divine wisdom, that the divine Logos, whose fullest revelation came in Jesus Christ, was partially available to the philosophers through creation. Justin also explained the valid points of Greek philosophy by recourse to a popular ‘plagiarism theory’, according to which the philosophers borrowed their valid insights from the Jewish prophets without due acknowledgement.14 Following a path similar to Justin’s, Clement of Alexandria also embraced Christianity after an extensive philosophical schooling. Importantly, the idea that philosophy is ‘theology’s handmaid’ was introduced into Christian theology by Clement under Philo’s influence. In the Stromata, Clement draws on Philo’s allegorical interpretation of Abraham’s wife Sarah and her handmaid, Hagar. On Clement’s reading, Sarah personifies the revealed knowledge and Hagar is an allegory of philosophy. In this context Clement points out that Abraham, as a man of faith, had his first fruitful intercourse with his handmaid, philosophy, and only then brought forth the knowledge of the revealed truth with his wife.15 Responding to the philosophers who dismissed Christian appeals to faith as mere opinion, Clement maintained that faith was a rational ascent to the nondemonstrable first principles. Thus construed, faith is what makes demonstration possible.16 Viewed from a different angle, faith in the divine revelation is a part of an overall cognitive transformation associated with conversion. Faith is what makes the hearers of the gospel receptive. As Clement puts it, ‘faith is the ear of the soul’.17 Following a paradigm established by Philo, Clement located his religious epistemology within his teaching on the attainment of perfection. In line with Philo, Clement taught that philosophy was a divine gift to the Greeks. Clement went so far as to claim that the Greek philosophy was a preparation to the Gospel for the Gentile Christians, comparable in value to the function of the OT for the Jewish Christians. Understandably, not all Christians were willing to accord to philosophy the function of preparatio evangelica and a measure of inspiration normally reserved for scripture alone. Many Christian

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intellectuals, including Athenagoras and the author of the Epistle to Diognetus, differentiated quite sharply between the purely human wisdom of the Greeks and the revealed knowledge available in scripture.

Patristic Voices of Caution against Philosophy Throughout Christian history there have always been voices of caution that questioned philosophy’s ability to serve effectively as theology’s ‘handmaid’. For example, the author of Colossians warns his readers: ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ’ (Col. 2.8). Building on this claim, the second-century bishop Hyppolitus diagnosed heretical Christian teachers, especially the Gnostics, with an overdose of Greek philosophy. Hippolytus traced the teachings of diverse Gnostic groups to specific philosophical schools. In this way he tried to establish a heretical succession from philosophers, contrasting it with the passing on of divine revelation from the apostles. Not surprisingly, Hippolytus concluded that far from being theology’s handmaid, philosophy was instead ‘the mother of heresies’. Numerous passages from other early Christian theologians may be quoted in favour of a sharp opposition, a perceived antagonism between pagan philosophy and Christian theology. To mention just one textbook example, Tertullian’s question ‘What does Athens [i.e. philosophy] have to do with Jerusalem [i.e. theology]?’ is often quoted (quite out of context) as implying the answer: ‘nothing’. The views of Justin and Clement of Alexandria, discussed in the previous section, are commonly contrasted in the textbooks with those of Hippolytus, Tertullian and Jerome. Consider, for example, the following judgement of an influential twentieth-century patristic scholar, W. H. C. Frend: ‘It is perhaps fortunate for the Church that Clement [of Alexandria] and Tertullian never met. If they had, or if the view of Clement and Origen [regarding philosophy] had been propagated in Africa and Italy, the schism between East and West might have occurred in the third and not in the eleventh century.’18 Without denying a measure of truth in Frend’s poignant observation, I propose to approach the matter somewhat differently. Clement’s view that philosophy is theology’s handmaid and Hippolytus’s claim that Greek wisdom is the mother of heresies could be regarded, I suggest, as two sides of the same coin. Clement asserts that philosophy must serve theology (and not vice versa). Hippolytus problematizes the matter: can philosophy, in practice, serve theology without producing illegitimate offspring, namely, heresies? Clement and Hippolytus both agree that philosophical teachings must conform to the revealed truth. Obviously, Clement must not be interpreted as issuing a blank check to

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any and every philosophy. Hippolytus’s statement must be construed as a warning, rather than an invitation to isolationism and obscurantism. Similarly, if we take into account the fact that Tertullian was heavily influenced by Stoicism, his question ‘What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem?’ becomes a more open one, instead of foreclosing all discussion with the retort ‘nothing’. Patristic voices of caution, then, may be interpreted as asking the following questions: what sort of philosophy could indeed be imported into theology without compromising the integrity of the Christian message? In what capacity should philosophy serve theology? (As logic? Metaphysics? Epistemology? Cognitive theory? Anthropology? Ethics? Theory of language, or in some other role?) Must all of these fields of inquiry be taken into account, or do only some of them deserve attention? To what extent should philosophy determine the methods, approaches and content of theology? It is clear that the character of theological inquiry will depend upon an individual theologian’s responses to these questions. Taken as a whole, the present volume will give a reader a sense of the breadth and variety of answers that have been given historically by different Christian theologians to these questions. In the discussion that follows, I will focus on how the Church Fathers articulated a trinitarian ontology navigating among various metaphysical options on offer in Hellenistic philosophies.

Philosophy and the Search for the Christian Doctrine of God What role did Greek philosophical thought play in the articulation of such central Christian doctrines as the trinity and incarnation in the patristic period? A famous German historian Adolf von Harnack maintained that Greek philosophical teachings played a prominent, determinative and damaging role in the formation of Christian doctrine. In his Dogmengeschichte (1898), Harnack interpreted Hellenization of Christianity as a corruption of the original message of the gospel by Greek metaphysics. Jesus, Harnack maintained, preached the simple message of the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of men.19 The Church had distorted this message by attempting to fit it into an alien philosophical framework, resulting in the especially pernicious doctrines of incarnation, deification and trinity. Gnosticism was a product of what Harnack called the acute form of Hellenization. The theology of the Church Fathers did not fare much better by comparison, since it too was a result of more gradual, but equally damaging impact of Hellenization. As a result, the original message of the gospel was obfuscated, corrupted and distorted. One studied doctrinal history in order to intervene in the course of history by purging biblical Christianity of the alien accretions of Hellenism.

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From the beginning, Harnack’s influential view met a considerable amount of criticism. One of the critics of Harnack’s approach to Hellenization was Russian Orthodox émigré historian Georges Florovsky. In a programmatic essay ‘Christianity and Civilization’, Florovsky explained his notion of Christian Hellenism and stated his disagreement with Harnack in no uncertain terms: It was a ‘New Hellenism’, but a Hellenism drastically christened and, as it were, ‘churchified’. It is still usual to suspect the Christian quality of this new synthesis. Was it not just an ‘acute Hellenization’ of the ‘Biblical Christianity’, in which the whole novelty of the Revelation had been diluted and dissolved? Was not this new synthesis simply a disguised Paganism? This was precisely the considered opinion of Adolf Harnack. Now, in the light of an unbiased historical study, we can protest most strongly against this simplification. Was not that which the XIXth century historians used to describe as a ‘Hellenization of Christianity’ rather a Conversion of Hellenism? And why should Hellenism not have been converted? The Christian reception of Hellenism was not just a servile absorption of an undigested heathen heritage. It was rather a conversion of the Hellenic mind and heart.20 It should be admitted that Florovsky’s Christian Hellenism was hardly a product of ‘unbiased historical study’. Clearly Florovsky offers a highly selective and idealized exposition of Christian Hellenism in response to Harnack’s equally uncompromising denunciation of Hellenized Christianity. If Harnack advocated a de-Hellenization of Protestant theology, Florovsky, on the contrary, proposed a re-Hellenization of Russian Orthodox theology.21 For Harnack the Hellenic component in Christian theology was a temporary husk to be discarded and even worse, an agent of corruption from which theology was to be purified. For Florovsky, Christian Hellenism was philosophia perennis, a perennial philosophy, a transcultural and transhistorical norm uniquely articulated in patristic theology. Christian Hellenism offered a standard against which all later theological projects, mediaeval and modern, were to be judged. Harnack’s and Florovsky’s interpretations represent important limiting cases. Both historians had a tendency to present an overly intellectualist account of the formation of Christian beliefs, often ignoring social, political and other nonphilosophical factors. It is important to be reminded that in the patristic period, the primary forum for engaging in doctrinal debates was local Christian communities rather than philosophical schools. The social spaces within which such debates were conducted were various missionary settings (e.g. a synagogue, a marketplace, a theatre), local congregations, monastic centres, ad hoc gatherings

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of bishops and presbyters, and later, somewhat better regulated councils, and the emperor’s court. Even in such cases when the debates became rather ‘academic’, the primary setting within which they were conducted was not a classroom or a conference centre, but a local church. Various points of doctrine were clarified and debated while the Christian leaders were engaged in preaching, catechesis, administration of the sacraments, missionary work and the like. The philosophical background of the church leaders involved in these debates varied considerably: some received extensive philosophical training, some very little, while others had none. Given the importance of philosophy in the Greco-Roman world, a measure of philosophical education would have been to some extent taken for granted, especially in the urban centres of the Roman Empire. Still, in the patristic period philosophical training had neither the prominence nor the systematic character that it would acquire during the High Middle Ages. It is important to emphasize that the Fathers theologized while immersed in scripture, prayer, catechesis and other aspects of the life of the church. The Christian doctrines of the trinity and incarnation, as they have gradually come to be articulated over a period of the first five centuries, represent communal intellectual achievements that became permanent as a result of prolonged and often acrimonious controversies. For a contemporary student of Trinitarian and Christological debates, it is easy to lose heart and construe them as nothing more than historical accidents, conditioned by the cultural, intellectual and political limitations of those who put them forth. However, several considerations militate against such a reading of evidence. In particular, Harnack’s claim (echoed by many contemporary theologians) that Christian theologians simply sold out to the ‘Greek metaphysics’ is flawed for several reasons. It is often overlooked that there was no such a thing in the late antique world as a unified ontological vision called ‘Greek metaphysics’. The materialist monism of the Stoics differed considerably from the ontological idealism of later Platonists. In turn, the adherents of both schools were at odds with the Epicureans. With some justification, the expression ‘Greek metaphysics’ is often taken to be a rather vague reference to later Platonism, which in turn had absorbed some elements of Aristotelianism and Stoicism. In my judgement ‘Greek metaphysics’ is a rather misleading scholarly construct postulated analogously to the Trinitarian metaphysics, that will indeed acquire a prominent place in the mediaeval Christendom. The important point to stress is that in reality the late antique non-Christian world, not unlike our own, subscribed to no overarching ontology.22 While the Greco-Roman vision of the common good included the desire for harmony between the human and divine realm, this vision did not receive a common metaphysical articulation.

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In fact, what could be called a preferential option for later Platonism, was already a theologically motivated choice that Christian authors made, when they considered various philosophies for the position of theology’s handmaid. To give just one example, Platonist participation metaphysics provided a more suitable framework (than, say, the Stoic materialism) for the Christian thinkers who sought to capture both the divine transcendence and immanence in their theological vision. It should be noted, however, that Christian participation metaphysics came to a straightforward rejection of the Platonic world view in which the material cosmos was divine to the extent to which it confirmed to the intelligible cosmos.23 Instead, Christian Trinitarian ontology towards the end of the fourth century ce came to convey quite unambiguously that there could be no hierarchy within the realm of the uncreated Godhead and that the world, including human souls, was created and, therefore, ontologically differentiated from God. At the same time, the Christian doctrine of the incarnation stated that the uncreated God uniquely bridged the ontological gap between himself and creation by uniting human nature with himself. In the incarnation, the tension between the divine transcendence and the divine immanence came to be articulated in a way that heightened the importance of the historical ‘scandal of particularity’. For Christians, the reflection on the the manifestation of God through the work of a Palestinian carpenter named Jesus became a fertile ground for new metaphysical insights. It is not surprising that the non-Christian philosophers, who made the effort to ponder the matter, saw the Christian idea of the divine incarnation as logically incoherent, metaphysically impossible and soteriologically unnecessary. The amount of scorn that the second-century pagan philosopher Celsus poured on the idea of the divine self-abasement in the incarnation is indicative of this general philosophical attitude.24 In many ways, then, Christian Trinitarian ontology was a considerable departure from all metaphysical options that the late antique world had on offer. In this sense it is appropriate to speak of the Trinitarian and incarnational ontology as a Christian metaphysical innovation. However, it is a misleading exaggeration to call Nicaea a ‘revolution’, as some scholars have done recently.25 Nicaea was not a revolution partly because, as I have already stated, the late antique world knew no universally binding metaphysics against which the Nicene Fathers could then revolt – the very idea of the ‘Greek metaphysics’ is a Christian scholarly construct. Moreover, the Nicene faith was not a revolution in a sense of introducing a cardinal metaphysical change into the apostolic faith. Eventually accepted by the whole church, the Nicene creed had had the impact of introducing greater clarity, cohesion and universality into the ancient confessions of faith, largely by ruling out subordinationist and modalist possibilities.

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While not revolutionary, the Christian doctrines of incarnation and trinity were indeed metaphysical innovations in the following ways. As I have emphasized, the Church at large did not canonize any specific pagan philosophy, in a sense of unquestionably sanctioning an alien metaphysical system or epistemological theory. The preferential option for Platonism, mentioned earlier, certainly did not amount to a wholesale endorsement of the Platonic metaphysics, epistemology and anthropology. It is possible to narrate the history of subsequent development of Byzantine theology as a story of love and hate relationship with Platonism. As one example of such a troubled relationship, let us briefly consider the history of the Church’s grappling with the theological heritage of Origen of Alexandria (c. 185–254). Origen’s views became a cause for controversy already in his lifetime. In the next three centuries after his death Origen’s considerable corpus was copied, studied, interpreted, misinterpreted, translated, mistranslated, hotly debated, mined for its extraordinary insights into all aspects of the Christian doctrine, from Trinitarian theology to monastic spirituality. For instance, the theology of the Cappadocian Fathers would have been as impossible without Origen as the ascetic theology of Evagrius of Pontus. Then, in the middle of the sixth century, some ‘Origenist’ ideas (i.e. the ideas that some took to be Origen’s own teachings), such as the pre-existence and transmigration of the souls, as well as universal salvation, were condemned as heretical by church councils and imperial decrees. In the East, Origen became a poster child of improper use of Platonism, condemned in person by the Fifth Ecumenical Council (553), with his writings ordered to be destroyed.26 Yet in the very century in which Origen was anathematized, a stronger dose of Platonism was injected into the bloodstream of Christian theology through the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (c.500). Commenting on this peculiar development, late Jaroslav Pelikan (1923–2006) wrote: There is both historical significance and theological irony in the chronological coincidence between the condemnation of Origen and the rise of Dionysian mysticism, for most of the doctrines on account of which the Second Council of Constantinople anathematized Origen were far less dangerous to the tradition of catholic orthodoxy than was the CryptoOrigenism canonized in the works of Dionysius the Areopagite.27 Unlike Origen, Pseudo-Dionysius was accepted into the canon of authoritative Church theologians with surprisingly little controversy, in part because his apostolic credentials were little doubted at the time. Nevertheless, the Platonism of the Dionysian corpus required at least as much apologetic and corrective work, as did the Platonism of Origen’s works. The task was undertaken by Maximus

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the Confessor, who arguably provided a ‘Christological corrective’ to the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius, and by Gregory Palamas, among numerous others.28 The appropriation of Platonism in the writings of Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius remains a matter of much debate in contemporary scholarship, including modern Orthodox theology.29 I would like to emphasize, however, that the sensitivity to the proper application of philosophical tools in theology is peculiar not only to our critical age, but to the premodern period as well. It does not do justice to the dynamic character of the Christian tradition to, so to speak, ‘freeze the frame’ of scholarly attention on one particular patristic theologian (in my example, on either Origen or Pseudo-Dionysius) and to isolate a single theologian’s reworking of Platonism from the rest of the tradition. It would be more helpful instead to see the intellectual grappling with Platonism as an ongoing conversation within the Church, indeed, a conversation, which continues today (twentieth-century Russian Sophiology and Anglo-Catholic Radical Orthodoxy come to mind). More generally, from the standpoint of Eastern Orthodox theology, philosophy accomplishes its servant function successfully if it provides theology with the linguistic, metaphysical, epistemic and other tools for adequately expressing the truth of the divine revelation. Not only the academic training (and for that matter, not primarily the academic training), but also one’s participation in the life of the Church is required to discern whether the relevant philosophical tools are misused or applied adequately. The difficulty is that the divine revelation itself is not mediated in a culture-free or philosophy-free form. The truth of the divine revelation is enshrined in scripture and tradition, confessed in the creed, prayed in the liturgy, contemplated in the icons, received by the mind of the church and proclaimed to the whole world. While philosophically informed, the doctrines of the church seek to convey this truth in language informed by philosophy and culture, but never determined by any one philosophical teaching. To the extent to which the Church Fathers have succeeded in this endeavour, their theological project remains paradigmatic for systematic theology today.

Notes 1

2

The most recent arrivals are Vasilios N. Makrides (2009) Hellenic Temples and Christian Churches: A Concise History of the Religious Cultures of Greece from Antiquity to the Present. New York and London: New York University Press; Anthony Kaldellis (2007) Hellenism in Byzantium: The Transformations of the Greek Identity and the Reception of the Classical Tradition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. For the studies of the philosophical underpinnings of biblical texts see, Mary Healy and Robin Parry, eds (2007) The Bible and Epistemology: Biblical Soundings on

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5 6

7

8 9

10 11 12

13

14 15 16

17 18 19 20

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the Knowledge of God, Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster; Paul K. Moser, ed. (2009) Jesus and Philosophy: New Essays, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press; James W. Thompson (1982) The Beginnings of Christian Philosophy: The Epistle to the Hebrews, Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America; Abraham J. Malherbe (1987) Paul and the Thessalonians: The Philosophical Tradition of Pastoral Care, Philadelphia: Fortress Press. The problem of anthropomorphism was raised in Greek thought as early as Xenophanes (late sixth century bce) and Plato, among others. As quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia Ecclesiae, IV.26.7. For the discussion of this passage see Robert Grant (1950) ‘Melito of Sardis on Baptism’, Vigiliae Christianae 4, 33–6. See David T. Runia (1986) Philo of Alexandria and the Timaeus of Plato, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1, p. 407. John Dillon (1996) The Middle Platonists Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, p. 143. For a nuanced discussion of how Philo’s account is different from that of the pagan Platonists, see John M. Rist (1964) Eros and Psyche, Toronto: University of Toronto, pp. 188–91. As Joseph McLelland (1976) observes: ‘Philo’s contribution to mystical theology is to insist on an element of divine inspiration or grace, and to reckon such inspiration as a form of knowledge of God’, God the Anonymous: A Study in Alexandrian Philosophical Theology, Cambridge, MA: The Philadelphia Patristic Foundation, p. 42. Pierre Hadot (1995) Philosophy as a Way of Life, Oxford: Blackwell. For the discussion of this controversial question, see Leslie W. Barnard (1967) Justin Martyr: His Life and Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University, pp. 5–11; Eric Francis Osborn (1973) Justin Martyr, Tübingen: Mohr, J.C.B, pp. 66–8. Cf. Clement of Alexandria, Strom. I. 1. 11. Dial. 7.2-3. Cf. Irenaeus, Haer. 4.20.5. Dial. 7.3, 121.2, 122.3, 123.2. Dial. 5.5; cf. Justin, De resurrectione, 1, where the certainty of divine revelation is compared to the incorrigible nature of sense-perception, which can be verified only by recourse to sense-perception. 1 Apol. 46; Dial. 2.1–2. In 2 Apol. 13, Justin treats the partial knowledge of the philosophers more positively, since such knowledge is a part of the Logos present in all human beings. 1 Apol. 44. The plagiarism theory had a considerable following in late antiquity, see Ps.-Justin, Oratio ad Graecos, 20, 26–7; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata, VI.2–5. Strom. I.5. Stromata, II.2–4; VII.16.95. For the discussion of Clement’s account of the epistemological function of faith, see Jules Lebreton (1928) ‘La théorie de la connaissance religieuse chez Clément d’Alexandrie’, RSR 18, 457–88; Eric Osborn (2005) Clement of Alexandria, Cambridge: Cambridge University, p. 18. Strom. V.i.2.1. W. H. C. Frend (1965) Martyrdom and Persecution in the Early Church, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 360–1. As Harnack’s Das Wesen des Christentums (1900) is commonly summarized. Georges Florovsky (1952) ‘Christianity and Civilization’, St Vladimir’s Seminary Quarterly 1.1, 13–20, 14, emphasis in the original; reprinted in Collected Works

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21 22

23

24 25

26 27

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Theology and Philosophy (1972–1979). Belmont, MA: Nordland Publications, Vol. 2, pp. 121–30. This point is also emphasized in Florovsky’s (1951) ‘Review of Karl Friz’s Die Stimme der Ostkirche’, Theology Today 7.4, 559–60 and in (1959) ‘Review of Paul J. Alexander’s The Patriarch Nicephorus of Constantinople’, Church History 28.2, 205. Georges Florovsky (1957) ‘The Christian Hellenism’, Orthodox Observer 442, 9–10. For a similar point, see Frances Young (1991) The Making of the Creeds London: SCM Press. I would concede that Jewish monotheism was at least potentially a confessional religion. But rabbinical Judaism knows no equivalents of the extensive creed making and remaking that took place during the second–fifth centuries in Christianity. See the classic work of Arthur H. Armstrong (1940) The Architecture of the Intelligible Universe in the Philosophy of Plotinus: An Analytical and Historical Study, London: Cambridge University Press. See Origen, Contra Celsum, IV.14–19, V.6. See Richard Paul Vaggione (2000) Eunomius of Cyzicus and the Nicene Revolution, Oxford: OUP; David Bentley Hart (2008) ‘The Hidden and the Manifest: Metaphysics after Nicaea’, in Aristotle Papanikolaou and George E. Demacopoulos, eds (2008) Orthodox Readings of Augustine, Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press, pp. 191–226. Origen’s fate in the West was not quite as dire, as his writings continued to be used as authoritative by the mediaeval scholastic theologians. Jaroslav Pelikan (1971) The Christian Tradition, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, I: 348; Cf. John Meyendorff (1975) Christ in Eastern Christian Thought, Crestwood, NY: St Vladimir’s Seminary Press (French original published in 1969), p. 92. For an illuminating survey of this development, see Andrew Louth ‘The Reception of Dionysius up to Maximus the Confessor’ and ‘The Reception of Dionysius in the Byzantine World: Maximus to Palamas’, in Sarah Coakley and Charles M. Stang (2009) Re-thinking Dionysius the Areopagite, Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 43–53, 55–69. See my article ‘The Reception of Dionysius in Twentieth-Century Eastern Orthodoxy’, in Sarah Coakley and Charles M. Stang (2009) Re-thinking Dionysius the Areopagite. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 177–93.

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Chapter 2 The Roman (Latin Western) Tradition g. r. evans University of Cambridge A pronounced intellectual division opened up in the late antique world when, in the last days of Empire, the Greek-speaking and the Latin-speaking ends of the Roman Empire ceased to be able to speak one another’s languages fluently. In the East the educated Greek speakers were able to move with the evolution of late Platonism, to enter into its special brand of speculative spirituality. On the other hand, they became fixed in the view that the Christian faith had been given in its completeness at the beginning and was not a proper subject for rational analysis. In the West, educated Latin speakers increasingly became separated from this Byzantine evolution of late Platonism and depended on the Latinized Platonism transmitted by Marius Victorinus and by Augustine, who himself had it second hand. On the other hand, as the centuries went on, they found Aristotelian logic an increasingly useful tool for philosophical and theological analysis. The Latin speakers had to do their philosophy in a language still being developed as a vehicle of philosophical and theological discussion. Classical Latin education included philosophy but its great objective was to produce fluent public speakers. The study of Cicero and Seneca provided stylistic and moral examples. Augustine (354–430) confesses that he had trouble with Greek. Gregory the Great (540–604) apparently had still greater difficulty, despite spending a period living and working in Constantinople. With the diminishing familiarity with Greek on the part of educated people, and the need to develop in the Latin language a comparable tool for abstract thinking, Augustine and Boethius pushed Latin much further in this direction than even Cicero the aspiring philosopher had done. The problem of making Latin a fit vehicle for philosophical and theological discourse did not disappear with the centuries. It is difficult to establish consistency in the mediaeval use of the Latin terminology. It evolved rapidly as a technical language, especially from the eleventh century, but usage was far from consistent between writers. In Anselm’s vocabulary faith is both fiducia,1 faith

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as ‘trust’, and fides, faith as the ‘content’ of belief, what is actually believed. Through trust in God the believer arrives at ‘knowledge’ of what he believes and that includes content as well as affect. Cogitatio seems to mean ‘thinking’. It can lead to scientia, knowledge. It can be conducted upon conceptiones. Neither necessarily involves the complexities of believing. The vocabulary of intellectus and intelligentia are both used, the first for a faculty of ‘understanding’ and the second for ‘understanding’ as ‘knowledge’, but neither consistently and both with a range of association and some overlap with one another. Notitia seems more closely tied to content, the actual information ‘known’. In Abelard, the concept of ‘assent’ is used, to take the believer from thinking to believing (credere est assensione cogitare). The certainty or confidence with which something is known can vary. It may be no stronger than opinio. With the sophistications of later mediaeval philosophy and theology came still further refinements.

Philosophy and Theology By the time this gulf of mutual understanding began to widen, Christianity had already absorbed the higher intellectual culture of the Greek and Romans. It is not easy to separate the Christian from the secular in the intellectual tradition of the Latin West, so intimately had they grown together by the end of Empire. When Augustine became a Christian he had to decide how and whether to modify his education, what to borrow, how to think and write as a Christian without compromising the faith. But by then there was a philosophical and theological platform on which he stood and from which it was no longer easy – even if anyone had expressed the wish – to climb down in order to rethink the whole project afresh. Philosophy in the ancient world was more than the attempted formulation of a rational account of the cosmos and the way it works. It implied a way of life. It included the discussion of the action of supernatural beings. Plato’s Timaeus discusses the Creator without any sense that a line could or should be drawn between the natural and the supernatural. This made it easier for Christianity to absorb ideas from philosophy, but it made it more difficult for it to fix a boundary between the two. A key terminological and conceptual aid was provided by Boethius (c.480– 524/5) in his De Trinitate. He develops – probably following Porphyry – a threefold distinction of physica, mathematica and theologia.2 Physica is the study of the natural, material world. Mathematica is the study of abstract principles derived from that world. For example, a triangle has geometrical properties which are themselves abstractions, though no triangle can be drawn in the material world without its lines and angles being slightly out of true. Theologia

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rises above this limitation. It soars by speculatio into the realms where reason alone can take the mind. But Boethius’ theologia has its limitations nevertheless. It can ‘speculate’ about the existence and nature of God and even about the laws of nature. But it cannot by reason alone take the enquirer to the knowledge and understanding of the incarnation, the death of Christ and its consequences for the salvation of the world. As it happens, Anselm of Canterbury had disagreed with this position. He suggested in the opening scene-setting of the Cur Deus Homo that it might be possible to remove Christ from the story (remoto Christo), and by reasoning alone (sola ratione) discover that he was essential to the redemption of mankind.3 But this was an isolated view. The general consensus was elegantly expressed by Hugh of St Victor (c.1078–1141). He proposed a useful distinction in the Prologue to Book I of his De Sacramentis Ecclesiae between the opus creationis and the opus restaurationis.4 The work of creation is susceptible of rational analysis and can be discussed by a rational being on the basis of observation of the world. It includes the topics of the Boethian theologia, that is the existence and nature of God as well as the creation of the world. The work of ‘restoration’, which includes Christ’s birth and life on earth and his death on the Cross, can be known only as historical fact, from reading the Bible. It cannot be worked out by reasoning alone. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) was still wrestling with the relation of philosophy and theology in the opening questions of his Summa Theologiae. Is philosophy a subject which embraces theology or is it the other way round? By the thirteenth century the terminology had grown more complex. During the twelfth century, the studies we would now expect to see under the heading of ‘theology’ had usually been called the studium sacrae scripturae. It was still more natural to speak of theologia in its ‘Boethian’ sense and with its narrower remit. Philosophia could connote the writings of the ancient secular authors. One would not meet a living philosopher in the street. But it was also possible to speak of gentiles, the massed and varied unbelievers to whom Aquinas addressed his Summa contra Gentiles. Strictly this was a book for the use of those who found themselves having to act as the Church’s apologists, preaching against those who had not embraced the Christian faith.

The Nature of the Beast: A Rational Animal in the Image of God? For Aristotle man is a rational animal. He has patterns of behaviour like any other animal through which he fulfils his purpose in the double-ended Aristotelian teleology in which the end is in the beginning. Unlike other beasts he can, observing the world around him, think and talk and exchange ideas about it with

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other rational animals, and set out a sequence of rational argumentation leading to conclusions which other human beings will be able to share. He can perceive patterns and structures which enable him to postulate causes and effects and suggest reasons for things and build up complex explanations about the cosmos which go beyond what can be recorded by the senses. Augustine of Hippo (354–430) seems to have had limited direct knowledge of Aristotle, but he understood these basic ideas well enough. He came to believe that man is not just a rational animal but a sinful rational animal, damaged in this most distinctive feature of his nature, whose mind is clouded by sin and his organs of knowing impeded from working effectively. This leaves him with unfulfilled longings and a baffled sense that he cannot think as clearly as he wishes. Augustine’s discussion of the relation between this baffled and frustrated exercise of reason, and the faith which enables the sinner to glimpse what he is missing, adopts the imagery of hunger. He cites Scripture. Those who ‘eat and drink’ have found what they long for but they still long for more (adhuc quaerunt).5 Faith must seek if the understanding (intellectus) is to find. But conversely, he cites Isaiah 7.9, ‘Man ought to know in order to seek God’. Ad hoc ergo debet esse homo intellegens ut requirat deum.6 Knowing and seeking, faith and understanding are complementary and reciprocal. In his De Trinitate, Augustine explores the question how this process works in terms of the faculties of the human mind.7 He finds in man a ‘trinity’8 of memory, will and understanding (memoria, intellectus [or intelligentia], voluntas); which resembles the divine Trinity in that each is distinct and yet together they form a single human mind. They are, in their way, both one and three.9 He identifies another trinity, of ‘mind, knowledge and love, mens, notitia, amor’. There is the mind and the knowledge by which it knows itself and the love by which it loves what it knows. In this way once more man is made in the image of the triune God: Ad imaginem dei quod est homo secundum mentem . . . et in ea quaedam trinitas invenitur, id est mens et notitia qua se novit et amor quo se notitiam suam diligit.10

Faith Seeking Understanding In the De Trinitate,11 Augustine proposes the idea that ‘faith seeks and the understanding finds’ (fides quaerit, intellectus invenit). This description of the process of thinking about God evolved in the Proemium to the Proslogion of Anselm of Bec and Canterbury (1033–1109) into ‘faith seeking understanding’

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(fides quaerens intellectum),12 What exactly is the process involved, Anselm asked himself? He was always broadly confident that any rational person would accept the truths of the Christian faith the moment he fully understood them. But he was firm that the place to begin was not with open-ended enquiry but by testing the assertions of the faith in order to see whether they hold. ‘For I do not seek to understand in order that I may believe, but I believe in order that I may understand’ (Neque enim quaero intelligere ut credam, sed credo ut intellegam).13 As support for this approach he cites Isaiah: Nam et hoc hoc credo: quia ‘nisi credidero, non intelligam’ (Isaiah 7.9). The whole process – as Anselm sees and presumably felt he experienced it – is one of personal divine guidance. ‘So, Lord, who gives understanding to faith, give to me, as far as you know it to be for my benefit, to understand that you are as we believe and that you are what we believe’ (Ergo, domine, qui das fidei intellectum, da mihi, ut quantum scis expedire intelligam, quia es sicut credimus, et hoc es quod credimus).14 So for Anselm, faith seeking to understand is faith asking God to reveal himself. The Proslogion, in which the economically expressed chapters of argument are prefaced and ended by chapters of prayer and longing, is an experiment in the method. There are obvious similarities with Augustine’s Confessions in the style and the approach. But Anselm, unlike Augustine, is not telling the story of his spiritual life. He is not exploring his own Trinitarian ‘psychology’. He is teaching the reader a method of thinking.

Going Apart to Be with God: The Monastic and the Mystical Traditions The Western tradition developed its own spirituality in the centuries after it drifted apart from the Greek tradition which became in late antiquity so heavily flavoured with late Platonism and its brand of mysticism. This was characteristically a practical ladder-climbing. At the top of the ladder the rational mystic might experience rapture, but mostly he would simply be giving his mind to the ascent towards God, seeking his face. Cassiodorus (c.485–585) was a busy administrator in the days when the Empire was reaching its end. He chose to retire from public life and his job as a senior civil servant, to spend time with the Psalms. He approached his reading with the aid of Augustine’s Enarrationes in Psalmos and accordingly he found what he sought in the reflective mental mastication and digesting of the text which became a favourite metaphor for this close meditative reading. In the same century, Benedict of Nursia was founding what became the Benedictine order of monks. Unlike the monks of the East, these were to live a community life and spend their time in worship, prayer and private reading. Theirs was a contemplative life. They spent it, as far as they were able to do

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so through the regular exercise of prayer, in the presence of God. A call to ‘go apart’ was the way Anselm began the Proslogion. Close the door of your mind, shut out external distractions, he urges: Eia nunc, homuncio, fuge paululum occupationes tuas, absconde te modicum a tumultuosis cogitationibus tuis.15 William of St Thierry and other monastic writers of the twelfth century speak of the monk’s cell as a microcosm of heaven in which he can practise being in the presence of God. As the mediaeval West of the time understood it, this was not a shapeless or passive activity. Nor was it restricted to members of religious orders, though their regular lives made room for it, and its practice was one of the chief purposes of those lives. Anselm of Canterbury wrote a preface for a set of prayers and meditations designed for private use and dedicated to a noble laywoman. In it he suggests that the faithful soul may find it helpful to begin with the text he has provided, starting anywhere it wishes, and use it as a launching pad for its own ascent into the presence of God.16 In his Monologion he suggests a more conscious and rational ascent, in which the mind is first directed to any good thing in the world, and then asks itself what is better, until it begins to understand that the higher it climbs up the hierarchy of the good the closer it will come to glimpsing what God is. Bernard of Clairvaux describes a moment of rapture he himself experienced by much the same method in his On Loving God. He describes a climbing by steps or degrees. At the ‘fourth degree of love’ one loves oneself ‘only in God’. The climbing aspirant finds himself on God’s ‘hill’ where he is pleased to dwell (Psalm 24.3).17 On that hill the faithful soul may stay only a moment in this life, but it is an instant in which it experiences the emptying out of self, the complete absorption in God which Bernard believes prefigures the life of heaven. In this life, alas, the rapt believer will be called down from this high place by the demands of others and the distractions of daily life. A similar ladder-climbing method, using thought and analysis to take the mind on an upward journey towards God, was used by the Franciscan philosophical theologian Bonaventure (1221–1274) in his Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum. This is a combination of ratiocination and spirituality in which no one can say where the reasoning leaves off and faith takes wings but the thinking is found to lead to some form of direct experience of the presence of God. Later mediaeval mysticism rediscovered a method attributed to Dionysius the Areopagite, but actually worked out in the writings of the probably fifthcentury Ps. Dionysius. He seems to have had some influence on John Scotus Erigena (c.815–877) who had some knowledge of the Greek tradition, but the

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dissemination of his ideas in the Latin West was long impeded by the fact that he wrote, inaccessibly to most, in Greek. He too thought in terms of a journey and an ascent, a returning to God by efforts of thought and prayer. But there was a radically different assumption about what it would feel like to come close to God. Earlier mediaeval mystical aspiration had expected to find that God was more than all the good things they knew, but somehow familiar, resembling what the faithful could see by studying his creation, later mediaeval mystics such as Johann Eck followed Ps. Dionysius in holding him to be ultimately unknowable. This is a negative mysticism. For example, we call God ‘infinite’. That tells us only what he is not. This school of negative mysticism uses reasoning only to arrive at the point where faith must launch itself into emptiness.

The Mediaeval Revival of Logic Redefines the Task Gerbert of Aurillac (c.946–1003) was at the forefront of a trend which was to shape the later mediaeval approach to the use of reason in the West. From the eleventh century, the study of the two texts of Aristotle’s logic which Boethius had translated into Latin before his execution and the books on ‘topics’ he had completed, together with Porphyry’s Isagoge,18 became much more sophisticated. It moved beyond the relatively simple definitions of terms found in the margins of the manuscripts of the Carolingian era.19 It began to grapple with the logic itself. The interest of those who began to write and teach in this field lay in the deeper reaches of the philosophy of language. Augustine had begun the De Doctrina Christiana by asking how language works epistemologically, what is the relationship of ‘things’ to ‘signs of things’, and of both to the ideas in the human mind. In this period of crucial mediaeval development, signification theory continued to attract students of Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione, who set these works besides what they read in the Roman ‘philosophical grammarians’ such as Priscian and Donatus, and began to note and puzzle over discrepancies. Gerbert of Aurillac was already beginning to do this in the De rationali et ratione uti,20 Anselm wrote a De Grammatico in which he tackled a similar puzzle over the apparent conflict between the teaching of the classical grammarians and those of the classical logicians.21

Probable and Necessary Arguments In the Anselmian system, a faith confirmed and grasped by the intellect as well as on trust is a sure faith. Students of mediaeval logic became very interested in

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the security of the methods of proving available to them. A syllogism’s conclusion might be watertight from the point of view of validity but its truth was only as safe as the propositions from which the conclusion was derived. It was a ‘probable’ argument. On the other hand, a conclusion which had been arrived at by the ‘demonstrative method’ was a ‘necessary’ truth. The demonstrative method was essentially the method devised by Euclid for the demonstration of geometrical theorems. It involved the use of selfevident truths as a starting-point. These were the communes animi conceptiones, ‘common conceptions of the mind’, a phrase used by Boethius in his De Hebdomadibus, and borrowed by Euclid’s twelfth-century translators to render his Greek. Demonstrating what followed from one of these brought the thinker to another truth which was equally certain once he had grasped that it depended on a self-evident truth. It is probably the case that the method works only for geometry, but theologians were naturally anxious to demonstrate truths of faith in the same way. Alan of Lille (d.1202) attempted to do this in the simpler form of a long line of axioms, one leading to the next. He began his Regulae Theologicae confidently enough with the axiom that ‘God is a Monad’, but he soon found himself in a thicket of the undemonstrable with questions about the sacraments and it is by no means clear from the surviving manuscripts that he succeeded in completing the list even in draft.22 Nicholas of Amiens (1147–1200) made a more sophisticated attempt at applying the Euclidean method but he too retired defeated. But some authors perceived that self-evidency might not be a watertight universal attribute of a given axiom. Peter Abelard discusses what happens when parents are of different faiths. He was aware of the influence of upbringing on what people believe to be ‘obvious’. ‘Usually’ he asserts, the children follow the faith of whichever parent they favour, and accept it completely (inconcussa). So: plus in eis educatio quam origo sanguinis vel ratio posit.23 This effect of ‘influence’ is also seen in peer-pressure, in the way children tend to share their beliefs with their friends.24

Reasoning or Relying on ‘Authorities’ Proving by reason could be seen as stronger than proving by mere authority in the sense that reason appealed to all reasonable people. On the other hand, a syllogism whose premises included a quotation from Scripture could be said to rely on the supreme authority of the word of God. The only proof for the existence of God which relies on reason alone is the one Anselm advances in the

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Proslogion, and he believed it to be capable of showing not only that God exists but also what he is like (within the parameters of Boethian theologia): Unum argumentum, quod nullo alio ad se probandum quam se solo indigeret, et solum ad astruendum quia deus vere est, et quia est summum bonum nullo alio indigens, et quo omnia indigent ut sunt et ut bene sint, et quaecumque de divina credumus substantia, sufficeret.25 The question what could be relied on by way of ‘authorities’ was the subject of some discussion in Anselm’s lifetime and just afterwards. Gilbert Crispin (1055– 1117), who had been a monk at Bec and one of Anselm’s pupils, later became Abbot of Westminster. It seems he was Anselm’s host while he was in England on the business of the abbey of Bec in the winter when Lanfranc Archbishop of Canterbury had died and Anselm feared – with reason – that he was likely to be chosen as his successor. Gilbert became the author of a treatise recording a Disputation with a Jew and another Disputation with a ‘Gentile’. In the Disputation with a Gentile26 the conversation begins with a discussion of the authorities each will rely on. ‘I do not accept your sources, nor authorities [extracts] taken from them. Nor do you accept mine, and I take no authorities from them.’27 It is pointed out that the Christians assert that the Law of Moses and the Gospel of Jesus Christ have ‘one and the same author’; but the Jews do not observe the law of the Christians, they oppose it. Nor do the Christians observe the law of the Jews. They say it is supremely empty and they argue about it and disagree with it.28 So how are they to proceed? The Christian suggests that they set aside all authority, including that of Scripture and try to use reason alone.29 This is an idea Gilbert could have borrowed from Anselm, who had written the Cur Deus Homo on the remoto Christo basis. A similar discussion takes place at the beginning of Peter Abelard’s Collationes, in which a Christian, a Philosopher and a Jew hold a dispute about their beliefs. ‘It is for me, says the Philosopher, to question the others first because I am content with natural law’, which is ‘first’.30 The only ‘document’ for those who rely on lex naturalis, he suggests, is the knowledge of ethics (scientia morum). The Christians and Jews add laws or precepts, precepta, which the Philosopher considers to be unnecessary additions (superflua).31

Rational Argument and the Existence of God What may be known of God by rational observation of the created world by a thinker who is not prepared to rely on any authority? One of the key mediaeval

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questions about ‘revelation’ was how far God had shown himself, and things about himself, in his creation. What he had revealed in that way he had made accessible to any reasonable being. A key authority supported this view. Romans 1.19–20 says that God has made the truth about himself obvious. Reasonable observers can see what he is like from studying the world he has made. Anselm’s unique ontological proof in the Proslogion does not require even this assistance. He argues that if God is that-than-which-nothing-greater-canbe-thought he must exist in reality, for anyone who can entertain the concept of a that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought can also think of something which is more than a concept and ‘really’ exists. A that-than-which-nothinggreater-can-be-thought which exists in reality is greater than a that-thanwhich-nothing-greater-can-be-thought which is merely a notion in the mind. It thus becomes that-than-which-nothing-greater-can-be-thought. So God exists. Anselm is here making a fundamentally Platonic assumption about the nature of reality, in which the intellectual reality, the reality of an ‘idea’, is greater than the reality of a physically existing thing. Aquinas discusses Anselm’s proof, which he treats as falling in the category of the ‘self-evident’. He argues that God’s existence cannot be a self-evident truth because not everyone believes in God. His own proofs all rely on the Romans 1.19–20 principle. The first is that God is Prime Mover of all the things we can see being ‘moved’. He is Efficient Cause (and the end of infinite regress) for all those things which are ‘caused’. He adduces the concept of possible and necessary existence, arguing that what it is possible does not exist must possibly once not have existed. This cannot be true of God. He argues from the existence of ‘degrees’ in things to God as the highest. He argues from the very fact that the universe is ‘governed’ by laws ex gubernatione rerum.32

Authorship, Authority and Authenticity For most mediaeval thinkers, it was natural to turn to authorities, even in framing a rational argument. In Greek there is a series of terms which express one or more of the range of ideas connected in Latin with auctor, auctoritas, such as ‘witness’ or ‘testimony’, ‘expertise’ or ‘knowledgeableness’, ‘power’, ‘creation’, ‘doing’, ‘making’. The Latin has a cluster of etymologically allied terms, with a significant conceptual overlap in their meanings, and therefore potential for causing confusion. In classical Latin an auctor can be an authoritative person, someone whose advice or approval carries weight; someone whose teaching or persuasion is felt to be authoritative; a witness, proof or authentication; an expert; a source of evidence; a source; a standard. Auctoritas has a closely parallel list of senses in the region of meaning we are concerned with. So auctor has

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a range of classical meanings, including the modern English ‘author’ and something close to the notion of an ‘author-authority’. One reason for relying on a text, but not the only reason, may be the name of its ‘author’. Auctoritas can mean ‘an authority’ in the sense which would allow it to include both ‘an authoritative author’ and ‘an authoritative text’. The mediaeval emphasis is on the function of a piece of writing as something to be respected or relied on, but the ‘authoritativeness’ comes to reside in the text itself. So an auctoritas attaches, by transference, to the words as well as to the person who writes them, and allows quite small portions of text to be referred to as auctoritates. Employing this distinction, Peter of Poitiers (c.1130–1215) says of his compilation on confession that it has as many ‘authors’ as ‘authorities’, tot habet auctores quod continet auctoritates.33 Authenticus is a late antique term, with a sense of ‘coming from the author’ and therefore genuine. ‘Authenticus’ is etymologically close to auctor, yet what are described as ‘authentic copies’ are clearly not necessarily the authors’ actual autographs. ‘This is not in authentic manuscripts’ (hoc, quod hic positum est . . . in authenticis codicibus non habetur), remarks Jerome.34 Blessed are those who are praised in ‘authentic manuscripts’,35 cries the twelfth-century Orderic Vitalis (1075–1142). Nowhere is authorial authenticity so important to the mediaeval Christian reader as in the text of the Bible. Salvation may depend on being quite sure that one has got it right. The Scriptures could be regarded as divinely inspired, directly dictated by the Holy Spirit to its human author, in the manner graphically portrayed in illuminations of the Gospel writers with the Holy Spirit as a dove with its beak in Evangelist’s ear. Cassiodorus, writing on the Psalms, makes a punctilious distinction between the moments when a prophet is being a prophet and the moments when he is just telling us what he thinks as an ordinary man. ‘In the [prophetical books of Scripture] God said some things and not the prophets; and some things were said by the prophets and not by God’.36 The trick is to know which bits are which.37 Gregory the Great pointed out that sometimes the prophets spoke at the bidding of the Holy Spirit and sometimes of their own volition.38 Even those parts of Scripture which do not contain prophecies were written by human authors and have subsequently been copied. There were recognized to be ‘human authors’ of Scripture, and a number of ideas circulated about them, their contribution, and the distinction between the ‘primary and secondary authorship of Scripture’,39 God’s words and man’s. There are different kinds of authority even within Holy Scripture, explains Robert of Melun (c.1100– 1167) in the mid-twelfth century. There are passages where the human author is indeed important, passages ‘whose authority rests on their (human) author’s name’: quarum auctoritatis causa penes ipsum auctorem solum consistit, such

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as the prophets and apostles. Robert’s idea here is that the authority of prophets and apostles does not derive from the latter approval of others, but their inherent authority is the cause of what they say being ‘approved’ by latter ages (sed auctoritas causa comprobationis). Other passages whose authorship is uncertain, such as the book of Job cannot carry an inherent authority. Their authority rests on their ultimate acceptance: comprobatio acceptoris.40 Robert Grosseteste (c.1175–1253) says something very similar half a century later in a comment suggesting that even St Paul had to establish his credentials when he wrote to the Galatians. He has to ‘show that he was knowledgeable and telling the truth’.41 In the thirteenth century Robert Kilwardby (c.1215–1279) was routinely describing the human authors of Scripture as instruments of the divine author.42 For Roger Bacon (1214–1294) four things stand in the way of learning the truth from the use of authorities (sunt maxima comprehendendae veritatis offendicula ): the use of weak and unworthy authorities; bad habits; lack of common sense; disguising ignorance with a pretence of expertise.43 Authorities are not always right. That is a bold claim for a thirteenth-century commentator to make. Bacon’s explanation for this unreliability is that human authors are all sinners; moreover, the span of knowledge is very great and no one can master it all, nor can anyone avoid getting the odd detail wrong. ‘And therefore it is fitting to add to the authorities and to correct them on many points’ (in quampluribus).44 Indeed, the authorities correct themselves and one another, and dispute what other authorities say.45 The lesson Bacon draws is that we should prefer truth to authority, and put the authorities right when we can see that they are wrong.46 With heavy irony, he points out that for warrant to do that we may rely on authority. ‘For Plato says, “Socrates my master is my friend but truth is a better friend” ’ (Amicus est Socrates, magister meus, sed magis est amica veritas). A similar alleged sentiment of Aristotle is cited.47

Attitudes to Secular Knowledge, Islamic and Jewish Scholarship There remained the question of the place of secular and non-Christian writings. Adelard of Bath opens his book on the same and the different (De Eodem et Diverso) with a prefatory letter to William, Bishop of Syracuse. In it he explains that when he reads earlier authors on the sciences and compares them with the moderns he is struck by the richness of the earlier ones and the comparative silence of the latter. That is not to say that the ancients knew everything nor that the moderns know nothing.48 He has addressed himself in the courage of

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his scientiola, to William of Syracuse as to someone omnium mathematicarum artium eruditissime. During the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries the philosophical works of Aristotle were brought into the nascent universities in Latin translations, both directly from the Greek and via the Arabic translations from the Greek. Avicenna (Ibn Sinna) (c.980–1037) and Averroes (Ibn Rushid) (1126–1198) wrote monographs and commentaries some of which were also imported into the philosophical and theological literature of the Latin West. The Jewish thinker Maimonides (1135–1204) also wrote on Aristotle and became influential in the West. These new resources found their place only after some upheaval in the infant universities of Europe, for the views of Aristotle did not coincide at every point with the teachings of the Christian faith, for example on the subject of the soul. The University of Paris made various abortive attempts first to ban the books and then, when that failed, to ban selected opinions. However, the new material bedded itself down. Johannis Blund, (c.1175–1248) wrote a De anima,49 in which the notion that man is an animal distinguished by rationality (rationalis), with various newly realized Aristotelian aspects, sits perfectly comfortably with his theology.

Conclusion A basic acceptance of the ultimate unknowability of God seems to govern all mediaeval efforts to wrestle with the problem of trying to use reason to understand matters of faith. Abelard allows for the devout confession of faith by believers who may not really understand what they are saying: quasi in prolatione verborum potius quam in animi comprehensione fides consistat et oris ipsa sit magis quam cordis.50 Reason can go only so far. In the Summa contra Gentiles, Aquinas accepts that while rational enquiry can establish a great deal, it can never fully encompass knowing God. But reason can proudly claim that it is intent on the pursuit of truth. The Jew in Abelard’s dialogue poses the question whether if the Philosopher were able to overcome his ‘simplicity’ by the force of his reasoning, Si forte simplicitatem mean philosophicarum virtute rationum superare videaris, that would settle things.51 The Philosopher’s position is that reason pursues the truth not for glory but for its own sake: cum me videlicet ad veritatis inquisitionem, non ad elationis ostentationem laborare non dubitetis.52 Working within the parameters of these clusters of assumptions, mediaeval thinkers sometimes throw up the possibility that knowledge may advance. ‘Are reason and faith the same at different ages and in rustici and literati?’ asks Peter

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Abelard. Abelard’s Philosopher argues that intelligentia grows in the individual with age, but there is no such guaranteed progress in matters of faith nullus est profectus.53 Young and old, educated and uneducated have the same belief. It is considered no shame to say you believe what you can not understand (Ut quod se non posse intelligere confitentur, credere se profiteri non erubescant).54 Roger Bacon contends that human understanding progresses and develops down the ages. One age (una aetas) is not enough for inquiry into many of the subjects the authorities have written about. People are aware that many things which will arise in time to come are unknown to us, and in future ages it will be wondered at that we did not know things which will be then be obvious.55 On the other hand, new truth takes time to establish itself. ‘Common’ sense (sensus vulgi) rushes to conclusions. Nam auctoritas solum allicit, consuetude ligat, opinio vulgi obstinatos parit et confirmat.56

Notes 1 2

3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

20 21

A term Anselm tends to use in his prayers and letters. Boethius, De Trinitate, II, Theological Tractates, eds. H. F. Stewart, E. K. Rand and S. J. Tester (1973) Harvard, p. 8, and cf. Porphyry, Isagoge, ed. S. Brandt (1906) Vienna, p. 7f. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, II.42. Hugh of St Victor, On the Sacraments of the Christian Faith, ed. and tr. R. J. Deferrari (1951) Cambridge, MA, Book I, Proemium. Eccl. 24.1-4. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV.ii.2, CCSL, 50A, pp. 461–2. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV.ii.3, CCSL, 50A, p. 462. Inveniretur in mente evidentior trinitas eius, in memoria scilicet et intellegentia et voluntate. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV.iii.5, CCSL, 50A, p. 466. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV.iii.5, CCSL, 50A, p.465. Augustine, De Trinitate, XV.ii, CCSL, 50A. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, I.94. Proslogion, 1, Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/ Edinburgh, 1.100. Proslogion, 1, S 1.100, and Chapter II, p.101. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, 1.97. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, III.3. Bernard of Clairvaux, De diligendo deo, 10, Opera Omnia, III. PL (Patrologia Latina) 64. On these developments, see John Marenbon (1981) From the Circle of Alcuin to the School of Auxerre: Logic, Theology, and Philosophy in the Early Middle Ages Cambridge. Libellus de Rationali et Ratione Uti, PL 139.157. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, I. 145.

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28

29

30 31 32 33

34 35 36 37 38 39

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PL 210.617, and see G. R. Evans (1983) Alan of Lille Cambridge. Peter Abelard, Collationes (7), p. 8. Peter Abelard, Collationes (7), p. 10. Anselmi Opera Omnia, ed. F. S. Schmitt (1946–1968) Rome/Edinburgh, I. 93. Gilbert Crispin, Disputatio Christiani cum Gentili, Opera Omnia, ed. A. S. A. Abulafia and G. R. Evans (1986) London, p. 63. Leges ac litteras vestras non recipio, neque sumptas ab eis auctoritates accipio. Nec tu quidem meas recipis, nec ullam auctoritatem sumo ab eis, Gilbert Crispin, Disputatio Christiani cum Gentili, Opera Omnia, ed. A. S. A. Abulafia and G. R. Evans (1986) London, p. 63. Legis enim Moysi et Evangelii Ihesu Christi unus et idem auctor existit, sicut vos Christiani asseritis . . . At Judei legem Christianorum non servant, sed oppugnant; nec Christiani legem Iudeorum observant, sed iam supervacue eum observari contendunt et disputant . . . Itaque, omissa Scripturarum vestrarum auctoriate, ex equo disputemus pari oratione, Gilbert Crispin, Disputatio Christiani cum Gentili, Opera Omnia, ed. A. S. A. Abulafia and G. R. Evans (1986) London, p. 63. Christianus: Omittamus igitur Scripturarum nostrarum auctoritatem, donec congruam det nobis Deus inde agendi facultatem. Iudicem sequamur rationem, Gilbert Crispin, Disputatio Christiani cum Gentili, Opera Omnia, ed. A. S. A. Abulafia and G. R. Evans (1986) London, p. 64. Philosopher: ‘Meum est’ inquit primum ceteros interrogare, qui et naturali lege, que prima est, contentus sum, Peter Abelard, Collationes (6), p. 8. Peter Abelard, Collationes (6), p. 8. Summa Theologiae I.q.2.a.3. Compilatio praesens materiam habens confessionum nullum materiae profitetur auctorem, sed tot habet auctores quod continet auctoritates, Petrus Pictaviensis, Summa de Confessione Compilatio Praesens, ed. J. Longère (1980) CCCM (Corpus Christianorum Continuata Medievalis), 51, p. 1. Jerome, Liber quaestionum hebraicarum in Genesim, CCSL (Corpus Christianorum Series Latina), 72, p. 35. Beati homines quorum laus est in autenticis codicibus, Orderic Vitalis, Historia Ecclesiastica, III, preface ed. M. Chibnall (1969) Oxford, II, p. 2. Ceteris prophetis aliqua quidem Dominus locutus est et non prophetae, et aliqua prophetae et non Dominus. Cassiodorus, In Psalmos, Prefatio, 1, CCSL, 97, p. 8. J-P. Torrell (1977) Théorie de la prophetié et philosophie de la connaissance aux environs de 1230: la contribution d’Huges de Saint-Cher, SSLov, 40 , p. 49. Gregory the Great, Homilies on Ezekiel, 1.16, CCSL, 142, p. 13. In A. J. Minnis’s phrase. A. J. Minnis (1992) ‘The accessus extended: Henry of Ghent on the Transmission and Reception of Theology’, Ad litteram: authoritative texts and their medieval readers Notre Dame/London, pp. 275–325, 280ff. Sententie, Preface, Oeuvres de Robert de Melun, ed. R. M. Martin (1947), SSLov, 21, vol. I, p. 10. Ut Apostolus revocaret Galatas ad doctrinam evangelicam quam ab ipso prius susceptam reliquerat, oportuit ut suam personam ostenderet scientem et veracem, . . . Primo ergo in hac epistola suam personam commendat, ut ostendatur sciens veritatem doctrinae et amans ac persona sequens suam doctrinam esse una, Robert Grosseteste, Expositio in Epistolam Sancti Pauli ad Galatas, ed. J. McEvoy (1995) CCCM, 130, p. 41.

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42 Scientiarum alia est divina alia humana. Divinam dico quae Deo autore hominibus tradita est, quamvis humano ministerio sit scripta, Robert Kilwardy, De ortu scientiarum, 1, ed. Albert P. Judy (1976) London, p. 9. 43 Roger Bacon, Opus maius, Pars I.1, ed. J. H. Bridges (1970) Oxford, p. 2. 44 Bacon, Opus maius, Pars I.6, p. 13. 45 Ibid., p. 15. 46 Bacon, Opus maius, Pars I.7, p. 15. 47 Ibid., p. 16. 48 Adelard of Bath, De Eodem et Diverso, ed. H. Willner (1903) Münster, p. 3. 49 Johannis Blund, De anima, pp. 10–11. 50 Abelard, Collationes (8), p. 10. 51 Abelard, Collationes (11), p. 12. 52 Ibid., 53 Abelard, Collationes (8), p. 10. 54 Ibid., 55 Bacon, Opus maius, Pars I.6, p. 13. 56 Bacon, Opus maius, Pars I.1, p. 3.

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Chapter 3 Reform: Some Lutheran Views of Theology and Philosophy Robert W. Jenson (Centre of Theological Inquiry, Princeton) There is no such thing as ‘the Lutheran view’ of the relation between theology and philosophy. This holds in both of two cases, for different reasons. The first case: If investigations in formal or informal logic, cultivated for insight into philosophical problems, may themselves be called philosophy, one can only observe that Lutherans seem to be interested in such things as the illuminating conundrums of set theory or the wisdom of ordinary language in about the same proportion and ways as are Presbyterians or Catholics or atheists or whoever. The second case: If we reserve the notion of philosophy for reflection that indulges in what we are likely to call ‘metaphysics’ or ‘ontology’, Lutheran theology’s relation to philosophy presents a very different picture – a unique and long history of variously incompatible construals. Indeed, Lutheranism’s adventures with such philosophy make a major part of the history of German philosophy.1 They encompass everything from Philip Melanchthon’s2 initial attempt to avoid metaphysical involvements by organizing theology only to the rules of humanistic rhetoric, to the massive system of G. F. W. Hegel, who considered himself a Lutheran theologian and was received as such by his ‘rightwing’ followers. In this second case, there is no Lutheran position because there are so many. In treating this history in the confines of an article and in service of a specific assignment, I can discuss only a few movements and thinkers; anything comprehensive would become a mere list. I will make some perhaps idiosyncratic omissions and chronological jumps. I will devote more space to early events and figures than to later ones, however important the latter may be, since it is the story’s plot-structure I want to discern; thus Balthasar Meisner, of whom few readers will have heard, gets more space than Kant or Hegel.

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The long history and its conflicts result from a founding circumstance of the Lutheran movement: the distinctive Lutheran theological affirmations run straight against the grain of the inherited Western metaphysical tradition. Lutheran thinking could not – it quickly turned out – look to extant philosophy for an epistemological or ontological foundation, or for an ancilla theologiae, or for criteria of truth or goodness or beauty. I will display the clash with a very early case, a controversy which, while it now may seem esoteric, seriously threatened the unity of the young Lutheran movement. What sort of thing is original sin, that is, the sinfulness which after the ‘fall’ somehow clings to all humans and to all aspects of human life? The mediaeval tradition had tended to finesse the question, but the reforming doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ demanded an answer. What sort of thing ails us, that we can find salvation only by faith in something so drastic as the execution of God the Son? The theologically constitutional document of emerging territorial/denominational Lutheranism, the Formula of Concord of 1576– 1577, struggled with the question.3 The drafters of the Formula were loyal to inherited ontology, and took it as ‘incontestable truth that whatever is, is either substance or accident’. In the general tradition ‘substance’ meant at once that which is self-contained in its reality and the complex of mutually supporting characteristics – an ‘essence’ – by which such an entity is indeed in itself what it is.4 An ‘accident’ is any character of a substance that can come or go without undoing the substance, as a house can be white after having been blue, while remaining the substance ‘this house’. So which is original sin? Substance or accident? Against the conceptually – and otherwise5 – intrepid Michael Ilyricus Flacius, the drafters immediately rejected the view that original sin is substantial. They thought it ‘an indubitable axiom in theology, that every substance . . . is either God himself or a work and creature of God’; therefore, since God is neither sinful nor the creator of sin, original sin cannot be the substance of human persons6 – or indeed of anything else. But if original sin must then be an accident, why can there be no humans that lack it?7 And why does it take such an upheaval as the death of God the Son, to free humans from it? For that matter, are not accidents created? At this point, the options offered by the inherited ontology reduced the drafters of the Formula – usually skilled dialecticians – to hand-waving: original sin is an accident, but it ‘is such a horrid quality or accident, by which human nature is not only contaminated but is rather wholly corrupted, that nothing pure or sound remains. . . .’8 How then, one must ask, is not sin after all a substantial character of humanity, after the fall? The Formula has no answer. Nor could the aporia be solved by Melanchthonian recourse to sheer logic, since the then traditional logic mirrors its ontological presuppositions. Can we

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formulate a meaningful sentence on the supposition that original sin is the substance of human persons, and so does things? Or, supposing that original sin is an accident, would a sentence work that said that Jones will shortly become or used to be an original sinner? The drafters of the Formula plainly needed a third possibility, but did not find it at hand. Within this cross-grained relation to the metaphysical tradition, two general options have presented themselves. Some Lutherans have simply tried to eschew metaphysics, in the style of the early Melanchthon; I will devote section II to a few of these. Others have set out to bend metaphysics to their theological convictions, and so have embarked on projects of revisionary9 metaphysics; thus in the very next generation after Melanchthon there appeared a Lutheran school of maverick Aristoteleans – to which I will later devote considerable space. Section III will tell some of this history.

Section II Melanchthon began the one strand of Lutheranism’s history with metaphysics, a series of attempts to renounce them altogether. He hoped to give theology coherence purely ‘dialectically’, that is, solely by the rules of humanist rhetoric and the sort of material logic found in Aristotle’s Organon. He counselled great restraint in speaking of God’s being, and concentration instead on his beneficia, his good works for us. This attitude dominated Lutheran theological faculties from Luther’s death until the beginning of the seventeenth century. For a much later project of very similar pattern, we may skip to the end of the nineteenth century, to the very Lutheran10 Albrecht Ritschl,11 and his verdict that theological propositions are ‘value-judgments’ and not ‘judgments of being’. The home of theology is practical reason, not metaphysics. This position became an axiom of properly so-called liberal theology: embracing such great figures as the historian of doctrine Adolph von Harnack – who lamented the pure gospel’s contamination by Greek philosophy – and Ernst Troeltsch – who both celebrated and mourned the death of metaphysics. Two particular twentieth-century movements owed their theology to Ritschl. One was the successive quests for ‘the historical Jesus’. The questers’ goal was soteriological. They were committed to Lutheran Christology: Jesus saves, and does so precisely as the man of that name – we will take up that Christology in the next section. But how can the man Jesus affect us so decisively? Having forsworn such metaphysically involving posits as the presence of Christ as a resurrected and so eternal creature, liberals turned to history and moral influence. We are transformed by fellowship with Jesus, and since he is a personage of history, we make contact with him in the same way as we do with, for example, Julius Caesar, by research into who he was and

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what he did. ‘Historical-critical’ research became in effect the liberal ‘means of grace’. The other was a wave of ‘Luther-research’. These scholars were dedicated to rejuvenating Lutheran theology by – in remarkable parallel to the search for the historical Jesus – recovering the historical Luther. They were Ritschleans to a man. And they were explicit about their anti-metaphysical commitment: their hero Luther cannot possibly have had ontological convictions that impacted or were impacted by his theology,12 and nor, therefore, should his true followers. The liberal project of course had ancestors, to whom we can now turn back. The most important was Immanuel Kant; and indeed many of the liberals were avowed ‘neo-Kantians’. Kant was raised in a devout Lutheran-pietist home. One cannot claim initial influence by the Melanchthonian tradition, since Kant was sunk ‘in dogmatic slumbers’ until David Hume awakened him. But once Kant was awake, he promptly located religion in the sphere of practical reason, where it could be free of the metaphysical antinomies of theoretical reason – and it should be noted that the Enlightenment to which he awoke did not itself mandate this move, indeed Enlightenment theology was generally strenuously dogmatic in its form. Thereby Kant rejoined the Lutheran pietism of his upbringing, which agreed with Melanchthon that true theology praised God’s beneficia rather than investigating his mysteries. Kant may not have been a Lutheran pietist in demeanour, but he was one in theological epistemology. Friedrich Schleiermacher is the other great figure at the beginning of the nineteenth century. His place in our story is, to be sure, a bit shaky, since he was not denominationally Lutheran. But he called himself a ‘more sophisticated sort of Herrnhütter’, and the Brethren of Herrnhut13 were – and are – largely Lutheran in theology.14 Schleiermacher was no Kantian, but he shared Kant’s aversion to mixing metaphysics and religion. From our point of view, his move is quickly described: whereas Kant protected religion from metaphysical involvements by sequestering it within practical reason, Schleiermacher sheltered it in ‘feeling’,15 in the aesthetic aspect of human existence. This too would sometimes replicate itself in later Lutheran liberalism, for example, in Wilhelm Herrmann, from whom his student Karl Barth got the Lutheran tinge that appears in the earlier volumes of the Kirchliche Dogmatik.

Section III In tracing the line of efforts to redo metaphysics instead of avoiding them, we may begin with Luther himself. Luther could describe reason as a whore16 and denounce the dominance of Aristotle in much mediaeval theology as the root of

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all theological evil. But in the next moment he could work out some position of his own by reasoned conversation with that same Aristotle. For Luther the word ‘philosophy’ functioned as an indexical pointing to persons – to Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics – and in practice he did not treat these thinkers as engaged in an enterprise distinct from his own, but rather as theologians labouring under the handicap of not knowing Christ. For Luther, he and Aristotle were up to the same sort of thing; and it was only to be expected that a brilliant theologian who did not know Christ would be disastrously wrong about all the key points but might nevertheless be well worth reading. A classic case of Luther’s attitude is his appropriation and transformation of Aristotle’s metaphysical psychology to elucidate a central claim of his reformatory message. ‘Believe in Christ,’ Luther famously proclaimed, ‘in whom are promised all grace, righteousness, peace and freedom. If you believe, you have all these; if you do not believe, you do not have them.’17 But why does the one who believes the gospel ‘have’ the things this message promises? It is, Luther taught, because of an ontological mutuality of the soul and the word: the moral contents of the addresses to which one attends determine the moral quality of his/her soul. The one who believes the gospel is just so righteous, and so on, because the word of the gospel ‘has all good things for its content’; and because ‘the soul of the one who clings to the word in true faith is so entirely united with it that all the virtues of the word become virtues of the soul also.’18 Luther is here drawing on a revision – or perversion – of Aristotle that he had made early in the development of his thinking. Aristotle, followed in this by many mediaevals, had observed that there is nothing to the intellectual soul but on the one hand a sheer potentiality of apprehending, and on the other hand whatever is apprehended. In Luther’s own formulation of the Aristotelian principle, ‘So the objects [of minds] are the being and act of minds, without which they would be nothing, just as matter without forms would be nothing.’19 Then the switch – a switch that in fact undoes the primal experience of Greek philosophy.20 For Aristotle, the paradigm mode of apperception was seeing, so that in Aristotle’s doctrine the mind becomes what it stares at. The mind is something like a great eye, and what captivates and fills it are the phenomena, the ‘things that appear’. For Luther the paradigm mode of apperception was instead hearing, since we are both created and saved by God’s speech to us: we are called into being by God’s command – ‘Let there be . . .’ – and the gospel is a verbal message.21 Thus for Luther the soul is a great ear, and what captivates and fills it is that which is addressed to it. In switching from seeing to hearing as the paradigm of apperception, Luther replaces a merely cognitive relation of the soul to its objects with a moral relation. As has regularly been noted, the objects of hearing are extended in time, as the objects of sight are in space. Thus to hear the world is to apprehend it in its

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temporality. And if the doctrine of creation is true, to apprehend the world in its temporality is to apprehend it teleologically. To hear the world is to perceive it morally, in its adaptation to God’s good purpose. Thus Luther’s remarkable parody of Aristotle’s metaphysics of apperception: morally and spiritually we are what we hearken to. ‘Do not be surprised when I say we become the Word. The philosophers too say that the intellect, through the act of knowing, is the known object, and that sensuality, through the act of sensual perception, is the sensed object. How much more must this hold of the spirit of the Word?’22 We are the ‘good things’ promised by the gospel just in that we steadfastly hear of them; they enter us with the message on which we are intent. When Luther wanted to talk with ‘the philosophers’, and perhaps in the above fashion recruit them for points they would never have tolerated, he simply did it, without much reflection on the nature of such proceedings. But those who came after were not so uninhibited, and in trying both to formulate Lutheran conviction and be good philosophical citizens Luther’s followers – as already noted – quickly ran into trouble. It was a particularly decisive clash of Lutheran faith with standard logical/ ontological doctrines which at the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries made some Lutheran thinkers methodologically aware of their situation. A few professors of philosophy at Lutheran universities were driven to analyse and then revise the metaphysical presuppositions of the traditional logic. The problem emerged during Lutheran–Reformed controversy about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It has always been a question: How is it that the risen human Christ so transcends divisions of space, that he can be bodily present both in heaven23 and on the eucharistic altar, and indeed on many altars at once? Led by a group of younger followers of Luther,24 Lutheran theologians came to hold that the possibility of Christ’s Eucharistic real presence must lie in Christology itself – and not in ecclesiology as in Catholic theology,25 or in anthropology as in Reformed theology.26 And a traditional theological topos lay ready to hand for the purpose: the ‘communication of attributes’.27 From the beginning Christians have attributed divine characters to the man Jesus and human characters to God the Son; most primally ‘Jesus saves’ and ‘God the Son died for us.’ Thus attributes or acts belonging to either nature are said to be ‘communicated’ to the other. To account for the eucharistic presence of Christ’s body, the Lutherans developed a radical version of this doctrine,28 which culminated in the teaching that Christ exercises the powers of his divine nature precisely in and through his human nature and not otherwise. Christ, as a specific fully human person, shares – among other divine characteristics – God’s ubiquity,29 and, therefore, can be present when, where and how he says he will be.

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But what sense can that make? The rest of the Christian world was unanimous that it makes no sense. On the one hand, the attribute of omnipresence surely – the critics said – belongs to the divine substance, and on the other hand all created substances are by their essence restricted to one place at a time. Thus, by all logics accepted at the time, a ‘communication’ of omnipresence from God to a creature could only undo it. To which the revisionary Aristoteleans earlier mentioned, notably Balthasar Meisner and Jacob Martini,30 in effect responded, ‘So much the worse for the accepted logics and their metaphysical presuppositions.’ I cannot expound here the elaborated distinctions and daring ontological posits developed by Meiser, Martini and their allies. It must suffice to note that they criticized the notions of substantiality and accidentality, to deprive them of their ontological hegemony. They denied the identity of substance and essence, so that a substance’s integrity sheerly as substance, as the possible denotation of the subject term of true propositions, need not be undone by the suppression of an essential property or the intrusion of an antithetical property – thus ‘The man Jesus is ubiquitous’ need not be an oxymoron. They posited more ways of being than substance and accident: why should sharing itself not be a mode of being, the mode of the one person of the incarnate Christ? The theological payoff: the embodied human person Jesus could, if God so chose, accommodate a divine attribute without ceasing to be human. In the more general controversy the Lutherans espoused a fateful maxim, finitum capax infiniti, ‘the finite can accommodate the infinite’, thus the finite creature Jesus can accommodate the infinite God and his attributes. We shall return to this. The military counter-reformation ended this project by scattering the Lutheran university faculties. In general, the devastation of the 30-years wars created a century-long hiatus in Germany’s cultural and intellectual life. Moreover, the great Enlightenment originated in Reformed Britain and came late to Germany. We must, however, mention one thinker from the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, antecedent to the general revival of German thought31: Gottfried Leibniz,32 yet another cradle Lutheran. The goals of this polymath and the influences on him were many; only one aspect of his work concerns us here. The fundamental realities of his metaphysical vision, the famous monads, are immaterial simples not subject to the modes of interaction that govern the world of masses in motion and collision.33 The monads’ coherence with one another, and so the coherence of the experienced world they underlie, is not maintained by causal relations but is rather a ‘pre-established harmony’ – note the aesthetic or moral language – ordained by providence. This vision of

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a hidden and fundamental harmony, not bound to the rules governing the ‘substances’ of experience, is designed to accommodate whatever events providence has envisioned, including the ubiquity of a particular human person. German intellectual culture revived late in the eighteenth century. The two great figures of the turn of the centuries, Kant and Schleiermacher, we considered in the previous section. We come to the immediately succeeding time of German idealism, and to the textbooks’ succession of greats, Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Schelling and Georg F. W. Hegel, every one a Lutheran of a sort. We are not here concerned with the at first glance paradoxical derivation of a grandiose idealism from Kant’s philosophical asceticism. Nor need we trace the movement’s inner development. The point to be made here can be quickly stated. German idealism’s inner secret34 is that it made what Lutheran Christology said of Christ’s humanity, that this finite creature can accommodate divine infinity, into a general metaphysic. Finitum capax infiniti had been a truth about Christ; German idealism made it a truth about being. It was Hegel who exploited the finitum capax infiniti most fruitfully – or disastrously, depending on viewpoint. According to Hegel, infinite mind achieves itself as truly infinite in that it accommodates its possible limiting other, the finite, within itself. And this happens in that – the other way around – finite minds accommodate the infinite whenever they truly apprehend reality,35 thereby accomplishing through history a sort of universal incarnation. Now – is this the fulfillment of Lutheran thinking, its final reduction to absurdity, or merely an abuse? Between them, Schleiermacher and Hegel launched the surprising renaissance of theology through the nineteenth century.36 I will mostly skip over this splendid efflorescence; an attempt to deal with it here would become a recital. But I will allow myself to mention one thinker who has been important for my own thinking, August Dorner.37 Dorner reversed the process by which Lutheran Christology fostered idealist metaphysics, and used idealist metaphysics further to develop the Lutheran Christology from which they sprang. And then I will make yet another and final chronological skip, to a movement of the twentieth-century’s second half. Students of Rudolf Bultmann, most notably Gerhard Ebeling,38 again derived an ontology from Lutheran theology, but from a different motif than the one that underlies idealism. Luther, as we noted, attributed transformative power to the word, specifically to the church’s gospel: the word of Christ not only tells of him, it makes him live in us. For Lutheranism, the Augustinian characterization of sacraments, as ‘visible words’ works also the other way: the gospel is an audible sacrament. From this understanding of the word, Ebeling and others developed a general concept of the ‘word-event’. In the one direction, every utterance is said to be

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an event, something that takes place and makes a difference in the world – just as a trainwreck or a kiss makes a difference. In the other direction every event says something, it occurs within and modifies a web of language without which it would not be the event it is. Thus they created an ontological vision that construes reality as constituted in active addresses, between God and us and then among us.

Section IV It is time for me to address my own position. The notion that philosophy and theology are two different disciplines rests, it seems to me, on little more than a confusion of labels.39 For Plato, Aristotle and the rest of that wonderful crew, all intellectual labour made one continuous effort; and one who pursued it was a philosophos, a lover of wisdom. Within the structure of such thinking, the crown and goal was exactly what Christianity would eventually come to call ‘theology’, discourse about theos. Thus Justin the Martyr,40 a founder of the first identifiable school of Christian theology, had no other label for himself than ‘philosopher’. There was of course a difference between ‘the Greeks’ and the Christian thinkers, but it was straightforward: Plato and Aristotle discoursed of the deity revealed to Homer, the tragedians and Parmenides; Justin and his like discoursed of the God revealed in Israel’s Christ. We will no doubt go on speaking of ‘philosophy and theology’ – persuading the academic world to give this up is too much to hope for. But Lutherans should learn from their history that the phrase does not in fact name two disciplines, but rather maps one aspect of the church’s intellectual history. The church is the community of a message that she thinks is universally important. Therefore the church is by her very nature in continuous mission: for her the grass is always greener on the other side of some cultural or historical fence. And when she jumps some new fence, she enters a territory that already has gods and moral mandates and corresponding theology. Both common humanity and the need to make the church’s message intelligible dictate conversation, a la Luke’s story of Paul in Athens.41 When the initial mission, in its westward branch, entered the fully Hellenistic world42 of the Asia-Minor littoral, or of Macedonia or Greece or Egypt, the antecedent theology she encountered and fatefully engaged happened to call itself ‘philosophy’. Thus was born a conversation inherent in Western theology, that continues to this day – if increasingly those who call themselves ‘philosophers’ are not the most serious partners. It is a discourse between two theologies, for as Pascal notoriously remarked, also in modernity the God of Aristotle and Plato is another than the God of Abraham.

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1 2

3 4 5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

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And in the following I will limit myself to Germany, since until recently Lutheranism in Scandinavia or America has been fed from there. Melanchthon was Luther’s closest collaborator, and in his own right a notable humanist, born indeed into the movement’s lineage – his education was supervised by no less a celebrity than Johannes Reuchlin, his great-uncle. Die Bekennnisschriften der evangelische-lutherischen Kirche, 3rd edn (1956) Göttingen, pp. 843–66. Thus the Formula, in a standard practice of the time, used substantia and essentia interchangeably. Flacius was an outlawed protester against the ‘interims’, supposedly temporary compromises by which the empire tried to pacify conquered and occupied Lutheran territories. He was also the pioneer of modern church history, with the work usually called the Magdeburg Centuries. Die Bekennnisschriften der evangelische-lutherischen Kirche, p. 862. Notions of inheritance will take us only so far. Die Bekennnisschriften der evangelische-lutherischen Kirche, p. 865. Borrowing P. F. Strawson’s term. His father and grandfather were Lutheran pastors. Ritschl packed everything into one work, Die christliche Lehre von der Rechtfertigung und Versöhnung (Bonn: 1870–1874). However much he often appeared to! In this country, the Moravians. I was once at a conference in Herrnhut itself, where the Brethren and the East German Lutherans together celebrated an anniversary of the Augsburg Confession. There is no proper translation for Schleiermacher’s Gefühl. It is ‘feeling’ only in the sense of ‘having a feeling’ for something. Which was not quite the put-down we may take it for; his point was simply that human reason will cater to anyone who offers a sufficient inducement. D. Martin Luthers Werke, Kritische Gesamtausgabe Weimar (1883 ff.) 7:24. Hereafter WA. WA. We should note parenthetically that Luther’s doctrine of ‘justification by faith alone’ is thus a contrary of the one popularly attributed to him, which in fact belongs to Melanchthon. According to Luther, when God judges that the believer is righteous sheerly as believer, this is a judgement of fact, not a judicial book-keeping entry. WA 20:26–7. To which for the present context see Heidegger, Einführung in die Metaphysik. The thought of Jean-Luc Marion, in his Dieu sans l’être, may be taken as a sort of epitome of what Luther did not think. WA 1:29. If indeed heaven is spatially related to earth, which the Lutherans would come to deny, thereby sealing their lack also of scientific respectability. Copernicus’ writings, banned by the Roman authorities, were first published in Lutheran Nürnberg under Melanchthon’s sponsorship. Who may be represented by the mature work of their leader, Johannes Brenz (1562) Von der Majestät unsers lieben Herrn und einigen Heilands Jesu Christi Tübingen.

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25 The reality of the bread and cup as the body of Christ is a unique act of God, not covered by other ordering of creation, which the church is authorized to invoke. 26 The bread and cup are symbols of Christ’s body, which the Spirit uses to create faith. And to faith distance is irrelevant; thus as we commune we are in the heavenly presence of Christ’s body. 27 Communicatio idiomatum. 28 The classic work is Martin Chemnitz (1570) De duabis naturis in Christo Jena. 29 Among other ‘attributes of majesty’. 30 For their work, see the ground breaking and exhausting book of Walter Sparn (1976) Wiederkehr der Metaphysik Stuttgart. 31 Indeed, Leibniz wrote in French. 32 To Leibniz as a Lutheran thinker, see Paul Hinlickly (2009) Paths not Taken: Fates of Theology from Luther through Leibniz Grand Rapids. 33 The likeness to subatomic particles under quantum conditions is tempting. 34 Which Ludwig Feuerbach reverse-engineered. 35 Whenever they succeed in sublating a Vorstellung in a Begriff. 36 Also in Britain – for example, Coleridge and his influence – and the United States – for example, transcendentalism. 37 Again I will adduce just one work: Entwicklungsgeschichte der Lehre von der Person Christi Berlin (1851–1853). 38 Yet again, one work: Gott und Wort Tübingen (1966). 39 Perhaps a rather primitive instance of Wittgenstein’s confusion of the intellect by language. 40 Who flourished around 150 AD, the first notable thinker among the school of ‘apologists’. 41 Acts 17.16–34. 42 To be sure, also the Jews of Palestine were already much Hellenized, but their great teachers were still the rabbis and the Scripture. Jesus and his disciples did not need to quote Plato.

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Chapter 4 Religion and Reason from a Reformed Perspective Paul Helm University of London Introduction It is possible discern three foci of the relation of reason to religion from a Reformed perspective; reason as reasoning, in the sense of the use of inductive and deductive logic applied to sets of religious sentences and their possible meanings; reason as a tool for providing some limited understanding of the divine mysteries, and in this sense the Reformed tradition sees itself as exemplifying the Augustinian ‘faith seeking understanding’ project ; and the place of reason in the articulation of theological method(s). In addition, the tradition sees a place for reason in religious epistemology, including natural theological approaches, though historically these issues have been addressed rather eclectically. Such positive relationships between reason and religion provide grounds to counter the common belief that due to the Reformed emphasis on the effects of sin on human nature the proper approach to theology is fideistic and paradoxical.

Reformed Distinctives The scope of Reformed theology covers not only the views of individual Reformers, such as John Calvin (1509–1564) or Peter Martyr Vermigli (1500– 1562) but also the confessional tradition, including, for example, the Helvetic Confessions, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Westminster Confession of Faith and Confessions deriving from it. It is customary to use the words ‘Calvinistic’ or ‘Reformed’ to connote a distinctive theological soteriology, though it needs to be borne in mind that the position of some of the original Reformers embraced an ecclesiology of a Presbyterian kind and a view of the magistrate as having a duty to uphold true religion. The recognition of such a duty has of course become largely outmoded with the growth of religious pluralism and toleration,

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and the separation of church and state. The term ‘Reformed’ is often used to embrace those theologians, such as Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) and Karl Barth (1886–1968) who lie within the tradition but who have, when measured against the historic Reformed confessions, proposed strongly revisionary theologies. This chapter is written from such an inclusive outlook. The Reformers saw themselves as building on the patristic and scholastic tradition, though sharply critical of the doctrinal and ethical failures of late medievalism. They eschewed sectarianism, and regarded their outlook as both ‘catholic’ and ‘Reformed’. Yet some at least of the distinctive theological positions of the Reformed tradition may initially seem to militate against an active engagement between religion and reason, notably the central position given to Scripture, its necessity, sufficiency and its perspicuity, and the Reformers’ Augustinian emphasis on the servitude of all aspects of the human mind to sin. For these positions might suggest a fideistic approach to the faith. It is true that some thinkers within the Reformed tradition, figures as different as Pierre Bayle and Karl Barth, have been attracted to fideism, Bayle for epistemological reasons and Barth because of the implications of his exclusively Christocentric theological method. Nevertheless the mainstream of confessional Reformed orthodoxy has upheld a positive, though often modest, relationship between faith and reason.

Nature and Grace There are at least two reasons for this positive approach. One is that the tradition has by and large seen itself as operating within the scheme of nature and grace first articulated by Augustine. This has consequences for anthropology. For while the Fall has had serious effects upon humankind, the race has not been utterly de-humanized as a consequence. All essential human faculties remain in operation, even though all malfunction through sin. So that ‘nature’, thought of not in purely secular terms but as what remains of the original created endowment, retains its own integrity, even though it has become ‘disordered’. This is also seen in the emphasis given to both natural law and to natural religion, and to the various expressions of the sensus divinitatis, the innate sense of God and of religion, that fallen human beings, created in the image of God, retain. The sensus finds expression not only in the persistence of religion (in many and competing forms) in a narrow sense, but also in human beings’ possession of a moral sense, and in the pursuit of human culture more generally. Seen from one theological perspective, these persisting powers are the effect of divine restraint, of God’s general beneficence. But for such restraint, matters would be much worse than they are. From another perspective, the powers and gifts that result from such divine goodness give rise to families, clans and civil

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society, and to the development of law, philosophy, science and medicine, and so forth. The divine goodness is also seen in the products of particularly gifted human beings, from whose creativity and ingenuity society at large benefits. Such gifts, given to those who may be in other respects hostile to God, have yielded tools and institutions that Christians as well as their non-Christian fellows are able to utilize. So while John Calvin, for example, could be scathing about the teaching of pagan ethics, he could also write in glowing terms of pagan achievements, and he was not slow to utilize philosophy, albeit in an eclectic way, just as he seems to have had an unbounded admiration for astronomy. These features remind us that Calvin was a humanist, with ambitions to excel in that culture, before he was converted. His first published work was an elaborate Commentary on Seneca’s De Clementia. Such learning, as well as a brilliantly retentive mind, and a clear rhetorical style, never left him, though they became subordinated to his ambitions as a Reformer. Except for their moral philosophy he also retained an admiration for the learning and expertise of the classical world, as in this fine statement. Whenever we come upon these matters in secular writers, let that admirable light of truth shining in them teach us that the mind of man, though fallen and perverted from its wholeness, is nevertheless clothed and ornamented with God’s excellent gifts. If we regard the Spirit of God as the sole fountain of truth, we shall neither reject the truth itself, nor despise it wherever it shall appear, unless we wish to dishonour the Spirit of God. For by holding the gifts of the Spirit in slight esteem, we contemn and reproach the Spirit himself. What then? Shall we deny that the truth shone upon the ancient jurists who established civic order and discipline with such great equity? Shall we say that the philosophers were blind in their fine observation and artful description of nature? Shall we say that those men were devoid of understanding who conceived the art of disputation and taught us to speak reasonably? Shall we say that they are insane who developed medicine, devoting their labour to our benefit? What shall we say of all the mathematical sciences? Shall we consider them the ravings of madmen? No, we cannot read the writings of the ancients on these subjects without great admiration. We marvel at them because we are compelled to recognize how pre-eminent they are. But shall we count anything praiseworthy or noble without recognizing at the same time that it comes from God?1 Faith Seeking Understanding The theological stance of the early Reformers was broadly that of faith seeking understanding, an emphasis appropriated naturally enough from Augustine,

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their chief theological mentor. At the most basic level this is signalled by the expository and polemical stance of the Reformers. They sought to establish and defend their various theological positions by Scripture, but also (where they judged it appropriate), by reason and common sense, as well making an appeal to the catholic consensus. When the apparatus provided by modern translations of the Institutes of the Christian Religion is ignored, that great work can be seen as a series of elaborate doctrinal disputations. Calvin also occasionally appealed to common sense. For example, he thought that it was impossible to believe in transubstantiation once it is believed that Christ had a normal human body. The Reformed thinkers drew out the teaching of Scripture both inductively, in assembling the results of exegesis topic by topic, but also deductively, as they drew implications from Scripture utilizing language and concepts that were not to be found on its surface. It is not the very words of Scripture alone that is the bearer of revealed truth, but also what its words mean, in faithful translation and in doctrinal elaboration against opponents. The meaning of Scripture is Scripture. Logical consistency had a central place: the Reformed argued that the presence of a clear self-contradiction in a doctrine or set of doctrines was fatal to their integrity. A doctrine is established in the first instance from its consistency with Scripture and in its organic relation to other doctrines. So the Reformed eschewed any appeal to paradox in order to overcome looming problems of inconsistency so they were not biblicistic in a narrow sense, as is also shown by the fact that they took over standard theological positions, for example, on divine simplicity, the Trinity, creatio ex nihilo, and an orthodox view of the person of Christ, articulating them using Patristic and medieval authorities to do so. They were emphatic on the need to use non-biblical language to explicate the faith against objections, and in this sense reason and reasoning was intrinsic to their fundamental theological approach. This left them open to the familiar charge that they were permitting alien philosophy to corrupt the pure biblical witness. They offered vehement rebuttals to this charge, arguing that Scripture provides abundant precedent for reasoning even as it denied that human reason is supreme. Having said all this, it must be remembered that at the onset of the Reformation, theologians in general did not have the leisure or other resources to reflect at length and in self-conscious ways about the relation of the use of faith in the articulation of reason. Their adherence to the faith seeking understanding outlook did not, however, extend to the lengths of Anselm himself. For example, they did not, with him, argue for a view of the atonement on a priori grounds, remoto Christo, or for such a view of any other Christian doctrine. Nevertheless they certainly appropriated the fruits of such activity, among which was an adherence to a broadly Anselmian view of the atonement. They regarded such a priori reasoning, even

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when it started from premises that were drawn from some of the data of special revelation, as Anselm’s did, as unnecessary, and as verging on the speculative, and therefore as dangerous. Further, they characteristically saw part of the theological task as preserving the mysteries of the faith, and so did not use reason to attempt to eliminate or to reconstruct them. But reason may be used to elucidate them where possible, by answering objections and probing the limits of understanding granted by Scripture, and in so doing they by and large avoided speculation and rationalism, at least in intention. They had a strong sense of the Creator–creature distinction, and thus of divine transcendence, and consequently emphasized divine incomprehensibility and ineffability, though not going so far as being decidedly apophatic in their attitude to thinking about the Triune God. While taking the Bible seriously as the prime theological resource, they recognized that it contained a variety of types of language. Calvin himself gave great emphasis to the idea of divine accommodation, God’s condescension to us in revealing himself in anthropomorphic and anthropopathic ways; as having a body, and passions, and who changes from time to time. But at the same time they upheld the necessity of Scripture for doctrinal purposes; it was not to be read simply as a set of parables, or as the religious expressions of an ancient people, or moralistically. This distinctive emphasis on accommodation mutated later on into a more familiar recognition of the presence of analogy and metaphor in Scripture, as well as the presence of various other rhetorical devices. So it is an oversimplification to see the Reformed tradition as being exclusively literalistic in the interpretation of Scripture, except when that word is understood as a reference to the biblical authors’ intentions, and used as a hermeneutical rule. The limits that Reformed theologians’ place on reason in theological enquiry is seen in the restricted use that they made of reason as the sole tool in theological enquiry, as in natural theology. There has been controversy over the character and the extent of the acceptance of natural theology in Reformed theology, some claiming that Calvin, for example, disavowed natural theology altogether. But it is safer to see his rather gnomic reference to the ‘common proofs’ in Book I of the Institutes as being an acceptance of some form of natural theology, but one that afforded it only a secondary place in theology. That such is likely to have been his attitude can be gathered from the way in which he argued for the central authority of Holy Scripture. He gives pride of place to the Holy Spirit’s agency in enlightening the heart and minds of the faithful to accept the evidence within the text of the Bible of its own distinctive, God-given message. Nevertheless Calvin devoted quite a lengthy discussion in the Institutes to what he refers to as the ‘external proofs’ of Holy Scripture, the various general indicia of Holy Scripture such as the dignity, simplicity and efficacy of Scripture,

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prophetic prediction and the harmony of its teaching. He sees a place for the presentation of such data, but a subordinate place. Such evidence was useful in the answering of objections to the character of Scripture and of its fittingness to be divine revelation. But these arguments, even when accumulated, could only provide us with opinions, never with knowledge. It is reasonable to suppose, then, that Calvin viewed natural theology in the same way. It was not an indispensable prolegomenon to establish the reasonableness of Christianity in the manner of some Enlightenment thinkers, but a way of meeting objections to the faith. Such arguments made ‘space’ for its presentation through preaching and teaching to proceed unhindered by serious obstacles arising from misunderstanding. The natural theological arguments utilized were usually versions of the cosmological argument, thought of as ways in which Paul’s assertion in Romans 1 that the human race recognizes God’s power and divinity through the creation, may be presented discursively. Much more recently the analytic philosophers Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff have developed what they call ‘Reformed’ epistemology. Finding a precedent in Calvin’s sensus divinitatis (and also in the epistemology of Thomas Reid), they argue that it is perfectly rational to hold to the existence of God as a basic belief, as a belief that is not derived from other beliefs. For the characteristic charge of the Enlightenment that to be reasonable a belief must be held by every rational man is pragmatically self-refuting, since at least one rational person may deny that criterion. A person may grow up with the belief that God exists, and it is perfectly rational for him to retain that belief so long as it is not defeated. So belief in God is rationally permitted, though not rationally required. ‘Reformed’ epistemology is not so much a philosophical influence on Reformed theology as a philosophical development of one of its characteristic tenets, the universal sensus divinitatis.

Philosophical Influences There has also been debate on the theological and especially on the philosophical influences upon the Reformers. It has to be remembered that the Reformation was not a revolution but a re-formation. Aspects of Christian teaching, and of the practices and government of the visible church, called for reformation by the word of God. So there was not a clean break with the Christian past. The Reformers sought to guard their flank against the Anabaptists as fiercely as they aimed to purge the church of the false doctrine, and an unbiblical view of church authority. The Patristic and mediaeval heritage was to be conserved where possible, including the influence on it of Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. This general attitude meant that often the philosophical influences on a thinker

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varied from person to person. Some, such as Calvin, are undoubtedly platonistically inclined, particularly in parts of his anthropology, though he occasionally complained against the excessive influence of the Platonists on Augustine. Other Reformers, such as Vermigli, were scholastically trained. So for example, in his anthropology he favoured hylomorphism rather than a Platonist dualism. He saw it just as appropriate to lecture on the Nicomachean Ethics as on the book of Daniel. What other influences were present? Duns Scotus? Certain commentators have seen Scotist influences, but Calvin rarely if ever cites him, and a better case can be made for the influence of Aquinas, though he rarely cites him either. Stoic influence can certainly be identified in some of the arguments he offers in his thought on providence, using arguments against a ‘Lazy Argument’ that might be posed against universal providence, in the same way that the Stoics argued against it in defence of their fatalism. Nevertheless, Calvin strongly disavows the idea that divine providence is a kind of ‘Stoic fate’. This rather eclectic approach to philosophical authorities carries over to the long period of Reformed Orthodoxy, stretching from the death of Calvin into the eighteenth century. It has been fashionable to pit Calvin against ‘the Calvinists’, arguing that Calvin’s warm, biblical, humanist-influence theology degenerated, largely through the influence of his successor Theodore Beza (1519–1605) into ‘scholasticism’, a ‘rationalism’ that expressed itself, for example, in the deduction of the entire body of Christian theology from the doctrine of the divine decree. But it is now clear that this is an exaggerated and an inaccurate contrast, with no sure foundation. For one thing, Calvin is now seen as himself being the product of late mediaevalism, prepared equally to employ scholastic distinctions when it suited him to do so, or to disavow them when not. For another, ‘scholasticism’ is now recognized as simply a label for a method of argumentation and as such it is theologically neutral. Once the Reformed movement became established as churches in their own right, the need to fortify the ministry theologically against the twin enemies of the time, the Jesuits and the Socinians, became paramount. Scholastic theological methods became the vehicle through which the faith was elaborated, and a strong analytic temper was cultivated, in which careful distinctions which the polemical and pastoral contexts called for were made. Occasionally Reformed theologians can be found who adopted some of the tenets of Descartes, but these remained a minority. Later on, the influence of Scottish Common Sense Realism is evident. The achievements of the New England theologian Jonathan Edwards (1703– 1758) deserve special mention. He exuded a confidence in reason that characterized the Enlightenment, and was greatly influenced by some of the singular figures of the Age of Reason, such as Newton and Locke. Yet he used these resources for what were, by and large, conservative ends. He had confidence

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in the place of reason in apologetics in helping to turn the tide of the influence of his bête noire, deism. He utilized Locke in developing a compatibilist understanding of human action in the interest of protecting and heightening an awareness of divine sovereignty, as well as in speculations on personal identity, in his defence of doctrine of original sin, and even, in his youth, on reflections on the Trinity. He espoused a type of occasionalism, in which God ‘upholds’ the universe by creating it anew every instant. It has been argued that this view yielded panentheism. For all this, he remained conservative in Reformed theology, using his gifts to offer support to the Puritan and Reformed Orthodox theology that he inherited and loved, while largely abandoning its scholastic framework. In a parallel way he appealed to the practical divinity of his Puritan and New England forbears to defend the place of ‘the affections’ in religion against the charge of ‘enthusiasm’.

Theological Method Another of the ways in which reason, in the broadest sense, was utilized, was in reflecting on appropriate methods in which to investigate and present the faith systematically. Here there is more of a marked contrast between Calvin and the later Calvinists, though less so in the case of more scholastically-trained contemporaries of Calvin such as Vermigli and his fellow Italian, Jerome Zanchius (1516–1590). By and large this difference is not theological, however. Calvin closely followed Augustine, who in turn picked up the prominent pagan theme, ‘know thyself’, and saw the Christian religion as propounding the true way to know God and to know ourselves. Calvin not only announced the reciprocity of the knowledge of God and of ourselves in the first few sentences of the Institutes, but it was developed by him as a major, recurring theme in at least the first three books of that work, his magnum opus. The Delphic ‘know thyself’ can only find fulfilment in the true knowledge of God; and the knowledge of God requires the knowledge of oneself, and vice versa. Calvin’s emphasis at this point was on theology as sapientia rather than on scientia, but the difference for him at least is no more than one of emphasis. The pursuit of sapientia did not mean the adoption of a limited, rather pragmatically tempered theology, but as is well-known he relentlessly pursued what he regarded as theological exactness and fullness with a fervour that was undiminished at his death. Yet such theology (Calvin disliked the word) was not an end in itself, but was for the benefit of building up true religion, the binding of oneself to Almighty God through union with Christ. Alongside Calvin, in the case of writers such as Zanchius, and many after him, theologians adopted a more topical approach to theology, perhaps an

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approach that was dictated by the need to set off the Reformed views against a variety of Jesuit and Socinian positions across the theological spectrum, and to fulfil the demands of a fully developed theological curriculum. It became imperative to take Reformed Christian theology topic by topic, to say what each implied and what it did not, and to give reasons and authorities for the various positions taken. In pursuing this method there is a gain in intensity and the achievement of a certain kind of thoroughness, but there is also some loss when compared with Calvin’s more organic approach. For example, by this approach Calvin was able to show the distinctness and yet inseparability of justification and sanctification through his masterly device of Christ’s twofold gift both to the church and to each believer. However, once the topic of justification came to be treated physically distinctly from that of sanctification, as two distinct loci, though the theologian may insist that the two gifts are inseparable, nonetheless their separate treatments as two topics tend to lead the mind in the opposite direction, to regard them as separable. So there are gains and losses with each type of method, but each is nonetheless recognized as a creation and a fruit of the theologian’s reason. Interestingly, the theologians of Reformed orthodoxy did not hesitate to add to their tools many of the writings of those Roman Catholic theologians of the Counter-Reformation, such as the Dominican Diego Alvarez (d.1635), who proved to be allies in their opposition to the synergism and Molinism of the Jesuits. On occasion, in the course of the development of Reformed theology, a historical, developmental approach to theology has vied with a summative, systematic approach. So in the early centuries, especially in Holland and Scotland, some tension developed between the practitioners of what has come to be called ‘covenant theology’ and those of a more scholastic, systematic outlook. Through writers such as Johannes Cocceius (1603–1669) and Robert Rollock (1553–1599), covenant theology emphasized the historical development of God’s redemptive purpose through the several covenantal epochs, culminating in the new covenant in Jesus Christ. It gave primacy to the biblical narrative, and the basic biblical notions of promise and fulfilment. By contrast, the scholastic outlook in its fully developed form, typified by theologians such as Gijsbert Voetius (1588–1676) and Francis Turretin (1623–1687), but practised by many others, utilized an eclectic mix of theological and philosophical influences, and gave prominence to consistency and the organic interconnection in theology, with a strong polemical tone. Theologians such as Herman Witsius (1636–1707) managed to combine elements of each, placing the biblical narratives within a systematic, creedal setting. In current theology, advocates of narrative, theodramatic theologies, and those undertaking more conventional systematic work, continue to represent these two distinct outlooks.

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Theological method under the broadly Reformed umbrella was fundamentally affected wherever the Reformed community accepted Immanuel Kant’s theological agnosticism. ‘Religion’ came to connote not the binding of the self to God as he has revealed himself, but the response to deeply held human feelings or values. So Friedrich Schleiermacher, working under these assumptions, articulated a theology that pivoted on the feeling of absolute dependence, a theology of religious sentiment. In doing so he moved away from confessional orthodoxy that was predicated on the idea of divinely revealed truth about God as disclosed in Scripture. Sometimes the attempt is made to equate the classical Christian theological distinction between God as he is in himself and God as he is revealed to us, the immanent and the economic, to the Kantian noumenon–phenomenon distinction. But this fails, because God as he is in himself cannot be equated with an unknowable thing in itself, the Kantian noumenon. According to Reformed theology the God who is known in his fullness only to himself has made himself known to us partially, yet truly and sufficiently, in Holy Scripture, an act of condescension and grace culminating in the Incarnation of the Logos. Those who were opposed to such departures, and who held to confessional orthodoxy, are typified by the Princeton school of Archibald Alexander (1772– 1851), the Hodges and (into the twentieth century) B. B. Warfield (1851–1921). A parallel movement may be identified in Scotland, in the work of Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847) William Cunningham (1805–1861), and others. They each reproduced Reformed orthodoxy in rather changed circumstances, in conscious opposition to Schleiermacher, and often utilizing Reidian common sense realism as a philosophical vehicle for their theology. Currently, it is routinely claimed that Charles Hodge, in particular, exhibited Enlightenment ideals in the prominence he gave to inductive reasoning. But this charge neglects his emphasis on the noetic effects of sin. Inductive reasoning was simply Hodge’s way of doing justice to the a posteriori character of Christian theology, drawing its doctrine(s) from the data of Scripture. The twentieth-century Reformed theologian Karl Barth also worked in the Kant-influenced intellectual tradition, though the character and extent of that influence upon him is debated. Significantly, he sees dogmatics as ‘church dogmatics’, charged with the task of elucidating and drawing out the faith of the Christian community. His theology is certainly offered as an alternative both to the nature-grace picture of Augustine and to moralistic religion which he believed had, by the nineteenth century, become corrupted into a docile liberalism. A metaphysic of substance is largely rejected in favour of one of event. His theology, articulated at great length in the Church Dogmatics, amounts to a sustained and innovative revision of the Reformed Confessional tradition. While Barth’s output is a remarkable intellectual achievement, it takes the categories and language of confessional Reformed theology, such as revelation and

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election, and especially the Incarnate Logos, in new directions. The basic theological project is to expunge from Christian theology what Barth regards as the alien influences of natural law and natural theology and of ‘religion’ and ‘God’ in general, and to offer instead the person of the incarnate Christ, both as this is regarded before the incarnation and at the incarnation, as the one controlling, consistently Christian, theological motif.

Reformed Theology and General Culture We have already noted the strong, positive, even admiring estimate of the first Reformed theologians of aspects of ancient culture, and their eclectic use of it. Nevertheless, there is some overall ambivalence, or tension. This is due to their general commitment to a two-kingdoms doctrine, similar in certain respects to that of Luther, and having roots in the two-cities outlook of Augustine. The Christian is a member of the kingdom of God, in the coming of which his hopes will find their lasting fulfilment. But he also lives in the day-to-day world of human business and culture, and must contribute to it. This idea of two kingdoms, though prevalent during the first three centuries of Reformed theology, underwent modifications in the light of successive political environments, from Calvin’s view of the magistrate as a minister of God and an upholder of the true religion, to the separation of the church and state embedded in the American Constitution, and then to modern social pluralism. But what is common to all phases of these changes is the legitimacy of Christians acting in society in work, in the professions, in the arts, in government and so on, and employing their God-given powers to do so. And what lies behind the legitimacy of culture, or is intertwined with it, is the idea of natural law, which is understood not as secular law, but as law endowed by the Creator, but spoiled (yet not obliterated) through the Fall. The tension arises through the presence of a conflict of loyalties to the heavenly and the earthly. Here there has in fact been a spectrum of attitudes to this tension, from those who stress the importance for the Christian to be involved in culture and politics and social action (and who regard this involvement as characteristically Calvinian), to those who distance themselves from such ‘worldliness’ and the compromises that it may inevitably bring. A significant modification to this view of culture as being an activity of the ‘earthly kingdom’ occurred in the thought of the Dutch theologian and statesman Abraham Kuyper (1837–1920). He introduced the idea of a Christian ‘cultural mandate’ which was to work in antithesis to the God-denying cultures of the modern world and to further the development a Christian world and life view. Yet Kuyper’s thought was on something of a knife-edge. For while,

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in his distinction between church and kingdom, he retained elements of the two-kingdoms position, the idea of a Christian cultural mandate in all spheres of life came to supplant the two-kingdoms idea and has transformed the idea of natural law into that of a number of cultural spheres, from mathematics to art, each retaining their own integrity in a kind of hierarchy, and each capable of distinctive Christian expression. In the development of Kuyper’s views the ideas of the church and the culture as existing side by side are supplanted by the distinction between church and kingdom, the latter being the locus of Christian culture. The exclusively spiritual character of the Church, and the operation of natural law in society more generally, have at best been skewed, at worst they have been lost from view. Yet paradoxically something akin to natural law find(s) a point of re-entry through the prominent Kuyperian idea of common grace. For despite the principled antithesis between regenerate and unregenerate communities that Kuyper insists upon, God in his goodness restrains evil and provides for areas of common endeavour between the Christian and his non-Christian neighbour. So the commonality provided by earlier ideas of natural law, ushered out of the back door, re-enters in a rather different form at the front door under the guise of ‘common grace’. We can, at the very least, make this generalization: that those who form the Kuyperian legacy have not developed their ideas in conscious opposition to, or qualification of, the two kingdoms/natural law position. Yet they have either been in total unawareness of it, or have had an understanding of it that is somewhat off-centre. This misunderstanding has taken the form of frequent warnings against the nature–grace ‘dichotomy’ or ‘dualism’, according to which ‘pure nature’ is the intact human state unaffected by the Fall, except for the loss of the donum superadditum. This view is in fact the brainchild of various Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation theologians. In rejecting it, and condemning it as Pelagian in contrast to the Augustinianism of the Reformation, the Reformed theologians who did so also mistakenly turned their backs on the entire mediaeval tradition.2 For the retention of ‘pure nature’ was most certainly not Thomas Aquinas’s estimate of the effect of the Fall on human nature, for example, yet it came to be regarded by Reformed thinkers such as Kuyper and Herman Bavinck as the standard, unchanging Roman view. In certain quarters in the twentiethcentury the distinctive Kuyperian view of human culture has been reinforced by a generalized dismissal of natural law and natural theology, which may owe as much to the pervasive influence of Karl Barth as to the persisting effects of Kuyper’s teaching. Natural theology and natural law came to be regarded as ‘not Reformed’ which was unfortunate given the positive engagement with these ideas on the part of Reformed theologians of previous eras.

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1 Institutes of the Christian Religion (1559), ed. John T. McNeill (1960), trans. F. L. Battles London: S.C.M. Press, II.2.15. The sections Inst. II.2.12–16 are devoted to this theme. 2 See Paul Helm (2010) Calvin at the Centre, Oxford: Oxford University Press, chapter 10.

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Chapter 5 Reason and Philosophy in the Anglican Tradition Paul Avis University of Exeter Over the centuries, Anglican theologians often sang the praises of reason. In their writings they extol reason as a divine endowment bestowed upon humankind in creation, an endowment that belongs to the image of God in the human person. They exult in the power of reason to set forth truth, to settle arguments and to probe mysteries. But they do not forget that reason is ‘fallen’ and corrupted, finite and limited. It is not an individualistic, hubristic reason that Anglican theologians celebrate in their writings, but a devout, prayerful exercise of God-given faculties, held within the tradition and community of the Church. In so doing, they draw freely and intentionally on the resources of the European philosophical tradition, whether Aristotelian or Platonist, or some eclectic combination of the two.1 Richard Hooker (d.1600) is the paradigm of Anglican chastened hospitality to reason, a scholar who, when it came to theology or philosophy, did not see the recent Reformation as any kind of impassable frontier, but drew on mediaeval law and scholastic philosophy, as well as being influenced by Reformers such as John Calvin, and was particularly indebted to St Thomas Aquinas.2 At one extreme, for Hooker, reason has the comparatively humble function of providing guidance in what he called ‘vain and childish trifles’, concerned with religious ceremonies and even church government. It is beneath the dignity of Holy Scripture to pronounce upon such matters; they are not given in biblical revelation, which is concerned with the momentous question of salvation (I, p. 275). At the other extreme, for Hooker, reason can soar heavenwards and contemplate the mind of God as that is reflected in the created universe, ruled as it is by natural law. However, it is vital to note that Hooker’s ‘theological reason’ represents not so much the pretensions of the individual ego, distorted by hurts and hungers, prejudice and ignorance, but the ‘true, sound divine reason’ of the Church collectively and through the ages, as it is illuminated by the Spirit of God and enabled humbly to discern the Scriptures (III, p. 594).

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Hooker is endorsed by the seventeenth-century divines. For John Hales of Eton reason is ‘so goodly a piece of the Lord’s pasture . . . which he hath endued us with in the day of our creation’.3 The divine origin of reason is nowhere as eloquently proclaimed as in the writings of the seventeenth-century Cambridge Platonists. For Benjamin Whichcote reason is ‘the candle of the Lord’, a divine spark gracing the mind with heavenly light. For Henry More, reason is the image of the divine Logos: ‘the true light which lighteth every man’ (cf. John 1.9). Reason is the human characteristic par excellence for these Cambridge divines; their conception of reason is profoundly humane. Reason is ‘proper and peculiar to man’, insisted Whichcote. It is ‘the best instrument we have to work withal’ and we are commissioned to put it to work in every department of life, not excluding that of faith. ‘A man’s reason is nowhere so much satisfied as in matters of faith,’ ventured Whichcote. ‘Nothing against reason is to be believed’ because ‘that is not revealed which is not made intelligible’.4 R. W. Inge defined the method of the Cambridge Platonists as ‘an appeal to the inner experience of the whole man acting in harmony’.5 McAdoo picks up this point when he suggests that the Cambridge Platonists’ notion of reason is characterized by harmony, all-pervasiveness and intermediate agency.6 Gilbert Burnet, also in the liberal Anglican tradition says in his Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, that reason ‘is God’s image in us’.7 For the Anglicanism of the post-Reformation Church of England, then, reason, in conjunction with Scripture and tradition (or ‘antiquity’, the early or ‘primitive’ Church), was a trusty guide, a light to our path and a weapon that God had put into our hands. Anglican divines had confidence in reason and continued to be adept in the resources of mediaeval and particularly Thomistic philosophy (Robert Sanderson being another outstanding example).8 In controversy, against Roman Catholics, Puritans and sectarians, reason was brought into commission. It had its armoury of sound learning, marshalled for rapid deployment, incisive arguments at its finger-tips, and intimations of mysteries beyond our ken. To pick up a phrase of a twentiethcentury exponent of this tradition, working in The Episcopal Church of the USA, J. V. Langmead Casserley, ‘graceful reason’ was the handmaid of Christian theology, capable of being infused with God’s Spirit and employed in the service of divine truth. It rose to its full height in consecrated service to the truth of God.9 However, in eighteenth-century England, much Anglican theology became obsessed with the appeal to reason. Mark Pattison wrote a century later, ‘Throughout all discussions, underneath all controversies, and common to all parties, lies the assumption of the supremacy of reason in matters of religion.’10 Even devotional works, such as the anonymous The Whole Duty of Man and William Law’s A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, claimed that the

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Christian life was a life lived in conformity to reason and nature, which were seen as universal, uniform values.11 At the turn of the eighteenth century, the appeal to reason in Anglican theology often took the form of setting out ‘evidences for Christianity’, William Paley being the most notable exponent of this approach.12 To the Romantics of the early nineteenth century, whether the ‘liberal’ Anglican poet and philosophical theologian Samuel Taylor Coleridge (d.1834) or the staunchly conservative Tractarians John Keble (d.1866) and John Henry Newman (who became a Roman Catholic in 1845), evidence-mongering was a cold, detached and unconvincing apologia for Christian faith. Faith was akin to poetic feeling and was exercised by the whole person, thinking in a holistic way, intuitively. ‘Evidences of Christianity! I am weary of the Word’, protested Coleridge.13 Indebted as he was to German idealistic philosophy, especially to Kant and Schlegel, Coleridge charted a course for a rather adventurous philosophical theology, indulging (as Newman put it) in ‘a liberty of speculation which no Christian can tolerate’.14 His disciple Frederick Denison Maurice (d.1872) engaged with large swathes of the Western philosophical tradition in his major work Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy.15 In the first half of the twentieth century a succession of major Anglican thinkers gave the prestigious Gifford Lectures in which they deployed philosophical traditions and arguments with confidence and flair, including Bishop Charles Gore (d.1932), layman A. E. Taylor, Archbishop William Temple (d.1944) and Leonard Hodgson.16 The picture today in Anglican theology is a rather different one. We are rather shy of speaking of the role of reason in modern Anglican theology. Anyone promoting the dignity, power, scope and vocation of reason today in Anglican theological circles would find it difficult to be taken seriously. Their claims would be greeted with incomprehension tinged with amusement. To speak solemnly about the authority of scripture is acceptable, especially among Anglican Evangelicals. To speak deferentially about the authority of tradition is also respectable, especially among Anglican Catholics. But when it comes to reason, it is prudent to be somewhat reticent. It is not that there have not been modern Anglican scholars who have engaged with philosophy and have appealed to rational – as distinct from or alongside biblical or traditional − arguments. John Macquarrie, Richard Swinburne and Keith Ward are outstanding examples; however they are not representative of the mainstream of Anglican theology, but have ploughed their own furrows.17 What has happened to reason in Anglicanism? Since the Second World War reason has been in retreat in the Anglo-Saxon world. It is compromised on four counts, which give us the opportunity to discuss more discursively the role of reason and philosophy in Anglican thought.

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The first count on which reason has been compromised – one that remains highly topical − has to do with the prestige of science and the consequent disenfranchisement of theology and of philosophy (except in its analytical and positivistic form). Scepticism about the competence of reason to engage in metaphysical thinking has unnerved philosophical theology while giving a boost to forms of positivism that make the illusory claim to read off conclusions inductively from unproblematic empirical data. This is the common perception of the scientific enterprise in Anglo-Saxon culture – that scientists are the least speculative of people and that their work involves simply amassing data and arriving at explanations by induction. Those scientists who are the sworn foes of religious belief, such as Richard Dawkins, have a distorted view not only of Christian theology, but also of reason itself and its use in scientific method. The Anglican layman and Oxford philosopher of religion Basil Mitchell has been an unrepentant practitioner of reason in philosophical theology – a modest, chastened and workmanlike reason that eschews knock-down proofs and flights of speculation and attempts instead to establish limited objectives by detailed patient argument that has a cumulative and probabilistic effect. In his contribution ‘Reason Restored’ to the Festschrift for Mitchell, The Rationality of Religious Belief, another Oxford philosopher, J. R. Lucas, traces the failure of nerve on the part of philosophers and theologians to the eighteenth-century critical, sceptical philosophy of Hume and Kant. Hume rubbished reason. Kant’s critique did little to restore its standing in the eyes of philosophers, and in the subsequent two centuries academics and intellectuals of all sorts have had only a fragile faith in the power of reason to guide them into all truth, and many truths, especially those of religion and morality, have been relegated to the realm of feeling or fiat.18 However, as Lucas himself points out, there has been one massive exception to this failure of rational nerve – the scientific enterprise. Physical science presupposes the rationality and orderliness of the universe and also that there is a corresponding rationality in us. ‘If science is possible, Hume must be wrong.’ The arguments that Hume put forward for ruling out altogether reliable knowledge of unobserved entities or explanations of the universe as a whole, would rule out subatomic physics and cosmology. But, as it happens, Lucas writes, no failure of noetical nerve has prevented the scientists from speculating, conjecturing, and theorizing about the nature of things, and from advancing the boundaries of human knowledge with no more than a polite nod

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in the direction of philosophers’ fears that they might be outrunning the powers of reason and overreaching the bounds of possible experience.19 This sort of adventurous reason, evolving hypotheses under the pressure of unsolved problems, is only one aspect of scientific rationality. It belongs at the borders of knowledge, where, as Whitehead and Popper have shown, contrary to popular misconception, researchers need to devise brilliantly imaginative theories, the best that they can come up with, and put them to work to see whether they can make sense of perplexing data.20 Our creative, imaginative faculties are taxed to the limit in probing the unknown. Metaphor will be our language; symbols will be our currency. The deepest personal insight and commitment will be required in the task of construction. As Polanyi has argued, scientific understanding is a mode of ‘personal knowledge’ and points to a ‘post-critical’ (post-Humean, post-Kantian, post-positivist) ethos for science.21 But there is another, complementary side to scientific endeavour. Although scientific theories exhibit considerable tenacity – they are not lightly given up in the face of disconfirming evidence, any more than religious beliefs are renounced in the face of apparent evidence to the contrary, particularly evil and suffering – they are subject to constant criticism and refinement.22 Young researchers cut their teeth on the established positions of their elders. There is healthy rivalry to come up with exciting new findings that call accepted orthodoxies into question. Popper’s claim that it is not confirmation but refutation that is decisive in scientific method has not found broad acceptance, but it underlines the need for the critical moment in science. So we have a twofold movement of scientific reason: constructive and critical; conjecture and refutation; synthesis and analysis. Should we not expect to see the same epistemic pattern replicated in philosophy and theology? In fact we see a rather one-sided emphasis on criticism and analysis in both philosophy and theology. In reaction to the exaggeratedly speculative Idealism of the Hegelian movement, philosophy swung to the analysis of language and to a concentration on logical problems. There was an acceptance that there was a great deal of which we cannot speak and must therefore keep silent (as Wittgenstein famously put it in the Tractatus)23 if we are to make any sense. Similarly in theology: idealism in its personal, ethical form generated a flourishing Christocentric metaphysic, of which William Temple was the most notable exponent.24 But modern theology – not only Anglican – allowed itself to be largely confined within the constricting framework of analytic philosophy, within which the ultimate questions of religious meaning could not be either asked or answered. Of course, there can be no synthesis without prior analysis. As John Stuart Mill pointed out in his study of Jeremy Bentham and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (two archetypes of philosophical method) no-one’s synthesis can be more complete

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than his analysis.25 If Bentham’s analysis of the human condition was utilitarian and reductionist, his prescription for repairing the ills of society was bound to be correspondingly deficient. But, as Coleridge (d.1834) asserted in Aids to Reflection, analysis may divide or it may distinguish. It may engage in decimation or in discrimination. To divide is often to destroy but to distinguish may be to discern differences that belong together and interact. ‘It is a dull and obtuse mind,’ Coleridge remarks, ‘that must divide in order to distinguish.’ To divide is the work of a keen mind; to distinguish without dividing the work of a subtle mind.26 Coleridge is looking for an analysis that is not destructive and a synthesis that has its critical faculties alert – an integrated, holistic notion of the intellect. Modern Anglican scholars such as Arthur Peacocke, John Polkinghorne, Michael Banner and Alister McGrath have done much to show that scientific and theological reasoning are not opposed, but are allies in the quest for truth, in the conviction, articulated notably by the Cambridge Platonists, Coleridge and such modern liberal catholic Anglicans as Charles Gore and William Temple, that all truth is of God.27

Pride The second count on which reason has been indicted in the Anglo-Saxon world is pride, hubris – on account of its Promethean pretensions, its idolatrous propensities. Reason has had its credentials impugned, not only by sceptics like David Hume, but also by Christian theologians. In praising the sheer unpredictable sovereign otherness of divine grace, such Christian thinkers as St Paul, Tertullian, Luther, Kierkegaard and Barth have disparaged reason and warned it ‘off limits’ where Christian truth is concerned. ‘Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?’ asks Paul. ‘For the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men’ (1 Corinthians 1.20–25). Barth, and behind him, Luther, have affected our perception of reason. We do not want to invite their accusation of bypassing or patronizing divine revelation, or of setting ourselves up as the judge of what God can do. Reason must be characterized by modesty and humility. Sometimes, as we shall see shortly, Anglican theology has explicitly aspired to this elusive quality and so avoided the damning accusation of arrogance in the face of divine mystery.

Deception The third count on which reason is indicted in modern Western thought is the charge of false consciousness. Reason – contemplative, speculative and

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constructive; reason that discerns order in the world – is guilty of deception. It postulates in the mind a unity, a reconciliation that is belied by reality. It casts a veneer of rationality over a world that is riven by irrationality, conflict and injustice. The thinkers of the Frankfurt School of social criticism, drawing on the critiques of Marx and Freud, are the denunciators here – Horkheimer, Adorno and Marcuse. In 1941 and in exile in the United States, Max Horkheimer published the seminal article ‘The End of Reason’.28 Fascist totalitarianism with all its horrors represented the nemesis of trends in Western philosophy which had progressively detached reason from its grounding in social reality. But this noble conception of reason had suffered, according to Horkheimer, a series of mortal blows. First, the sceptical tradition, culminating in Hume and Kant, had ‘purged the idea of reason of so much of its content that today scarcely anything is left of it. Reason, in destroying conceptual fetishes, ultimately destroyed itself.’ Second, reason had been brought into captivity to the criteria of quantity and utility. Reason was no longer conceived as theoria (contemplation) or praxis (activity informed by rational purpose), but as techne, technological, manipulative and exploitative reason, geared to the domination of nature and the pacification of humanity’s more elevated aspirations through the commodification of social life: it had become the rationale of the consumer society. Third, totalitarian regimes demonstrated the fragility of the value and rights of the individual. ‘Reason has degenerated because it was/ideological projection of a false universality which now shows the autonomy of the subject to have been an illusion. The collapse of reason and the collapse of individuality are one and the same.’ Fascism and Stalinism were the beneficiaries of technological reason, ‘the optimum adaptation of means to ends’. ‘When even the dictators of today appeal to reason, they mean that they possess the most tanks.’29 The thinkers of the Frankfurt School came to see that it was necessary to lift the embargo on reason, to veto their own veto on the role of theory. Paradoxically, they ended up affirming the priority of theory over practice in a dialectic in which reason was the dominant partner. The darker the world, the more urgent the task of rational discourse becomes. Even when all enlightened action is suppressed, when the nightmare totalitarian state – ‘the totally administered society’ – crushes all open resistance, to think freely and critically is the last refuge of individual dignity. Horkheimer himself wrote in 1942, when things were as dark as could be and the Frankfurt School had made a tactical retreat from social action: ‘Thought itself is already a sign of resistance, of the effort to allow oneself no longer to be deceived’ (18). To reason is to refuse to be intimidated. Faith in rationality, Horkheimer stated, ‘means the refusal to permit fear to stunt in any way one’s capacity to think’.30 The Anglican theologian who has taken the ideological critique of religion most seriously and responded most creatively is Graham Ward. He draws his

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theological energy from the momentum of cultural trends, without in any way being taken in by them. Ward skates along the margins of post-modern culture, debating and dialoguing with it, drawing from it and also deconstructing it.31 Ward is loosely linked with ‘Radical Orthodoxy’, but is possibly actually unique. The instigator of Radical Orthodoxy, John Milbank, so far from absorbing the ideological critique of theology mounted by the social sciences, attempted to turn the tables. The social sciences should not be allowed to dictate what could be said by Christian theology: divine revelation was sovereign and had its own inherent rationality. Many regarded Milbank’s claim that revelation brought along with it its own epistemology and metaphysics as illusory – he was in fact merely being selective about the Christian tradition and in a rather arbitrary way. In his more recent writings Milbank has developed the themes of participation and reconciliation, seeking greater harmony between reason and revelation, culture and Christianity.32

Feminism The fourth critique is the attempted deconstruction of patriarchal and androcentric ideology by feminist thinkers. They have shown that our image of normative humanity uncritically reflects male supremacy: economically, socially and politically. As value accrues to power, moral and spiritual supremacy reinforces and legitimates actual domination. Our concept of the attributes of human personhood – intentionality, rationality, emotional life and moral responsibility – are distorted and biased towards their typical manifestation in the male. We need to remember that we are dealing with the stereotyped male, the male constrained to conform in the patriarchal imagination to models that belong to the received pattern of dominance and subjection. Our ideals of rationality are themselves infected by discrimination based on gender. Historical notions of reason as the primary human characteristic are adapted to suit male supremacy. For example, Aquinas teaches that woman is subordinate or subject to man for her own good because the power of rational thought is stronger in men than in women.33 Language too has been contaminated by patriarchal assumptions, for language (according to standard Western assumptions from Descartes and Locke to the early Wittgenstein and the Logical Positivists) is communicated reasoning, articulate discourse. The inarticulate and inchoate modes of expression that major on metaphor, symbol and myth are regarded by this tradition as debasing the proper office of language. On the contrary, as Vico and Herder in the eighteenth century were among the first to argue, imaginative language belongs to the very wellspring of human culture and sociality and many feminists would echo this.

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In Man Made Language Dale Spender points to the aptly named He/Man construction when human beings in general are meant. Males, as the dominant group, have produced language, thought and reality. Historically, it has been the structures, the categories and the meanings which have been invented by males . . . It has been male subjectivity which has been the source of those meanings, including the meaning that their own subjectivity is objectivity.34 Clearly, any refurbishment of reason in Christian theology, and specifically within Anglicanism, must take the feminist critique of patriarchal rationality seriously, particularly with respect to its models of leadership and authority and its public language in the liturgy. While some feminist theologians, such as the former Anglican Daphne Hampson, have concluded that Christian theology is irredeemable in the face of feminist deconstruction, others, including the Anglicans Sarah Coakley and Elaine Graham have continued to work creatively within the framework of orthodox Christian belief, adapting traditional theological positions in the light of the feminist critique.35 Against the background of this fourfold challenge to reason, four points of affirmation about the resilience of reason in Anglican theology can be made.

The Centrality of Reason The appeal to reason was implicit in the programme of the English Reformers as they took the new learning of the Renaissance to the heart of their theological method – though their explicit appeal was to scripture and antiquity. However, the most skilful exponent of the argument from the primitive church, John Jewel, also invoked reason: ‘Let reason lead thee; let authority move thee; let truth enforce thee.’36 But it is with Richard Hooker that reason achieves its central position in Anglican apologetic – and that literally, for reason takes middle rank between Scripture and tradition. In matters of doctrine or order, he says, ‘what Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that the first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the church succeedeth’ (II, p. 34). For Hooker, there is no competition or conflict between the various sources of authority. The laws of nature are the utterance of reason. ‘The scripture is fraught even with laws of nature’ (I, p. 262). Tradition is the wise voice of experience. In one passage Hooker appears to give reason priority over scripture and tradition, referring to ‘nature, scripture and experience itself’ (I, p. 166).

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He can do this because he believes them to be consentient voices, speaking in harmony. Hales and Chillingworth agree with Hooker in placing reason above tradition. Jeremy Taylor makes reason a formal not a material source but gives it an exalted position: ‘Scripture, tradition, councils and fathers are the evidence in a question,’ Taylor asserts, ‘but reason is the judge’.37 The orthodox Waterland can give reason third place – ‘scripture, antiquity and reason’ – but he also makes it the adjudicator of Scripture and tradition: ‘scripture and antiquity (under the conduct of right reason)’ are the criteria of doctrine for Waterland. ‘I follow the Fathers as far as reason requires and no further; and therefore this is following our own reason.’38 The centrality of reason is vindicated by Bishop Joseph Butler claiming that reason is ‘the only faculty we have wherewith to judge concerning anything, even revelation itself.’ And again: ‘Reason can, and it ought to judge, not only of the meaning, but also of the morality and the evidence of revelation.’39 The Tractarians took up Butler’s emphasis on the moral sense and, in their thought, conscience, allied with tradition, was deployed against reason working on Scripture, which was the combination favoured by the liberal Anglicans. Anglicans can claim the authority of Hooker in resisting the subordination of reason to tradition.

The Vitality of Reason Reason is the source of theological vitality in the church. As reason wrestles with contemporary challenges and unprecedented problems, it is driven back to search the Scriptures and to look for guidance from past wisdom. It brings out of its treasure house things old and new. Tradition can only be preserved by responding to fresh challenges. Tradition is shaped retrospectively as it is interpreted in the light of new circumstances.40 The same can be said about Scripture: it is not a static text, but is quickened to speak to each generation as it returns to it with new questions. This is the task of the reason and reveals its vitality. Without falling into gross relativism, it is true to say that each generation reads a different Bible and accepts a different tradition. The Reformers, the High Churchmen, the Wesleys, the Tractarians and modern Anglicans with an ecumenical concern inhabit different theological frameworks. Coleridge, heir to the Cambridge Platonists as well as to the German idealists, distinguished between Reason and Understanding, just as he did between Imagination and Fancy. While the Understanding was ‘the faculty judging according to sense’ and generalizing on the basis of experience, Reason enjoyed an unmediated and direct apprehension of truth – of its necessity and universality.

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While Fancy contrived and collected images from materials already fixed by use and habit, Imagination was ‘the shaping spirit’, the ‘co-ordinating’, creative faculty, the intellectual vitality that forms the many into a single whole, and in doing so, reflects the divine creative will.41 For Newman, reason is ‘a living spontaneous energy within us’. The speed of thought is proverbial and its subtlety and versatility ‘baffle investigation’. ‘It makes progress not unlike a clamberer on a steep cliff who, by quick eye, prompt hand and firm foot, ascends how he knows not himself, by personal endowments and by practice, rather than by rule, leaving no track behind him and unable to teach another.’42

The Modesty of Reason Theological reason (to use Hooker’s term) knows its limitations. According to Hooker, reason cannot see the ultimate destination of the Christian life (I, pp. 26lf.). While humans crave infallible certainty, the highest form of assurance vouchsafed to us is that of ‘probable persuasions’ for there is no direct intuition of truth or demonstrative proof available in this life (I, p. 322). The classical Anglican principle that probability is the guide of life begins with Hooker. The lay theologian John Locke echoes Hooker on the modesty of reason. Locke is acutely aware of the ‘darkness’ and ‘blindness’ of our condition. He stresses the need for a just appreciation of the scope and limits of our knowledge – so that we may learn to be content with that. ‘The candle that is set up in us shines bright enough for all our purposes.’ Locke invokes ‘the twilight of probability’ but insists that that is ‘all our happiness or misery require’.43 Locke’s rule of probability is reinforced by Butler who teaches that difficulties in reasoning to the truth and the unsatisfactory state of our knowledge belong to ‘the very condition of our being’.44 Butler’s pervasive sense of probability as the guide of life and of reticence and reserve in the claims of reason were perpetuated by Keble and Gladstone. But Newman gave up the principle of probability and looked for an infallible defining authority that could eliminate uncertainty, and that craving for certitude led him to Rome and an infallible pope.

The Realism of Reason Realism about the world and about the Church is characteristic of Anglicanism and is a function of its distinctive rationality. Peter Walker speaks of an Anglican style to be rediscovered, ‘a certain steadiness of vision, a refusal to look away from reality’.45 We find this quality in Hooker when he counsels that respect for tradition flows from wisdom rather than obedience; in his prudent regard for

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well-tried practice, his sense of what is appropriate and fitting in the circumstances, and his appeal to ‘nature, scripture and experience itself’ (I, p. 166). We find it in Butler of whom R. W. Church said, ‘How real he is’ to see things ‘in their solid plain simplicity’.46 We find it in Coleridge, who (whatever Newman said) repudiates ‘the shifting sand-wastes and mirages of speculative theology’ in favour of the truth of reality that has its ground in the practical reason, informed by conscience.47 We find it in Newman, who insists that ‘moral truth is gained by patient study, by calm reflection, silently as the dew falls’, and who looking back on his pilgrimage, in the Apologia, observes, ‘it is the concrete being that reasons . . . the whole man moves’. We find it in the liberal Benjamin Jowett, who in manuscript notes sketched out an holistic theological method ‘which does not divorce the present from the past, or the part from the whole, or the abstract from the concrete, or theory from fact, or the divine from the human, or one science from another, but labours to connect them’.48 We find it, finally, in the second generation Tractarian, R. W. Church who identified the classical Anglican grounding in ‘reality, history and experience’.49 In Theology after Wittgenstein, Fergus Kerr OP has urged that we need ‘a theology for ceremonious animals, so to speak, rather than for cerebrating solipsists’.50 Anglicanism has adequate resources to contribute to this project. There is no need to apologise too much for the alleged defects of Anglicanism – its lack of discipline, its reticence where dogmatic definitions are concerned, its breadth of permitted opinion. Its pragmatism is not always born of a weary cynicism: at its best it is the product of sagacity, a sense of realism about the world as it is in the providence of God, a willingness to look the facts in the face and to make the best of them. In other words, Anglicanism is not seduced by Utopian and perfectionist ecclesiologies. It takes seriously the fallenness of the world, the brokenness of the church and the frailty of human nature.51

Conclusion Although it is rash to generalize about Anglicanism, it is safe to say that, while the Bible has, at least nominally, remained the paramount authority, the most fertile Anglican theology has been characterized by profound engagement with Western philosophy and by trust in the capacity of reason. Anglican thought has been hospitable to natural theology and has embraced the historical-critical method with regard to both the Bible and the history of the Church. It has been hungry to learn from non-theological disciplines, not because it has nothing to say for itself, but from the deep conviction that all truth is God’s truth

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and to seek truth is to seek God. ‘In your light let me see light.’ Anglicans have recognized that traditional positions sometimes need to be revised in the light of reasoned enquiry, of ‘sound learning’. It is significant that not only liberal or broad church Anglicans, such as (in modern times Hensley Henson and William Temple) have held this, but also avowedly catholic Anglicans such as Charles Gore and Michael Ramsey. Anglican thinkers have also contributed much to the reassessment of what reason is and to its reconstruction. Following Coleridge, they have renounced the individualistic, critical and analytical construct of reason, a parody of scientific method, and have pursued a more holistic and intuitive vision of reason in which it is not divorced from the imagination and is at home in the world of metaphor and symbol.52 Anglican thinkers recognize that the work of theology requires the application of reason to Scripture and tradition, which themselves have been shaped by the reason of other cultures and other ages. This is fundamental because we have to admit that we do not fully know what the gospel is until we know to whom we are to preach it. Peter Walker, drawing on the thought of the nineteenth-century Anglican F. J. A. Hort’s The Way the Truth the Life, suggests that ‘the illumination of what the gospel message itself is comes to us in our engagement with the penetrating questions to which we have to respond in the business of living.’53 He quotes MacKinnon: ‘Thus the dialectic of our theology moves to and fro, from the world in which we move to the mysteries of God which condition its being, and back again. It must ever be so; the mysteries of faith illuminate the darkness of our present condition, and that darkness itself throws fresh light upon their deeps.’54 To engage in this profoundly incarnational reflection on the gospel in the light of human aspirations and human anguish demands the profoundest form of rationality. It cannot be achieved by straightforward reading off from the text of Scripture, as fundamentalist evangelicalism would have it, though it will take Scripture to the heart of the process. It cannot be attained simply by replicating past models derived from church tradition, though no theologian will be fit to attempt it unless he or she is profoundly and sympathetically attuned to the historical resources of the church. It is the task of reason, that is to say the work of the whole person.

Notes 1 2

D. Newsome (1974) Two Classes of Men: Platonism and English Romantic Thought. London: Murray. P. Munz (1952) The Place of Hooker in the History of Thought. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press. The references to Hooker’s Works in the text are to the Keble edition by volume and page: Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1845. The modern

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Theology and Philosophy critical edition is the Folger Library Edition of The Works of Richard Hooker, Cambridge, MA: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1977–1993. J. Hales (1936) cited W. K. Jordan The Development of Religious Toleration in England, II, 1603–1640, London: Allen and Unwin, p. 405. B. Whichcote (1930) Aphorisms, London, nos 71, 459, 943, 1168. Inge cited H. R. McAdoo (1965) The Spirit of Anglicanism, London: Black, p. 84. McAdoo, pp. 89f. G. Burnet (1845) An Exposition of the Thirty-nine Articles, Oxford, p. 211. On Burnet see P. Avis (2002) Anglicanism and the Christian Church, 2nd edn, London and New York: T&T Clark, pp. 100ff. See McAdoo extensively. J. V. Langmead Casserley (1955) Graceful Reason, London and New York: Longman, pp. l6lff. M Pattison (1861) ‘Tendencies of Religious Thought in England, 1688–1750’, in Essays and Reviews, 9th edn London, p. 275. Anon. [R. Allestree 1658] The Whole Duty of Man; W. Law (1728) A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. W. Paley (1794) A View of the Evidences of Christianity. S. T. Coleridge Aids to Reflection, ed. J. Beer (1994) London: Routledge, p. 406. J. H. Newman (1865) Essays Critical and Historical, I, London, p. 269. F. D. Maurice (1872) Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy, London: Macmillan. C. Gore (1930) The Philosophy of the Good Life, London: Murray; A. E. Taylor (1930) The Faith of a Moralist, London: Macmillan; W. Temple (1934) Nature, Man and God, London: Macmillan; L. Hodgson (1968) For Faith and Freedom, London: SCM Press [1956, 1957]. J. Macquarrie (1982), for example, In Search of Humanity London: SCM Press; In Search of Deity, London: SCM Press (1984); R. Swinburne (1991), for example, The Existence of God, Oxford: Clarendon Press; K. Ward (1994), for example, The Concept of God, Oxford: Blackwell; Religion and Revelation Oxford: Clarendon Press. Swinburne converted to Orthodoxy in the mid-1990s. J. R. Lucas (1987) ‘Reason Restored’, in W. J. Abraham and S. W. Holzer, eds The Rationality of Religious Belief: Essays in Honour of Basil Mitchell, Oxford: Clarendon Press, p. 71. Lucas, pp. 71, 77f. A. N. Whitehead (1938) Modes of Thought, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Science in the Modern World London: Penguin; K. Popper (1959) The Logic of Scientific Discovery, London: Hutchinson; (1963) Conjectures and Refutations London: Routledge. M. Polanyi (1958) Personal Knowledge London: Routledge. M. Banner (1990) The Justification of Science and the Rationality of Religious Belief, Oxford: Clarendon. L. Wittgenstein (1961) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, London: Routledge, p. 74 (7). W. Temple (1917) Mens Creatrix London: Macmillan; (1924) Christus Veritas, London: Macmillan. J. S. Mill On Bentham and Coleridge, ed. F. R. Leavis (1950) London, p. 58. Coleridge, Aids to Reflection, p. 33 (XXVI). A. R. Peacocke (1979) Creation and the World of Science: The Bampton Lectures 1978, Oxford: Clarendon Press; J. Polkinghorne (1991), for example, Reason and

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Reality: The Relationship between Science and Theology, London: SPCK; M. Banner (1990) The Justification of Science and the Rationality of Religious Belief, Oxford: Clarendon Press; A. E. McGrath (2011) (recently, for example), Darwinism and the Divine: Evolutionary Thought and Natural Theology, Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell; C. Gore (1930) The Philosophy of the Good Life (Gifford Lectures, 1929–30) London: John Murray; W. Temple (1934) Nature, Man and God (Gifford Lectures, 1932–34) London: Macmillan. M. Horkheimer (1941) ‘The End of Reason’, Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung, 9, pp. 366–88, reprinted in A. Arato and E. Gebhardt (1978) The Essential Frankfurt School Reader, Oxford: Blackwell, New York: Urizen, pp. 26–48. Horkheimer, ‘The End of Reason’. M. Jay (1973) The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research 1923–1950 London: Heinemann, p. 158. Horkheimer, The Eclipse of Reason New York: Seabury, p. 162. For an exposition of the reductionist critique as applied to Christianity see P. Avis (1995) Faith in the Fires of Criticism: Christianity in Modern Thought, London: Darton, Longman and Todd (reprinted Eugene, Oregon: Wipf and Stock, 2006). G. Ward (2000) Cities of God London: Routledge; (2005) Cultural Transformation and Religious Practice Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. J. Milbank (1990, 2nd edn 2006) Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, Oxford: Blackwell (1997); The Word Made Strange, Oxford: Blackwell. G. Lloyd (1984) The Man of Reason: ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ in Western Philosophy London: Methuen; Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica, Blackfriars edn London: Eyre and Spottiswoode; New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964–1981, la, 92, 1–2. D. Spender (1980) Man Made Language, London: Routledge, pp. 143f. See further on this theme, P. Avis (1989) Eros and the Sacred, London: SPCK; Wilton, CT: Morehouse. D. Hampson (1990) Theology and Feminism, Oxford: Blackwell; S. Coakley (2002) Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy and Gender, Oxford: Blackwell; (2010) God, Sexuality and the Self: An Essay on the Trinity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; E. Graham (1995) Making the Difference: Gender, Personhood and Theology, London: Continuum. J. Jewel, Works, Parker Society edn, III, pp. 122f. McAdoo, Spirit of Anglicanism, p. 74. R. T. Holtby (1966) Daniel Waterland 1683–1740 Carlisle: Thurnam Press, p. 210. D. Waterland (1823) Works Oxford: V, pp. 330, 322. J. Butler (1889) The Analogy of Religion Natural and Revealed to the Constitution and Course of Nature London: Bohn, pp. 219, 229. P. Walker (1988) Rediscovering the Middle Way Oxford: Mowbray, pp. 4, 12. S. T. Coleridge (1895) Aids to Reflection, pp. 218ff; Anima Poetae London, p. 236; (1956) Biographia Literaria, London: Dent; New York: Dutton (Everyman edn), pp. 50f, 167. J. H. Newman (1970) University Sermons, London: SPCK, pp. 250ff. J. Locke (1961) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, London: Dent; New York: Dutton (Everyman edn), I, p. 7; II, pp. 144, 274f. Butler, Analogy, pp. 72f, 315; ‘Sermon XV: Upon the Ignorance of Man’, in the same volume. Walker, p. 131.

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46 R. W. Church (1896) ‘Bishop Butler’, in Pascal and Other Sermons. London: Macmillan, pp. 28, 30. 47 S. T. Coleridge (1843) Aids to Reflection, 5th edn, London, pp. 125, 137; T. Vargish (1970) Newman: The Contemplation of Mind, Oxford: Clarendon, p. 6; J. H. Newman (1959) Apologia Pro Vita Sua, London: Fontana, p. 225. 48 H. Swanston (1974) Ideas of Order: Anglicans and the Renewal of Theological Method in the Middle Years of the Nineteenth Century, Assen: Van Gorcum, p. 222. 49 R. W. Church (1891) The Oxford Movement, London, p. 346. 50 F. Kerr (1986) Theology after Wittgenstein, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 163. 51 P. Avis (1986) Ecumenical Theology and the Elusiveness of Doctrine, London: SPCK, p. 116. 52 See P. Avis (1999) God and the Creative Imagination: Metaphor, Symbol and Myth in Religion and Theology, London: Routledge. 53 Walker, p. 46. 54 MacKinnon cited in Walker, pp. 47f.

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Chapter 6 Augustine’s Short History of Philosophy James Wetzel Villanova University This chapter is animated by two fundamental convictions. One is that Augustine’s conception of philosophy is still largely an undiscovered country. The other is that his conception is intimately bound up with his sense of the history and significance of Platonism. I explore Augustine’s sense of Platonism in order to get at his conception of philosophy. My way of proceeding will be to compose the philosophical equivalent of a two-part invention. The first part, focused on the opening sections of book 8 of City of God, sets the theme: that Augustine’s reception of Platonism – particularly its doctrine of two worlds, one sensible, one not – is thoroughly determined by his theology of creation. From the evidence of book 8, where Augustine starts things off with a short history of philosophy, pre-Socratics to Plato, he seems not to make any distinction between the immaterial perfection of a unifying idea and the God who lovingly creates a world teeming with material forms. Since we who live on the other side of modernity have grown used to thinking of Platonism as a form of idealism, it will not be easy for us to read Augustine’s Platonized God other than an idealizer of matter, a creator who, in effect, creates an illusion of material substance. But, in fact, it is Platonic idealism and not biblical materialism that gets evacuated of content in Augustine’s rendition of a divinely ordered world. His God confirms the substance of the world by entering into creation and walking the earth as Jesus of Nazareth. In the second part of my invention, I continue with the theme of Augustine’s theological transfiguration of Platonism but this time with attention to the surprise of incarnation. It is surprising that God, the sublime creator, would have chosen to become so particularly human; it is also surprising that Augustine, created by God to be a particular human being, would have chosen to become something else. The surprises are related. In book 7 of the Confessions, the textual focus of part two, Augustine speaks of Platonism in more personal terms, less the grand turn in philosophy’s history and more the catalyst for a

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new self-awareness. Augustine wants desperately to see through to the immaterial God of pure spirit, and just when he seems to have what he wants, the inconvenient fact of his neglected incarnation begins to reassert itself – a blessing that comes across to him (at first) as a curse. Augustine soon comes to see that he has been always relating to God in an irredeemably flesh-bound way but irredeemable because no redemption is finally necessary. Flesh is not foreign to God. The upshot of my two-part invention will be a Platonism that is Christological at its core. There is no knowledge of the ideal that is not a knowledge of creation, and there is no knowledge of creation that is not a love of the particular beings whose particularity has been reaffirmed and sanctified by the creator’s incarnation. This species of Platonism is not Augustine’s ideological point of departure in philosophy; it is the aspiration towards which his thoughts and desires, sometimes haltingly, tend. But now the time has come for some detailed exegesis.

Up to Plato In book 8 of City of God, and notably in chapters 5 and 6, Augustine is full of praise for Platonists. They are the philosophers who come closest to Christians, and they more or less know who God is: the bodiless, self-subsistent being on whom all beings depend for their existence, well being, and value. This description could apply equally well to Plato’s Form of the Good or Noûs (Divine Intellect) in Plotinus. From a modern vantage, Augustine can seem to be imposing a theological agenda upon ideas whose drift is more towards the secular; in this regard, he can be said to be ‘baptizing’ classical thought.1 But if he is adding God to a God-free mix, basically by making eternal ideas out to be divine thoughts, then Platonism must be for him a form of idealism. I do not think that it is. It is fundamentally for him a doctrine of creation. For purposes of explication, I will be keying my notions of the classical and the modern in philosophy to Christine Korsgaard’s view of their contrast in her short history of Western metaphysics, the prologue to her historically informed analysis of the nature of value.2 In her short history, Plato is the great exemplar of a classical value theorist, one who ties value to perception: the better we see the world, the more it presents itself to us as a realm of commanding presence, full to the maximal extent possible of goodness, beauty and truth. But since this way of seeing the world is at odds with most people’s experience, the great problem of classical value theory will be the problem of ignorance. How have we come not to know what is truly real, and what can be done about this? The modern way to think about values, Korsgaard goes on to say, begins with an

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inversion of the classical perspective. The real is no longer ideal, but material, and matter is knowable to the degree we refrain from confusing what is of value with what is. Modern values have their source in norms, not in things, and norms are possible because we are the sort of animal that binds itself, in reflection, to its own law. But since it is not altogether obvious what authority a law has when legislation is self-imposed, the great problem of modern value theory will be the problem of justification. What gives us not only the right, but the obligation, to impose forms of value upon material beings? The pivotal figure between a classicism epitomized by Plato and a modernity epitomized by Kant is, for Korsgaard, Augustine – the overtly religious thinker in her narrative. She has only a few words to spare for him, but the ones she offers are weighty: ‘In Augustine’s hands,’ she writes, ‘the Form of the Good is transformed into a person, a lawgiver, God, whose business is to impose excellence on a reluctant, recalcitrant, resistant humanity. Why we were this way of course remained a mystery, the mystery of the Fall. But the upshot was that we became obligated.’3 On this way of reading Augustine, he shifts the focus of value theory from idealized perception to rectified will. The role that Korsgaard assigns to Augustine in her narrative of metaphysics is neither novel nor especially controversial – which is why she can afford to be so brief in her remarks. I cite her largely because of that lack of novelty. Her reading of Augustine is a modern retrospective on his place in the history of philosophy, and it is limited by what is most often limiting about this kind of retrospection. Augustine enters the narrative not as an active reader of his own modernity, that of an ascendant Platonism, but as a proto-modern, impossibly waiting for Descartes or Kant to finish his sentences. This reading of Augustine may seem to elevate Augustine for his foresight; in truth it works to remove him, discretely but decisively, from the history of philosophy proper. Plato may have been wrong to base the real on the ideal, but his mistake still falls within modernity’s domain of the philosophically possible. I can be a justified knower – which is the only kind of knower that modernity recognizes – of an idealized world. Think of Descartes’ attempt in the fifth meditation to demonstrate that bodies are part of the subject matter of pure mathematics. The point is that Platonism can be made to fit the modern fascination for autonomy in knowing: I see the ideal form of things when I attain through self-rule the ideal form of the knower and become, in effect, justified in my claims to know. The catharsis required may not be easy – no Platonist, modern or ancient, ever said that it would be – but it is sufficient for knowing in an idealized world. Augustine’s God, by contrast, is not so accessible to would-be knowers. He gives himself over to be known by a selective illumination and with little or no regard for the virtues, intellectual or otherwise, of those whom he illumines. In the context of a modern retrospective, Augustine is not the first philosopher of

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the will4; he is the first philosopher of the alien will, of God’s will. The uniqueness of God’s will lies in its otherness – it is always the will that is too late for fallen, God-resisting human beings to have. Augustine appears to want to base both his knowledge and his human capacity for goodness on heteronomy. Now it should be clear: Augustine’s proto-modern place in Korsgaard’s story implies that he is neither a Platonist nor a philosopher. I am not excluding the possibility out of hand that he is neither, nor am I claiming, despite how it may be sounding, that Korsgaard is just a bad reader of Augustine. I think that she is, like most gifted philosophers with a modern sensibility, an indifferent reader. Augustine lives in the margins of her philosophical consciousness; when he has the brief opportunity to take centre stage, he enters the scene as the return of a repressed religious moment in a philosophical genealogy, the father that is hard to acknowledge but also not so easy to forget. I am sufficiently restless in my own modernity to want to prolong Augustine’s moment and resist its reduction to a religious interruption. Two things are necessary for this to happen: Augustine needs to be accorded his own sense of modernity, and we need to become more self-conscious about the modernity that is otherwise used to define his place in the history of philosophy. Korsgaard talks about a modernity that is Platonism’s inversion and so is, by implication, the inversion of Augustine’s modernity. It is unlikely, however, that Augustine would have viewed the inversion of Platonism as the postulation of a value-neutral material world. If we adopt his reading of Plato’s two worlds and reverse the relation between them, putting sensibility before intelligibility, or matter before form, we get something considerably darker than a world of a raw material. We get a Gnostic’s nightmare, a world that blocks our selfawareness at every turn and binds us to illusions of happiness and virtue. This is the world that Christ must overcome. Augustine was perfectly capable of conceiving of a value-neutral material world. In his short history of philosophy, he recounts, without a great deal of enthusiasm, the succession of figures in the Ionian school of philosophy, whose founder was Thales of Miletus – a philosophical naturalist who was good at predicting eclipses and who saw in water the unifying element of the world’s material diversity. The Ionian luminaries to follow all had an abiding interest in the analysis of material diversity. Some, like Thales, were inclined to use a single-element analysis; others, like Anaximander, were more inclined to postulate a plurality of material first principles. Augustine refers to a number of Ionian naturalists who added the workings of a divine mind or intelligence to their sense of material order, but he seems singularly unimpressed by the addition. One is reminded of the criticism that Socrates makes of Anaxagoras in the Phaedo: that he invokes mind (Noûs) as an explanatory principle without having any sense of what kind of principle mind is.5

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Socrates enters Augustine’s account of the history of philosophy as a disaffected student of Ionian naturalism, and Augustine offers two rival theories about the nature of his disaffection.6 Either Socrates was bored by an endless parade of obscure theories about the causes of things and wanted something better to do with his time, or he came to the conclusion that it was corrupting for anyone to seek knowledge of the cause of everything – the highest good (summum bonum) – without also seeking release from the tyranny of territorializing desires (terrenis cupiditatibus). The Socrates who separates off the question of the highest good from the study of natural causes has given up on the naturalness of value. If it is possible to study the good apart from its naturalness, then the world is not in any philosophically interesting sense a created order. I will not need to know anything about my own nature to get along well in such a world; I will just need to convince others that my conception of the good is superior to theirs. Augustine notes that Socrates was skilled at exposing the stupidity of those who claimed ethical expertise and that he exercised this skill without ever revealing the basis of his own ethics. Imagine that this skilled and secretive Socrates is also the Socrates whose lack of interest in natural knowledge has left him keen to defend his self-willed conception of the good. He does this both by keeping his conception to himself and by attacking what others are willing to say about theirs. If we take this defensive strategy as our clue to the nature of what is being defended, our conclusion would have to be that Socrates is wed to the idea of the good being his conception alone. Augustine claims, somewhat cryptically, that no one who is polluted by terrenis cupiditatibus can know either the causes of things or the good of life. The Latin phrase is not in itself esoteric or unusual; it readily translates as ‘earthly desires’ or perhaps ‘earthly lusts.’ The ready translation does not help us much, however, if we think to ask what makes an earthly desire polluting. The implication of the Latin phrase in its context is that an earthly desire is not a desire to know the earth and the oneness that is the source of earthly order but is instead a desire to preserve and defend an unreflective, deceptively natural, kind of oneness: the oneness of one’s own body. I am inclined here to extend the meaning of terrenus into the idea of territorializing. A terrena cupiditas is a desire that confines soul to a narrowly defined, if ferociously defended, territory, that of a body that is deprived of love and knowing – a colonized world of one and perhaps not even that. Augustine does not, in fact, think so ill of Socrates. He believes that the great teacher of Plato disdained the ramshackle oneness of the territorialized soul and sought in its place the oneness that only a purified intelligence is given to experience. This experience, says Augustine, is of a constant light without bodily source (incorporei et incommutabilis luminis), the light in which the things of this world are seen to live securely (stabiliter).

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When Plato enters into Augustine’s narrative, he enters not as a philosopher who is prepared to return to a purely contemplative path, but as a student of Socrates, better able than his beloved teacher to avoid an overly adversarial philosophical method. ‘In Socratic disputation,’ writes Augustine, ‘where Socrates asserts, advances, and destroys all views, it is never evident what the highest good is, and because of this people have assumed what they please, counting as the good in its finality whatever their impression is of it.’7 Plato takes his leave of this philosophical culture after Socrates is put to death, and he travels to Egypt and Italy to study with new teachers. Plato’s Italian teachers, the Pythagoreans, have already received a bit mention in the story; they are the contrast to the Ionian school, and their founder, Pythagoras of Samos, is the first person, says Augustine, to have called himself a philosopher or seeker of wisdom – this being his attempt to disavow having wisdom but not his desire to be wise. It is worth noting that Augustine makes Pythagoras out to be a humble man. Pride is the great enemy of philosophy as far as Augustine is concerned, perhaps its greatest enemy – it encourages a person to claim wisdom and turn a blind eye to further revelations of the good. Augustine’s Plato learns from Socrates how to care deeply about the question of the good; Pythagoreans teach him that the contemplative enjoyment of the good need not wait for an interminable argument about goodness to end. Plato returns to Athens with same insight that the Apostle Paul speaks from in Romans 1.20, the verse Augustine uses most often to bridge philosophy and biblical wisdom: ‘From the creation of the world,’ Paul writes, ‘the eternal things of God, though invisible, are seen and understood through the things made.’ Augustine does not blink at the idea that Plato is, as a philosopher, an avowed theist; in fact, Augustine seems only too happy, based on his appreciation for Platonic theology, to identify philosophy with the love of God. We can nevertheless safely assume that the Platonists who figure so eminently in City of God could have not guessed that their sublime and transcendent deity is also fully human; Jesus of Nazareth will be the visible disclosure of that peculiar divine truth. But perhaps these Platonists of old, being such prescient theists, were in a position to reason to the reasonableness of some such incarnation, if not to the specific case of a first-century male Nazarean Jew named Jesus. Augustine is never tempted to think so. I quote from one of his earliest writings: The most refined kind of reasoning would never return souls to the intelligible world once they had grown blind from the many shadowy forms that error takes and forgetful in the face of the meanest things of the body – not unless God on high, out of a liberal forbearance, were to bend and lower the source of divine intellect to the level of a human body.8

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If I follow the logic of his sentiment, Augustine is suggesting that the humanness of God is not an irrational thought but a revelation of spirit’s stake in even the meanest things of the body. What cannot be rationally anticipated is less the particularities of God’s earthly life as Jesus (though that is true enough) than the depth of the love that is revealed through these particularities. For Augustine, such love is the stuff of ongoing confession: we are always learning to speak with and through the love that keeps us from foreclosing on our life’s narrative and succumbing to self-condemnation. The knowledge that this love affords – call it knowledge of God – is passed down from generation to generation and, through the grace of an illumined retrospection, passed back. Unanticipated love has an unnerving way of unfixing the past, making it, no less than the future, an open book: God’s book. But it is still a nice question as to what Augustine’s Platonists, the ones long dead before Christ’s advent, can be said to know of God. Augustine praises them above other philosophers for having known that God is not a material object (nullus corpus esse Deum).9 As I have been urging, he is not praising Platonists for being idealists and knowing that God is one kind of object – an immaterial one – and not another. He credits them, on the contrary, for their insight into divine simplicity. All beings not God, whether they be material, like human beings partly are, or immaterial, like angels fully are, are complex: they have an essence that differs from their existence. It is, for example, of the essence of my humanity that I have the capacity for intelligence, and it is arguably of my individual essence that I am human. I cannot continue to be human apart from my capacity for intelligence, and I cannot continue to be me apart from my humanity. But were I to cease to exist, the terms that would allow others to speak in memoriam of my intelligence and my humanity do not thereby cease to exist. Were (impossibly) God to cease to exist, then so would the terms any of us have for speaking of God’s existence and derivatively of our own. Thriving life, living intelligence, and abundant perfection are what God is and what we (for a grace period) have. In his reading of Platonism, Augustine fatefully conjoins two ideas: that God is simple and beyond change, that God is the creator. ‘Because they understood that God is simple and beyond change, the Platonists also understood,’ concludes Augustine, ‘that God has made all things and is himself not able to be made from anything.’10 Many centuries later Thomas Aquinas would reverse the order of insight: it is on the basis of God’s status as a first cause that anyone would know him to be simple and immutable. But Augustine has somehow managed to see in Plato’s Form of the Good theism’s most radical possibility: a source of being that is itself not a kind of being. It is still not obvious, however, what Augustine’s Platonists know of God. Indeed, the question has deepened. How does the being that is not a kind of

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being ever avail itself to anyone’s manner of knowing? ‘It is one thing,’ Augustine famously writes, with Platonists in mind, ‘to see the homeland of peace from a wooded height and not have a way to get there.’ ‘It is quite another,’ he continues, ‘to keep to the way leading there, secure in the care of the heavenly sovereign.’11 If some Platonists find themselves stuck on a wooded height – where presumably they see better than they are seen – the suggestion of book 8 of City of God is that they are still too wed to their own ideas about how things are. Augustine credits capable learners with knowing that God, whose mind eternally holds the ‘primary idea’ (prima species) of things, always knows better. They know this not because they have taken in God’s mind and compared it with their own cracked vessel but because they have not let their fixed ideas stand in the way of their education. For God is revealed to us not as a fixed idea but through the changing things that God has made.12 The addition of Christ to Platonism is no more going to change Platonism for Augustine than the addition of God. But this is only because God has never been an addition to his Platonism. Augustine takes there to be a manifest connection between simplicity of form in Platonism and the stability of a created order. In his short history, he does not say that Platonists were implicit theists who needed someone like him to bring out their theism; he says that they were theists who helped him understand something crucially important about his own God. With modern hindsight, we might want to say that he makes too little of the distinction between Plato and Plotinus, but we should also notice that Augustine’s God is not in any case much like the Demiurge or the One. If he has found his God in Platonism, then regardless of what we are disposed to find there, we owe him as readers some attempt to look at his Platonism from the inside out – based, that is, on some understanding of Platonism in his own story. To this end, I turn my attention to book 7 of the Confessions, where Augustine describes dipping into a number of Platonist texts (libri Platonicorum), being led within himself to a very strange place, and finding there his path to the immaterial God – or, better yet, to the homeland of peace.

Contrary Motion In the second half of Confessions 7, Augustine reports the results of his having taken to heart a Platonist admonition to return to himself and look there, where no body is, for his truth. He discovers, much to his amazement, his profound love for God: ‘It was a wonder to me that I was loving you then, and not some figment in your stead.’ But just as much to his amazement, he discovers that his love of the bodiless God is no stable thing: ‘As quick as I was snatched to you by your beauty, I was snatched back from you by my weight, and with a

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groan I shipwrecked into familiar stuff.’13 The weight he speaks of is carnal and habitual (consuetudo carnalis); it has to do with his history of loving bodies and wanting some conjunction with them – women’s bodies especially. Despite his newly unearthed love of God, he finds himself forcibly returned to the flesh he wishes, apparently prematurely, to leave behind. It is tempting to conclude from Confessions 7 that Augustine walks away from Platonism with a concept of a bodiless beauty, immutably spiritual, and that this is his favoured conception of God. Being in love with this God is, on this way of reading him, his favoured conception of himself. So what then would this Augustine expect from the God who descends into flesh? ‘I was craving not to be more certain of you,’ he writes at the beginning of Confessions 7, ‘but to be more stable in you.’14 That certainly sounds as if he is looking to Christ for a less flesh-craving spirit, and indeed when he finds himself better able to love spiritual things, Augustine adopts this verse from Romans as his new imperative: ‘Clothe yourself in Jesus Christ, your master, and don’t look to care for your flesh with lusts.’15 But still: how is Christ, who is not only perfectly but also distinctly human, supposed to be helping Augustine with his conceptualization problems? If he is having trouble restricting his attention to bodiless truths, then he needs a lesson in mathematics, not a story about a resurrected Nazarene. He needs to be meditating on first philosophy. What we need to notice, as we part with our modern philosophical prejudices, is that Augustine’s Platonically prompted return to himself actually works to destabilize his self-conception. He does not move from the darkened consciousness of an enfleshed soul to the impregnable clarity of a Cartesian res cogitans; he moves from his sense of himself as a flesh-craving God-forsaker to something considerably less defined. ‘When I first learned of you,’ he confesses to God, ‘you raised me up so that I might see the reality of what I was seeing and that I, who was seeing, was not yet real.’16 There are three points of reference for this assumption from within: the God who beckons, the real world, and the self who is neither with the one nor part of the other. Not yet. Augustine speaks of finding himself in a place far from God, a place unlike any other. From there he hears these words from on high: ‘I am the food of grown-ups; grow and you will feed on me. You will not change me into you, as you do the food of your flesh, but you I will change into me.’ The words evoke in Augustine the thought that God is not material at all. And in that thought he catches the cry of the God of exiles, still far-off; it says to his heart: ‘I am who is.’ His doubts are driven out. ‘I would sooner have doubted I was alive,’ he writes, ‘than doubt the truth that is seen and understood through the things made.’17 His invocation of Romans 1.20 is clearly proleptic. He has not been pondering the particular beauties of creation; he has been listening to voices from a place within himself that is both far from God and removed from the material

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order of things. We know that his ‘place of unlikeness’ (regio dissimilitudinis) is not a part of creation because he describes surveying from that place all the beings that are not God but derived of God (cetera infra te); it is his next order of interior business.18 His survey leads him to two contradictory conclusions, whose contradiction, let alone resolution, he has yet to see. One is that the created order is a realm of privation. The things there exist insofar they are from God; they lack existence, in the sense that they are deprived of it, by not being what God is: a fully real being. If this is what Augustine wants to believe, then it is his very difference from God that is the source of his human corruptibility. He has, however, been given another way to look at creation. It is the beloved order, beautiful to God, and, as such, it is unmarked by ugly deprivation. Living things still die, but in this alternative vision, mortality is a form of life, not life’s defeat. As for the unnatural causes of death and suffering, the devices of sin, Augustine is surprised to see that these have been left out of the picture. He comes to a startling conclusion: ‘There is simply no evil for you,’ he tells God, ‘and not only for you, but for the world of your creation; for nothing is able to break in from the outside and wreck the order you have set in place.’19 Augustine often has been credited – or burdened – with an aesthetic theodicy, where the beauty of the whole trumps the evil of the part.20 While there is some evidence from his writings that he is drawn to theodicy of this sort, there is none from Confessions 7, where theodicy is simply not the issue. Consider where Augustine is when he sees the inviolable beauty of the created order. He is not part of the order he sees. He is not part of God. He is, as he says, in a place of unlikeness. There are two ways of construing the place, and they are closely connected. It is first of all a place of illusion, literally a view from nowhere. Augustine is given a miraculous insight into the way he continues to subvert his own life. He has put his bad old days behind him, such as they were, but he has yet to escape the idea that his sin defines for him his distinctiveness. It is a strange kind of piety that allows God only sinning children; the rest are absorbed into their father in heaven, like shadows into the sun. Augustine’s vision of the beloved order invites him to see, on the contrary, that sin – here a will to be deprived of one’s beginnings – is never a source of creative difference. Sin just doesn’t materialize, and as long as Augustine insists on seeing himself in terms of his will to sin, he will never be able to see himself as part of a material order. The other way to read his place of unlikeness is as a place of gestation. Augustine is not yet real there in the sense that he is not yet born; he remains within the womb of spirit. Exiting the womb is going to require differentiation. What is it that would give Augustine his creative difference from God? It cannot be his will to become what God is not. That turns out not to be an ability. It is like trying to will one’s own birth or will its undoing. The effort is

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always belated. Nor can it be God’s power that makes all the difference. What I mean by this is that God cannot will ex nihilo the difference that is Augustine. That kind of power would undermine difference in the very act of creating it. Difference would be something as coming from God but nothing as coming from the nihilum – an unthinkable parentage. Whatever creation ex nihilo is finally taken to mean, the ‘ex’ cannot be the ‘ex’ of material origination. Matter, like spirit, must have a divine source. I am far from suggesting, then, that Augustine needs a Platonic demiurge to release him from his place of unlikeness. A demiurge imposes the perfection of form upon unruly matter. Augustine needs a deity not to restrain his material possibilities but to be in love with them. Some of those possibilities have to be Augustine’s alone and not God’s. As any mother knows, the moment of that first differentiation is the moment of birth. ‘The food which I craved in my weakness Christ mixed with flesh; the Word was made flesh,’ Augustine writes, ‘so that in our infancy we might nurse from the wisdom that you used, God, to create all things.’21 These words are not just a pious addendum to the doctrine of creation ex nihilo. They transform the doctrine by reading pathos into will: Christ, the eternal logos, descends into flesh and becomes more human than any one of us. But at least we can grow and learn. Such is the wisdom of creation.

The Upshot (Reformulated) I have already alluded to the Pauline imperative that releases Augustine from a life of unresolved inner conflict and binds him to a better spirited love. It is a two-part imperative: put on Christ, and stop lusting. In the Confessions narrative, Augustine is able to apply this imperative to himself only after he has taken his lessons from the Platonists and noticed their limits. He recalls having become a pseudo-expert on the God-concept: the being who is infinite but not extended in space or subject to time, eternally perfected and utterly immutable, and yet willing to create a shareable reality. ‘I chattered openly about all this, as if I were an expert,’ Augustine writes, ‘but until I began to seek the way to you in Christ, our redeemer, I was not skilled but scuttled.’22 Augustine faults himself, and by extension the Platonists with whom he has self-identified, for undervaluing or missing altogether the role that humility plays in the philosophical life. By humility he means not his self-contrived efforts to abase himself (that’s a parody of humility) but God’s descent from an eternally unreachable summit to the created order. We are unlike God anywhere else – but, of course, there is nowhere else to be. Platonism, without Christ, is not for Augustine a difficult form of idealism, best appreciated from an out-of-body point of view. It is an attempt, not without

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insight, to get at simplicity without having to become simple. Of course one is never simple as God is. Augustine’s Platonists knew that. Metaphysics forbids the equation. But then there is the temptation to style oneself a master at not being God. Platonism does not help Augustine with that one. There are still Platonists living after Christ, he notes, who never mention God’s life and death as Jesus.23 They overlook the generosity of God’s way of not being God. So stop lusting. Stop living as if your bottomless needs and wants owned the rights to your flesh. And put on Jesus. Allow yourself to love others simply and without reserve. Those you love will defy your powers of description, but your words will always speak more than you can say. Such is the mystery of the Word made flesh.24

Notes 1

The metaphor is common enough; it is used to describe what Augustine and a whole host of mediaeval thinkers do to Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. For a magisterial working out of its implications relative to Augustine, see John Rist (1994) Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2 Christine M. Korsgaard (1996) The Sources of Normativity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 1–5. She entitles her prologue, ‘Excellence and obligation: a very concise history of western metaphysics 387 BC to 1887 AD’. 3 Korsgaard, Sources, p. 4. 4 In the second volume of her Gifford lectures, Hannah Arendt refers to Augustine as ‘the first philosopher of the will’. See (1978) The Life of the Mind: Willing, New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, pp. 84–110. She is not the only philosopher to have credited Augustine with such inventiveness. 5 Socrates casts himself in the Phaedo as having once been an avid student of the causes of things. His vocation as a philosopher comes out his disillusionment with too flat-footed a conception of that kind of investigation. He still seeks the causes of things, but he also worries about being blinded by a good that his eyes cannot see. To avoid blindness, he resorts to truth-seeking by means of argument, a retreat into words. See Phaedo 96a–100b. My source for Plato’s Greek is C. J. Rowe’s edition (1993). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 6 City of God (hereafter CG) 8.3. My source for the Latin text (De civitate Dei) is Corpus Christianorum Series Latina XLVII, ed. B. Dombart and A. Kalb (1955). Turnholt: Brepols. All translations are my own. 7 CG 8.3. 8 Against the Skeptics 3.19.42. Latin text (Contra Academicos): Corpus Christianorum Series Latina XXIX, ed. W. M. Green (1970). Turnholt: Brepols. 9 CG 8.6. 10 CG 8.6. 11 Confessions (hereafter Conf.) 7.21.27. Latin text: James O’Donnell (1992) Augustine: Confessions, 3 volumes, text and commentary Oxford: Clarendon Press. 12 Augustine fittingly ends CG 8.6, the crucial chapter on Platonic natural theology, with an allusion to Romans 1.20.

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Both quotations are from Conf. 7.17.23. Conf. 8.1.1. Romans 13.14, see Conf. 8.12.29. Conf. 7.10.16. All the quoted material is from Conf. 7.10.16, including the allusions to Exodus 3.14 and Romans 1.20. Conf. 7.11.17. Conf. 7.13.19. John Hick famously makes a case for an Augustinian tradition of aesthetic theodicy in (1978) Evil and the God of Love, revised edition New York: Harper & Row. For a counterproposal, see Rowan Williams ‘Insubstantial Evil,’ in Augustine and his Critics ed. R. Dodaro and G. Lawless (2000). London: Routledge. Conf. 7.18.24. Conf. 7.20.26. Conf. 7.21.27. This chapter began its life as a lecture I was invited to give at The Catholic University of America, School of Philosophy, for their Fall 2006 Lecture Series on Augustine and Augustinianism. I would like to thank my hosts for their hospitality, especially Kurt Pritzl, the Dean, now of beloved memory.

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Chapter 7 What Aristotelian and Thomistic Philosophy Can Contribute to Christian Theology Michael Rota University of St Thomas Introduction In this chapter I will address the question, ‘What can the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions in philosophy contribute to Christian theology?’ There are two different things one might do in trying to answer this question. First, one might focus on those aspects of the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions which are proper to those traditions, and not shared by any of the other philosophical schools treated in this volume (e.g. Platonism, Kantianism, analytical philosophy, etc.). The idea would be to see how Christian theology can be supported by these distinctively Aristotelian or Thomistic positions. Second, and alternatively, one might focus on those views and ideas found in the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions which are most relevant for Christian theology, even if some other philosophical schools share some of these same views and ideas. I will take the second approach, because, at the end of the day, I think it will be more productive with respect to the goal of contributing to a deeper understanding of Christian theology. A few notes on background and terminology are in order: Although Aquinas was himself a theologian, and by no means merely an Aristotelian philosopher, he is nonetheless commonly and rightly considered to be a part of the Aristotelian intellectual tradition. For most of the Early Middle Ages, the vast majority of Aristotle’s works were unknown in Europe, but by Aquinas’s day (mid-thirteenth century), all or almost all of Aristotle’s works had been translated into Latin. These texts were the subject of intense study by intellectuals in the West. Aquinas himself played a role in the reception of Aristotle, writing insightful commentaries on twelve of Aristotle’s works. Many of Aquinas’s basic philosophical concepts are taken in large part from Aristotle, who Aquinas simply calls ‘the Philosopher’. These include, for example, the ten categories, the four causes, and the distinction between actuality and potentiality. Aquinas’s

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understanding of natural science is largely of Aristotelian origin, and his ethics, metaphysics and epistemology all include central places for Aristotle’s ideas. Since I take Aquinas and his commentators to be a part of the Aristotelian tradition, I will use the phrase ‘the Aristotelian tradition’ in such a way as to include the Thomistic tradition. So I will henceforth explicitly mention the ‘Thomistic tradition’ only when I want to focus on positions representative of the Thomistic tradition that are not part of Aristotelianism in general. In section one, my focus will be on two very general tenets of the Aristotelian tradition that are, in my view, essential to a proper reception of Christian revelation. I am thinking here of (i) the notion that there is such a thing as objective truth, and (ii) a certain epistemological optimism according to which we really can come to know some important truths about reality. In this section I will also briefly commend the openness and attention to a wide variety of sources which we see in Aquinas’s work. In section two I will narrow in on two specific ways in which Aquinas’s thought can contribute to Christian theology. After briefly discussing Aquinas’s virtue ethics, I will turn to his views on the rationality of religious belief, arguing that the conception of faith and reason found in Aquinas’s works provides a sound orientation for fundamental theology. Thomistic views on the rationality of religious belief can both account for the certainty of the believer and offer something to the agnostic inquirer who has not yet received the gift of faith.1 Section One In his commentary on Aristotle’s De caelo, Aquinas remarks that ‘the study of philosophy has as its purpose to know not what people have thought, but rather the truth about the way things are’ (Book I, l. 22, n. 8).2 Two important ideas are implicit in this remark. First, we find here the idea that there is a way things are, a fact of the matter about what is out there. Second, we find the idea that there is such a thing as the truth about the way things are, a truth that is the same for everyone. I do not say that both these claims are logically entailed by the quotation from Aquinas I have just given, but there is no question that Aquinas and Aristotle did hold both claims. We can bring these issues under one heading by saying that Aristotle and St Thomas thought there was such a thing as objective truth. For the sake of clarity, let us define the position that there is objective truth as the conjunction of three claims: (1) There is a way reality is. (2) The way reality is is the same for everybody. (It is not the case, for example, that there are giraffes for me or relative to my perspective,

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while there are not any for you or relative to your perspective. If it is a fact that there are giraffes, then that is a fact for all of us.) (3) A statement is true if and only if the portion of reality which the statement is about is as the statement says it is (adapted from Alston, 2001, p. 41). The first two of these claims concern the existence of a single objective reality, while the third is an expression of what William Alston has called a ‘realist conception of truth’. Aristotle famously expresses this conception of truth in the Metaphysics: To say of what is that it is not, or of what is not that it is, is false, while to say of what is that it is, and of what is not that it is not, is true. (Aristotle, 1984, Metaphysics IV.7 1011b 25–28) In Aquinas’s words: A judgment is said to be true when it conforms to external reality. (Quaestiones disputatae de veritate [QDV] 1.3c)3 Now, why is an affirmation of objective truth important for Christian theology? The answer is simple: because Jesus and the apostles presented Christian revelation as something that is objectively true. Consider: the synoptic gospels record a conversation between Jesus and certain Sadducees who, denying the resurrection, presented Jesus with a puzzle concerning marriage in the afterlife. Jesus’s response: ‘You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven’ (Mt. 22.29–30).4 Now imagine him adding, ‘but I’m not saying that’s objectively true. Everyone will be resurrected from my perspective, but maybe that’s not true for you.’ This would completely undercut Jesus’s claim. Or consider Peter’s assertion: ‘For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of his majesty’ (2 Pet. 1.16). It is just implausible to suppose that the claim being made here is offered as anything but an objective truth claim. The essential doctrines of Christianity were first presented as objective truth claims about the way the world really is. Without a commitment to the objectivity of truth, then, we cannot receive these doctrines in the spirit in which they were given to us. So the affirmation of the objectivity of truth which we find in the Aristotelian tradition is a sine qua non for authentic Christian theology.

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The second very general tenet of the Aristotelian tradition on which I want to focus is the belief that human beings can come to know some important truths about reality. Throughout the Aristotelian tradition we find a genuine – even if sober and restrained – epistemological optimism, and a corresponding appreciation of the irrationality of radical scepticism. ‘All human beings naturally desire to know,’ Aristotle observes in the first line of the Metaphysics, and, Aquinas adds in his commentary on Aristotle’s text, ‘a natural desire cannot exist in vain’. Human beings are capable of achieving episteme or scientia (demonstrative knowledge) with respect to certain aspects of the natural world, and, according to Aquinas at least, with respect to certain facts about God. Heirs of the Aristotelian tradition tend to be unimpressed by general sceptical arguments for the conclusion that a human being cannot come to know any substantive truths about reality. I think this is especially important for Christian theology. There is a certain view one occasionally finds in academia today according to which it is passé, naïve, or in some other way intellectually subpar to have a firm conviction about any substantive matter (Plantinga, 1994, p. 277). This attitude is corrosive of any authentic Christian spiritual life. In practice, it is just not possible to combine a radical distrust of committment to the truth of anything with the sort of trust in God which a flourishing Christian life requires. Some sort of robust confidence in human cognition (or confidence in human cognition with the help of grace, at the least) is thus necessary for an appropriate response to Christian revelation. Finally, before moving on to section two, I want to touch on an aspect of Aquinas’s methodology relevant to contemporary theological reflection. I’m thinking here of St Thomas’s openness to a wide variety of sources, and his willingness to learn from thinkers with worldviews quite different than his own. As we would expect, Aquinas draws heavily on the Christian Scriptures and on earlier Christian thinkers, for example, Augustine, Boethius and John Damascene. But he also makes use of and engages with Islamic and Jewish thinkers (most notably Averroes, Avicenna and Maimonides). As mentioned above, Aristotle is a massive influence. But Aquinas also draws much from the Neoplatonism of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. And in addition to engaging these luminaries of his past, St Thomas actively participated in the debates and controversies of his day. Overall, the picture that emerges is of a scholar deeply formed by the past, but engaging the newest ideas and concerns of his own time, a theologian utilizing the best philosophy and natural science then available, and a capacious thinker who asked the big questions while also achieving excellence with respect to the details. In my opinion, Christian theologians today benefit when, in a similar way, they engage thinkers from many different schools and traditions, and when they incorporate the insights of contemporary philosophy, natural science and social science.

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In this section I should have liked to consider a number of specific positions characteristic of the Thomistic tradition, to show how they can bear fruit in theology. Due to length constraints, however, I will only focus on one: the connection between faith and reason. Still, in passing I wish to simply mention the work of Servais Pinckaers in moral theology. In Les sources de la morale chrétienne,5 Pinckaers argues along the following lines: For Augustine and other Church Fathers, as for Aquinas, the ‘point of departure for Christian ethics is the question of happiness’ (p. 208). In Aquinas’s work we see a moral theology that attempts to provide a systematic explication of Christ’s answer to the question, ‘What is true happiness, and how are we to arrive at it?’ Aquinas begins the second part of the Summa theologiae with the treatise on happiness, and proceeds to discuss the path to happiness. This focus on happiness results in a careful consideration of the passions, the virtues, grace, the gifts of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments, as well as a consideration of law and precepts. In the modern period, however – certainly from the seventeenth century on – Christian ethics came to be centred on the concept of obligation, and came to be organized around law and commandments. Now, a proper understanding of Aquinas’s virtue ethics will include a place for real obligation and law. But, Pinckaers argues, the concentration on obligation characteristic of the modern period resulted in a neglect (among moral theologians) of Scriptural sources, of the positive role of the passions, of the centrality of the virtues and of the role of grace (which was assigned to dogmatic theology). The same focus on obligation to law has given rise to the notion, among the general public, that Christian morality is primarily a matter of obeying a set of somewhat arbitrary rules, often at the expense of one’s own happiness. We reinvigorate Christian ethics, he contends, to the extent that we focus once again on happiness and human flourishing. An authentic retrieval of Aquinas’s moral theology will contribute to this task. I turn now to questions relating to the connection between faith and reason. I will discuss three different approaches here: evidentialism, fideism and the middle road which we find in Aquinas. Evidentialism with respect to a certain proposition (e.g. the proposition that God exists) is the view that belief in that proposition is rationally acceptable ‘only if there is good evidence for it,’ where good evidence is something that comes in the form of good arguments from other propositions one knows (adapted from Plantinga, 2000, p. 70).6 On this view, a person’s belief in the existence of God is rationally acceptable only if that person is in possession of one or more good arguments for the existence of God. And, in the case of propositions which cannot themselves be proved apart from revelation, like the doctrine of the Trinity,

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a person’s belief in such a proposition will be rational only if that person has a good argument for the conclusion that God has revealed the proposition in question. Evidentialism has its strengths. The evidentialist takes truth seriously, and recognizes that it is a vice to be cavalier in the formation of one’s beliefs. But it also has serious weaknesses; I will highlight two.7 First, the evidentialist’s claim that belief in God cannot be rational unless it is supported by argument is dubious at best, because it fails to account for the possibility that some externalist account of warrant or rationality might be true. To see the issue here, note that, just as evidentialists ask us to produce arguments, they also realize that every argument needs its starting points. Since not every proposition we rationally believe can be backed by an argument (that would require an infinite number of arguments, or circular reasoning), it’s clear that there are some propositions which we can properly accept in a basic way, that is, without the support of an argument. I know, for example, that modus ponens is valid, and I know this by intuition. I don’t need an argument. Given that some of our beliefs are basic (i.e. not accepted on the evidential basis of other propositions we believe), it’s natural to ask: What sorts of propositions can we properly or rationally accept in this basic way? Certainly, self-evident propositions, like 1 + 2 = 3, which we can judge to be true just by examining their content and seeing that they must be true. Also certain propositions involving the contents of one’s own mind, for example, the proposition that I now seem to see something white. And propositions that are evident to my senses, for example there is now a pen in my hand. But it is quite clear, contra the view known as classical foundationalism, that these are not the only sorts of propositions which we can properly accept in a basic way. Consider your belief concerning what you had for breakfast this morning. Say that you had eggs. Your belief that you had eggs might be quite firm, and rationally so. Yet the proposition that you had eggs for breakfast this morning is not self-evident, it is not merely about the contents of your own mind, and it not now evident to the senses. Is it the case that you believe the proposition that you had eggs this morning because it is the conclusion of some argument from other propositions you know? Something like this, perhaps: (a) I seem to remember that I had eggs this morning, (b) my memory is usually reliable in situations like this, thus, (c) it is highly probable that I had eggs for breakfast this morning? I doubt that you considered such an argument when you formed the belief that you had eggs this morning. More likely, you just remembered that you had eggs this morning, forming the belief straight away. But suppose you were more careful, and resolved henceforth to form beliefs about the past only in virtue of arguments, arguments like that just

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mentioned. Unhappily, it will turn out to be impossible to justify your robust confidence in the premise that ‘my memory is usually reliable in situations like this’. For in order to justify your belief in the reliability of your memory, you will have to see the cogency of an argument for the reliability of your memory. But to do that, you’ll have to use your memory – both because you will need to remember the premises of your argument by the time you get to the conclusion, and because you will have to use your memory to gather data on how well you have remembered things in the past. For that matter, you will have to use your memory to remember that there is such a thing as the past.8 What all this indicates is that we need to expand the set of what sorts of propositions can count as properly basic, so as to include at least some memory beliefs. So now we have four classes of propositions which can be properly basic. Are there any others? Perhaps the thing to do at this point is to search for a general criterion which will tell us what it takes for a belief to be properly basic, that is, what it takes to be rationally acceptable without argument. One popular proposal for such a criterion can be found in reliabilist or externalist epistemologies. Consider (as a first approximation) what we can call the reliabilist account of proper basicality: a basic belief B is properly basic for an agent S iff (i) S’s belief that B was produced by a reliable belief-forming process, and (ii) there is no good reason for S to think that B is false or worthy of doubt. (Here a reliable belief-forming process is one which has a high objective probability of delivering true beliefs.) On this account, some of your memory beliefs can be properly basic because the process that produces those beliefs is reliable (in the right conditions), and there is no good reason to think the beliefs in question are false or worthy of doubt. Likewise, perceptual beliefs that you form in suitable circumstances (e.g. this is a white object) can be properly basic for you because they are produced by a reliable process, and there is no reason to doubt them. Consider my memory belief that I am now in Minnesota. Note that it is not the case that, in order for this belief to be rationally held by me in a basic way, I first need an argument that shows that my memory belief-producing process is at least sometimes reliable. (Such an argument is bound to be circular, depending as it will on at least one premise which I can only know by using my memory.) For my memory belief to be properly basic, I do not need an argument for the reliability of memory. All that needs to be the case is that (i) my memory belief producing process is in fact reliable, and (ii) there’s no good reason to think I should doubt my memory. This position is confirmed by thinking about the memory beliefs of children. Surely some of my six-year-old brother’s memory beliefs are properly basic. But he has not so much as considered arguments for the reliability of memory.

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Now, to return to the issue of religious beliefs. The evidentialist simply assumes, without argument, that belief in the existence of God cannot be properly basic. But this is not at all clear, as Al Plantinga has shown.9 Suppose that God does exist, and that God has given us a sensus divinitatis, a cognitive faculty which, when triggered by an appropriate experience, delivers the belief that God exists. If God exists, He might well give us such a ‘connatural’ knowledge of his existence. If He gave us such a faculty, it would certainly be reliable. Thus, if God exists, we might well have a reliable belief-producing process that delivers belief in God. Suppose I have such a cognitive faculty, and that I have considered the principal potential defeaters10 for theism and found them wanting. Then, on the reliabilist view of proper basicality, my belief in God would be properly basic. So it is entirely possible that it is rational for me to believe in God, even without a single argument for His existence. Here, then, is the first problem with evidentialism. Evidentialism assumes, without argument, that religious beliefs cannot be properly basic. But why think that? Since it’s a real possibility that some religious beliefs can be properly basic, evidentialism’s key claim that I need an argument for any given religious belief is dubious. The traditional Christian theist will also see a second problem with evidentialism. According to traditional Christian theism, one can, without any irrationality, assent to the doctrines of Christianity with maximal firmness, with certainty. Yet according to evidentialism, the firmness with which one assents to any religious belief can rise only as high as the strength of the argument one has for that proposition. Take the doctrine of the Trinity. According to the evidentialist, if I am to be completely certain of the truth of this doctrine, I must possess a deductive argument the conclusion of which is that this doctrine has been revealed by God, and every premise of which is certain to me. But it is very implausible to think there is such an argument. I think we can give a strong inductive argument for the conclusion that the doctrine of the Trinity is divinely revealed, based on evidence for certain miracles and fulfilled prophecies that support the divine origin of Christian revelation. But since such an argument will depend on factual claims about what happened in the distant past, it is hard to see how it could rise to the level of absolute certainty. I might have very strong reason to think that Jesus was resurrected, from, say, testimony and game theoretic arguments about the incentives of the apostles. But these arguments will at best deliver the conclusion that it is highly likely that Jesus was resurrected. Now, I think that is a significant conclusion and one that would make it rational to become a Christian. But my point here is that an inductive argument for the truth of a doctrine like the Trinity would not be enough to make it rational to be certain of that doctrine. And so, if arguments were the only source of warrant for our Christian beliefs, as evidentialism asserts, we could not rationally

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be certain about such Christian beliefs as the Trinity. Since we can be certain of such doctrines, evidentialism must be false. An epistemology of religious belief which can explain the certainty of faith is needed in its stead. Far removed from evidentialism is an opposite tendency, a tendency to downplay the role of reason in matters of religious belief. There are various ways of doing this. First, a person might think that when it comes to religious beliefs, he has no duty to respect the deliverances of his ordinary cognitive faculties. On this view, there would be nothing wrong with believing a religious doctrine even if it were contradicted by a proposition that looks for all the world to be true according to one’s natural lights. I see this as deeply misguided. Human beings are by nature rational animals. If one simply ignores the deliverances of one’s ordinary cognitive faculties when they conflict with one’s religious beliefs, one is failing to flourish as a rational being. Truth about religious matters is too important to forgo a careful consideration of objections to one’s own beliefs. A second way of downplaying the role of reason in matters of religious belief is to hold that propositions like ‘God exists’ and ‘The essential doctrines of Christianity have been revealed by God’ admit of no support from purely philosophical arguments. Call this the No Positive Apologetics view. It seems to me that the No Positive Apologetics view is false; there are strong arguments that support belief in God and the divine origin of the Christian religion. But here is not the place to give those arguments. Instead let me focus on a practical problem with the No Positive Apologetics view: it leaves the agnostic inquirer with little reason to take Christianity seriously. Suppose you do not have the gift of faith, nor do you enjoy any sort of basic belief with respect to religious matters. Suppose you are then told, by Christians themselves, that you will find no good arguments which support or confirm Christianity (not even inductive ones) that proceed from premises you accept. Why should you consider it worth your time to explore Christianity, learn its doctrines or attend Christian religious services? And why should you pick Christianity over some other religion? On the No Positive Apologetics view, it is hard to answer these questions. When we turn to the views of Aquinas,11 we find a middle position between evidentialism and the sort of fideism I’ve just described. On the one hand, Aquinas thinks that the act of faith proceeds from both the intellect and the will (under the influence of grace), and that the chief and proper cause of the believer’s assent is not a consideration of evidence, but ‘God moving [man] inwardly by grace’ (Summa theologiae [ST] II–II.6.1). This gives Aquinas the resources to explain the certainty of faith. On the other hand, Aquinas thinks that reason can assist faith; on a Thomistic view there will always be argumentation to offer the evidentialist-minded unbeliever to help prepare him or her for faith, and to help confirm a believer’s trust in revelation. I will now try to support and explain these claims.

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In the Summa theologiae, Aquinas writes: To believe is an act of the intellect assenting to the Divine truth at the command of the will moved by God through grace. (ST II–II.2.9c) Aquinas notes that sometimes one is sufficiently moved to assent to a proposition simply by the way in which one cognizes that proposition; no action of one’s will is involved. This occurs in the case of first principles (like ‘a whole is greater than any of its proper parts’), and it occurs in the case of scientia when one knows a proposition through a demonstration of that proposition. Aquinas uses the analogy of vision to talk about propositions which themselves move the intellect in either of these ways; in these cases we can say that the proposition itself is ‘seen’ or ‘evident’.12 But in other cases, the intellect assents to something, not through being sufficiently moved to this assent by its proper object, but through an act of choice, whereby it turns voluntarily to one side rather than to the other. And if this be accompanied by doubt and fear of the opposite side, there will be opinion, while, if there be certainty and no fear of the other side, there will be faith. (ST II–II.1.4c)13 So faith involves free choice of the will. What is it that moves the will of the believer to assent to Christian revelation? Aquinas gives different answers in different texts, referring variously to (a) evidence that establishes the authenticity of the putative revelation, (b) the human person’s desire for eternal union with God, and (c) an interior inclination by which one sees that one ought to believe.14 In his later writings, this much is clear: inclined by a gift of grace, the believer sees (this is an act of the intellect) that he ought to believe the propositions of faith.15 God grants the believer an interior inclination16 to accept Divine revelation, an instinctus fidei. It is this instinct which allows us to explain the certainty of faith. Aquinas writes: [I]n the faith by which we believe in God there is not only the accepting of the propositions to which we assent, but [there is also] something which moves us to assent. And this is a kind of light – the habit of faith – divinely imparted to the human mind. It is indeed more capable of persuading than a demonstration. (Super de Trinitate, q 3 a 1 ad 4) I think the most plausible way to develop Aquinas’s position here is by reference to externalist accounts of warrant and justification. Even without a good,

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non-circular argument for the conclusion ‘my memory is reliable’, I can be warranted in holding, with certainty, that I had eggs for breakfast this morning. This is because what primarily confers warrant on my belief is the reliability of the process which produced it. In the same way, I can be warranted in holding, with certainty, that Christian revelation is true, because the instinctus fidei is a reliable belief-producing process. Provided that the appropriate conditions about defeaters are met, the beliefs it produces are warranted and can be held with certainty, even in the absence of arguments for the truth of Christianity. So Aquinas is not an evidentialist. At the same time, he sees a robust role for reason when it comes to beliefs concerning God. On Aquinas’s views, reason can assist Christian faith in at least four ways. First, we can see without relying on faith that nothing we know contradicts Christianity. Natural reason alone can show that objections to Christianity are not compelling (ST I.1.8). Second, the existence of God can be demonstrated from natural reason alone, apart from faith or revelation (ST I.2.2). Third, arguments from miracles can confirm the truth of Christian revelation (ST II–II.2.9 ad 3, II–II.178.1, III.43–44).17 (Thus Aquinas would reject the No Positive Apologetics view.) Fourth, reason can be put to use in the task of understanding Christian revelation; this involves both drawing out implications of what has been revealed, and providing helpful analogies for understanding the mysteries of faith.18 Two comments: For understandable reasons, some might wish to relax the claim that God’s existence can be demonstrated (according to the strict standards of Aristotelian episteme), so that the claim is instead only that God’s existence can be shown to be highly probable. This approach may be helpful in certain dialectical contexts. Second, the claim that arguments from miracles can confirm the truth of Christian revelation can be augmented, so as to also take note of arguments from fulfilled prophecies, from the sublime content of Christian doctrine, from the moral excellence of the saints, and from the spread of the Church.19 Other variations are also possible; but on any view we could call a Thomistic view of things, this much will be the case: there will be arguments (arguments from premises knowable by the light of natural reason alone) to offer to the agnostic inquirer who does not yet have the gift of faith. At various places Aquinas considers the evidentialist challenge that Christian believers lack sufficient grounds for their belief. His reply contains reference both to miracles and to the instinctus fidei: The one who believes has sufficient motive for believing, for he is persuaded by the authority of Divine doctrine confirmed by miracles, and, what is more, by the interior instigation of God inviting [him to believe]. Hence he does not believe lightly. (ST II–II.2.9 ad 3)

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The conception of faith and reason we see here provides a sound orientation for fundamental theology. Thomistic views on the rationality of religious belief can both account for the certainty of the believer and offer something to the agnostic inquirer who has not yet received the gift of faith.20

Notes 1 I mention ‘Thomistic views’ and the ‘Thomistic tradition’ at various points in this chapter. Lest the unwary reader be misled, it should be noted that thinkers within the Thomistic tradition do not present a single, unified body of doctrine on which all Thomistic philosophers and theologians agree. On the contrary, Thomas’s writings have been interpreted and developed in quite different ways by different thinkers (as is common with the writings of major philosophers and theologians). In the introduction to Paterson and Pugh, 2006, Craig Paterson and Matthew Pugh distinguish three stages in the history of Thomism. The first stage runs from Aquinas’s death to the Council of Trent (1545–1563); perhaps the most well-known Thomist from this stage is the Dominican theologian John Capreolus (d.1444). The second stage, from after Trent until the waning of Scholasticism in the latter half of the seventeenth century, is principally marked by the works of the Dominicans Tommaso Cajetan (d.1534), Domingo Banez (d.1604) and John of St. Thomas (d.1644), and the Jesuits Luis de Molina (d.1600) and Francisco Suarez (d.1617). The third stage begins with a revival of interest in Aquinas in the late nineteenth century, spurred on by Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Aeterni Patris (which strongly recommends the study and appropriation of Thomas’s thought). By the mid-twentieth century, there were at least three flourishing schools of Thomism: ‘(i) the Lublin school in Poland, (ii) Transcendental Thomism and (iii) Existential Thomism’ (Paterson and Pugh, 2006, p. xvi). Prominent members of these schools are (i) Karol Wojtyla, (ii) Joseph Marechal and Pierre Rousselot, and (iii) Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain, respectively. More recently, philosophers such as Peter Geach, Norman Kretzmann, Eleonore Stump and John Haldane have brought Aquinas’s thought into dialogue with contemporary analytic philosophy. For additional discussion of different approaches to Aquinas – including approaches by contemporary theologians – see Kerr 2002. For what I take to be the best singlevolume introduction to Aquinas’s thought, see Stump 2003. 2 ‘Studium philosophiae non est ad hoc quod sciatur quid homines senserint, sed qualiter se habeat veritas rerum.’ Translation from Stump 2003, p. 9. 3 Translations from Aquinas are my own, except where otherwise noted. 4 All Scripture quotations are from Metzger and Murphy, The New Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version. 5 Available in English translation as The Sources of Christian Ethics. 6 Most of the following section on evidentialism is drawn from Plantinga 2000, chapter 3. 7 For more, see Plantinga 2000, chapter 3. 8 For a more detailed argument of this sort concerning the basicality of memory beliefs, see Plantinga 1993, pp. 61–4. 9 See Plantinga 2000.

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10 A defeater for a given belief is a reason to no longer hold that belief. See Plantinga 2000, pp. 359–66. 11 The most insightful discussion of St Thomas on faith and reason of which I am aware is Brent 2008. In this section I am helped by this work, and by Stump 2003, chapter 12, and Shanley 2002, chapter 2. 12 ST II–II.1.4c. 13 Translation from Thomas Aquinas 1981. 14 See Brent 2008, chapter 5, part 2, and Aquinas, In Sent 23.3.2 ad 2, In Sent 24.2.2 ad 4, QDV 14.1, ST II–II.1.4 ad 3, 2.3 ad 2, and 2.9 ad 3. 15 ST II–II.1.5 ad 1: the divinely given ‘light of faith . . . makes [Christian believers] see that they ought to believe’ the propositions of faith. 16 At Super ep. ad Romanos, chapter 10, l. 2, Aquinas calls it an ‘inclination of the heart to believe’. 17 ST II–II.178.1c is worth quoting at length: ‘The Holy Spirit provides sufficiently for the Church in matters profitable unto salvation, to which purpose the gratuitous graces are directed. Now just as the knowledge which a man receives from God needs to be brought to the knowledge of others through the gift of tongues and the grace of the word, so too the word uttered needs to be confirmed in order that it be rendered credible. This is done by the working of miracles . . . and reasonably so. For it is natural to man to arrive at the intelligible truth through its sensible effects. Wherefore just as man led by his natural reason is able to arrive at some knowledge of God through His natural effects, so is he brought to a certain degree of supernatural knowledge of the objects of faith by certain supernatural effects which are called miracles’ (Translation from Thomas Aquinas 1981). On the issue of evidence for the judgment of credibility, see also ST II–II.1.4 ad 2: ‘For [the believer] would not believe [the things which come under faith] unless, on account of the evidence of signs or something similar, he saw that they ought to be believed.’ (The fourteenth-century Dominican William Crathorn has an especially interesting, evidentialistically inclined reading of this passage, in Pasnau 2002, p. 301.) 18 I am helped here by Michael Gorman, ‘Thomas Aquinas on Reason and Faith’, a talk given at the Sino-American Symposium on Philosophy and Religious Studies, Beijing University, 4–6 July, 2006. 19 See Vatican I, Dei Filius, in Neuner and Dupuis 1990, pp. 42–4, and Pius IX, Qui pluribus, in Neuner and Dupuis 1990, pp. 38–9. 20 I’m grateful to Tim and Faith Pawl for discussions of Aquinas’s views on faith and reason, and to James Brent for sharing his magisterial dissertation on the same topic.

Bibliography Alston, W. P. (2001) ‘A realist conception of truth’, in M. P. Lynch (ed.), The Nature of Truth: Classic and Contemporary Perspectives. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 41–66. Aristotle (1984) The Complete Works of Aristotle, the Revised Oxford Translation. J. Barnes (ed.). Princeton: Princeton University Press.

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Brent, J. (2008) ‘The Epistemic Status of Christian Beliefs in Thomas Aquinas’, Ph.D. diss., Saint Louis University, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA. Kerr, F. (2002) After Aquinas: Versions of Thomism, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Metzger, B. M. and Murphy, R. E., eds (1991) The Oxford Annotated Bible, New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University Press. Neuner, J. and Dupuis J., eds (1990) The Christian Faith: Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church, 5th edn, Staten Island, NY: Alba House. Pasnau, R. (2002) Cambridge Translations of Medieval Philosophical Texts. Volume III: Mind and Knowledge. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Paterson, C. and Pugh, M (2006) Analytical Thomism: Traditions in Dialogue, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing. Pinckaers, S. (1995) The Sources of Christian Ethics, translated from the 3rd edn by Mary Thomas Noble, Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press. Plantinga, A. (1993) Warrant and Proper Function, New York: Oxford University Press. ——— (1994) ‘On christian scholarship’, in T. Hesburgh (ed.), The Challenge and Promise of a Catholic University, Notre Dame and London: University of Notre Dame Press, pp. 267–95. ——— (2000) Warranted Christian Belief, New York: Oxford University Press. Shanley, B. J. (2002) The Thomist Tradition, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers. Stump, E. (2003) Aquinas, New York: Routledge. Thomas Aquinas (1981) Summa Theologica, translated by the Fathers of the English Dominican Province, Westminster, MD: Christian Classics. ——— (2000) Opera omnia. ‘Corpus Thomisticum, S. Thomae de Aquino, Opera omnia’, edited by Enrique Alarcon. Pamplona, Spain: University of Navarre. URL = http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/iopera.html

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Chapter 8 The Kantian Tradition: The Danger of Philosophical Hegemony Merold Westphal Fordham University The question can be posed in two ways. Can Kantian philosophy provide positive resources for theology? Can Kantian philosophy be a handmaiden to theology?1 The difference is important. For, sometimes philosophy offers positive resources to theology in the form of a hegemony over theology. Thus, for example, Heidegger says repeatedly that it is the task of phenomenology to ‘correct’ theology. Although ‘what is revealed in faith can never be founded by way of . . . autonomously functioning reason,’ its theological articulation requires ‘the appropriate conceptual interpretation’ which is to be ‘ontologically determined by a content that is pre-Christian and that can thus be grasped purely rationally.’ In this way he undermines his own claim that theology is ‘a fully autonomous ontic science’.2 By contrast, the handmaiden image is meant to suggest that theology retains its right to be the criterion of what resources might be helpful. Positive resources then become reminders of what theology has its own good reasons to affirm in the light of its own norms of Scripture and tradition.3 When the churches forget how they should think and how they should act, these reminders take on the form of critique. Kant describes the relation of his philosophy to Christian theology in the title of his ‘fourth critique’, Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason.4 But this phrase is not just the title of a book; it is also the name of what might be called the theological strand of the Enlightenment Project. It is shared by numerous predecessors and successors of Kant, including English deism as a striking example. Many of these we associate with modernity, but some, such as Heidegger in the text cited above, along with Levinas and Derrida, are rightly designated as postmodern because they do not share modernity’s understanding of reason. In its modern forms this project had a double motivation. On the one hand, there was the problem of religious conflict, intolerance in the form of anathemas,

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persecutions, inquisitions and holy wars – coercion and killing in the name of God. The solution was thought to be a universal religion in which the differences among the religions would be reduced to relative unimportance, and it was thought that reason, being universal, by contrast with every religion’s scripture and every denomination’s traditions, could provide the needed religion within the boundaries of mere reason. On the other hand, there was the desire for autonomy.5 Over against the authoritarianism of both church and state, there was posed the right to be free from any authority other than one’s own thought – not just any thought, of course, but rational thought. Once again, reason to the rescue. Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, against the background of his theological writings, is a ‘dramatic’ example of this project and its double motivation. But what is reason? It was defined negatively as autonomous thought, free from dependence on revelation in the dual forms of particularity: divinely given Scripture and ecclesial traditions of interpretations. If a purely rational religion used any biblical and theological language, it would do so on its own terms. The problem was that reason, so defined, turned out to be too abstract to be actual. In concrete practice it was as particular and thus as plural as the religions of revelation. Take only three examples: Spinoza, Kant and Hegel. Each developed a comprehensive version of religion within the boundaries of mere reason, but these were at least as particular and mutually incompatible as the Judaism, Christianity and Islam of Lessing’s Nathan. Spinoza’s deterministic pantheism is irreconcilable with Kant’s libertarian theism; and Hegel, who is deeply indebted to both thinkers, defines his own thought in large measure by its differences from theirs. Like the Abrahamic monotheisms (and the denominations within each), autonomous reason actualized itself in manifestly particular ‘denominations’ that claimed to be of universal import. We can now locate Kant’s project. In its dual claim to the alleged universality and autonomy of ‘mere reason’ the positive resources it offers to theology come in the form of a hegemony.6 It is a rival of Christian theology, a particular religious world view in conflict with all the classical forms of Christian theology over which it claims authority. Indeed, although it is monotheistic, it is in conflict with all three Abrahamic monotheisms. Kant develops this hegemony with an image and a principle that often appear side by side in the Enlightenment’s theological project. The image is that of distinguishing the kernel from the husk of Scripture and tradition in order to separate the good stuff from the bad stuff. This motif is best understood in relation to Kant’s restatement of Plato’s theory of reason as recollection. The moral philosophy in terms of which we are to identify the universal, rational kernel of any particular religion is a priori, ‘independent [of everything empirical] and sufficient to genuine religion’

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(R 64/12–13). It provides us with the ‘idea’, the ‘ideal’, the ‘prototype’ of a Son of God who is fully pleasing to God. Anything historical is only an ‘example’, dispensable in principle, of the idea which is ‘already in our reason’(R 104– 105/60–62).7 In other words, Jesus is to our rational ideal what the diagram that Socrates draws for the slave boy in the Meno is to purely ideal geometrical figures. The empirical or historical can be the occasion for recollecting what in some sense we already and independently know, and that is all; and to believe in this Son of God is only to be confident that one would emulate this prototype (R 104–105/62). The principle in terms of which Kant expresses the hegemony of philosophy over theology is a hermeneutical principle for interpreting the Bible.

‘Ecclesiastical faith has the pure faith of Religion for its supreme interpreter’ (R 142/109) Of course, for Kant ‘pure’ always signifies the a priori. Thus, moral philosophy, which is the product of pure practical Reason, is the hermeneutical norm for interpreting Scripture and tradition. The task is to relate ‘whatever the scripture may contain for historical faith entirely to the rules and incentives of pure moral faith, which alone constitutes true religion in each ecclesiastical faith’ (R 144/112; cf. 151/121). It is thus a duty ‘to find a meaning in Scriptures in harmony with the most holy teachings of reason’ (R 122/83–84). There is no mischief or transgression involved when the philosopher ‘borrows something from biblical theology to use for his own purpose . . . even granted that the philosopher uses whatever he borrows from biblical theology in a meaning suited to mere (reason but perhaps not pleasing to this theology . . . [that] he employs them in not quite the same sense [as the theologian])’ (R 62/9–10, emphasis added). ‘Not quite the same sense’ indeed! We have already seen that to believe in the Son of God is to trust in our own moral capacities. To say that this Son of God came down from heaven is to say that this idea, ideal, prototype is a priori, is already in our reason even though we know not how (R 104/61). The Holy Spirit is to be identified with the ‘good and pure disposition’ that coexists within us along side our predisposition to evil (R 111/70–71). The act of conversion in which the individual replaces the evil principle with the good principle (moral law) as the highest maxim of behaviour is itself the substitutionary (vicarious) atonement (sacrifice, satisfaction) in which the just punishment for one’s sins is carried out (R 112–15/72–75). It might seem that Kant’s image and hermeneutical principle, taken together, suggest that one should keep only what is warranted by ‘mere reason’ and

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abolish or oppose those readings of scripture and tradition that have ‘not quite the same sense’. But that is not his view. It will help here to have an image in view, that of two circles that overlap but are not congruent (like those in a Venn diagram). Let the left hand circle, A, represent the domain of pure practical reason. Let the right hand circle, B, represent some particular, historical religion, in this case Christianity. We thus have three areas, moving from left to right. Let X, the part of A that does not overlap with B, represent the purely moral dimensions of practical reason. It corresponds to Kant’s claim that since morality has no need of religion either to discover what our duty is or to provide sufficient incentive to impel us to do it (R 57/3–4). Let Y represent the overlap of the two circles. It corresponds to Kant’s claim that morality nevertheless ‘inevitably leads to religion’ insofar as we think of our duties as commands of God, ‘a mighty moral lawgiver outside the human being’ (R 59–60/6). Thus it belongs to A as the domain of rational religion. It includes the postulates of God and immortality as developed in the Critique of Practical Reason.8 But it also belongs to B insofar as the moral teachings of Christianity are in harmony with the moral teachings of pure practical reason. Finally, let Z represent the part of B that does not overlap with A. It is the domain of what Kant calls ecclesiastical faith and biblical theology. It is self-consciously dependent on biblical revelation, and it is dependent on ecclesial traditions even when it does not recognize the degree or even the fact of this dependence. It includes doctrines (dogma) and practices (rites) that have not had their rational kernel separated out from the husk and have not been systematically reinterpreted in the light of Kant’s hermeneutical principle. Whereas Spinoza explicitly rejects the idea of a personal God in the name of reason and Lessing explicitly rejects the idea ‘that god has a Son who is of the same essence as himself’ as an idea ‘against which my reason rebels,’9 Kant does not declare all out war on Christianity as religion Z. What he has to say about it can be summarized in several theses, repeated in various forms again and again: (1) Ecclesiastical faith and the biblical theology on which it rests are dispensable. Neither a fully rational morality nor a fully rational religion has any need, epistemological or motivational, for them. (2) Nevertheless, they need not be opposed or abolished, since they can be useful in support of rational morality and religion. (3) But their only legitimate use is in the service of rational faith as means to it as their proper end. They can serve as its ‘vehicle’ (Kant’s favourite term) or as the handmaidens of rational morality and theology. (4) This usefulness is for the common people. Those who are rationally mature will freely and properly dispense with ecclesiastical faith as unneeded, but the many (hoi polloi), who are rationally immature, will

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need and can benefit from the dogmas and rites of that faith. Kant’s ‘vehicle’ seems to be a kind of crutch. (5) But only if the dogmas and rites of the church(es) are kept strictly within the confines of their practical, that is their moral use. Outside of those confines ecclesiastical faith is dangerous. The sense that Kant wants to abolish the Christianity of the church(es) derives from his sustained polemic against the danger of Christian faith as taught by the church(es) and as understood by the common people. He calls it ‘counterfeit service’ and ‘priestcraft’ or ‘clericalism.’10 The danger he sees is quite simple and is expressed in the following axiom, a ‘principle requiring no proof: Apart from a good life-conduct, anything which the human being supposes that he can do to become well-pleasing to God is mere religious delusion and counterfeit service of God’ (R 190/170). Kant fears that if believing some doctrines or practising certain rites is seen as in and of itself pleasing to God, people will think they can be pleasing to God while ignoring their moral duties. That this is all too possible in the critiques of the very pious by the Hebrew prophets and Jesus, in their wake, make clear. But while Kant wants to have Jesus on his side in the reduction of religion to morality and its necessary postulates (God and immortality), he parts company with Jesus when the latter summarizes the law as having two distinct, if inseparable, requirements: love of God and love of neighbour (Mk 12.28–34). Kant holds to a rigid either/or according to which we (think we) love God in some form that is not in and of itself a love of neighbour, or we love our neighbour, that is, act in accordance with the categorical imperative. He seems to see the two as mutually exclusive, so that to follow the first path is to abandon the second. At the human level it would be like parents who don’t want a child to thank them for their care or give gifts to them out of gratitude on the grounds that the child would ipso facto or at least inevitably feel free to beat up on the other children in the family. One would think that parents would side with Jesus, by analogy, and say, ‘Yes, by all means show your love for us in ways that do not directly involve your siblings, but don’t think that gives you a moral holiday in your treatment of them.’11 It is perhaps fitting that the Kantian hegemony of philosophy over theology and the ecclesial life from which it arises and which it directs should be the grand finale of his religion book. Part Four concludes with a General Remark devoted to the ‘means of grace’, of which Kant cites four: private prayer, public worship (going to church), baptism and communion (Eucharist, Lord’s Supper). We are not surprised to find that he does not argue for the simple abolition of these ‘rites’. He rather argues that they can be the ‘true service of God’ only instrumentally, only if they are ‘schemata for [our] duties’ whose sole aim is ‘promoting the moral good’.

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‘Every beginning in religious matters, when not undertaken in a purely moral spirit but as a means in itself capable of propitiating God and thus, through him, of satisfying all our wishes, is a fetish-faith . . . an escape route by which to circumvent [the moral law] . . . a slothful trust . . . [a form of] delusory faith’ (R 209/193–94). But (a) practising these ‘rites’ only a means to greater moral virtue, understood in terms of loving one’s neighbour, and (b) doing so with the hope of getting goodies from God while freeing ourselves from moral responsibilities are not the only options. Kant commits what in logic is called the fallacy of incomplete division. We could also call it fallacy of the false forced option, illustrated in Sophie’s Choice when the Nazis make her choose between (1) having them kill the child she selects or (2) having them kill all her children. In petitionary prayer, for example, ‘God is not really served.’ What should be cultivated is ‘the spirit of prayer . . . the continual stimulation of [the moral] disposition within us’. As this spirit is developed ‘its letter (at least so far as we are concerned) should finally fall away. For the letter, like everything which is trained at a given end indirectly, rather weakens the effect of the moral idea’ (R 210–12/195–97). The letter, here, would presumably be not only petitionary prayer but also praise and thanksgiving; and ‘we’ are presumably those rationally mature folk who have raised ourselves above the common people.12 Similar analyses are given for the other three ‘means of grace’. In them we see how radical is Kant’s hermeneutical hegemony of (his version of) philosophical reason over the faith of the Christian churches. One can see at least family resemblances to the Kantian project in liberal Protestantism under the impact of Ritschl, Harnack, and later, of Bultmann and their tendency to reduce theology to ethics or existential choice. But one will have a hard time finding sympathy for Kant’s attitude towards these four practices in the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic or Protestant (evangelical or mainline) churches. One might find a measure of sympathy among some Quakers (Friends) or in the Unitarian Universalist churches. But that is about as far as it would go. For the vast majority of Christians, Kant’s religion can only be seen as a rival, one farther removed from their understanding and practice of Christianity than what is found in the other two major Christian traditions. Even the other two Abrahamic monotheisms give to prayer a place for which Kant can find no room.

The Primacy of the Practical So far Kant can offer positive resources to theology only as a hegemony or corrective that theology should in principle reject. It cannot be a handmaiden to philosophy, as if philosophy were the tribunal authorized to answer the ‘quid

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juris?’ question, prescribing what theology has or has not the right to say. Of course, theology cannot and need not keep philosophy from using theological resources for its own purposes. It need only make it clear that the result is not Christianity. But that is not the whole story. I now want to suggest two ways in which Kant can offer positive resources. Here, however, philosophy will have to be the handmaiden to theology, and the resources will have to function as reminders of what theology has its own good reasons to affirm. The first of these is the primacy of practical reason over speculative or theoretical reason.13 For Kant primacy among two or more elements means ‘the prerogative of one to be the first determining ground of the connection with all the rest. In a narrower practical sense it signifies the prerogative of the interest of one insofar as the interest of the others is subordinated to it’ (CRrR 236/119).14 The interests of practical reason are metaphysical. They concern matters that go beyond experience, namely God, freedom and immortality. Unlike matters of common sense and the natural sciences, they go to the very heart of our identity and the meaning of our lives. This is why other interests should be subordinated to those of practical reason and the latter should be the ground of the aufhebung, the subordination of theoretical reason to practical. Even ‘for the common understanding every speculative interest vanishes before practical interest’ (CPR A501/B473).15 This can be expressed in terms of the three questions Kant expects philosophy to answer: • What can I know? • What ought I to do? • What may I hope? (CPR A805/B833) Kant seeks to answer the first question, both positively and negatively in his Critique of Pure Reason. But even there he points vigorously to the primacy of practical Reason, the proper domain of the other two questions. He answers the second in the writings that make up his moral philosophy. The third he answers in terms of the ways that morality gives rise to religion, namely in the postulates of God, freedom and immortality as developed in the Critique of Practical Reason and then, in greater detail, in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. There is another reason for the primacy of the practical that Kant makes abundantly clear. The existential superiority of its interests would avail nothing if practical reason were as impotent to take us beyond experience (tied to sense experience subject to space, time and causality) as theoretical reason is. But it is not. So far as morality is concerned, the distinction between appearances and things in themselves, phenomena and noumena, mysteriously disappears. Moral knowledge seems not limited by the conditions of human finitude. So far as religion is

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concerned, Kant denies that the postulates of God, freedom and immortality give us knowledge, famously saying, ‘Thus I had to deny knowledge in order to make room for faith’ (CPR B xxx). But he says three things about this faith that separate it sharply from subjective opinion. First, practical reason has the right to hold these beliefs (CPR A776/B804; A634/B662). Second, it is justified in holding to them as having objective reference (CPrR 246/132; 248/134). Finally, in postulating God, freedom and immortality cognition (knowledge, Erkenntniss) receives an ‘extension’ (Erweiterung) and an ‘increment’ (growth, Zuwachs) (CPrR 247– 48/133–34). This rational faith is itself a certain kind of knowledge. The primacy of practical reason can serve as a valuable reminder to theology. The theoretical knowledge it purports to possess should always be going beyond itself in the service of what we might call good practices. Its primary purpose is not to explain the world but to bring our lives into conformity with God’s plans and purposes for ourselves and for the world.16 Karl Barth calls ethics ‘the doctrine of God’s command and [I] do not consider it right to treat it otherwise than as an integral part of dogmatics.’17 But this is too weak. Kant’s reminder is not that ethics is a part of theology but rather that all theology has good practices as its telos. Of course, theology will have to accept this reminder on its own terms, and this will involve at least three differences from Kant. First, theology will base itself on revelation and only secondarily (if at all) on reason as recollection. Second, it will not say with Kant that ‘true religion is not to be placed in the knowledge or the profession of what God does or has done for our salvation, but in what we must do to become worthy of it’ (R 160/133; cf. 96/52 and the letter quoted at pp. 49–50). It will see this as a false antithesis. Third, in large measure on the basis of what God does or has done for our salvation, theology will give a place of honour to the four ‘means of grace’ that Kant dismisses so blithely. Good practices will, with Kant, include what we call personal and social ethics; but they will also include practices of spirituality and worship that are not in the first instance directed towards our neighbours but towards God.

The Finitude of Human Understanding Beyond the primacy of the practical Kant can offer a second resource to theology – a reminder of the finitude of human understanding, especially as developed in the Copernican Revolution of the Critique of Pure Reason. ‘Up to now it has been assumed hat all our cognition must conform to the objects . . . let us once try whether we do not get farther with the problems of metaphysics by assuming that the objects must conform to our cognition.’ This signifies the centrality of the a priori elements in understanding, our presuppositions about

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objects of knowledge ‘before they are given to us’ (CPR Bxvi). These a priori elements are the conditions of possible experience; they are like the lenses without which we could not see at all. But as merely human conditions, they keep us from grasping things as they really are. We have access to things only as appearances, not things in themselves, as phenomena, not noumena. The theological import of this analysis becomes especially clear when we note that Kant regularly uses these distinctions to separate human knowledge as imperfect from divine knowledge as perfect. Only God knows things as they truly are.18 But theology will have to take this reminder in the form of what Ricoeur has called a ‘post-Hegelian Kantianism’.19 His ‘hermeneutic philosophy must situate itself at an equal distance from both’ the Kantian and Hegelian traditions.20 With Hegel, it must abandon Kant’s interpretation of the a priori as ahistorically universal and necessary; it must recognize that the presuppositions that guide our interpretations of (in this case) God and the world, of scripture and tradition are themselves embedded in historical traditions. They change from one epoch to another, from one culture to another. But with Kant, it must distance itself from Hegel’s claim to absolute knowledge, unambiguous, certain, complete, and thus final, as if somehow we could become the omega point of the historical process, its end both as goal and as completion. In other words, we operate in a hermeneutical circle in which a priori expectations or pre-interpretations guide interpretation but in the process are themselves revised or even replaced. The circle signifies the way in which presuppositions and the interpretations they help to produce are each conditioned by the other. With Hegel there is the recognition of the historical particularity of the a priori, and against Hegel there is the realization that the circular process never comes to closure in absolute and final knowing. As with Kant, human knowledge remains finite, always merely human, never divine. A theology that grounds itself in the Bible as divine revelation and as the word of a God who speaks may want to claim absolute and final knowing for itself. But the (post-Hegelian) Kantian reminder here is to the effect that such an attitude would confuse the word of God with our interpretations and understandings of it. Here Barth’s distinction between revelation as divine speech and religion as human interpretation is relevant.21 Theology claims that it is God who speaks, and that is something absolute. The reminder is that we see ‘in a mirror, dimly’ (I Cor. 13.12, NRSV), that God’s thoughts are as high above ours as the heavens are above the earth (Isa. 55.9) In short, we hear and understand within finite and limited horizons to which our theologies are relative. That it is necessary to speak of theology in the plural is a fact loudly proclaimed by the history of theology. That one theology (presumably one’s own) should be the only one to mirror absolutely and finally the absolute word of God would be a strange result. The Kantian reminder is that every theology is subject to the

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limits of historical finitude. In relation to historical traditions, we are always somewhere, never either nowhere or everywhere. This historical finitude of theological understanding and the epistemic humility appropriate to it is no reason to accede to various claims to hegemony over theology by various forms of philosophical reason. For, as already indicated, the reference to various forms is a reminder that philosophy as ‘reason’ is no less embedded in the finite perspectives of historical traditions than ‘theology’ as faith. Every philosophy has its own presuppositions, rests on its own ‘faith’. In the dialogue between the two, philosophy may claim an automatic privilege by virtue of a supposed neutrality and objectivity, while theology may claim an automatic privilege by virtue of possessing God’s revealed word. But both thereby misunderstand the nature and extent of their own limitations, of which the spirit of the Kantian tradition is always a reminder to both.

The Kantian Tradition So many philosophers after Kant have been influenced by him and in so many different ways, that even if we limited ourselves to what is especially relevant to theology we could not even adequately outline the Kantian tradition in the space available. The sketch of few examples will have to suffice. Emmanuel Levinas affirms the primacy of the practical, making ethics into first philosophy. There are four things especially to notice. First, Levinas does not appeal to practical reason. As a phenomenologist he finds categorical and infinite moral obligation not in reflection on rational consistency and the form of law but in the experience of the face and the voice of the other, the neighbour, especially the widow, the orphan and the stranger. Second, he explicitly identifies himself as a Kantian insofar as for him, too, ‘immortality and theology could not determine the categorical imperative’ but rather our understanding of being has to be derivative from our understanding of our duty. In other words, ethics ‘does not rest on any positive theology’ but is fully autonomous in relation to theology.22 Third, Levinas affirms this autonomy as the hegemony of philosophy over theology. ‘It is our relations with men . . . that give to theological concepts the sole signification they admit of . . . Without the signification they draw from ethics theological concepts remain empty and formal frameworks . . . Everything that cannot be reduced to an interhuman relation represents not the superior form but the forever primitive form of religion.’23 This is an even more radical reduction of religion to ethics than we find in Kant, for while his postulates of God and immortality are established only as necessary presuppositions of the moral life, they are about our relation to God and are not reduced to interhuman

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relations. Levinas seems closer to Feuerbach, for whom anything we say about God is actually about ourselves and our ideals.24 Fourth, Levinas speaks to our finitude motif as well as to our hegemony and primacy themes. The call that comes to us from the human other he calls ‘revelation’, and, like Barth, he distinguishes its absoluteness from the relativity of our interpretations of it. In the face and voice of the neighbour we experience an unconditional and unlimited obligation. It presents itself on its own terms, unconstrained by our horizons of expectations (a prioris, presuppositions). But when we try to specify just what it is that is required of us, especially in relation to the conflicting claims that come from so many different others, we are dependent on our own reflective interpretations that do not have this absolute authority. If Ricoeur is a post-Hegelian Kantian, the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics to which he belongs is a major strand in the Kantian tradition. The standard story begins with Schleiermacher, for whom the hermeneutical circle is utterly central to interpretation in literary criticism, law and theology.25 Every interpretation of the parts of a text is guided by our presuppositions about the whole, but these, in turn, are revised in the process of using them. Heidegger makes understanding as interpretation (seeing something as something) into the form of all human being-in-the-world, and he situates interpretation inextricably within the hermeneutical circle.26 Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur develop these perspectives in great detail, with theology never very far from the scene.27 In the tradition of philosophical hermeneutics (a.k.a. hermeneutical phenomenology) the emphasis is on our finitude motif. Our interpretations of texts and, indeed, of the all the natural and social worlds, is never free from historically particular traditions; and this applies to philosophical hermeneutics itself. Thus Ricoeur insists that his own work is ‘not neutral’, in the sense of being free from presuppositions. Indeed, hermeneutics itself puts us on guard against the illusion or pretensity of neutrality.28 This is why it has been both possible and necessary to speak just now of hermeneutics in terms of ‘perspectives’ and ‘traditions’. Just for this reason hermeneutics undermines the hegemony claims of philosophy. Ricoeur, especially, stages his own dialogues between philosophy and theology. But without conceding to either the privilege that each has often claimed vis-à-vis the other. Finally we can speak of a primacy of the practical in hermeneutics. Ricoeur’s thought moves from epistemological questions to moral questions as if the former find in the latter their purpose.29 Similarly, by making application utterly integral to interpretation, Gadamer points to the kind of truth that is to be done and not just contemplated.30

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Notes 1 2 3

4

5

6

7

8 9 10

11

12

13

By theology I shall mean Christian theology, but the same issues pertain, mutatis mutandi, to other theologies. M. Heidegger (1998) ‘Phenomenology and Theology,’ in William McNeill (ed.) Pathmarks, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 50–3. However the relation between Scripture and tradition is formulated, both play a de facto normative role in theology. Theology is thus doubly particular: by its commitment to the Bible and by its commitment to one or more traditions of interpretation. I. Kant (1996a) Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, in Allen W. Wood and George di Giovanni (trans.), Religion and Rational Theology (a volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. References to this work in text and notes will have the form R x/y, where x signifies the pagination in this translation and y signifies the pagination in vol. 6 of the Academy Edition of the German text. Unfortunately the latter is not included in the earlier translation by Hudson and Greene. Two classic statements are found in I. Kant (1996b) An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment? and Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, both in Mary J. Gregor (trans.), Practical Philosophy (a volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. While I shall develop this hegemony as it is found in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, it is also found in the First Part of The Conflict of the Faculties, also found in Religion and Rational Theology. See note 4 above. Cf. Lessing’s argument that ‘accidental truths of history can never become the proof of necessary truths of reason’ and can never provide warrant for anything ‘against which my reason rebels’ G. Lessing (1957) ‘On the Proof of the Spirit and of Power,’ in Henry Chadwick (trans.), Lessing’s Theological Writings, Stanford: Stanford University Press, p. 53. Also to be found in Practical Philosophy, pp. 238–54, Academy edition, vol. 5, pp. 122–41. ‘On the Proof of the Spirit and of Power’, p. 4. See note 6 above. These are only a few of the strong words Kant employs. ‘Counterfeit service’ is ‘Afterdienst’. ‘Gottesdienst’ is the standard term for public worship, found on church bulletin boards announcing the time for Sunday services. ‘After’ means anus or backside. In compounds it can mean anal, pseudo, second hand or spurious. Or again, it is hard to imagine Moses warning Israel against thinking that keeping the Sabbath (first table of the Ten Commandments) is pleasing to God on the grounds that they would thereby feel free to murder and commit adultery (second table of the law). Hegel carries on this elitism in an epistemological rather than ethical vein. He writes, ‘Religion is for everyone. It is not philosophy, which is not for everyone’ G. W. F. Hegel (1988) Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion (One Volume Edition: The Lectures of 1827), R. F. Brown, et al. (trans.), Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 106. While ‘speculative reason’ signifies reason, as the unsuccessful demand for the unconditioned and for totality beyond experience, ‘theoretical reason’ is a broader term. It includes the understanding that successfully achieves knowledge within

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14

15

16

17 18 19

20 21 22 23 24 25

26 27

28 29

30

Theology and Philosophy experience in common sense and natural science. The primacy of practical reason extends over the whole range of theoretical reason. CPrR signifies the Critique of Practical Reason as found in Practical Philosophy. See notes 4 and 5 above. The y pagination signifies the pages in vol. 5 of the Academy Edition. CPR signifies I. Kant (1998) Paul Guyer and Allen W. Wood (trans.) Critique of Pure Reason (a volume in the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Immanuel Kant), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. See note 4 above. The A and B pagination (first and second editions) is common to English and German editions (Cf. A797/ B825–A801/B829). The theology that takes its primary task to be explaining the world is what Heidegger calls onto-theology. For my analysis see the title essay in M. Westphal (2001) Overcoming Ontotheology: Toward a Postmodern Christian Faith, New York: Fordham University Press, pp. 1–28. K. Barth (1936) G. T. Thomson (trans.) The Doctrine of the Word of God, Vol. I, Part I of Church Dogmatics Edinburgh: T & T Clark, p. xiv. See M. Westphal (1968), ‘In Defense of the Thing in Itself’, Kant-Studien, 59/1, 118–41. P. Ricoeur (1974) Don Ihde (ed.) The Conflict of Interpretations, Evanston: Northwestern University Press, pp. 412–17 and (1991) Kathleen Blamey and John B. Thompson (trans.) From Text to Action Evanston: Northwestern University Press, pp. 197–204. P. Ricoeur (1981) John B. Thompson (trans.) Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences London: Cambridge University Press, p. 183. K. Barth (1956) G. T. Thomson and Harold Knight (trans.) The Doctrine of the Word of God, Vol. I, Part II of Church Dogmatics. Edinburgh: T & T Clark, §17. E. Levinas (1991) Alphonso Lingis (trans.) Otherwise Than Being or Beyond Essence, London: Kluwer Academic, pp. 129, 147. E. Levinas (1969) Alphonso Lingis (trans.) Totality and Infinity, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, p. 79. On Levinas’ ‘theology’ see M. Westphal (2008) Levinas and Kierkegaard in Dialogue, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, chapters 3–4. See F. Schleiermacher (1998) Andrew Bowie (trans.) Hermeneutics and Criticism Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, and ‘Totality and Finitude in Schleiermacher’s Hermeneutics’ in Overcoming Ontotheology, pp. 106–27 (see note 16 above). M. Heidegger (1962) John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson (trans.) Being and Time, New York: Harper & Row, ¶¶31–33. See H. Gadamer (2004) Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (trans.) Truth and Method, revised edn, London: Continuum. The 1989 version of this edition has different pagination. For Ricoeur see notes 19 and 20 above. Ricoeur, Hermeneutics, p. 43. See especially P. Ricoeur (1992) Kathleen Blamey (trans.) Oneself as Another, Chicago: University of Chicago Press and (1995) David Pellauer (trans.) Figuring the Sacred, Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress. Gadamer, Truth and Method, II, II, 2.

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Chapter 9 Hegel Nicholas Adams University of Edinburgh The purpose of this essay is to describe some of the ways in which Hegel’s philosophy can serve contemporary theology. It is not concerned with Hegel’s relations to his own theological tradition, nor with Hegel’s own inventive recasting of central themes in theology, notably the concepts of God, Spirit, Trinity and the idea of evil.1 These are important, indeed central, topics that any theological account of Hegel must satisfactorily address. What follows is not a theological account of Hegel. I take it as generally agreed by the majority of Hegel’s interpreters that his own theology diverges significantly, but implicitly and probably unintentionally, from orthodox Christian doctrine, and that for this reason his theology (as opposed to the tools his philosophy offers to theology) is less relevant to the concerns displayed in this collection of essays.2 Those concerns (which Hegel shared too to a degree) presuppose a fidelity to doctrine, conceived within western broadly Catholic and Protestant tradition. The aim here is narrow. I leave to one side evaluations of Hegel’s explicit treatment of doctrinal themes, and present those aspects of his philosophical approach that can serve a doctrinally oriented theology today. There are three major bequests Hegel makes to us – three aspects to philosophical thinking on which he insists – and these will form the three sections of this essay. First, it should be historical. Second, it should be social. Third, it should approach its categories critically. All three of these are best conceived as reparative, as well as descriptive, moves in philosophy. That is, they are all designed to repair specific problems in much post-Cartesian philosophy, namely its ahistorical, individualist and uncritical tendencies (which are often accompanied by contrary tendencies). I know of no other philosopher who approaches Hegel in sophistication on all three of these issues. To the extent that contemporary philosophers make these concerns central to their work, as many do given the persistence of Cartesian problems, it is likely that they are students of Hegel in some way.

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To think ahistorically is to assume that such matters as context, the development of languages and tradition (including education) are marginal to the concerns of philosophy. More positively, it is to assume that our concepts (and the way we organize them, in logic for example) are in some way inherent to human thinking, and are invariant from thinker to thinker. Descartes, Leibniz and Kant all proceeded as if this were the case, although detailed engagement with Kant admittedly offers a more complex picture. Locke, Hume and Hamann all claimed, by contrast, that concepts are acquired in some way, either through experience of objects, through tradition or through learning languages. Hegel presents a radically historical approach to philosophy in some of his major works. He not only claims that concepts are learned historically, but presents his account in the Phenomenology of Spirit (1807) as the history of this learning. A brief account of the shape of the Phenomenology illustrates this clearly. The early parts of the Phenomenology, up to and including the section ‘Observing Reason’ answer the question, ‘What is taken to be true, in philosophy?’. Hegel is vague about whether this means the individual enquirer or an entire epoch, and this is reflected in commentaries on this work which focus on his epistemology or on his history of ideas or some mixture of the two. Hegel offers a series of phases, in which each successive phase attempts to resolve contradictions thrown up by the previous one. Each phase is described in a most unusual way, and it is the mode of description that is relevant to us here, rather than the particular claims made. Hegel describes a succession of attempts to take something to be true. First there is ‘sense certainty’, in which the observer is passive, and immediate contact with objects is taken to yield truth. This includes very basic indexical claims like ‘now’, ‘this’ or ‘here’. Hegel explores, from the perspective of ‘sense certainty’, how its simplicity breaks down because words like ‘now’ and ‘this’ are temporal and spatial terms and these seem not to belong to the object: they require reference to the one who utters them. Next there is ‘perception’, in which the process of ascribing properties to objects is explored. Here objects, like salt, are both single (‘this bit of salt’) and multiple (‘it is white, also tart, also cubical’ etc.). Hegel explores, from the perspective of ‘perception’, how the relation between the one-ness and the many-ness of the object throws up a series of contradictions for predication, and these contradictions fail to be resolved. A third phase, ‘understanding’, is considered. From its perspective, predication is an acknowledgement of various opposing forces whose resolution produces a conceptual unity, and the focus switches to our experience of objects and to a new connection between self-consciousness and consciousness of objects, as well as a concern with ‘appearances’. But now the relationship between ‘appearances’ and ‘the world’ is obscure. And so forth.

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Hegel’s critiques of naïve realism, of various kinds of empiricism, of forms of idealism, are sophisticated and persuasive. But what makes them especially significant for our purposes – regardless of whether the details are persuasive – is the concern with investigating failed accounts from their own point of view. Hegel reconstructs the questions that these accounts try to answer, rehearses their answers, and shows how they fail. We need to note, at this early stage, a concern with learning from failure and an interest in rehearsing things from another’s point of view. Hegel goes on to discuss further failures to discover ‘what is taken to be true’. These failures arise not from inadequate epistemological approaches but are the outcome of struggles between persons in the pursuit of sovereignty. The famous ‘Lord and Bondsman’ discussion concerns attempts by one person to have another acknowledge the truth of his perspective. These begin with brute force, in which a life-and-death struggle is resolved by one party capitulating to the other. It is followed by attempts to come to come to terms with contradictions that arise from this, such as the continuing dependence of the Lord on the Bondsman, despite his victory, and the significance of labour. The Bondsman fails in various ways to grasp the significance of his own agency, despite his apparent lack of sovereignty and freedom. These failures include an attempt to locate truth (1) in thought alone and to discount as meaningless what happens in the world (stoicism), (2) nowhere at all: any claim can be countered by its opposite (scepticism), (3) in a transcendent beyond, with various failed, especially religious, attempts to connect with it (unhappy consciousness). In each of these failures, attempts are made to make sense of human labour, of physical and mental activity, and to determine whether they have value or truth. Each fails to recognize the significance of human action, and in various ways err in their accounts of the relation between thinking and doing. Hegel pursues deep investigations into these flawed self-understandings with a view to discovering what kind of account would accord human action the right kind of significance and truth. What emerges from these investigations is the importance of making sense of thinking. Each of the preceding failures exhibit attempts to establish the truth of a particular viewpoint. Claims to truth are backed by force, by withdrawal from the world, by mere assertion and mere negation, by ecclesial authority. Each is accompanied by a curious contradiction between actions which display fruitful and powerful thinking and a self-consciousness which denies the worth of such thinking. Hegel’s turn to ‘Reason’ marks a concern to track the process of failure at a higher level, this time overcoming the previous tendencies to see the other as simply opposed to the thinking self, and paying more explicit attention to thinking about the other. Hegel considers various attempts to describe and refine human thinking. These include a turn to the natural sciences to explain human thinking, where

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what is true is what can be established by experiment. Here Hegel identifies contradictions between a concern with method and the failure of any method to grasp the spontaneity that underlies human action (i.e. the failure of rules to encompass rule-following). They also include a turn to moral theory, where what is true is a matter of ‘the heart’, or of ‘virtue’, of one’s deepest commitments. Contradictions emerge here too, such as theatricality of moral agency (the need to show ourselves moral) versus the sense that one’s sincere interiority, regardless of appearances, is what counts, or the fact that the meaning of moral action is inescapably social versus the inescapable individuality of my actions. Again Hegel seeks to show that the seeming contradiction between outer and inner, between social and individual, requires a better account than those that typically recur in the modern world. He thus explores models which explicitly engage these contradictions, such as Greek Tragedy (especially the Antigone) and Socratic theory, or the Enlightenment’s struggle against superstition (and a discussion of Diderot’s Rameau’s Nephew). All sorts of contradictions are explored here, including the opposition of divine law to human law, or of faith’s ability to connect disparate aspects of life without understanding the connections versus the Enlightenment’s ability to understand connections without being about to connect them – and of the Enlightenment’s rejection of a faith that is to a significant extent produced by the Enlightenment itself, including Deism for example. It should be clear from this brief sketch that Hegel is not a solver of imaginary problems. He is interested in the questions that have, in fact, been posed; what, in fact, prompted them; how they have, in fact, been answered; how they are responses to contradictions and how they in turn generate new problems. His approach is, in a word, historical. Hegel offers a powerful resource for any theology that seeks to do justice to the contingency of events, to the dramatic quality of human action, to the historicity of divine and human action (including the incarnation, the historical revelation of God’s action in Jesus Christ), and to the historical development of Christian theology itself.3

Social Thinking Hegel’s philosophy seeks to repair a tendency towards a one-sided emphasis on the individual bequeathed by Descartes and developed by Kant. (Kant is a complex case: his moral theory has a heavy focus on the irreplaceable responsibility of the individual; but this is accompanied by contrary tendencies in his political thought.) This is true of Hegel’s epistemology, with its emphasis on the ‘Concept’ or the ‘Notion’ (Der Begriff) and of his moral theory, with its emphasis on ethical life (Sittlichkeit). Hegel’s very notion of Spirit, which in the

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Phenomenology he glosses as an ‘I that is a We and a We that is an I’, displays his attempt to get beyond a polarized either–or in relation to individual and social action. For Hegel individuality and sociality are not opposed to each other. Each is in relation to, and shapes, the other. This can be seen by briefly considering his accounts of the Concept and of ethical life. The Concept (normally capitalized to indicate that Hegel is using the word in an idiosyncratic way) is an inherently social-and-individual phenomenon. It expresses relations between persons with respect to objects. In contrast to Kant’s account of the understanding in the Critique of Pure Reason, where concepts are rules for judgement, and thus stand in a sense over and against the judge (the I) and of the object judged (the thing), Hegel insists that concepts are integral to the I. The I thinks, and its thinking is the use of concepts. Concepts are not merely rules: they are the very medium of thinking. Hegel also insists that concepts are integral to objects. Any attempt to distinguish objects from concepts is already a conceptual matter, and even the most basic orientations to objects (such as perception) are already suffused with, and inseparable from, our use of concepts. There is a third dimension to Hegel’s account of the Concept (capitalized) in the singular, which owes something to Neoplatonist and Christian accounts of the Logos, in which all things have their origin (whether by emanation, as for Neoplatonists or by creation ex nihilo, as for Christians). Hegel speaks in the Science of Logic of there being one Concept from which all other concepts are derived, in a system – a system whose web of inter-connections expresses the complex relation between the world and the I. Hegel is misread when he is alleged to reduce all human action to the action of a single entity which absorbs everything into itself (a caricature which Robert Pippin calls ‘The Great Devouring Maw’), or where his account of divine action is taken to be no more than a flamboyant way of describing the social conditions of individual action. By contrast, Hegel claims that ‘the true is the whole’. The meanings of this statement are contested, but they include the idea that the whole system of meanings (of concepts) itself develops and produces, just as each contributing member develops and produces. In other words, there is an organic, developing whole of which we (the philosophical addressee of Hegel’s works) are a part; and it is precisely because we are a part of it that we can know it. Our self-consciousness is not divorced from the world, but is entirely part of it: there is no opposition or split between self and world. It can be seen that Hegel does not merely mean to suggest that the individual agent is socially located, or that forms of social life are made up of the actions of individuals. He means not merely to reconnect the individual and the community, as Kant had attempted. He means to identify the error which caused the split. Put differently, Hegel sees no need to join what has been split: he attempts to diagnose the cause of the split and repair it in such

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a way that no such split takes place. This involves an account of the world in which individuals are parts, and an account of the individual in which the world is a whole. Had Hegel stopped here, his repair would have resembled Spinoza’s account of the one substance, God/Nature. Hegel develops Spinoza’s account, conceiving of the whole as organic, drawing on aspects of Schelling’s Nature Philosophy, and also criticizing it. Hegel claims that the organic whole is rational, by which he means two things: (1) It is simultaneously thought and material (i.e. there is no split between different kinds of res, as in Descartes); (2) It can be fully grasped cognitively and conceptually. The latter part of the Phenomenology is devoted to showing how this grasping evolves in different cultural practices, including religious worship (which represents but does not grasp God), art (which offers a more developed form of ‘picture thinking’) and finally absolute knowing in philosophy, in which everything is raised to the level of the Concept. It is important to note two problems for theology which this further cognitive claim produces. The first is that the long tradition of analogical speech about God is heavily qualified. Hegel does not by any means reject analogy. Quite the reverse: he insists on the continuing validity of religious analogical thinking. But he rejects the reserve (the refusal to grasp God) that this tradition embodies. Hegel insists that concepts of God which are inadequate to their object can be, and are, replaced by concepts that are more adequate. This is because of two key assumptions: (a) Hegel refuses any fundamental split between concepts and objects; (b) God is taken to be thinkable. The second is that the long tradition of music, art and drama is interpreted as somehow surpassed by philosophy. Hegel insists that all forms of apprehension which are inadequate to deliver ‘thinkability’ can be, and are, clarified in an emphatic way by more adequate philosophical forms. This too follows, in part, from his refusal to acknowledge any split between concepts and objects. It displays a tendency which is famously contested by a range of thinkers including Schelling, Schleiermacher, Kiekergaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger and Adorno: the truth expressed in religion and art is clarified by philosophy. Hegel may be fully justified in his claims about what cognition should deliver. But there is no contradiction in denying (as theologians routinely and properly deny) that cognition should deliver everything. Worship, music, drama: these display a range of orientations to objects, of which cognition is only one possibility. In theology it is a commonplace that signs can point beyond the bounds of determinate signification towards that which cannot be represented. It is also a commonplace that language performs and enacts and does not merely represent (in pictures or in concepts). One can offer a cognitive approach to worship: liturgy can be taken to describe things in various ways. But the clarity philosophy brings to the truth performed in worship, whereby a community is broken and healed through ritual for example, is

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not itself a performance of the same kind. Philosophy describes what it cannot, itself, bring about. What this means for theology is that if one wishes to pursue an approach that clarifies the truth of religious practice, Hegel offers some of the most sophisticated and powerful conceptual tools available. But if one wishes to pursue alternatives to cognitively graspable representation (which do not merely pass through analogy or performance but reach their limit in them) one must look elsewhere, such as the work of Schleiermacher. The excellent cognitive model Hegel offers is one which repairs the cause of the split between subject and object, and between individual and community, by furnishing the philosophical reader with an entirely reworked account of conceptuality. What the Concept does for cognition, ethical life does for moral theory. Again the problems Hegel inherits are false oppositions. In the case of moral theory these include oppositions between desire and duty, between individual interest and the common good, between socially produced normativity and free self-produced action, between quietism and protest, between obedience and critique. Many contemporary disputes in moral theory can be viewed as attempts to negotiate these opposed pairs. Hegel notices that the accounts of morality he inherits – above all from Kant – are failed attempts to reunite the parts that have been split. They fail because they re-enact the split in various ways. Just as in his epistemology Hegel repairs the errant tendency which splits subject from object, so in his moral theory Hegel repairs the errant tendency which splits normativity from self-willed action. He calls this repair ‘ethical life’. There are several features to this, of which three stand out. First, and perhaps most interesting, we (Hegel’s philosophical readers) often discern the shapes of normativity most powerfully when they are under threat or are breaking down. Arguments against abolishing slavery, against extending the vote to women, against ordaining women as priests: these moments of crisis throw normative settlements into sharp relief and permit forms of reflection that are often absent when the habits of a community are rehearsed without conflict or contestation. Second, Hegel ascribes normativity neither to the individual self-legislating will, nor to an impersonal ‘moral law’. (Kant, to his credit, ascribes it to both, and the resulting contrary tendencies in his theory – and the attempt to mediate them – nicely express the actual contradictions in social life. A lesser thinker would have produced a neater theory untroubled by actual social conditions.) For Hegel, normativity is a social product, just as sociality itself is a product of freedom. Third, Hegel’s account of ethical life has strongly descriptive, as well as prescriptive, tendencies. In other words, he provides sketches (including historical sketches) of actual moral settlements, in which he highlights what people

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actually take (or have taken) as normative. Hegel is interested in the ways in which normativity often functions in pre-reflective ways: it is embedded in the habits of communities. Those formed in such communities just know how to act, and their practical reason – what Aristotle calls their phronesis – comes as it were naturally to them. He is also interested in the ways in which contestation and disagreement force more reflective forms of deliberation, such as the need to identify the principles by which moral judgements are made, or to articulate the deep convictions which underlie one’s sense of what is called for in a particular situation. Hegel calls the latter reflective forms of deliberation ‘morality’ (Moralität), and he is insistent that it cannot replace ethical life. Ethical life is the fabric of one’s moral world; it is the habitable space of a community’s habits of moral action. Morality is a reflective moment, in which disagreements force an articulation of what normally passes without being made explicit. Hegel notices that the moment at which a nostrum is articulated is the moment of its crisis: ‘morality’ will either bring about its downfall, or force a new settlement in which it is reinforced. To be modern, for Hegel, is to have one’s habitable moral environment constantly interrupted not only by contrary claims but by moral theory itself. It is a rudimentary Hegelian insight to discover, self-consciously, that one can be a utilitarian, a Kantian, an adherent of virtue-ethics or whatever. It is a more sophisticated Hegelian insight to recognize that any practice of ‘morality’ (in Hegel’s restricted sense), that is any reflective articulation of basic beliefs, cannot produce the habitable environments on which practices of ‘morality’ are dependent, and from which such practices arise. Producing a list of ‘human rights’ does not create community. Neither does outlining the features of communitarianism, for that matter. The point is not that such reflective moments are undesirable; it is that they do not produce what they articulate. (Indeed, one partial way of understanding hypocrisy is as the act of articulating moral principles that one does not inhabit.) Hegel’s descriptive approach to ethical life supposes that there are already forms of life which are susceptible to reflective moments. His account of ‘ethical life’ no more produces community than the ‘morality’ it corrects. Community, like the normativity by which it lives, is a social product. Hegel’s account of ethical life provides a powerful tool for understanding the significance of the Church for Christian Ethics. Hegel himself has many observations about the Church in his Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion, but his significance for this way of thinking is important even if one questions those observations. The Church is a social achievement. It is the already existing form of habitable life which is susceptible to reflective moments of ‘Christian Ethics’. These moments of ‘morality’ are responses to contestation, to crisis from within and to challenge from without. Such moments articulate deep social commitments precisely at the time they are called into question or even begin to break

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down. Contemporary Christian Ethics produces strong articulations of the ways in which the Church creates community or forms persons in the virtues, for example. It is possible that these are the themes of Christian Ethics precisely because they are under threat or breaking down, just as Aristotle’s ethics were produced at the moment Athens ceased to reproduce what he described there. It is perhaps the failure of the Church to create community or form character that produces reflective texts called A Community of Character.4 Christian Ethics is thus not only a critique of secular society but also a critique of the Church, or even a cry of pain. Hegel’s account is not a ‘morality’ like utilitarianism, consequentialism, deontological ethics or virtue ethics. It is instead a tool for making sense of ‘morality’ and its relation to ‘ethical life’. ‘Ethical life’ is not a ‘morality’. ‘Ethical Life’ is the background against which ‘morality’ emerges at moments of crisis and contestation. Readers of Hegel are thus invariably disappointed when they try to pin down his so-called critique of Kantian morality because they fail – quite properly – to discover an alternative moral theory. Hegel does not provide one. I have not here rehearsed the details of Hegel’s radically reparative account of the relation of individual to community, of desire to duty, of individual interest and the common good. Instead I have tried to indicate, superficially, the ways in which he refuses to adjudicate attempts to mediate each side of these oppositions and, instead, adopts a descriptive approach which does not split them in the first place. For Hegel individual and community are different ways of talking about one complex reality in which two components act upon each other. In his account, the truest desires are for one’s duty, and one’s duty is what one learns to desire. In the same way the common good is what one learns to devote oneself to not because it is an alien imposition standing over and against the self, but because the common good is constitutive of ones self. Hegel does not tell his readers what duties they should discharge, nor what goods they should seek. It is this feature of Hegel’s approach that means he cannot be easily situated vis-à-vis Mill or Kant or Aristotle. The latter figures seek to produce normativity through a focus on outcomes or maxims or virtues. Hegel, by contrast, seeks not to produce normativity but to show how it is produced, challenged and changed. His account of social thinking is thus inextricable from his account of historical thinking.

Critical Thinking Hegel’s approach to the very categories in which we think is of enormous use to theology. I have two relatively simple points. First, Hegel insists on using a form of German that is largely stripped of technical (especially Latin) terms. Second,

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he insists that use of even the most well-worn concepts requires their users to investigate their use and the way their meanings is bound up with the use of other, related, concepts. Christian Wolff (1679–1754) began a change in the German academy in the early eighteenth century by openly advertising that his lectures on philosophy would be delivered in German rather than the Latin which his students were increasingly unable to understand. This required him to translate a large technical Latin vocabulary into German, alongside a select number of terms preserved in Latin for which no German terms readily suggested themselves. This vocabulary was taken up by Kant, whose Critique of Pure Reason, for example, advances its arguments in a largely Wolffian German vocabulary. Like Wolff, Kant also continued to use selected Latin terms, such as ens realissimum. In the Phenomenology of Spirit, Hegel aimed at a more comprehensive overhaul of the German philosophical lexicon. He made a conscious decision to render his arguments in as natural a German as possible, with the fewest possible alien Latinate terms. It led him to explore German roots of a variety of words to do with Being (especially Sein and Wesen), and to innovate with normal German words that deal with perspective and inward/outward orientation (e.g. an sich, für sich, an und für sich). These sound like an exotic technical vocabulary when translated into English (e.g. ‘in and for itself’) but in German they are far from technical. Stephen Houlgate, in his commentary on Hegel’s Logic, goes so far as to describe them as a ‘homey’ German. English readers thus confront a profound difficulty when reading Hegel in translation. The difficulty of Hegel’s thought (which is difficult even in German) is compounded by the difficulty of an alien, seemingly incomprehensible technical lexicon containing ‘English’ phrases that no native English speaker would ever use. Rendering Hegel’s thought into English is just as big a task as Hegel’s own task of rendering ideas traditionally rendered by Latin terms, and indeed Platonic and Aristotelian concepts, into a natural, ‘homey’ German. It can be done, but this would no longer be a translation of a German work into English, but the re-authoring of an entire oeuvre into English. The work of R. G. Collingwood is a nice example of Hegelian thought re-authored in English: it is devoid of infelicities and monstrous constructions, and reads elegantly and naturally in English. It is, however, not the job of a commentary to re-author Hegel’s oeuvre in natural, elegant English. Such re-authoring is generally part of a process of adaptation, repair and innovation and has as its goal the articulation of a thinker’s own project, rather than the presentation of Hegel’s thought. Most commentaries, therefore, quite rightly reproduce a monstrous Hegelian ‘Denglisch’ which the reader has to learn, normally by reading Hegel in German and English translation – side-by-side – in a strenuous process that is quite normal for reading philosophy in a foreign language. (It is mirrored in the inelegant Franglais that

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characterizes post-modern philosophy in English – an inelegance absent from the original French works of Foucault, Levinas and Derrida.) It is not just a matter of elegance and monstrousness. It is a matter of attending to the concepts in play, and their relation to how one thinks across a range of practical activities. Hegel’s German is intimately related to other forms of everyday thinking in relation to religious life, political thought, moral theory, as it constantly re-authors classical Greek and scholastic Latin terms into a habitable German. It is also a matter of recognizing that the most generative twentieth century theologians (Barth, Tillich, Bonhoeffer, von Balthasar) all develop their habitable theologies in a German that is profoundly shaped by Hegel. English-language theologies that are heavily indebted to these twentieth century figures run the risk of dealing in concepts that reproduce a profoundly alienating Denglisch, as one sees sometimes in today’s Barthian scholasticism. Contemporary theology is a mixture of Denglisch and Franglais, peppered with a Latin vocabulary that is the product of a renewed appreciation for the theology of Thomas Aquinas. One of the lessons theology might learn from Hegel is the need to render its thinking in a habitable, elegant English that is intimately woven with other areas of practical everyday life. Hegel is normally thought to be the most unintelligible of philosophers, advancing his thought via the weirdest technical neologisms. This is not the case. Hegel is difficult because he attempts to re-author the entire ancient Greek, scholastic Latin and modern French and German tradition into a habitable homey German. If Hegel is to be generative for English-speaking theology, a similar re-authorship is surely unavoidable. Such a re-authorship will require patient attentiveness to the use of concepts and their relation to a host of other concepts whose focal uses are located in a variety of areas of practical everyday life. The alternative is doomed to be an alienating language that bears an only tangential relation to any natural language, which constantly requires translation, in the lecture hall, into such natural languages, but which can never be inhabited. The second point, that Hegel investigates well-worn concepts and requires their users to investigate their use and the way their meanings is bound up with the use of other related concepts, is learned from his magnum opus The Science of Logic, which theologians by and large do not read. They should. The main conception of the Science of Logic is remarkably simple in conception and strenuously complex in its articulation. And like the Phenomenology of Spirit, it is written in a German that is designed to be readily habitable, and which can only be translated (as opposed to re-authored) into an alienating and monstrous English. The simple conception is this. Philosophical thought is prosecuted in various basic concepts, including being and nothing, form and content, subject and object, substance and predicate, determination and

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negation, time and space. These are well-worn pairs of terms. Hegel is interested in their ‘pair-ness’, one might say, and in how they are related to one another. The Science of Logic is an experiment whose purpose is to show that if one begins with the immediate indeterminate idea of ‘being’, one can reflect on what is implied by it – without reference to these well-worn concepts – and discover that these various pairs of terms emerge without being imposed. Hegel aims to demonstrate that the whole panoply of basic philosophical terms, from the most basic up to the most comprehensive ‘absolute idea’, emerge through a series of presuppositionless reflections which begin with a focus on immediate indeterminate being. I do not propose here to defend Hegel’s method or his insistence on presuppositionless thinking, although I am persuaded they can be defended.5 Rather, I wish to draw attention to the shape and quality of this kind of project. Hegel does not take concepts for granted. He proposes that any serious intellectual investigation is simultaneously an enquiry into its concepts and into its subject matter. It is simultaneously ontology and logic, rather than one followed by the other. This insight can serve theological investigation, where understanding how theological disagreements are resolved is simultaneously an enquiry into the concepts in play. Developing Hegel’s insight into the simultaneity of ontological and logical investigations, we might proceed in theological description (of phenomena, of problems, of arguments) not by identifying the appropriate concepts and using them, but by investigating how the business of description is simultaneously an enquiry into phenomena and into how concepts change and are even produced by the process of responding to phenomena. In the Science of Logic, concepts arise because of implications generated by other concepts, in a systematic (or perhaps holistic) web of signification. The enquiry produces (or reveals) the concepts, rather than the concepts being ready-made and available for use. This is one of the principal aspects of his insistence on presuppositionlessness. The lesson for theology is not that it should proceed in a presuppositionless fashion: this is appropriate, for Hegel, only for an investigation into logic. Theology, as the production and study of innovation and disagreement in the Christian tradition, is a web of concepts that are already in use. Their ‘alreadyness’ means they are quite properly presupposed. But to investigate theological phenomena is simultaneously to investigate how theology’s concepts are fashioned and how they change, and to contribute to theological debates is simultaneously to investigate the concepts in play. Consider terms like ‘substance’ or ‘subject’, ‘being’ or ‘person’, in connection with the Trinity. Consider how these terms appear in debates: one needs to discover whether their use in two different contexts is identical, or whether the same questions are being posed, in order to discover what is really being disputed.

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Summary Hegel’s thought is already a handmaid to theology. Even the most rudimentary encounter with the theologies of Barth, Bonhoeffer, Tillich and von Balthasar throws up not only the vocabulary of German Idealism, but an array of attempts to solve the problems it bequeaths, especially those played out in Hegel’s major works. Barth’s concern to produce a theological account that treats the relation between divine freedom (its spontaneity) and its intelligibility to us (its susceptibility to constraint by a system of rules) is just one example of an attempt to repair problems bequeathed by Hegel. But Hegel’s philosophy itself offers theology (including Barth’s) the tools to repair the problems it generates. Any theology which attempts to think historically, to do justice to the sociality of reason6 or to investigate concepts simultaneously with phenomena is already heavily indebted to Hegel. This is true even of those theologies which most strongly repudiate Hegel’s own theological claims in the Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. A theological enquiry is only as sophisticated as the philosophical tools on which it relies. Hegel offers arguably the most sophisticated philosophical toolkit anyone has devised. To read his Phenomenology of Spirit and Science of Logic is to receive an education in thinking and to acquire a powerful set of diagnostic procedures not only for identifying contradictions but for discerning the flawed reasonings that lead to those contradictions. Indeed, a thinker schooled by Hegel is prepared not only to find falsely opposed principles at work in forms of thinking, such as the opposition of divine freedom and its intelligibility, but also sometimes to find faulty logics that produce those false oppositions. This means that the repairs they attempt can, if needed, be repairs of those faulty logics and not just attempts to mediate the falsely opposed principles. It is difficult to imagine that theology might find a more powerful, reparative and regenerative servant. Notes 1 For discussion of these topics, not covered in this chapter, the relevant texts are Hegel 1969, 1977, 1984, 1985, 2007, For a very general account of these issues see Beiser 2005: 124–52. For an account of the Protestant theological culture of Hegel’s Württemberg see Dickey 1987: 33–142. For critical analysis see O’Regan 1994, Desmond 2003. For descriptive analysis see Merklinger 1993, Jaeschke 1990, Hodgson 2005, Wallace 2005, de Nys 2009. On the topic of evil see Desmond 1992, Bernstein 2002: 46–75, Houlgate 2004, Dews 2008: 81–117. 2 The best treatment of Hegel’s relation to orthodox Christian theology is O’Regan 1994. 3 A more extended treatment of Hegel’s historicity would at this point cover some of the material in Hegel’s Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion. Space does not permit

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that here. It must suffice to observe that these lectures reflect historically on communities’ beliefs and practices. 4 The reference is to Hauerwas 1981. 5 See especially Houlgate 2003. 6 The phrase is Terry Pinkard’s: Pinkard 1994.

Bibliography of Books in English Texts by Hegel (1969) Science of Logic (trans. A. Miller), London: Allen and Unwin. (1977) Phenomenology of Spirit (trans. A. Miller), Oxford: Clarendon. (1984) Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion I (ed. P. Hodgson), London: University of California. (1985) Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion III (ed. P. Hodgson), London: University of California. (2007) Lectures on the Proofs of the Existence of God (ed. and tr. P. Hodgson), Oxford: Clarendon.

Secondary literature Beiser, Frederick (2005) Hegel, London: Routledge. Bernstein, Richard (2002) Radical Evil, Cambridge: Polity. De Nys, Martin (2009) Hegel and Theology, London: T&T Clark. Desmond, William (1992) ‘Evil and Dialectic’, in New Perspectives on Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion (ed. D. Kolb), Albany: SUNY. ——— (2003) Hegel’s God: A Counterfeit Double? London: Ashgate. Dews, Peter (2008) The Idea of Evil, Oxford: Blackwell. Dickey, Laurence (1987) Hegel: Religion, Economics and the Politics of Spirit 1770–1807, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hauerwas, Stanley (1981) A Community of Character: Toward a Constructive Christian Social Ethic, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame. Houlgate, Stephen (2003) The Opening of Hegel’s Logic, West Lafeyette: Purdue. ——— (2003) ‘Religion, Morality and Forgiveness in Hegel’s Philosophy’, in Philosophy and Religion in German Idealism (eds W. Desmond et al.), London: Kluwer, pp. 81–110. Jaeschke, Walter (1990) Reason in Religion: The Foundations of Hegel’s Philosophy of Religion, Berkeley: University of California. Merklinger, Philip (1993) Philosophy, Theology, and Hegel’s Berlin Philosophy of Religion, 1821–1827, Albany: SUNY. O’Regan, Cyril (1994) The Heterodox Hegel, Albany: SUNY. Pinkard, Terry (1994) Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit: The Sociality of Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Wallace, Robert (2005) Hegel’s Philosophy of Reality, Freedom, and God Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Chapter 10 Karl Marx (1818–1883) Peter Manley Scott University of Manchester Karl Marx’s best-known writing, The Communist Manifesto, co-authored with Friedrich Engels (1820–1895), was published in 1848. As such the Manifesto appeared roughly half way between the French revolution of 1789 and the Russian revolution of 1917. That is, it appeared in revolutionary times. Since then, the revolutionary wheel has turned a few times in Europe and across the globe and has come to a stop. In 1989, the Berlin Wall was breached and this event marked the beginning of the end of the Communist experiment in Europe to which the Manifesto made such an important contribution. Moreover, Marx is best understood as part of a social democratic tradition that sees capitalism as opposed to the interests of workers and that eventually the workers will discern their oppression and wish to cast it off. Such a class-based self-understanding is not widespread today. If we hold to Communism at all, we must understand ourselves as between periods of communist development (see Badiou 2009). As revolutionary fervour wanes today the power of religion waxes. Given this and the contrast between now and 1848 – in 1848 Marx argued that the spectre haunting Europe was Communism whereas the spectre haunting Europe today is debt – it is tempting to follow the title of this section and declare that Marx is merely a handmaiden to theology, and of lowly status to boot. Nonetheless, my approach in this chapter resists such a temptation. In Hegel: Three Studies (1993, p. 1), Theodor Adorno begins not with the question: what is the meaning that Hegel might have for the present? Instead, he begins with the question: what might the present mean in the face of Hegel? In this chapter, I am extending the same courtesy to Karl Marx. What is theology in the light of Marx? That is, theology after Marx is a theology that explores whether theology is a creature of bourgeois mastery but also understands the incorporation of theology into the bourgeois project as an historical development from which theology may free itself. In other words, in the dialectical unity of theology and praxis, there are two moments: the incorporation of theology into praxis and

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the outrunning of praxis by theology. As we shall see, it is easier to explore the first than the second yet in the effort to avoid reductionism the second must also be attempted. The European history of the twentieth-century theological/religious appropriation of Marx’s writings includes a range of intellectual movements. It encompasses the Christian–Marxist dialogue: a Cold War conversation based in Germany, East and West (a good guide to this engagement is Bentley 1982). Judaism plays an important role in the emergence of the Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School (see Kohlenbach and Geuss 2005; Jacobson 2003). In British theology, the Catholic ‘Slant’ movement and the reception of Latin American liberation theology, separately and in combination, produced a series of interactions between theology and Marx: Eagleton (1970), Lash (1981), Turner (1983), Kee (1990) and Scott (1994). Finally, in the new century there has been a curious and diverse engagement by progressive/Marxist philosophers with Christianity (see Badiou (2003), Žižek (2009), Žižek and Milbank (2009)). Perhaps the best designation for this latest intellectual rapprochement between Marx and Christ is ‘post-Nietzschean’: as socialism seeks to renew itself in hard times, progressive philosophers note that Nietzsche declared socialism to be the offspring of Christianity and, although Nietzsche despised both, perhaps there is a future for socialism via – so to speak – Christianity. By contrast, the scope of this chapter is narrower. I begin with material familiar to many readers: Marx’s critique of religion. Yet it is my argument that the critique of religion is not the central question that Marx poses for theology. I proceed to situate the critique of religion in an account of Marx on alienated labour and within the wider case that Marx makes for a social or practical materialism. Only at this point, I claim, are we in a position to discern the nature and role of ideology in Marx’s thinking, and the question that ideology critique poses to theology. This last item is, I consider, the fundamental matter that Marx may have to tell theology about its (theology’s) present circumstances.

Critique of Religion I begin in the obvious place: Marx’s critique of religion. As is well known, Marx was an atheist. More and more, however, atheism looks less and less like a viable option today. If atheism is the elite guard of secularization, then when the thesis of a general secularization is called into question, atheism looks less secure. Yet, to understand Marx’s contribution to theology properly we must note that Marx rejects religion in favour of a restored humanity. What Marx disputes is whether religion is alienated or not. In addition, sometimes he appears to suggest that religion is epiphenomenal. For Marx, then, the focus is not on the atheistic

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rejection of religion, as Turner (1991) reminds us. Therefore, we cannot begin with an argument between theism and atheism, religion and reason, revelation and criticism. Marx’s position is different from, say, that of Feuerbach: through his critical assessment of religion, Feuerbach maintained that religion was both necessary to human development and yet false. For Marx, as we shall see, the relationship between religion and alienation precluded such an affirmation. To reject religion in favour of atheism is inadequate: instead both must be rejected in favour of ‘human society’ in which ‘religious sentiment’ is understood to be a social product, and the society that requires such a product is practically overcome (Marx 1975, p. 423). Contrary to received opinion, Marx’s critique of religion is not entirely negative. As Alasdair MacIntyre suggests, Marx describes a ‘dual role’ for religion: negative and positive. As negative, religion ‘buttresses the established order by sanctifying it and by suggesting that the political order is somehow ordained by divine authority, and it consoles the oppressed exploited by offering them in heaven what they are denied upon earth’. Of the positive, MacIntyre writes: ‘At the same time, by holding before them a vision of what they are denied, religion plays at least a partly progressive role in that it gives the common people some idea of what a better order would be’ (MacIntyre 1995, p. 103). There are then two aspects to Marx’s critique of religion: the use made of religion by the prevailing social order; the other use refers us to real yet mystificatory hopes expressed in religion.1 Both aspects are bound together in Marx’s assessment of the origin of religion. Departing from the accounts given by Bruno Bauer (1809–1882) and Ludwig Feuerbach (1804–1872), Marx argued that religion arises out of contradictions in the present: This state and this society produce religion, which is an inverted consciousness of the world, because they are an inverted world . . . It [religion] is the fantastic realization of the human essence since the human essence has not acquired any true reality. The struggle against religion is therefore indirectly the struggle against that world whose spiritual aroma is religion. (Marx 1975, p. 244) Furthermore, developing the negative aspect in the fourth of the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, Marx argues (1975, p. 422) that ‘Feuerbach starts out from the fact of religious self-alienation, of the duplication of the world into a religious world and a secular one. His work consists in resolving the religious world into its secular basis.’ Marx makes it clear that he has accepted Feuerbach’s argument: the objectification of human attributes is detrimental to the self-understanding of human beings. Nevertheless, in accordance with his dictum that ‘man makes

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religion, religion does not make man’, he contends that criticism must be directed not solely at religion, but also at the situation in which religion is found to be necessary. What concerns Marx is the reasons for religion: ‘the secular basis detaches itself from itself and establishes itself as an independent realm in the clouds’ – but why? For Marx, this ‘can only be explained by the cleavages and self-contradictions within this secular basis’ (Marx 1975, p. 422). What may be said of the positive evaluation of religion? The positive evaluation refers to the capacity of religion to encapsulate forms of protest, best summarized in some of Marx’s most famous words from the ‘Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. Introduction’: ‘Religious suffering is at one and the same time the expression of real suffering and a protest against real suffering. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people’ (Marx 1975, p. 244). Following Feuerbach, Marx argues that religion needs to be referred to material life if it is to be explained. Perhaps we might say that religion has no genuine contribution to make in its own right: it can be understood as that area of life that best expresses the hopes and desires of people for their own emancipation, but it remains a poor substitute for a theory and a practice in which oppressed peoples understand their situation and change it. Therefore, if we may understand Marx as attributing a positive significance to religion it is, as David McLellan has noted, ‘an extremely backhanded compliment in that the role of religion is to represent humanity’s feeble aspirations under adverse circumstances’ (McLellan 1987, p. 13). Religion is, in one sense, genuine: people have aspirations towards a better life. This is the material dimension of religion. Yet its expression in religion is an illusory resolution of practical difficulties. Once this illusory character is grasped, the criticism of religion and theology gives way to the criticism of politics and economics. Among contemporary theological movements, Latin American liberation theology – a mainly Catholic phenomenon that began in the late 1960s and reached the apogee of its influence in the 1980s – is perhaps the highest profile example of a response by theology to Marx’s critique of religion. Although the interaction between liberation theology and Marxism became caught up in a discussion of the appropriate relationship between the social sciences and theology and was also the subject of an official reprimand from the Vatican (Sacred Congregation 1984), nonetheless it is reasonably clear that liberation theology responds to both negative and positive aspects of Marx’s critique of religion. Even in the revised edition of A Theology of Liberation, Gustavo Gutiérrez argues that the confrontation of theology and Marxism ‘helps theology to perceive what its efforts at understanding the faith receive from the historical praxis of humankind in history as well as what its own reflection might mean for the transformation of the world’ (Gutiérrez 1988, p. 8).

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Marxism assists theology in both reflecting on the historical praxis of humankind as well as grasping how theology is a liberatory discipline (see also Míguez Bonino 1975). If Marx’s critique understands religion as offering illusory reconciliation and functioning as a buttress to the status quo, liberation theologians accept the criticism and yet argue that theology does not need to function in these ways (Segundo 1976, pp. 25–9). That is, the negative evaluation is accepted and liberation theology offers itself as a theory of conflict that is in the service of the interests of the poor. For a theology to be based in a preferential option for the poor is to affirm that the location of the poor is the outcome of a coercive history that requires transformation and that a Catholic Christianity of the poor supports activities to secure social and economic justice (Gutiérrez 1993, pp. 22–37). Here resides the utopian kernel of Christianity, guided by an appropriation of Marxism as if a natural theology.

Religion as Alienation This discussion of Marx’s critique of religion is familiar material. Yet we must immediately note its force: as Wolfhart Pannenberg commends (1985, p. 16), the atheist critique is important for theology because it raises in its strongest form the truth of the reality of God. Not only does Marx call into question the reality of God he argues that those who cling to its ‘truth’ are living in the ‘un-truth’ of alienation. However, an important issue now arises in the theological interpretation of Marx. Is there not some contradiction in Marx’s affirmation of the power of religion and yet Marx’s steady sense of the alienated or derivative or epiphenomenal character of religion? Developing a response to these questions will lead my theological enquiry into the heart of the discussion concerning the theological appropriation of Marx. One of the early sources of Marx’s thought was Hegelianism, and at the heart of Hegelianism is an argument over the meaning and political contribution of religion. Hegel lectured on religion on four occasions (1821, 1824, 1827, 1831) while at the University of Berlin but regrettably there is no scope to explore that diversity here. In addition, a propensity among scholars to move past Feuerbach in order to focus on Marx has tended to obscure the ways in which Marx’s thinking emerges out of an argument among Hegelians over religion, and Feuerbach’s contribution to that argument. Not least, as Young Hegelians, Feuerbach and Marx agreed in interpreting Hegel as identifying Christianity as the highest or absolute religion and yet as regarding Christian religion as needing to be demythologized. Christianity was myth that must be surpassed. For Feuerbach and Marx in the early 1840s the vital question was how to respond to Hegel. (An essay on Hegel by Karl Barth (1972, pp. 384–421) nicely indicates

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the comprehensive brilliance of Hegel’s achievement, and a sense of incredulity as to why this achievement was honoured only so briefly.) The materialist transformation that Feuerbach performs on Hegel’s thought is later taken over by Marx, and then developed. Yet, I think that Marx never retreats from Feuerbach’s basic insight into Hegel: the greatness of Hegel’s contribution lies in the fact that he identified the perennial temptation for philosophy: to assume the priority of thought over being. Only by the transformation of Hegel – what Marx will later call standing the Hegelian dialectic on its feet – will being be given priority over thought. As Marx himself puts it in the Preface to the second edition of volume 1 of Capital, ‘The mystification which the dialectic suffers in Hegel’s hands by no means prevents him from being the first to present its general forms of motion in a comprehensive and conscious manner. With him it is standing on its head. It must be inverted, in order to discover the rational kernel within the mystical shell’ (Marx [1873] 1976, p. 103). Yet we may also appreciate an important divergence between Feuerbach and Marx. If we consider later work by Feuerbach, especially the lectures presented in The Essence of Religion ([1852] 2004), in which Feuerbach identifies the source of religion as a response to the human being’s dependence on nature, we note that Feuerbach focuses his enquiries in moral psychology in the context of a straightforward criticism and rejection of theism. For Marx, the issue is different: as Harvey points out, Marx has no interest in developing a ‘systematic interpretation of religion based on atheistic principles’ (Harvey 1985, p. 291). Whereas for Feuerbach the criticism of religion was carried through in terms of a materialist psychology, such an approach could not be persuasive for Marx as it focused on the individual. For Marx, in that religion was not an ‘autonomous sphere of human behaviour’ and therefore is understood only from the perspective of a ‘critical theory of society as a whole’ (Harvey 1985, p. 291), religious alienation could not be addressed solely in terms of a religious psychology, no matter how methodologically critical or transformative. Nonetheless, Feuerbach provided Marx with the crucial theoretical impetus to develop further his social materialism and Marx paid him the compliment of undertaking an important piece of self-clarification with regard to Feuerbach’s thought, which were unpublished in Marx’s lifetime and we know now as the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ (1845). In the ‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts’, composed in Paris in 1844, and the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’, Marx attempts to surpass Feuerbach-surpassingHegel by exploring the themes of alienation and objectification. To do this, he returns to a theme in Hegel’s writings: the self-creation of the human by means of objectification. Moreover, whereas for Hegel such objectification occurs in the realm of spirit, for Marx the realm is always that of matter, understood in terms of social practice. Marx insists that in the transformation of its circumstances, the species-being secures its own life through a process of objectification. The

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human makes objects, so to speak, and such objects are not necessarily alienated products. Thus, Marx refuses a tragic aspect of Hegel’s thought by refusing to equate objectification with alienation. In refusing an ontological grounding of alienation, Marx holds open the prospect of the historical overcoming of alienation. Moreover, if the source of objectification and alienation is sensuous human practice then alienation may be overcome through practice also. The transformative (praxiological) and utopian aspects of Marx’s thinking are thereby secured. At this point, I should make a confession: there is no possibility of presenting Marx’s writings without also interpreting them. That is, to make decisions among the conflict of interpretations found in the reception of Marx’s literary legacy. In showing my interpretative hand at this point, I would argue that although the ‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts’ and the ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ are early writings, nonetheless in these two texts, together with The German Ideology (1846), Marx wins an intellectual self-clarification which he later develops but never abandons. Critical here are the concepts of estrangement and alienation. Although there is an extended discussion of alienation in the Paris manuscripts, I do not intend to explore this account in any detail. For present purposes, suffice it to say that Marx identifies four aspects of alienation: from product, work, others and the species-being of humanity. However, what is crucial is that Marx considers alienation in the context of a discussion of political economy. He writes: ‘Political economy conceals the estrangement in the nature of labour by ignoring the direct relationship between the worker (labour) and production’ (Marx 1975, p. 325). This turn to political economy, and away from philosophy, is carried through consistently in Marx’s later work. Thus my position – unexceptionable although not uncontested in Marx studies – is that this humanism – of objectifying work and alienated labour of the species-being that is humanity – is a motif that continues through Marx’s work from 1844. As Marx writes in the first volume of Capital (originally published in 1867): ‘The mysterious character of the commodity-form consists therefore simply in the fact that the commodity reflects the social characteristics of men’s own labour as objective characteristics of the products of labour themselves, as the socio-natural properties of these things. It is nothing but the definite social relation between men themselves which assumes here, for them, the fantastic form of a relation between things’ (Marx 1976, pp. 164–5, 165). Moreover, in explaining this phenomenon, Marx nods towards Feuerbach’s transformative method: ‘In order, therefore, to find an analogy we must take flight into the misty realm of religion. There the products of the human brain appears as autonomous figures endowed with a life of their own, which enter into relations both with each other and with the human race’ (Marx 1976, p. 165). In arguing for continuity between the self-clarifications achieved in 1844–1846 and the first volume of Capital (1867), I am also arguing that the theme of alienation

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persists through Marx’s writings. The turn by Marx from philosophy to political economy in the later work should not be allowed to disguise this. In a longer presentation, important matters in the interpretation of Marx would now need to be explored. Sadly, there is no space here to explore the interesting matters of Marxism as science, philosophy or theory and the relationship between historical materialism and dialectical materialism. Instead, I once more declare my hand by reporting that, in line with the tradition of Western Marxism, I understand Marx’s work to be the contribution to a new humanism to which an account of praxis and human freedom is central. To be sure, the front door to Marx’s work has traditionally been The Communist Manifesto (co-authored with Engels 1848) and if you enter by that route, it is possible to detect a sort of historical-economic determinism. Moreover, in several new prefaces to the Manifesto written after Marx’s death, Engels appears to press the point about determinism by insisting on history as the history of class struggle in which the emancipation of the proletariat is the emancipation of all society. Thereafter, he makes the resounding comment that this claim ‘. . . is destined to do for history what Darwin’s theory has done for biology’ (Marx and Engels [1848, 1888] 2002, p. 203). Nonetheless, I think there are reasons why this determinism comes to the fore in Marx’s writings: to disguise the Hegelian roots of his position. Thus it is appropriate, and not without precedent, to understand Marx as originating an emancipatory theory of practice. As Marx puts the matter, in criticism of Feuerbach: ‘All social life is essentially practical. All mysteries which lead theory to mysticism find their rational solution in human practice and in the comprehension of this practice’ (Marx 1975, p. 423). We are now nearly in a position to ask the question: what is theology after Marx?

Determination If the critique of religion is understood as part of the critique of alienated social practices, it is easy to understand why some commentators consider that Marx appears to devalue what we might broadly call culture or the deliberative efforts of consciousness. In other words, Marx appears to undermine the reality, density or power of culture by referring it always to social practice or the economic base. It is as if these other activities – primarily economic – are more ‘real’ than culture. Moreover, Marx sometimes appears to offer support for such a devaluation. In the ‘Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy’ (1859), Marx writes: In the social production of their existence, men inevitably enter into definite relations, which are independent of their will, namely relations of

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production appropriate to a given stage in the development of their material forces of production. The totality of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which arises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the general process of social, political and intellectual life. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness. (Marx 1975, p. 425) In this famous text, the source of the metaphor of base/superstructure, ‘forms of social consciousness’ correspond to the economic foundation and that same base ‘conditions’ intellectual life. We are in the difficult area of ‘determination’: how ideas are determined by their economic foundations and social forms. What Marx is maintaining here is the hermeneutical principle that ideas – intellectual production – are not to be separated out from the material process of a society. Marx is seeking to affirm the materiality of ideas. However, Marx has been interpreted as maintaining that theory is to be understood as epiphenomenal. Moreover, there are hints of such a position in Marx. Consider this comment from The German Ideology: ‘Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development . . .’ (Marx and Engels 1970, p. 47). What Marx does not mean, of course, is that ideas no longer retain their reality: ideas continue but they do not have a history independent of forms of social life. It is the precise sense of an independent history that Marx denies. To strip them of their independent history is part of the effort to return ideas to their rightful place: as material within a social materialism. After all, social existence determines consciousness.

Ideology and Idolatry Finally, we arrive at the position of being able to explore fully what theology may learn from Marx. It is directly to confront the matter of the truth of theology, and derivatively the truth of the reality of God, without at the same time making a claim to theology’s independence. This brings my assessment of Marx to the matter of ideology. For Marx, but not for all of Marxist tradition, ideology is a critical concept. That is, theories, concepts and beliefs identified as ideological are real and yet in a mystificatory relationship to social practice. Put differently, ideology enjoys a unity with practice, yet that unity is false in that ideological thought requires the practitioner to live out a miscued relationship with a wider social practice.

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Ideology itself is a social practice, yet deformed and mystificatory. This is, if you like, the radicalization of the criticism of religion. In the ‘Introduction to the critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right’ (1844), Marx writes: ‘Thus the criticism of heaven turns into the criticism of earth, the criticism of religion into the criticism of law and the criticism of theology into the criticism of politics’ (Marx 1975, p. 245). Ideology is the critical approach to the transition from study of God to the study of politics. Material life determines the theoretical form that religion takes; religion as an ideology obscures and mystifies the conditions that produced it. It is not, I think, that the criticism of theology is to be in any straightforward sense abandoned – although there is no doubt that Marx did abandon it. Instead, we might say that the task of theology changes: to explore the relationship between theological theory and material life in order to establish how theology is not identical with the conditions that produced it. Sometimes Marx uses vigorous metaphors to make his point: ‘If in all ideology men and their circumstances appear upside-down as in a camera obscura, this phenomenon arises from just as much from their historical life-process as the inversion of objects on the retina does from their physical life-process’ (Marx and Engels 1970, p. 47). In such a perspective, a theology after Marx will explore how the world that it depicts and the divinity to which it owes its loyalty is not in fact topsy-turvy. Of Marxist criticism, Terry Eagleton argues: ‘It is the task of Marxist criticism . . . to recognise its own historical determinants, but to demonstrate that its validity is not identical with them’ (Eagleton 1978, p. 16). Comparably, it is the task of theological criticism to identify its own historical determinants and thereby to show that its validity is not identical with those determinants. This is, I consider, what Marx has to teach theology: the practice of ideology critique against inversion and mystification. To put this conclusion in theological idiom, what Marx invites theology to re-learn is the criticism of idolatry. In idolatry, the creaturely is confused with divinity in order to secure or advance the interests of a human group or society. What form idolatry takes today is of course up for discussion. If you posed the question to Marx’s writings, one answer would be that Christian religion acts as an intermediary between human beings and thereby leads people away from an understanding of human life as social (see further, Scott 1994, pp. 58–63). Contemporary theology might object to this characterization and offer rather different temptations of idolatry. Certainly, the history of twentieth-century theology provides some evidence of theology confusing the basileia tou theou with earthly kingdoms and reichs, God’s project with empires and globalization, and the divine will with the (attempted) mastery of nature. Moreover, there is always the problem of the unity of theory and practice: how theological descriptions and interventions are informed by and contribute to the understanding of the definite relations of the social production of our existence. In short, Marx

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invites theology to propose a critical theology of society-nature as a whole and from the perspective of the unity of theory and practice.

Theology after Marx? For some interpreters of Marx, my argument will be too redolent of a Hegelianism from which, it is argued, Marx emancipated himself. Moreover, my interpretation stresses that Marx’s account of religion is not reductive – a conclusion that some Marxists will regard as tendentious. Other scholars in Marx will resist the implicit motif of creation and fall that may be glimpsed in my presentation of Marx: the social being of humanity is obscured through some ‘fall’ into alienation and seeks its redemption through re-directive human praxis. Yet perhaps what will be most troubling to theologians is the presentation of theology as material. That is, theology has a precise social history and can only be properly comprehended when it is (re)placed in that social history. Theology does not have an independent history and may draw upon ideology critique as one way of rescuing itself from claims to independence. To put the matter differently and bluntly: Marx assists theology in making speech about God difficult. In a moment, I shall explain why I think that such an approach is important. However, I must immediately concede that this is not a popular approach to the relationship between theology and philosophy today. A more common route today would be to argue that philosophies are disguised theologies and therefore must be interrogated theologically for their truth. In the strongest form of this position, philosophies are disguised theologies that in fact assume some of theology’s duties while at the same time denying the legitimacy of theology itself (Milbank 2005). Marx may assist theology as part of a different strategy: making discourse about God difficult. Why might this be a vital theological skill to acquire today? Because in the unavoidable entangling of theology with politics it is difficult to know whether theology discusses God or some idol. In the fields of immanence that are modern philosophical disciplines, it is difficult to know whether theology’s claimed knowledge of God is a true and liberative knowledge of God. In a period that instrumentalizes and functionalizes knowledge, and seeks to do the same for theological themes, some way of freeing theology from such pressures is important. Consider only the ways in which ‘economic growth’ is offered today as a sort of ‘monetary eschatology’ and how apocalyptic themes are deployed in responses to anthropogenic climate change. That is, some critical protocols are required to free theology from any such incorporation into projects of bourgeois mastery. By bourgeois, I mean the commitment to understand the human as in control of its works, including its language. Such bourgeois temptation to affirm (an illusion of) control is opposed by Marx’s efforts to deny an independent

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history to theory – a history over which the human claims control – and replace it with the materiality of theory in which the practice of theory and other forms of practice are determined by social and economic practices. One way of responding to this theologically is to try to uncover the false sorts of dependencies offered by such collusion of practices by pressing farther and farther, more and more abstractly, to the world’s dependence on the creativity of God. The aim here is not to derive a concept of God from a concept of nature but instead to try to find ways of freeing our habitual ways of seeing and interpreting the world as in some way supported or buttressed by our understandings of God. For some theologians such a strategy in natural theology – for that is what it is – will have nothing to commend it. Such theologians will complain that there is no social form that relates easily to this natural theology. However, I would reply, that means that many social forms could undertake such an enquiry in natural theology: not only theologians and not only Christian religious communities could undertake such work. As such, we are freed from that falsest of internalized imperatives: the desire to make theology relevant. Moreover, this natural theology has nothing to do with trying to deduce the existence of God from features of the world. Instead, the natural theology recommended here stresses the difficulties in speaking truthfully – that is, liberatively – of God in the midst of our present social reality. Speech of God in such contexts is more likely to be idolatrous. And one way of responding is to free theology from idolatry through consideration of the God who is principium et finis mundi – and yet of whom to say more in the midst of our social and political reality is a very, very difficult undertaking. In conclusion: that talk of God in relation to politics, and in our theorizing about politics, should be difficult is something that theology may learn in the face of Marx. Whether theology is interested in unlearning temptations to idolatry in this fashion is another matter. So far, the signs are not encouraging.

Note 1 This paragraph and the next two are excerpted from Scott 1994, pp. 18–21.

Bibliography Adorno, T. (1993) Hegel: Three Studies, Cambridge and London: MIT Press. Badiou, A. (2003) Saint Paul: The Meaning of Universalism, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.

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— (2009) The Meaning of Sarkozy, London: Verso. Barth, K. (1972) Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century, London: SCM Press. Bentley, J. (1982) Between Marx and Christ: The Dialogue in German-speaking Europe, 1870–1970, London: Verso. Eagleton, T. (1970) The Body as Language: Outline of a ‘New Left’ Theology, London: Sheed and Ward. Feuerbach, L. (2004) The Essence of Religion, Amherst, NY: Prometheus. Gutiérrez, G. (1988) A Theology of Liberation, London: SCM Press. — (1993) ‘Option for the Poor’, in Systematic Theology: Perspectives from Liberation Theology, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, pp. 22–37. Harvey, V. A. (1985) ‘Feuerbach and Marx’, in N. Smart, J. Clayton, P. Sherry and S. T. Katz (eds) Nineteenth Century Religious Thought in the West, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jacobson, E. (2003) Metaphysics of the Profane: The Political Theology of Walter Benjamin and Gershom Scholem. New York: Columbia University Press. Kee, A. (1990) Marx and the Failure of Liberation Theology, London: SCM Press. Kohlenbach, M. and Geuss, R. (2005) The Early Frankfurt School and Religion, Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan. Lash, N. (1981) A Matter of Hope: A Theologian’s Reflections on the Thought of Karl Marx, London: Darton, Longman & Todd. MacIntyre, A. (1995) Marxism and Christianity, 2nd edn, London: Duckworth. — (2009) Alasdair Macintyre’s Engagement with Marxism (ed. Paul Blackledge and Neil Davidson), Chicago: Haymarket. McLellan, D. (1987) Marxism and Religion, Basingstoke: Macmillan. Marx, K. (1975) Early Writings, London: Penguin. — (1976) Capital, vol. 1, London: Penguin. Marx, K. and Engels F. (1970) The German Ideology, London: Lawrence & Wishart. — (2002) The Communist Manifesto (introduction by G. S. Jones), London: Penguin. Míguez Bonino, J. (1975), Doing Theology in a Revolutionary Situation, Philadelphia: Fortress Press. Milbank, J. (2005) Theology and Social Theory, 2nd edn, Oxford: Blackwell. Pannenberg, W. (1985) Anthropology in Theological Perspective, Edinburgh: T & T Clark. Sacred Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (1984) Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation: Libertatis Nuntius, London: Catholic Truth Society. Scott, P. M. (1994) Theology, Ideology and Liberation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Segundo, J. L. (1976) The Liberation of Theology, Maryknoll, NY: Orbis. Turner, D. (1983) Marxism and Christianity, Oxford: Blackwell. — (1991) ‘Religion: Illusions and Liberation’, in T. Carver (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Marx, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 320–37. Žižek, S. (2009) The Fragile Absolute: Or, Why the Christian Legacy Is Worth Fighting For, 2nd edn, London: Verso. Žižek, S and Milbank, J. (2009) The Monstrosity of Christ, Cambridge: MIT Press.

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Chapter 11 Theology and the Appropriation of the Existentialist Tradition Terrence Merrigan University of Leuven Introduction Any attempt to reflect on existentialism and its significance for theology must first come to terms with the truth, acknowledged by very nearly everyone, but rarely translated into a methodological principle, that it does not constitute a coherent or systematic body of thought. John Macquarrie (1919–2007), one of the leading exponents and advocates of existential theology, was, therefore, right to argue that existentialism is not so much a distinctive philosophy as ‘a way of doing philosophy’,1 or a ‘style of philosophizing’,2 and a very ‘flexible’ one at that, capable of encompassing the Protestantism of Søren Kierkegaard (1813– 1855), the Catholicism of Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973), the Russian Orthodoxy of Nicolas Berdyaev (1874–1948), the Judaism of Martin Buber (1878–1965), the philosophical theism of Karl Jaspers (1883–1969), and the atheism of JeanPaul Sartre (1905–1980).3 What ‘unites’ these authors and others who might be assembled under the umbrella of existentialism is not a ‘body of doctrines’ but a concern with a number of ‘themes’ which are, so to speak, unevenly distributed throughout their writings.4 By regarding the existentialists in this way, one is able to account for many of the discussions concerning precisely whether – and to what extent – a particular author might be described as an existentialist. Those discussions do not concern us here. Our concern is with the themes that characterize existentialist thought and their significance for theological reflection.

Existentialism Existentialism has been described as ‘an attempt to philosophize from the standpoint of the actor, rather than, as [was] customary, from the standpoint of the

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spectator’.5 The ‘actor’ here is the human subject, understood as a being who is rooted in the world of time and space but nevertheless ‘stands out’ from that world (the Greek root of the word ‘existence’ is ex-sisto, meaning to ‘to stand out from’) and is capable of both reflection upon it and freely chosen action within it. Existentialism, it might be said, is all about the subject’s response to his existential condition or, perhaps more accurately, the subject’s awareness of his responsibility for a form of existence that, so to speak, has been thrust upon him. The world in which the subject finds himself is, in the words of Albert Camus (1930–1960), ‘a vast irrational’ whose ‘single meaning I do not understand’.6 What is clear is that ours is an ‘existence unto death’, and one usually lived on terms set by others. The human condition is an occasion for both wonder and despair. In the words of Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980), the human subject is, so to speak, ‘condemned to be free. Condemned, because he did not create himself, yet, in other respects . . . free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.’7 The subject must ‘choose [his] being’.8 Indeed, the subject is the ‘starting point’ for any and all reflection on the nature of being.9 This, according to Sartre, is the meaning of the oft-repeated phrase that, for the existentialist, ‘existence precedes essence’. Existence here means ‘action’, including the assumption of responsibility for our place in the world, determined as it is by all the limitations and contingencies of our concrete situation (i.e. the reality described by Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) as Dasein, ‘being-in-the-world’). According to Sartre, existentialism ‘defines man in terms of action’.10 ‘Man is nothing else but what he makes of himself. Such is the first principle of existentialism.’11 Accordingly, ‘existentialism’s first move is to make every man aware of what he is and to make the full responsibility of his existence rest on him.’12 The recognition of this ‘responsibility’, and the concomitant recognition that selfhood is at best a fragile construction destined for disintegration and at worst an illusion foisted on one by others issues in dread or ‘anxiety’ (Heiedegger’s Angst), a notion that was explored in depth by the purported father of existentialism, Kierkegaard,13 and which recurs under a variety of names among existentialist authors (e.g. ‘metaphysical fear’ in the work of Jaspers or ‘nausea’ in Sartre).14 Anxiety is not to be understood as a momentary emotion. It is rather the all-encompassing horizon within which the subject reflects and acts, the fundamental realization that while one is confronted with endless possibilities only a few can be chosen and those which are chosen are entirely one’s own responsibility. Anxiety, then, can serve as a moment of disclosure in so far as it reveals to the subject his fundamental freedom and responsibility. This sort of anxiety is at the root of what Camus regarded as the ‘one truly serious philosophical question’, namely, that of ‘suicide’. ‘Judging whether life is or is not

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worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.’15 And that answer cannot be merely speculative. It can only really be given in action, action undertaken against the backdrop of a world within which our most profound ambitions and longings will inevitably be frustrated. The perception of ‘the divorce between man and his life, the actor and his setting’, gives rise to the ‘feeling of absurdity’,16 at least for those prepared to confront the ultimate groundlessness or contingency of their existential situation.17 That being said, the acknowledgement of the world’s absurdity is not so much a conclusion as it is a starting point of existentialist reflection.18 Existentialism, then, it might be said, is shaped by two major questions, an ‘ontological’ and an ethical one (though, of course, these two questions are inextricably bound up with one another). The ontological question concerns the possibility of meaningful existence in a world determined by finitude and temporality. The ethical question concerns the nature of the most appropriate response to our existential condition. The existentialist attempt to address these questions forms the subject of the following reflections.

The Question of ‘being-in-the-world’: Existentialism and Phenomenology The existentialist seeks to come to terms with his distinctive experience of ‘being-in the-world’ and, in the process, to shape his particular destiny freely and responsibly.19 The ‘world’ here is not simply the material world. It is rather the entire ‘context’ or ‘horizon for all the things there are’, that is to say, all that is ‘given’ to us, including our particular histories, and all the things to which we can relate ourselves, including persons, events, places, memories, emotions, texts and so on.20 That being said, existentialist reflection does not have as its object a comprehensive theory of existence. Ostensibly, its goal is much more modest, namely, the illumination of the subject’s particular encounter with the ‘world’. However, as Kierkegaard, insisted, ‘the truth that is essentially related to existence’ can only be discovered in and through a radical and lifelong personal commitment to the project of existence as such (Kierkegaard’s ‘subjectivity’ or ‘inwardness’).21 The existentialist literary tradition, represented by, for example, Camus, Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir (1908–1986) and E. M. Cioran (1911–1995), is built on the struggles of those who confront (or fail to confront) the aporias thrown up by temporality and finitude. However, as Mary Warnock has pointed out, reflection on the human condition does not in and of itself constitute existentialist thought as philosophy. In her view, such thought only merits the epithet ‘philosophical’ when it involves a systematic and methodical ‘account of man’s connection with the world’. The ‘method’ at stake here, according to Warnock, is the one employed in the

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phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (1859–1938).22 Warnock’s identification of the nature of the existentialist debt to Husserl has been challenged,23 and it does indeed seem fair to say that, to the degree that existentialists share a common methodology, it is perhaps best described as tributary to Husserl’s. Nevertheless, the link between existentialism and Husserl’s phenomenology is undeniable. The greatest common denominator between Husserl and the existentialists is their shared starting point, namely, ‘one’s own consciousness of the world’, though even this assertion has to be qualified by the acknowledgement that ‘the complex concept, “consciousness of the world”, is analyzed in radically different ways by different phenomenologists.’ What is clear is that the existentialists took from Husserl a profound commitment to give the world of lived experience its due in philosophical reflection. Indeed, they radicalized it, first by rejecting his claim that it was, even for an instant, possible to ‘to abstract oneself from involvement in the world’ (Husserl’s epoché),24 and secondly, by extending phenomenology’s range beyond the founder’s concern with intentionality, consciousness and perception, to other fields, including religious and aesthetic experience, emotions, the role of the body in perception (Mauruce Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961)), sexuality (de Beauvoir), the perception of values, and ‘basic attitudes and relations, such as hope, love, and [in the case of Marcel] availability (disponibilité)’.25 In extending phenomenology’s range in this fashion, the existentialists were applying one of their most fundamental convictions, namely, that the Cartesian approach to the subject as a substantia cogitans had alienated that same subject from perhaps the greatest part of his lived existence by simply bypassing ‘prepredicative experience’ (Husserl) such as moods and feelings.26 In the final analysis, the determination of the existentialist philosopher to explore the whole spectrum of human experience is an expression of his overriding concern to fathom – and thereby to appropriate (i.e. to ‘make his own’) his being-in-the-world. If one defines phenomenology, as Heidegger did, as ‘the science of the Being of entities’, or the ‘hermeneutic of Dasein,’ then the inevitability of the link between phenomenology and existentialism is evident.27 Coming to consciousness of what it means ‘to-be-in-the-world’ is more than an awakening to our existential situation. It is the assumption of responsibility for it. As one author has observed, ‘Consciousness is not itself given as just another part of the natural world; it is the being who gives sense to its experiences of the world and of other subjects.’28 In the same vein, another commentator has remarked that, ‘According to the variations of phenomenology, advanced by Heidegger, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty, “consciousness” is not to be interpreted primarily as a knowing consciousness but as an acting, “willing”, deciding consciousness.’ For the existentialist, then, the study of consciousness is never merely an intellectual enterprise. It is instead ‘a means to understanding what it is to be person’29 or, perhaps more accurately, what it means to be an acting person.

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Theology and Philosophy The Question of Ethics: Existentialism and Personalism

According to Robert C. Solomon, the existentialist preoccupation with ‘what people are and do rather than what they can and do know’ led them to reorient Husserlian phenomenology in the direction of ethics (though he acknowledges that the later Husserl already anticipated many existentialist concerns in this regard). Solomon decries the view of existentialist ethics as the promotion of rampant individuality and the rejection of any claim to universality. ‘The existentialists, like Husserl, are concerned with foundations.’ However, what interests them is ‘not the foundations of knowledge (essences) but “existential foundations”, the a priori principles regarding what it is to be a man.’ And they locate these foundations in the subject’s ability ‘to act, to plan, to use language, to evaluate, and perhaps most important of all, to ask who he is and what he ought to do’.30 The subject will undoubtedly be ‘whatever he makes of himself’ and it is basic to existentialist thought that no one else can prescribe what the subject ought to become, but existentialist philosophy does ‘outline a theory of choice and action, one which sets the parameters for any possible choice and actions’. According to Solomon, it is precisely ‘this theory and the phenomenological analysis that supports it that make the existentialists important philosophers’.31 The nature of the parameters within which the subject acts has already been outlined above. Briefly put, these parameters are determined by the tension between, on the one hand, absolute freedom and endless possibility and, on the other hand, historical-temporal limitation of that freedom and possibility. The human subject has very nearly infinite imaginative and cognitive powers, but he is continually required to adapt himself to the realities of his finite being and can therefore never fully realize his subjective potential. He is constantly required to make choices but, in view of his radical situatedness in time and space, can never be fully cognizant of the real grounds or the eventual implications of those choices, and can never fully account for them. Nevertheless it is only by actively exercising choice that the subject can attain ‘authentic’ (Heidegger’s eigentlich) selfhood.32 The upshot of all of this is the temptation to abdicate one’s responsibility to choose and act (or, more accurately, to choose inaction), and to lose oneself in the ordinariness and the routine of everyday existence (Kierkegaard’s ‘crowd’, Heidegger’s das Man). Existentialist ethics, then, is not so much a matter of self-realization as it is of the assumption of responsibility for the ongoing project of self-realization. Hence, Solomon remarks that the existentialist philosophers did not consider their own work as ethics and made no attempt to provide ‘a detailed account of specific principles that men ought to live by’.33 The existentialist portrayal of the subject as a self-actualizing and responsible being resonated with a number of thinkers who came to be known collectively as personalists. In fact, the personalists, like the existentialists, were

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a heterogeneous group and the movement took somewhat different forms in different countries. From the point of view of theological reflection, the most interesting current of personalism is the one which emerged in France. The philosophical roots of French personalism were quite varied and included the work of, among others, Max Scheler (1874–1928), Martin Buber, Henri Bergson (1859–1941), Maurice Blondel (1861–1939) and Karl Jaspers. Nevertheless, its most celebrated representative, Jacques Maritain (1882–1973), was a celebrated Neo-Thomist while his close collaborator, Emmanuel Mounier (1905– 1950), regarded his personalism as an extension of the existentialism developed by Kierkegaard and Blaise Pascal (1623–1662). Not surprisingly, then, both Maritain and Mounier always expressed a preference for the plural, ‘personalisms’, to describe the movement.34 For the personalists, as for the existentialists, the subject is free and autonomous, and charged with responsibility for his self-actualization. However, as the name of the movement indicates, personalism takes as its point of departure an understanding of the subject that is not simply reducible to the existentialist understanding of the same. At the risk of oversimplification, one might say that personalism both extends and elevates the subject by approaching him as a being destined for relationship with other subjects and with the transcendent subject, God. Intersubjectivity, then, rather than subjectivity might be said to constitute the leitmotif of personalist reflection.35 This shift of focus is reflected in the preoccupation, among personalists, with the relationship between the subject and the community of other subjects who shape and are shaped by his subjectivity. It explains too the political and sociological concerns of so much personalist literature. The connection with, and extension of, the existentialist understanding of the subject is evident in Maritain’s social and political philosophy where personhood takes precedence over action itself as the source and goal of human existence.36 Maritain acknowledges and indeed insists on the subject’s ‘freedom of choice’ but he identifies the real goal of human existence as what he calls the ‘freedom of autonomy’, that is to say, the freedom to realize authentic selfhood. The quest to realize freedom of choice (bounded only by the choices of others) is the quest of the ‘individual’, the atomized subject intent on affirming its particular existence. The quest for freedom of autonomy is the quest of the ‘person’, the subject endowed with ‘a soul capable of super-existence in knowledge and love’. The ‘individual’ is responsible to himself. The ‘person’ shares responsibility with the community of persons who share personhood with him. As one commentator has observed, Maritain’s ‘person’ is characterized by ‘a certain inwardness, a certain subjectivity, a certain reflective awareness of self that set him apart as the noblest being in the whole of nature. This interiority and subjectivity of the person, however, is a far cry from the interiority and isolated unity of the Leibnizian monad, closed upon itself and inscribed with a radical

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aversion to others.’ On the contrary, the person is ‘an open whole; he is not shut up in himself. He demands to communicate with others in knowledge and love, to share with and receive from others the fruits of personal life.’37 Ideally, society exists to promote this exchange among its citizens (the common good) and not to expend itself in the illusory quest for universal freedom of choice.38 The supreme model for a genuinely personalist society is the divine Trinity, where each person ‘is in the other in infinite communion’. In the meantime, what can be achieved on earth is a ‘society of persons’ who, while remaining ‘material individuals who are isolated each within himself, . . . nonetheless ask to commune with one another as much as possible, before perfectly communing with one another and with God in life eternal.’39 Mounier shared Maritain’s view that the emergence of solipsistic ‘individualism’ was to be attributed to the historical and intellectual currents set in motion by Luther’s reduction of religion to feeling, Descartes’ limitation of reason to self-consciousness, and Rousseau’s reduction of morality to the will. Paradoxically, the cult of the individual (which left the subject prey to bourgeois capitalism) served as the seedbed for the collectivism fostered by collectivist ideologies (fascism and communism).40 Mounier’s goal was to restore both the individual or, more accurately, the person, and the collective or, more accurately, the community of persons, to their true dignity, by maintaining them in tensile unity. Indeed, French personalism was characterized by its concern to overcome dichotomies ‘on the levels of philosophy (idealism-materialism), economics (liberalism-communism), culture (faith and reason), and the life of the spirit (Church and state)’.41 The concern for a comprehensive approach to the human person, one that does justice to all dimensions of human being-in-the-world, is very evident in the description of the human person proposed by the Belgian moral theologian and personalist, Louis Janssens (1908–2001). Janssens, whose work was informed by the thought of, among others, Maritain, Mounier, Scheler and Marcel, and shaped in later years by the teaching of Vatican II, sought to develop a ‘moral criterion with a personalist meaning’ that might constitute the basis for a personalist ethics.42 The heart of Janssens’ proposal was a notion of the human person ‘adequately considered’. Such a consideration would require the acknowledgement of the ‘essential aspects or constitutive elements of the human person’. According to Janssens, the human person is most ‘adequately’ understood as a free and responsible, corporeal and historically determined subject, possessed of a unique dignity, who realizes himself by means of his engagement with the material world, other subjects, the broader society and the transcendent reality who, for Christians, discloses Himself in Jesus Christ.43 Janssens’ concern to develop ‘an ethics of responsibility built upon a personalist foundation’44 was shared by Karol Wojtyla (1920–2005), the later

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Pope John Paul II, whose ethical thought was informed by the work of Husserl, Scheler and Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889–1977). Wojtyla’s Christian personalism comes to expression in his insistence that the human person, created in the image of the triune God, can only thrive in a communion of love. One of the most distinctive features of Wojtyla’s personalism was his insistence on the intrinsic connection between subjectivity and embodiment, such that the body must be approached as ‘a visible expression of the invisible interiority of man and woman’.45 Personhood, then, is never simply a matter of inwardness or selfpossession. It is only achieved in interpersonal communion, in the self-gift of the subject to another. The role of the ‘other’ in the emergence of personhood had already been explored in the work of Martin Buber (1878–1965) and Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995). Indeed, for both of these authors, self-actualization is only possible in and through the encounter with the other.46 The recognition that other ‘subjects’ are the key to one’s own personhood might be said to constitute the fault line between existentialism and personalism. More than 50 years ago, Frederick Copleston observed that the ‘main division’ between personalists and existentialists (though this was by no means absolute) is perhaps best understood in terms of the goal towards which freedom is directed. Generally speaking, the personalists regard freedom as oriented towards the realization of authentic personhood, understood as the fulfilment of ‘a moral and spiritual vocation’47 that has a more or less explicit communitarian dimension.48 Existentialists, generally speaking, understand freedom as the path towards individual authentic existence in the world, a world that is indifferent to the individual’s quest. At the risk of oversimplification, one might say that, for the personalist, freedom is freedom for self-realization, while for the existentialist, freedom is freedom from any predetermined goal, any necessary end. As Copleston remarks, the existentialist refuses ‘to recognize in freedom any teleological function’.49 Not surprisingly perhaps, personalists tend to see freedom as an opportunity, indeed as a gift and even a responsibility, as a ‘call’ to actualize personhood, in contrast to existentialists, like Sartre, who regard it as a burden to be borne, as a destiny thrust upon the individual.50

Theology and the Appropriation of the Existentialist Heritage It might be argued that the roots of modern existentialism are irreducibly theological in character. Indeed, Frederick Copleston ventured that theistic existentialism was ‘historically prior’ to its more celebrated atheistic variety and invoked the cases of Kierkegaard, Jaspers and Marcel to support this claim.51 E. L. Allen, among others, traced the ‘ancestry’ of existentialism back to St Augustine, ‘in

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whose confessions we find just that encounter of the individual with his mortal destiny, dread, anguish, and despair, with which the existentialists . . . familiarize us.’52 Indeed Allen suggested that existentialist themes permeate ancient Greek philosophy and the biblical tradition. Hence, he could write that ‘one of the greatest services rendered by Kierkegaard was that he enriched philosophy with themes and categories taken originally from the Bible.’53 According to Allen, the concerns of existentialism and the endeavour by existentialist theologians to incorporate these concerns into theological reflection must not be construed as ‘the reading back into the Bible of present-day ideas’. On the contrary, the ideas mooted by existentialist thinkers owed their very existence, so to speak, to the biblical and Christian tradition within which they were preserved. The novelty of existentialist thought, then, was not the ideas at stake but ‘their acceptance into philosophy’.54 It is indeed the case, as Macquarrie claimed – and as the consideration of the philosophers most identified with existentialism confirms – that existentialism ‘begins by interrogating existence’, that is to say, ‘the kind of being that belongs to [the human person] in his concrete living, acting and deciding’.55 And it is also the case that, in the twentieth century, this ‘interrogation of existence’ was shaped by the trauma of two world wars, and the emergence of an anonymous, bureaucratic society that threatened ‘the integrity of the subject’.56 But the acknowledgement of this context does not constitute a sufficient reason to dismiss existentialism as an exercise in self-aggrandizement powered by clichés about the need for ‘reflection on the human condition’. Nor does its fashionableness in the 1960s prove that it was the expression of ‘the petty-bourgeois, materialistic obsessions of the industrialized west’.57 Existentialism – and existentialist theology as a dimension of that movement – is best approached as a particular manifestation of the unceasing protest of the subject or, perhaps more accurately, the human person against dehumanization in every form, including, of course, the ultimate dehumanization of death. It is, therefore, not surprising that its two greatest theological practitioners, Rudolf Bultmann (1884–1976) and Paul Tillich (1883–1965), had witnessed the horrors of modern European history and it is even less surprising that they did not seek to address them by recourse to (an unsullied, or distinctive narrative) ‘tradition’ but by taking the human condition – and the question of the manner in which God is present to it – very seriously. This was the goal of Tillich’s project of correlation and of Bultmann’s program of demythologization. What was at stake for both was not the imposition of an existentialist reading on the tradition, but the quest for a reading which would allow the disclosure of the revelation contained in the tradition.58 Even the radicalization of the existentialist theological project by Fritz Buri (1907–1975), who sought to replace Bultmann’s programme of demythologization by a programme of de-kerygmatizing (Entkerygmatisierung),

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was rooted in the recognition of the irreducible and indeed ‘irreplaceable’ value of the Christian religious tradition.59 It is, therefore, shortsighted, to dismiss existentialist theology as a betrayal of Christianity, which is not to suggest that its appropriation of the Christian kerygma is unproblematic. What is of lasting value – and what constitutes existentialism’s challenge to succeeding versions of theological reflection – is its concern for the lived experience of the human subject or, in the words of Janssens, the ‘human person adequately considered’. Writing in 1991, Jacques Derrida maintained that the ‘question of the subject and the living “who” is at the heart of the most pressing concerns of modern societies.’60 More recently, it has been argued that the way in which human subjectivity is understood constitutes the fault line, so to speak, between modernity and postmodernity.61 While so-called modern thinkers (e.g. Sigmund Freud) regarded subjectivity as the legitimate object of a (lifelong) personal quest, that is, as an ideal to be ‘constructed’,62 postmodern thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) and Michel Foucault (1926–1984) portrayed it as an illusion fostered by ‘those’63 intent on manipulating others. While the moderns sought to analyze and harness the dynamic process that – if properly managed – will issue in a ‘self-sustaining individual’,64 the postmoderns seek to expose the lie contained in the idea that a more or less stable ‘center’ of subjectivity can exist at all. Such a view (or non-view) of the ‘subject’ has far-reaching implications for the question of whether the postmodern man and woman will be any better equipped than the modern to resist the sort of alienation and subsequent tyranny that existentialism sought to address. David Tracy has pointed to this dimension of the postmodern experience. ‘With some notable exceptions,’ he observes, ‘too many post-modern thinkers feel free to deconstruct the history of past and present without actualizing any concrete ethical-political hope. They wish to deconstruct the status quo in favor of the fluxus quo.’65 If the subject – the self – is no more than ‘an obscure and shifting impersonal matrix of relationships, politics and bodies’,66 then it is meaningless to speak of personal responsibility or of obligation. After all, who is there to be responsible? More recently, Marilynne Robinson has argued that the ‘the core assumption that remains unchallenged and unquestioned through all the variations within the diverse traditions of “modern” thought is that the experience and testimony of the individual mind is to be explained away, excluded from consideration when any rational account is made of the nature of human being and of being altogether. In its place we have grand projects of generalization, solemn efforts to tell our species what we are and what we are not . . .’ Some of these projects equip themselves with the prefix ‘post’, signifying that ‘they have crossed some sort of threshold, and can therefore make some new claim on the

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world’s attention.’67 Robinson points out that theology, too, has engaged in ‘the exclusion of the felt life of the mind’ from its reflection even though its ‘real life’ is rooted precisely in ‘inwardness’ or interiority, in ‘the beauty and strangeness of the individual soul, that is, of the world perceived in the course of a human life, of the mind as it exists in time’.68 This deficit, to the degree that it is present in theology, modern or postmodern, cannot be credited to existentialism – or to existentialist theology – and it would be unwise to disabuse ourselves of the existentialist spirit until some other benefactor can be found.

Notes 1

2

3 4

5

6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

John Macquarrie (2001) Twentieth-Century Religious Thought, 5th edn. London: SCM, p. 351. Macquarrie also remarks (p. 352) that existentialism is not ‘a body of doctrines but a philosophical attitude’ which ‘issues in very different points of view’. John Macquarrie (1972) Existentialism: An Introduction, Guide and Assessment, London: Penguin Books, pp. 14, 15, 60. In An Existentialist Theology, London: SCM (1955), p. 16, Macquarrie remarks that existentialism ‘is not a philosophy but a type of philosophy’. See also Macquarrie (1965) Studies in Christian Existentialism, London: SCM, pp. 115–16. See David R. Law ‘The Abiding Significance of Existentialist Theology’, in Robert Morgan (ed.) (2006) In Search of Humanity and Deity: A Celebration of John Macquarrie’s Theology, London: SCM, pp. 34–56. See pp. 35–36. Macquarrie, An Existentialist Theology, p. 16; Law, ‘The Abiding Significance of Existentialist Theology’, p. 35. Macquarrie, Twentieth-Century Religious Thought, p. 352; Existentialism, pp. 16–18; D. A. Allen and E. O. Springstead (2007) Philosophy for Understanding Theology, Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, p. 190. E. L. Allen (1953) Existentialism from Within, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, p. 3. See also Fredrick Copleston (2003) Logical Positivism and Existentialism, in A History of Philosophy, 11 vols, London: Continuum, 11: 127–8. Albert Camus, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ in Gordon Marino (ed.) (2004) Basic Writings of Existentialism, New York: The Modern Library, p. 459. Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Existentialism’, in Gordon Marino (ed.) (2004) Basic Writings of Existentialism, New York: The Modern Library, p. 350. Sartre, ‘Existentialism’, p. 353. Ibid., p. 344. Ibid., p. 357. Ibid., p. 345. Ibid., p. 346. George Pattison (2005) The Philosophy of Kierkegaard, Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, pp. 46–89; see p. 83. John Macquarrie has suggested that ‘angst’ is perhaps best translated by the French ‘malaise’, denoting a ‘vague sense of uneasiness, different from fear but less acute than anxiety in the common sense of the word’. See John Macquarrie ‘Existentialism,’

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22 23 24 25 26

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in T. A. Hart (ed.) (2000) The Dictionary of Historical Theology, Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, p. 203. Camus, ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’, p. 441. Ibid., p. 443. Sartre, ‘Existentialism’, p. 360. Sartre insists that ‘what is not possible is not to choose [to respond to our existential condition]. I can always choose, but I ought to know that if I do not choose, I am still choosing.’ There are various shades of meaning in the notion of the ‘absurd’ as this is developed by existentialist thinkers, but it seems fair to say that all of them relate it to the impossibility of the self-realization for which the human subject innately longs. See David Sherman, ‘Absurdity’, in H. L. Dreyfus and M. A. Wrathall (eds) (2006) A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 271–9. F. Temple Kingston (1961) French Existentialism: A Christian Critique, Toronto: University of Toronto Press, p. 132 n. 1. Frederick Copleston notes that Heidegger made quite clear that he did not regard his work as being in any sense exhortative but as simply descriptive of the human condition. In that sense, he differed from most other ‘existentialist’ thinkers. However, according to Copleston, Heidegger’s work has been read as promoting a choice for authentic existence and, to that extent, ‘in its effective influence, his philosophy has outrun the professed intention of its author.’ See Copleston, Logical Positivism and Existentialism, pp. 137, 142. Robert Sokolowski (2000) Introduction to Phenomenology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 43–4. C. Stephen Evans (2000) Kierkegaard: An Introduction, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 55–67, especially p. 60. See Søren Kierkegaard Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, 2 vols, H. V. Hong and E. H. Hong (eds) (1992), Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1:199. See also Mary Warnock (2005) Existentialism, rev. edn, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 8–12. Warnock, Existentialism, pp. 3–4, 141. Warnock regards existentialism as the ‘marriage’ of ethical voluntarism and the phenomenology of Husserl. David E. Cooper (1999) Existentialism: A Reconstruction, 2nd edn, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 46. Robert C. Solomon (2001) ‘Introduction’, in Robert C. Solomon (ed.), Phenomenology and Existentialism, Oxford: Rowan & Littlefield, p. 33. Copleston, Logical Positivism and Existentialism, pp. 144–5. Dermot Moran (2000) Introduction to Phenomenology, London: Routledge, pp. 12–13. Moran notes that Heidegger felt that Husserl had also failed in this regard. A theological version of this debate has been opened by the so-called theological turn in French phenomenology. See Dominique Janicaud (2000) Phenomenology and the ‘Theological Turn’: The French Debate New York: Fordham University Press. See Bernard G. Prusak ‘Translator’s Introduction’, in Phenomenology and the ‘Theological Turn’, pp. 8–9. Heidegger, Being and Time, J. Macquarrie and E. Robinson (trans. 1962), Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 61–2. See Pattison, Kierkegaard, p. 84. Paul S. MacDonald ‘Background and Themes’, in Paul S. MacDonald (ed.) (2000) The Existentialist Reader: An Anthology of Key Texts, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 25. (Emphasis in the original.)

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29 Solomon, Phenomenology and Existentialism, pp. 1–2, 29. (Emphasis in the original.) 30 Solomon, Phenomenology and Existentialism, p. 29; see Allen, Existentialism from Within, p. 10; see also Cooper, Existentialism, pp. 173–96 for a lengthy discussion of existentialist ethics. 31 Solomon, Phenomenology and Existentialism, p. 31. 32 Heidegger, Being and Time; see Taylor Carman ‘The Concept of Authenticity’, in A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism, p. 233; MacDonald, The Existentialist Reader, p. 40. 33 Solomon, Phenomenology and Existentialism, pp. 30, 31. 34 Geert Bouckaert ‘Mounier en de beweging rond Esprit’, in L. Bouckaert and G. Bouckaert (eds) (1992) Metafysiek en Engagement: Een personalistische visie op gemeenschap en economie, Leuven: Acco, p. 124. See Emmanuel Mounier (1961) Oeuvres, 4 vols. Paris: Seuil, 1:483. 35 Sartre also speaks of ‘intersubjectivity’ as an element in the discovery of ‘self’ (see ‘Existentialism’, p. 358). However, his views in this regard are not unambiguous and there is, in any case, no real sense of a community of ‘persons’. See Peter Sedgwick (2001) Descartes to Derrida: An Introduction to European Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 168, 225 n. 6; Allen, Existentialism from Within, pp. 11–12. 36 Joseph W. Evans ‘Jacques Maritain’s Personalism’, Review of Politics 14 (1952), 166. 37 Evans, ‘Jacques Maritain’s Personalism’, 169, 170. 38 Ibid., 176. 39 Paul E. Sigmund Maritain on Politics, in D. W. Hudson and M. J. Mancini (eds) (1987), Understanding Maritain: Philosopher and Friend, Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, p. 159. See Jacques Maritain The Social and Political Philosophy of Jacques Maritain, J. W. Evans and L. R. Ward (eds) (1976), Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, p. 86. 40 See Jacques Maritain (1955) Three Reformers: Luther, Descartes, Rousseau. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. See Joseph Amato (1975) Mounier and Maritain: A French Catholic Understanding of the Modern World Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, pp. 60–71. 41 Bouckaert, ‘Mounier en de beweging rond Esprit’, p. 125. 42 Louis Janssens, ‘Artificial Insemination: Ethical Considerations’, Louvain Studies 8 (1980), 13. 43 Janssens, ‘Artificial Insemination’, 4, 5–15. See also Joseph Selling, ‘The Human Person’, in Bernard Hoose (ed.) (1998) Christian Ethics: An Introduction London: Cassell, pp. 57–83. Selling (p. 105) highlights the importance of ‘interiority’ for personalist thought. 44 Janssens, ‘Artificial Insemination’, 3. 45 See John F. Crosby (2004) Personalist Papers Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, p. 253. See also pp. 114–21. 46 Clancy Martin ‘Religious Existentialism’, in A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism, pp. 200–4; François-David Sebbah ‘French Phenomenology’, A Companion to Phenomenology and Existentialism, pp. 49–50, 60–2. 47 Copleston, Logical Positivism and Existentialism, p. 115; see also pp. 110–12. 48 Ibid., p. 117. 49 Ibid., p. 115.

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50 Copleston, Logical Positivism and Existentialism, pp. 120–1. 51 Copleston, Logical Positivism and Existentialism, pp. 147, 152. See also, H. J. Blackham (1997) Six Existentialist Thinkers, Routledge: New York, pp. 43–65 for an extensive discussion of Jaspers. See p. 58 where Blackham notes that, for Jaspers, ‘the whole effort of philosophy is to bring [the subject] to the presence and silence of Transcendence, only accessible from the level of being-oneself.’ See also p. 59: ‘The unconditioned I, freed from determinations, standing in liberty, knows that I am autonomous but not self-sufficient, that I am doubly dependent, given to myself from a transcendental ground and in need of the limitations and determinations by which I choose myself, realize myself in the world.’ For a careful and appreciative treatment of Jaspers’ ‘theism’, see Allen, Existentialism from Within, pp. 99–148. 52 Allen, Existentialism from Within, p. 3. Gareth Jones, ‘Existentialism’, in A. E. McGrath (ed.) (1993) The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, Oxford: Blackwell, p. 201 dismisses as ‘misguided if understandable’, attempts to link existentialism with St Paul, St Augustine or Plato. He regards the emergence of existentialism as ‘a recent event’ and, ‘fundamentally’, an attempt to secure the integrity of the subject when confronted by the bureaucratic indifference of the modern world.’ 53 Allen, Existentialism from Within, pp. 3–4. Pattison, The Philosophy of Kierkegaard, p. 38, points out that, for Kierkegaard, ‘although Christianity requires the individual to take a subjective stance towards truth, the possibility of taking such a stance is itself pretheological.’ It is, ‘in the first instance, simply the individual’s manner of relating to himself, to his own life’. 54 Allen, Existentialism from Within, p. 4. Macquarrie, Twentieth-Century Religious Thought, p. 352 says something similar when he observes that ‘the categorial structures worked out by the existentialists suggest a way of expressing in a formal manner the insights which the Bible expresses in its concrete historical or mythical stories.’ See also John Macquarrie (1955) An Existentialist Theology, London: SCM, pp. 14–24. 55 Macquarrie, Twentieth-Century Christian Thought, p. 251. 56 Jones, ‘Existentialism’, 201 sees existentialist literature as devoted to establishing ‘the importance of [one particular individual] over against intellectual, religious and bureaucratic systems’. 57 Both of these claims are made by Jones, ‘Existentialism’, 201, 206. 58 See, for Bultmann, Jones, Gareth, ‘Bultmann, Rudolf’, in The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought, p. 61; for Tillich, see John Thatamanil ‘Tillich and the Postmodern’, in R. R. Manning (ed.) (2009) The Cambridge Companion to Paul Tillich, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 288–302. See especially p. 301 where Thatamanil argues that Tillich realized that his project ‘was limited because it was formulated largely in conversation with secular modernity’, and that the future would require conversations with very different partners, including the world religions. 59 Fritz Buri (1965) Theology of Existence, trans. H. H. Oliver and G. Onder, Greenwood, SC: Attic, pp. 24–5. 60 Nick Mansfield (2000) Subjectivity: Theories of the Self from Freud to Haraway, New York: New York University Press, p. 1 quoting Jacques Derrida, ‘ “Eating Well”, or the Calculation of the Subject: An Interview with Jacques Derrida’, in

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61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68

Theology and Philosophy Eduardo Cadava et al. (1991) Who Comes After the Subject? New York: Routledge, pp. 96–119, at p. 115. Mansfield, Subjectivity, pp. 36, 51. Ibid., pp. 8, 9, 37; see also pp. 1, 11. In fact, the ‘those’ referred to here are not so much particular individuals as the will to power that is manifest in social organization. See Mansfield, Subjectivity, p. 55. Mansfield, Subjectivity, p. 36. David Tracy, ‘The Post-Modern Re-Naming of God as Incomprehensible and Hidden’, Cross Currents 50 (2000), 244. Mansfield, Subjectivity, p. 174. Marlynne Robinson (2010) Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self, New Haven: Yale University Press, p. 22. Robinson, Absence of Mind, p. 35. See also pp. 7, 18.

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Chapter 12 Analytical Philosophy Oliver D. Crisp Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena Philosophers in the analytical tradition have made one of the most significant contributions to theology in the past quarter century, with the revitalization of philosophical theology as a distinct area of research within the philosophy of religion. There has also been discussion of the project of Christian philosophy as a way of approaching the whole discipline from a properly Christian world view. In addition, Christian philosophers have made important contributions to central topics in philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. More recently, theologians have begun to invest in the tools of analytical philosophy for properly theological, rather than philosophical, ends. In this chapter, I explore what analytic philosophy is and how it has been related to Christian theology. I will also sketch one recent development by means of which theologians might appropriate this philosophical tradition for a properly ‘analytic theology’. What Is Analytic Philosophy? Sometimes theologians think of analytic philosophy as dominated by hardnosed sceptics whose penchant for logic chopping and arid, formal arguments bear little resemblance to the serious business of theology. Such theology, though committed to reasoning about God, is not necessarily restricted to purely conceptual questions in the way that the analytic philosopher appears to be. On this way of thinking, the analytic philosopher is like a mechanic stripping down a car to its parts, sorting out problems, in order to reassemble it to use it. Analysis – understood here as the atomizing of conceptual difficulties, or the reduction of complex problems to their constituent parts in the belief that smaller intellectual difficulties are more amenable to philosophical resolution – is the order of the day.

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But, despite its name, analytic philosophy today is not just a matter of such analysis. In fact, there is much dispute about the very nature of analytic philosophy. Some philosophers deny that there is any such thing as analytic philosophy, claiming that this is simply a title given to a phase in the work of a discernible group of twentieth century philosophers, the subject matter of which has passed into history. Even well-known philosophical pundits like Brian Leiter (himself no mean philosopher) wonder whether anyone has a clear notion of what analytic philosophy consists in.1 Problems of a rather different sort beset so-called continental philosophy, which is not restricted to the continent of Europe, and which flourishes in some departments in Great Britain and the United States – supposed bastions of analytic philosophy. Perhaps, with D. E. Cooper, we should concede that ‘The continent . . . is not a place but a tendency’2 when referring to its deployment in continental philosophy. But what of analytic philosophy? If we cannot have a clear idea of what it is, how can we begin to make any headway when trying to understand how it may be related to Christian theology? There have been various attempts to tie analytic philosophy to a particular history, to a geographical area (roughly the UK, USA and Australia, where ‘anglophone philosophy’ is supposedly practised), to a doctrine or set of doctrines, or to a particular method or style of doing philosophy. None of these proposals has met with universal acclaim. Each has its own problems.3 The history, like the geographical background to analytic philosophy is complicated not least because its origins lie in continental Europe, not Great Britain, where such philosophy is flourishing in German-speaking departments of philosophy. Frege, Wittgenstein, Brentano – these originators of the analytic tradition are not English or American.4 But nor is analytic philosophy identical to a phase of its history, such as the pre-War phase that spawned the dreaded logical positivism, with which analytic philosophers are sometimes mistakenly identified. And it is difficult to tie down analytic philosophers to one or more particular doctrines. For any one philosophical notion held by one analytic is likely to be shot down by another. (Consider, for example, wranglings over metaphysical naturalism, or, in epistemology, foundationalism.) There is more to be said about the method and style adopted by analytics. But even in this respect there is dispute. Analytic philosophy, it is often thought, is characterized by clarity, brevity and simplicity of argument. Such work also displays a penchant for logical rigour, and often seeks to emulate (some might say ‘ape’) the methods and procedures of the natural sciences, to the extent that philosophy is able to do this. However, clear prose and simple, succinct writing is not necessarily the preserve of analytic, rather than continental philosophy. And some analytic philosophy can, by its very commitment to rigour and an austere, almost mathematical aesthetic, end up being so technical as to exclude all but those initiated into the mysteries of the particular sub-discipline

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through years of graduate study.5 The desire to present an argument that can be expressed according to first order predicate logic, say, is to some extent characteristic of much analytic philosophy. But this alone does not a particular philosophical tradition make. Nevertheless, like continental philosophy, examples of characteristically analytic philosophy are not hard to come by. Bertrand Russell, Willard Van Orman Quine, David Lewis, P. F. Strawson – these are all philosophers that clearly belong to this tradition. And there are many others that could be mentioned. In the same fashion, one might speak of canonical continental thinkers, like Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Jacques Derrida or Emmanuel Levinas. So, if a hard-and-fast definition of analytic philosophy is difficult to come by, can we perhaps settle for something less ambitious, like a rough-and-ready set of characteristics or features shared by the work of many analytics? I think there is more promise in this route. It is all very well asking a scholar to write clear, well-formed prose. On reflection, it turns out that what counts as clear, or wellformed prose is something which is bound to lead to dispute. If analytics (as they sometimes dub themselves) insist on clear, often technically sophisticated and logically rigorous argument, this is often because they have confidence that the methods they use will yield results that can be tested for validity and truth. Not all analytic philosophers believe there is such a quality or property as truth. But they certainly think there are good arguments to demonstrate that there is no quality or property such as truth. This confidence in the conclusions to which given arguments are aimed is not shared by many continental thinkers today. The reasons for this are complex. But at least one important factor has to do with a widespread commitment to some form of hermeneutical universalism, the doctrine according to which all theory building is mere interpretation. Behind this claim lies scepticism about the very idea that there is any such thing as the truth of the matter – or at least, a truth to which human beings have access. As Richard Swinburne puts it, continental modes of philosophy ‘have in common an allegiance to Kant’s claim that investigation of the nature of the world can discover only patterns in phenomena, not their unobservable causes, and hence “ultimate questions” are beyond theoretical resolution.’6 Michael Rea suggests that analytic philosophy as it is currently practised refers to ‘an approach to philosophical problems that is characterized by a certain rhetorical style, some common ambitions, an evolving technical vocabulary, and a tendency to pursue projects in dialogue with a certain evolving body of literature.’7 Leaving to one side the technical vocabulary (which would be difficult to specify in a short essay like this one), we can briefly touch on the rhetorical style and ambitions of these analytics. Rea thinks the latter includes identifying the scope and limits of what we can know about the world, alongside provision of true explanatory theories for these features of the world that

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fall outside the domain of the natural sciences.8 The rhetorical style Rea speaks of includes the intellectual virtues of clarity, simplicity and brevity that we have already encountered, alongside logical rigour, the avoidance of non-decorative metaphors, use of primitive concepts where appropriate and the treatment of conceptual analysis as a source of evidence.9 Rea’s characterization seems to me to be a most helpful one, for it puts flesh onto what ‘analytic’ philosophy is without reducing it to mere clear, well-formed arguments or a logic-informed pellucidity, that seeks to emulate the natural sciences, both of which are contentious ways of depicting the analytic style as it is currently practised.10 It also points to aspects of the work produced by analytics that distinguishes it from much that goes under the misnomer ‘continental’ philosophy. If one holds to some version of hermeneutical universalism, then what is likely to count as a clear, well-formed argument may well appear rather different from the sort of thing acceptable among analytics. For then tropes like metaphor, and a more narrative or even genealogical approach to philosophical problems that are by their nature more allusive or polyvalent makes much more sense. The work of one or other philosopher is, after all, just another phenomenon; one interpretation to set alongside other, competing stories.

Analytic Philosophy of Religion and Philosophical Theology The publication of New Essays in the Philosophical Theology, edited by Antony Flew and Alasdair MacIntyre in 1955 signalled a step change in the way analytic philosophers thought about the matter of religion, and particularly, the content of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the decade that followed a number of philosophers began to publish work that took this programme forward in important respects. Early pioneers include A. N. Prior with his interest in Jonathan Edwards, Roderick Chisholm, Peter Geach and Nelson Pike and, latterly, William Alston. They have been followed by a generation of philosophers who began their working lives in core areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics, philosophy of science, ethics or logic, and who brought the prestige of their work in these sub-disciplines to central problems in the philosophy of religion. The most important figures here include Alvin Plantinga, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Peter van Inwagen (a relative latecomer who converted to Christianity partway through his philosophical career), Eleonore Stump, Marilyn and Robert Adams, Paul Helm, John Hick and Richard Swinburne, among others. Of these, Plantinga is arguably the most influential. His work in metaphysics in the 1970s led to remarkable breakthroughs in philosophy of religion. One such advance was his argument that belief in other minds is on an epistemic par with belief in God. This line of thought was developed, in some respects, in his later work

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on Reformed Epistemology, in which he reasoned that there was nothing intellectually dubious about believing in God without having an argument for that belief. His work on modal metaphysics (roughly, metaphysical issues pertaining to the necessary and the possible) is also widely regarded as ground breaking. It yielded (among other things) a modal version of the ontological argument for the existence of God, using the (then) recent innovations in modal logic and the semantics of possible worlds. Wolterstorff was also interested in metaphysical matters, publishing on ontology. But his work broadened out to include seminal contributions to political philosophy, aesthetics and the philosophy of education as well as philosophy of religion. With Plantinga and Alston, he was one of the triumvirate that made up the original cast of Reformed Epistemologists in the early 1980s, arguing that evidentialism (the notion that one must have evidence for a belief to be rational) was unable to meet its own requirements for rationality, and was therefore moribund. Meanwhile, Alston spent a large part of the later part of his career arguing that religious experience could serve as the grounds for belief in God, because it was on a par (in some important respects) with other, mundane perceptual experience, like seeing a tree in a garden. Other examples could be given of the substantial contributions to moral philosophy (Robert Adams), mediaeval philosophy (Eleonore Stump and Marilyn Adams), and philosophical theology (Paul Helm, John Hick, Peter van Inwagen, Richard Swinburne) made by this generation of philosophers of religion. The body of literature they produced began to make significant headway in the 1970s and 1980s with much work being done on traditional areas of interest in the philosophy of religion, such as arguments for the existence of God, the concept of God, the problem of evil, religious experience and religious language. But by the early 1980s there was a noticeable development in the interests of this growing community, which was cemented by the formation of the Society for Christian Philosophers in the United States in 1978 preceded by the European Society for the Philosophy of Religion two years earlier in 1976 and, 17 years later in 1993, its UK counterpart, the British Society for the Philosophy of Religion. This new focus of attention can best be expressed as a turn to the consideration of concrete doctrinal problems in particular religious traditions. For example, in addition to work done on the theistic problems of evil, both logical (is the concept of God logically consistent with the existence of evil?) and evidential (does the preponderating evidence of evil make the existence of God improbable?) philosophers began to consider the doctrine of hell as an instance of a concrete problem of evil in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Other core doctrines followed, including work on the Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement, Eschatology more generally (e.g. work on resurrection, identity across time as applied to postmortem survival, and so forth) and the doctrine of Scripture.

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Partly this was driven by the theological interests of these philosophers, most of whom aligned themselves with some version of Christian theism. But it was also a natural development of a burgeoning field of research: a sense that there were other avenues to explore that might yield interesting developments for analytic philosophy of religion. In many ways, analytic theology might be thought of as a successor to these endeavours – a further development arising out of this interest in substantive matters of theology. Having strayed from the generic to the concrete doctrines of religion, it is (one might think) only natural to want to cross into the neighbouring field of theology to see what philosophical tools can do there. But to put matters as starkly as that runs the risk of appearing too simplistic on the one hand, and too one-sided on the other. It might be thought too simplistic because it makes it seem like in the past 30 years or so there has been a seamless move from the generic to the specific, from the abstract questions of philosophers to the concrete matters of theology, as if there was nothing more natural than such intellectual development from the philosophical side of things. And it is too one-sided because it fails to take into consideration what was happening on the theological side of the boundary, which was not incidental to the encroachment of philosophers upon theological territory. It is not the case that, since the 1980s there has been a dropping off of discussion on central topics of theistic philosophy of religion. These are still fertile fields, serviced by an increasing number of technical journals and monograph series. Many of the philosophers already mentioned continue to make important contributions in these areas. What has happened since the 1980s is that in addition to research being done on traditional topics of philosophy of religion there is now also a thriving literature in philosophical theology – by which I mean the consideration of philosophical issues in particular theological traditions. And, because the theological commitments of those working in this field are by and large versions of fairly classical Christian theism, this has meant the majority of this literature has been focused on the Christian tradition. These philosophers have been encouraged to make this step because of a number of different factors in addition to the desire to tackle philosophical issues that have a more concrete application. These include their engagement with philosophers of the past whose work was often as much theological as philosophical in nature, such as St Augustine of Hippo, St Anselm of Canterbury, St Thomas Aquinas or John Duns Scotus. It has also come through a concern with the state of much current theology, where commitment to things like a robust metaphysical realism has fallen upon hard times. Rather late in the day, theologians have begun to wake up to this philosophical literature and the important intellectual headway that can be made through application of its analytical tools. Perhaps due to unpleasant encounters with the mid-twentieth century phase of analytic philosophy, during which time logical

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positivism had its heyday, closely followed in turn by the narrow concerns of linguistic philosophy, theologians have tended to fight shy of engaging with analytics. Instead, they have spent most of their philosophical capital on various strands of continental philosophy, particularly versions of existentialism, mediated by the likes of Martin Heidegger and Rudolph Bultmann. Latterly, this has broadened out with the postmodern turn in theology, to include Francophone philosophers like Rene Girard or Jacques Derrida. It is also significant that in middle part of the twentieth century, English-speaking theology was still very much indebted to the Teutonic world and tended to adopt the philosophical predilections of those theologians with whom it engaged. This was true even in the case of someone like Karl Barth who claimed his work was not influenced by the existentialism then dominant on the Continent. By the end of the twentieth century that was no longer the case in quite the same way. Both the (analytic) philosophical and theology centres of gravity have moved from Europe and Great Britain to North America, with their most important exponents being in the United States. There is an institutional story to be told here. As American higher education has grown in prestige and its universities in financial endowments, so they have attracted some of the best faculty and (often, though not always) graduate students whose way is paid through studentships and teaching fellowships. In the same period, a number of important research centres have grown up, which have fuelled collaboration, research networks and outputs. These include the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, which is the undisputed global leader in the field, and places like the Center of Theological Inquiry at Princeton, which has been an important catalyst for contemporary theological work and the generation of informal (but influential) networks and academic synergies. As the Anglophone world has begun to lead in both theology and philosophy, there has also been some cross-pollination back to continental Europe. Analytic philosophy and the philosophy of religion in particular flourishes in many European universities, with centres of excellence in Innsbruck and Dutch universities like Utrecht, the Free University and Leiden. In this way, analytic philosophy appears to have come full-circle, back to the Continent that gave it birth in the work of formative thinkers like Gottlob Frege and Ludwig Wittgenstein. This is not quite true of theology, which still seems to live in a linguistically schizophrenic world, between the contemporary Germanspeaking world and its Anglophone counterpart. But given the resources and increasing sophistication of American theology, it would appear that the days in which German theology dictated the intellectual agenda are over. Englishspeaking theology no longer lags a generation behind its German cousin, but has begun to take a lead. It is in this intellectual context that analytic theology

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has appeared – an English-speaking theological method that appropriates the sensibilities and tools of analytic philosophy.

The Relationship between Philosophical Theology and Systematic Theology It is a fact often noted and sometimes regretted that philosophers, particularly those in the analytical tradition, do not really speak to theologians. Nor, for that matter, do theologians often speak to analytical philosophers. Thus, Dean Zimmerman observes, ‘Unfortunately, there is very little dialogue between Christian philosophers in the analytical tradition and Christian theologians.’ He goes on to explain, ‘there are vast differences between the philosophical canons and methods of analytic philosophers with theological interests, on the one hand, and most Christian theologians with philosophical interests, on the other. When the groups do interact terminological and methodological differences (and sometimes, sadly, prejudice and mistrust) hinder fruitful exchange.’11 This is not to say that theologians talk to no philosophers. It is just that analytical philosophers are treated with a certain suspicion by theologians, and, for their part, some analytic philosophers seem to have a rather sneering view of the content and place of theology. As I have pointed out elsewhere,12 part of the reason for this mutual animosity has to do with the perception theologians have about the analytic ‘tradition’ of philosophy. Too often it is identified with that mid-twentieth century phase of its life that was largely inhospitable to theology (and metaphysics and ethics). But, as has already been mentioned, analytic philosophy is not synonymous with logical positivism. A number of the founders of analytical philosophy (e.g. Bertrand Russell or G. E. Moore) were interested in metaphysics and ethics, even if they were not so keen on theology. But these are not the only reasons for hostility. Many academic theologians are deeply indebted, either personally, or through the (Western) theological tradition to which they belong, to a cluster of post-Enlightenment thinkers whose work is usually thought to be the preserve of what is now referred to as ‘continental’ philosophy.13 As we have already had cause to note, this tradition of thought, and especially those thinkers whose point of departure is Kant’s Copernican Revolution in philosophy, eschew large metaphysical schemes of thought because (following Kant) they are deeply sceptical that any such schemes are possible.14 All we can conceive of in our theology and philosophy is that which is phenomenal, a part of this world of sensation in which we live, not the realm of the noumenal, the eternal and unchanging, that is forever beyond us.15 Moreover, many (though by no means all) theologians, taking their cue from this continental tradition of philosophy, think that matters metaphysical,

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such as they may be understood or apprehended, are seldom as amenable to the cut-and-dried ‘logic-chopping’ of analytical philosophy.16 This is not to say there are no theologians who look to the ‘continental’ philosophical tradition, whose work is deeply influenced by metaphysics. Karl Rahner’s Heidegger-imbued theology is one influential example; contemporary Radical Orthodoxy’s penchant for French philosophy might be another. In cases such as these, the differences with analytical philosophical theology may well be less clearly defined, having more to do with differing views about the nature and scope of theology (and philosophy), as well as which intellectual virtues one privileges, or thinks appropriate for theological discourse, based on one’s philosophical proclivities, for example, clarity, brevity and simplicity of argument, or a more allusive, complex and referential way of approaching matters theological and philosophical. But it would be a mistake to think that the analytical tradition has nothing to offer the theologian. In fact, in many ways, one could think of current analytical philosophical theology as a return to the sort of careful theological-philosophical contributions that characterized by far the largest part of the Christian theological tradition. Thinkers as diverse as Origen, Irenaeus, Augustine, John of Damascus, Anselm, Duns Scotus, William Ockham, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Francis Turretin, John Owen, Jonathan Edwards and a host of others, were all, in various ways, involved in such positive theologicalphilosophical projects even if they did not all write formal systems of theology. Nor are modern systematic theologians immune from this fondness for grand schemes, even when they claim to reject the hold of philosophy over theology, as with the work of Karl Barth, or, more recently, Colin Gunton or Robert Jenson. Indeed, some contemporary systematicians have welcomed analytical work alongside the more continental streams of thought. Wolfhart Pannenberg’s theology is a case in point; Bruce Marshall’s is another.17 Still, some theologians will remain suspicious of analytical philosophers doing philosophical theology, or theologians indebted to this philosophical tradition, rather than the continental one, because they think that an analytical approach tends towards ahistoricism. There is a mistaken historicism, of course. As Alvin Plantinga points out, some theologians seem to harbour the impression that philosophical theology as pursued by contemporary philosophers is often unduly ahistorical and uncontextual. Sometimes this arises from the thought that any concern with [these] topics is ahistorical; those topics belong to another age and can’t be properly discussed now. That seems to me to be historicism run amok; but no doubt some of this work could profit from closer contact with what theologians know.18

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Sometimes, perhaps, analytic philosophers have created and demolished theological straw men that bear little resemblance to historic developments in the Christian tradition. Moreover, some analytic philosophers seem to think that removing the historical husk to get at the conceptual kernel of a particular theological issue is what is important. But such a procedure often fails to take seriously enough the fact that the Church has adopted certain positions for reasons that are rooted in complex historical discussions, where issues other than conceptual clarity were considered crucial factors in the outcome of such theological debate. Nevertheless, such ahistoricism is not a reason for rejecting the insights analytical discussions of Christian doctrine may provide, although it is a reason for pursuing a more historically informed approach to these issues. Much of the more recent work in analytical Christian philosophical theology has been at pains to address this shortcoming, with some impressive results.

Analytic Theology Earlier, I mentioned that Michael Rea’s characterization of the nature of the state of the art in analytic philosophy was one of the most helpful ways to think about some of the key facets of this tradition. How one appropriates such a rhetorical style, ambitions and vocabulary in keeping with the literature in question is an important matter. In my paper in the Analytic Theology volume, ‘On Analytic Theology’, I tried to map some of the key issues this raises, indicating my own preference, but showing that the analytic theologian need not align herself with my construal of Analytic Theology. Here, I can be more direct about my own ‘thick’ description of Analytic Theology. I say that Analytic Theology should be a modern species of ‘faith seeking understanding’. It is, in many ways, a natural successor to the sort of classical theology practised in the vast majority of the Christian tradition. That is, it does what theologians have always done: press philosophical tools into theological service. In this case, that involves adopting and adapting the rhetorical style, ambitions and vocabulary of analytic philosophy to properly theological ends. I do not favour the idea that philosophy should dominate theology, or shape its concerns – quite the reverse. Analytic theology is about the use of reason in its traditional, handmaidenly role. Reason certainly provides non-trivial knowledge of the world. But in theology it has an important procedural role: providing an argumentative framework and tools for the job (‘tools’ here being taken in a broad sense to include what Rea means by rhetorical style, ambitions and a developing technical vocabulary). Naturally, this has implications that draw upon matters greater than mere procedure, for example debates about realism versus anti-realism, scepticism about metaphysical truth, and so forth. I say the ‘analytic’ part of

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analytic theology should not be rationalistic. It should not prescribe the material content of theology. Instead, it should be a help to the theologian in making sense of the deliverances of theology, given in the testimony of Holy Scripture and the tradition. With this characterization of Analytic Theology in place it should be tolerably clear that it does not amount simply to the suggestion that theologians write more clearly and concisely. Were that the case, then Analytic Theology would be little more than a patronizing set of recommendations. But only a moment’s reflection is needed to see that in contemporary theology what counts as a good, clear argument is far from obvious. For instance, some modern theologians don’t even think theology can be expressed in good, clear arguments. They say that some matters theological are inherently metaphorical and cannot be ‘reduced’ to propositions without loss of meaning.19 But that seems a very shaky ground upon which to build. For one thing, even defenders of this sort of view would have to concede that the proposition ‘theological statements are not reducible to propositions without loss of meaning’ is true. But then it begins to look like the claim that theological statements cannot be reduced to propositions is, at the very least, an ambiguous and potentially misleading claim. For even on this view at least one theological statement can be captured by a proposition, namely the statement that ‘theological statements are not reducible to propositions without loss of meaning.’ But this proposition expresses precisely what such revisionist theologians appear to dispute. As I have indicated, I think Analytic Theology should be descriptive, not revisionist. It is about making sense of the Gospel once delivered to the saints, not producing novel theories for the sake of it. (Although I grant one could practise Analytic Theology in a more revisionist way – my point is just that I do not think theology should be practised in this manner.) This connects to the important matter of truth. Theology that aims at some sort of effect (e.g. generating the right sort of response), without some substantive connection to a notion of truth, is what, following philosopher Harry Frankfurt, we might call ‘bullshit’ (cf. Randal Rauser ‘Theology as a Bull Session’ in Crisp and Rea, Analytic Theology, chapter 3). Analytic theology aims at truth. But which theory of truth should one adopt? There are many on offer. Post-liberals seem to prefer an epistemic approach where truth is the relation between a proposition and the community of believers – the ‘grammar’ of a certain form of life in the church. There are other theories too, like deflationary theories, which deny that there is any such thing as ‘truth’ as such. ‘Truth’ on such views is redundant – a sort of affirmatory speech act I perform, rather like saying ‘I like that!’ But I think neither of these approaches is satisfactory. I say the analytic theologian should adopt a correspondence theory of truth, where a proposition is true just in case it corresponds to some fact about the world. I also think that theologians ought

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to be realists about the world in some (modest) sense: there really is a world beyond our minds, with which we have contact, and which we can say things about – a world God has created and sustains. William Abraham encapsulates much of what I think Analytic Theology should look like. He says: The subject matter of systematic theology has its own integrity. In the end the theologian must come to grips with the questions that arise in and around the activity of God in the great drama of creation, freedom, fall, and redemption. This is as true for analytic theology as it is for any other kind of theology. Within analytic theology the theologian will deploy the skills, resources, and virtues of analytic philosophy in clarifying and arguing for the truth of the Christian Gospel as taken up in the great themes of the creeds of the Church. No doubt the analytic theologian can develop and display other interests and skills as garnered, say, from biblical studies, historical investigation, and cultural commentary. Moreover, there is no reason why the analytic theologian cannot keep an eye on the role of theology in the fostering of deep love for God; indeed that should be a concern of any theology whatever its virtues or vices. There is ample evidence to hand to suggest that the time is ripe for the emergence of analytic theology; there is also sufficient evidence to suggest that this work will bear much fruit in the years ahead.20

In Conclusion It is early days for Analytic Theology. The proof of the pudding is, as they say, in the eating: theologians will want to see what Analytic Theology looks like in practice in order to judge its merits. But there are already examples to which one can point, and more are in progress.21 Not only that, there are various resources for Analytic Theology that have begun to emerge, including the Analytic Theology Initiatives, sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation and hosted at the Center for Philosophy of Religion at the University of Notre Dame, with sister-projects located at the University of Innsbruck and in Jerusalem – this latter being associated with a distinct Jewish strand of Analytic Theology. And the Logos conferences, a series of workshop-style meetings has also begun to facilitate greater dialogue between theologians and philosophers and graduate students in both disciplines. This is surely a positive and helpful development irrespective of whether one ‘adopts’ Analytic Theology. Some theologians bemoan talk of method that never seems to move beyond this to substantive dogmatic theology. But, as I have tried to suggest, addressing

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the questions raised by how to approach theological topics has implications for how one deals with material questions in theology. Analytic theology is, in one sense, a very recent development on the theological scene that seeks to unite the literatures of analytic philosophy of religion and philosophical theology on the one hand with substantive doctrinal concerns from within the theology on the other. But the analytic-theological sensibility has much in common with how theology has been practised for the vast majority of the history of the Christian tradition. In fact, we might think of analytic philosophical theology as engaged with the topics of traditional natural theology, while analytic theology is concerned with the matter of revealed theology – the doctrinal content of traditional Christian systematic theology. An analytic approach to theology may not be the only approach worthy of consideration by the theologian. But it does provide a mode of doing theology that looks a lot like much traditional theology, and which may find in these historic resources a rich vein of ideas which can be mined, and already are being mined, by those interested in such theology and an analytic sensibility. In this way, Analytic Theology may also demonstrate its credentials as a theology of retrieval, using historic discussions of particular topics to resource contemporary reflection on particular doctrines. Such a prospect is a far cry from the ahistorical logic chopping with which some analytics have been charged. It offers a rich, variegated way of pursuing matters doctrinal that is historically sensitive, using methods adopted from analytics to fructify the theology of tomorrow with the ideas of the past. Notes 1 In an interesting emailed exchange with Jerry Fodor, Brian Leiter writes ‘I don’t think anyone knows what analytic philosophy is’. (Published on his blog under the title, ‘What is Analytic Philosophy? Thoughts from Fodor’, located at http://leiterreports. typepad.com/blog/2004/10/index.html, retrieved 21 October 2010.) 2 D. E. Cooper (1994) ‘Analytical and Continental Philosophy’, Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 94:2. 3 There is a growing literature in this field. An excellent field-guide is Hans-Johann Glock (2008) What is Analytic Philosophy? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, which also includes a brief history of the tradition as well as his own constructive proposal in answer to the question he poses. For a recent critique of analytic philosophy of religion that is relevant to this discussion, see Nick Trakakis (2008) The End of Philosophy of Religion London: Continuum. 4 This is not a universally held view. Some dissenters claim that analytic philosophy is not significantly influenced by Frege, but really originates with Bertrand Russell’s Theory of Descriptions in the early twentieth century. See, for example, James Chase and Jack Reynolds (2011) Analytic Versus Continental: Arguments on the Methods and Value of Philosophy, Durham: Acumen, especially Part I.

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Theology and Philosophy This charge is brought by Trakakis (among others) in The End of Philosophy of Religion, chapters 3–4. Richard Swinburne (2005) ‘The Value and Christian Roots of Analytical Philosophy of Religion’, in Harriet A. Harris and Christopher J. Insole (eds) Faith and Philosophical Analysis: The Impact of Analytical Philosophy on the Philosophy of Religion, Aldershot: Ashgate, p. 39. Many contemporary theologians are, to a greater or lesser extent, beholden to just this sort of ‘continental’ philosophical story and a number derive their hermeneutical universalism from just this source. Michael C. Rea (2009) ‘Introduction’ to Analytic Theology, in Oliver D. Crisp and Michael C. Rea (eds) Analytic Theology: New Essays in The Philosophy of Theology, Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 3. Rea, ‘Introduction’ to Analytic Theology, p. 4. Ibid., pp. 5–6. Thus Trakakis, ‘Generally speaking, then, the methodology of the analytic philosopher is the broadly scientific one of advancing a hypothesis or theory in response to a narrowly circumscribed problem, all of which is done without great concern for the historical or cultural context of the problem’, The End of Philosophy of Religion, p. 48. Dean W. Zimmerman (2006) ‘Three Introductory Questions: Is Analytic Philosophical Theology an Oxymoron? Is Substance Dualism Incoherent? What’s in this Book, Anyway?’ in Peter van Inwagen and Dean Zimmerman (eds) Persons, Human and Divine, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 5–6. Oliver D. Crisp, ‘On Analytic Theology’, in Crisp and Rea (eds) Analytic Theology, chapter 1. For a careful, nuanced overview of ‘continental’ philosophy of religion, see Merold Westphal (2005) ‘Continental Philosophy of Religion’, in William J. Wainwright (ed.) The Oxford Handbook to Philosophy of Religion, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 472–93. Here I think of classical liberal theologians and their intellectual progeny. Thus, Albrecht Ritschl says ‘Logically, the rejection of natural religion [viz. natural theology] means, at the same time, a rejection of all universal concepts which one might possess prior to the particular structures of revealed religion or apart from the actuality of those structures in the founder and in the community.’ From ‘Theology and Metaphysics’, in Albrecht Ritschl Three Essays, trans. Philip Hefner (2005) Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2005 [1972]), p. 210. Many ‘postmoderns’ are also sceptical of a certain sort of metaphysical system building in theology, as they are sceptical of all ‘metanarratives’, and of any theological hegemony which might be a thinly disguised ‘will-to-power’, to borrow Nietzsche’s famous phrase. Indeed, for some such theologians, the very idea that God is a supreme being whose character can be delineated by philosophical reflection is tantamount to ‘ontotheology’ – the making of God in a particular philosophical image. For discussion of this, see, for example, Thomas A. Carlson (2003) ‘Postmetaphysical theology’, in Kevin J. Vanhoozer (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 58–75. In this regard, see Nicholas Wolterstorff (2008) ‘Is it Possible and Desirable for Theologians to Recover from Kant?’ in Modern Theology 14 (1998), 1–18 and the symposium on Kant and the New Philosophy of Religion in Philosophia Christi 9.1 (2007).

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16 The essays by Swinburne in Faith and Philosophical Analysis and Zimmerman in Persons, Human and Divine, cited earlier, give detailed attention to these issues. Another valuable resource is the editorial introduction to Gijsbert van den Brink and Marcel Sarot (eds) (1999) Understanding the Divine Attributes, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang. 17 There are other names we could mention in this connection including David Brown, Sarah Coakley, Ingolf Dalferth, Christoph Schwöbel and Alan Torrance. 18 Plantinga, ‘Christian Philosophy at the end of the Twentieth Century’, p. 341. 19 See, for example, Sally McFague (1982) Metaphorical Theology: Models of God in Religious Language, Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 20 William Abraham, ‘Systematic Theology as Analytic Theology’, in Analytic Theology, p. 69. 21 See, for example, Oliver D. Crisp (2009) God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology, London: T&T Clark; Thomas McCall (2010) Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology, Grand Rapids: Eerdman; and Randal Rauser (2009) Theology in Search of Foundations, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Chapter 13 Postmodern Philosophy Marcus Pound University of Durham Perhaps nowhere has philosophical reflection on modernity, its failure, and what lies beyond, been so keenly observed than in Nietzsche’s ‘How the Real World became a Myth: the History of an Error’ (Nietzsche 1998, p. 20). The error in question is metaphysics as it pertains to the distinction between the real world (i.e. the super-sensible world of Ideas) and the apparent world (i.e. our contingent material world). The ensuing history charts in six easy steps the shifting dynamic of that distinction. Beginning with Plato, the real world is understood to be attainable in this life, but only to those to whom knowledge has been imparted. With the birth of Christianity – the second step – the real world (i.e. heaven) becomes attainable to all, but deferred: it is achieved only in the afterlife and on the basis of penance. We enter the third stage with Kant, where the real world slips even further out of conceptual grasp. Kant’s scepticism renders the real (i.e. noumena) indemonstrable, and heaven a mere postulate of practical reason, something that at best can be posited by way of obliging us to act morally, but unknowable nonetheless. The fifth stage appears with the birth of positivism; that is, the attempt to build a picture of the world purely on the basis of what we can empirically verify. With positivism, the real world loses all moral force and quickly translates into the fifth stage: nihilism; the real world is now no longer good for anything. ‘What remains then?’ asks Nietzsche. ‘The apparent world perhaps? But no! With the true world we also have abolished the apparent one’ (Nietzsche 2007, p. 20). In short, to lose the metaphysical as it pertains to the distinction real/apparent is to lose the meaningfulness of the very distinction, thereby unmooring representation and leaving our attempts to account for the world adrift, neither reducible to materialism or idealism: the postmodern. Postmodernism appears to present something of a double-bind for theology. On the one hand, when we lose the distinction real/apparent, we also lose something of the positivist basis upon which religion has traditionally been critiqued.

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It cannot be the case of clearing away the cobwebs of superstition to reveal the apparent world of the ‘purely human’ (Milbank 2006, p. 9); when the ‘purely human’ loses its status as apparent the secular narrative descends into just that: a narrative, a fable, a myth; one more competing myth among myths. Hence, as Zygmunt Bauman suggests, following the ‘protracted and earnest [. . .] struggle to dis-enchant’ the world, postmodernity seems to induce a ‘re-enchantment of the word’ (Bauman 1993, p. 33). On the other hand, the ‘wager of representation’ – that a sign refers to a depth of meaning guaranteed by God – no longer stands: God too appears as nothing more than a sign among signs and the whole system becomes weightless (Baudrillard 1983, p. 10). In what follows I want to suggest that this double-bind is highly characteristic of postmodern philosophy, highlighting its form within the work of two postmodern thinkers: Jacques Derrida and Alain Badiou; the former, an Algerian Jew educated in France, whose practice of deconstruction was designed to resist the metaphysical absolutes of modernist thought through an appeal to the semiotic play of language and an ethical awareness of Otherness; the latter, a French atheist whose work explores the procedural conditions by which a universal truth is arrived at. Derrida is a thinker of difference against the background of sameness; Badiou is a thinker of sameness within the conditions of multiplicity. In both cases particular attention will be given to their handling of reason and faith as a means for further theological reflection. My argument, however, is that while the postmodern represented here has provided the condition for the return of religion, what returns is stripped of its collective and institutional framework. In short, they collude with the modern suspicion of institutional religion and hence the possibility that religion is anything other than a subjective faith. To this extent postmodern philosophy is shown to be a deepening of modern liberal tendencies, unable to represent the plurality it appears to herald. By way of introduction I turn briefly to Jean-François Lyotard, who brought the term ‘postmodern’ into common parlance, and Martin Heidegger, the German phenomenologist of Being whose ‘destrukion’ of metaphysics and differential ontology serves as the genealogical basis for much of postmodern philosophy.

Lyotard: Incredulity towards Meta-Narratives When it came to reflect upon discontent with the political project of emancipation that characterized modernity, ‘the postmodern condition’ was not Lyotard’s first choice of terminology. Rather, he spoke of ‘lessons in paganism’ (Lyotard 1989). In the same way the pagans believed in many gods as opposed to one

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God, Lyotard wanted to emphasize the multiplicity and plurality of narratives, events and judgements, over and against a single coherent trajectory. Lyotard abandoned the term paganism for the ‘postmodern condition’ to highlight critical reflection on modernity. Simplify put, the postmodern condition is one of ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’ (Lyotard 1984, p. xxiv). Incredulity towards meta-narratives does not imply incredulity towards narrative per se; rather, Lyotard’s concern is the way knowledge is legitimized through recourse to a single overarching narrative ‘such as the dialectics of Spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth’ (Lyotard 1984, p. xxiii). This, according to Lyotard, is what constitutes the ‘modern’. Lyotard gives cultural expression to one of the key elements of postmodern thought: multiplicity. Against the ‘One’ of modernity (one nation, one people, etc.) he views the shape of postmodernity to be constituted by the recognition of multiple voices. To put it in Nietzsche’s terms, when we lose the real of modernity we are left not with a single apparent world, but the sheer multiplicity of competing narratives.

Heidegger: The Genealogical Root of Postmodern Philosophy Lyotard’s cultural observation finds a correlative voice in the philosophical critique of metaphysics developed by Martin Heidegger. For Heidegger, metaphysics is onto-theology. What is at stake in onto-theology is first the question of being; that is that which can be univocally predicated of all beings; and second, being’s conflation with the ‘highest Being’: God, the causa sui which sustains beings as a whole. As the ground of being, Being gives beings their ‘actual prescencing’, serving as the ‘transcendental making possible of the objectivity of objects, as the dialectical mediation of the movement of absolute Spirit [Hegel], as the historical process of production [Marx], as the will to power [Nietzsche] (Heidegger 1986, pp. 242–3). In short, for Heidegger philosophy has been shaped by a ‘Metaphysical concern with identity as wholeness, and Being as the ground of that identity’ (Ward 1997, p. xxxi). And the history of Western philosophy is the history of repeated attempts to channel ‘comprehension of the world (finitude) or of religion (God/infinity) through the presupposed and existing supremacy of the horizon of Being and its referential benchmark for “thought, reason and knowledge” ’ (McCaffrey 2009, p. 114). Heidegger set philosophy on a path of destruktion (Heidegger 1962, p. 44). Destruckion is not simply a negative term; it implies a loosening up of the ontological tradition, the attempt to think Being and hence identity as difference, and in this way, think that which has been left unthought and concealed by

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metaphysics (Heidegger 1969, p. 65). In this way, Heidegger moved philosophy beyond its primary concern with epistemology to ontology.

Derrida: The destruktion of Modernity Heidegger’s thought provides the groundwork for Derrida and one of the most striking philosophical movements to be identified with postmodernity: deconstruction. Derrida shares Heidegger’s view that the Western philosophical tradition has been characterized by onto-theology which defines being in terms of presence (Derrida 1981, pp. 9–10). An object is only to the extent it is presentable or self-present to-itself – and this includes consciousness. Deconstruction ‘interrogates’ the ‘determination of Being as presence or as beingness’ (Derrida 1986, p. 413). The novelty of Derrida’s approach lay in his reception of Heidegger within the context of structuralism. Structuralism was given shape by Ferdinand de Saussure’s defining analysis of signs which treated language and culture in terms of a self-contained system of signs as distinct from their reference to a given reality. Language is a system, and meaning is generated by virtue of a sign’s oppositional relation/difference to other signs within that structure as whole (Saussure 1986). Derrida’s approach was to show how ‘the place of language in the philosophical systems of the West (from Plato to Hegel) functions as a micro-cosmic crystallisation of larger metaphysical assumptions’ (Smith 2005, p. 17; see also Derrida 2005, p. 353). While the implications of structuralism decentre the subject (i.e. the subject is not given in-itself but by virtue of its relation within a persistent structure), Derrida argued that the very concept of ‘structure’ smuggled back in certain onto-theological presupposition. Structures are organized around a centre which secures the structure as whole, while remaining unaffected by the structure. The centre thereby ‘closes off the play which it opens up and makes possible’ (Derrida 2005, p. 352). The centre, while variously defined, be it ‘arche, telos, energeia, ousia (essence, existence, substance, subject), aletheia [truth], transcendentality, consciousness, or conscience, God, man, and so forth’ is nonetheless ‘always designated the constant of a presence’ (Derrida 2005, p. 353). This is the metaphysical assumption at the heart of structuralism. One way to understand Derrida’s relation to structuralism is in terms of the relation of postmodernity to modernity offered by Lyotard. Derrida’s work serves to address the way modern linguistics implicitly falls back upon a master signifier to legitimize its practice. Hence, while Derrida shares many of the insights of structuralism such as the relational structure of meaning, Derrida is often situated under the banner of post-structuralism.

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Derrida’s early work took to task the privilege of speech over writing as the fundamental conceit of Western metaphysics. From Plato onwards, the philosophical tradition has consistently devalued writing in favour of speech as the site of truth (i.e. presence). Speaking is somehow viewed as more immediate to consciousness and therefore closer to the truth; writing is mediation, thereby threatening the unity of self-presence. Making the voice the site of presence shields it from interpretation, and renders knowledge a mater of recalling presence (Derrida 1976, p. 8; Smith 2005, p. 39). Derrida refers to this metaphysical assumption in terms of logocentrism, recalling the Greek assumption that Logos related immediately to meaning (Derrida 1976, p. 11) – part of the wider philosophical attempt to shift the object of knowledge (i.e. truth) out the contingent and material world and into the realm of ideas. Yet as Kevin Hart explains, Derrida’s conclusions upset the metaphysics of presence, affirming instead the ‘non-coincidence’ of meaning and being through the critical deployment of différance (Hart 1997, p. 161). ‘Différance [with an ‘a’] is neither a word nor a concept’ (Derrida 1986, p. 400). The French verb differre has one of two meanings – identified in the English by two separate words: the action of putting off (i.e. to defer), and in this sense to temporalize; and to be non-identical, to be Other (i.e. differ). Derrida’s neologism makes up for this semantic deficiency in the French: différance can refer simultaneously to the entire configuration of its meaning; it is immediately and irreducibly ‘polysemic’ (Derrida 1986, p. 401). The deployment of différance ‘precedes all grounds, while resisting becoming another ground precisely because it forbids self-identity’ (Hart 1997, p. 161). To explore différance within a text is, not unlike Lyotard, to raise the question regarding the legitimacy of the master-signifier, and it does this by discerning precisely the ‘trace’ (i.e. the very mark of an absence) within a given text. The thrust of Derrida’s appropriation of Heidegger is ethical: violence is the result of absolute truth claims; that is, a claim underwritten by presence. By contrast, a differential ontology highlights being’s relation to an Other, and the process of deconstruction is precisely that: to unconceal the Other in its Otherness.

Derrida and a/Theology It is not difficult to view Derrida’s critique in the manner of negative theology. Derrida’s concern for différance, discontinuity and multiplicity displays an unrequited spirit, suspicious of the positive predications which were traditionally secured within metaphysical presuppositions. Yet Derrida is preceded

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by a classical tradition which includes the likes of Aquinas, the Divine Names of Dionysius and Meister Eckhart. Negative or apothatic theology attempts to describe God on the basis of articulating what he is not instead of what he is, because as finite creatures we cannot recognize God’s attributes in any real sense: God is beyond what we can positively predicate of him. As Derrida puts it: ‘Negative theology has come to designate a certain typical attitude toward language, and within it, in the act of definition or attribution, an attitude towards semantic or conceptual determination’ (Derrida 1992, p. 74). Yet Derrida resists a strict correlation: Différance ‘is not theological’ (Derrida 1986, p. 400); it is irreducible to any ‘theological’ re-appropriation (Derrida 1982, p. 6). The problem with negative theology is simply that it is not negative enough. Negative theology remains a discourse of the hyper-essential, a ‘wager on onto-theological comprehension’ (Coward and Foshay 1992, p. 4) because any denial is still in service of a deeper affirmation of what remains ‘proper’ to God. In other words, negative theology is still reducible to positive theology (Rubenstein 2003, p. 391) whereas deconstruction ‘blocks every relationship to theology’ (Derrida 1981, p. 40). Despite this, Derrida recognizes a certain ‘family resemblance’ based upon the notion of ‘faith’ (Derrida 1992, p. 74). By ‘faith’, Derrida is not implying a certainty of belief in a determinate religious proposition. Rather, faith concerns a commitment to the process in which a space of un-decidability is opened up. In other words, the decision of faith for Derrida is precisely the decision for uncertainty.

Derrida and Levinas: The Ethics of Deconstruction To clarify the above, Derrida’s writings on both Emmanuel Levinas and Marxism are instructive. Much of the ethical thrust of Derrida’s work has been developed in admiration for the work of Levinas. As Derrida suggests: ‘the thought of différance implies the entire critique of classical ontology undertaken by Levinas’ (Derrida 1986, p. 413). According to Levinas, moral reasoning tends to assume the knowing selfpresent subject who, in his or her relation to an Other, tends to diminish their distance, reducing the Other to sameness on the side of the subject. Kant’s categorical imperative can be easily read in this manner to the extent it compels the individual to judge his action on the basis on others making the same judgements – universalizing the particular. For Levinas by contrast ethics is not about deploying a universal judgement any more than moral consciousness is about a given set of values. Rather, ethics is a critical enterprise which arises through an encounter with the ‘face’ [visage] of an Other.

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Why the face? Because, speaking phenomenologically, the face, unlike other objects, shines with an irreducible ‘alterity’ [altérité] which calls us to responsibility. As Simon Critchley’s succinct summary puts it: For Levinas, then, the ethical relation – and ethics is simply and entirely the event of this relation – is one in which I am related to the face of the Other [. . .] the other human being whom I cannot evade, comprehend, or kill and before whom I am called to justice, to justify myself. (Critchley 1999, p. 5) While Derrida’s account of différance overlaps with Levinas, Derrida nonetheless discerns a central problematic: given our infinite responsibility to the face of the Other, how do we adjudicate between competing obligations? In other words, what happens when there is another face – a ‘third’ triangulating the initial relation? For Derrida, the imposition of a ‘third’ serves to protect against the overwhelming responsibility to the face of the initial Other, and introduces properly the realm of politics (Derrida 1997, p. 31). What remains then of ethics? Derrida’s response is not to seek some mediation between the two, but to radicalize the split; that is, our task is to live in the tension between our divided responsibilities, to be continually haunted by the relation to a ‘third’ and in this way resist the closure of ethical responsibility. Religion without Religion Like many of his generation, Derrida remained deeply influenced by a certain ‘spirit in Marxism’ which he was unable to renounce: ‘it is not only the critical idea or questioning stance [. . .]. It is even more a certain emancipatory and messianic affirmation’ (Derrida 1994, p. 89). Faith becomes in Derrida’s oeuvre both a critical venture, and a desire for a type of justice, a ‘waiting without a horizon of determinate expectation’ (Caputo 1997, p. 135); a passion for the impossible. And because faith believes beyond the structures of determinate expectations, it is a faith that ‘pushes us beyond the sphere of the same’ (Caputo 1997, p. 133). So while Derrida initially blocks the relation of theology, it is not long before he confess his own ‘religion without religion’, inaugurated through the spirit of faith and the promise of justice bereft of determinate and institutionalized form. Derrida: Faith and Reason The open ended nature of interpretation offered by Derrida might suggest that deconstruction entertains a faith devoid of reason. Yet this is not his aim.

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Instead, faith belongs to a critical experience which encourages an open disposition, an experience of a future which is necessarily indeterminate, ‘desert like [. . .] given up to its waiting for the other and for the event’ (Derrida 1994, p. 90). And ‘the chance of this desert [. . .] is to uproot the tradition which bears it, to atheologize it; without denying faith, this abstraction frees a universal rationality and a political democracy which is indissociable from it’ (Caputo 1997, p. 156). In other words, deconstruction is not so much against reason, as the calculable and determinate form reason is given when underpinned by onto-theological considerations. In this way, as Smith puts it, Derrida restores the ‘honour of reason’ linking it to ‘an obligation being has with the Other’ (Smith 2005, p. 86).

Kantian Suspicions While Derrida shows the importance of faith to reason, he nonetheless maintains an opposition between faith and determinate religion. What form of religion that returns in this world is not the institutional practice which gives form to faith, but a faith devoid of metaphysical import. This has an important bearing when viewed in terms of the wider debate on political liberalism within postmodernity. Liberalism in the West, for reasons to be explained, while seeking to accommodate plural viewpoints, has often been seen to work against such inclusion when it comes to religion. The argument goes something like this: modernity is intimately related to: (a) the rise of secularism, by which is meant the loss of institutional religious forms, and (b) the exercise of autonomous rationality. The latter finds expression in Immanuel Kant’s attempts to clarify the nature of the Enlightenment: ‘Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another’ (Kant 1995, p. 1). Where man, according to Kant, had previously lacked the basis for self-direction, a new found confidence in his rational powers now brought with it the promise of social emancipation. And this was given decisive political expression in the West with the doctrine of liberalism: equality before the law; subjects are treated as equals, which is to treat them individually. Yet liberalism is further underlined by a division between the public and the private sphere. The public realm assumes a neutral quality, thereby legislating for the freedom to adopt critical rationality in the public realm; by contrast, it is in the private realm that the subject may adopt an uncritical religious belief or doctrine as he or she sees fit. In short, the loss of institutional religion in the

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public sphere is compensated for by its award in the private. Again, this is given expression in the work of Kant who argues: The use, therefore, which an appointed teacher makes of his reason before his congregation is merely private, because the congregation is only a domestic one (even if it be a large gathering); with respect to it, as a priest, he is not free, nor can he be free, because he carries out the orders of another. But as a scholar, whose writings speak to his public, the world, the clergyman in the public use of his own reason enjoys an unlimited freedom to use his own reason and to speak in his own person. (Kant 1995, p. 4) In this way liberal democracy has become synonymous with a secularizing impulse in which the social role of religion becomes increasingly diminished by relocating religion within the private interior, thereby replicating the spilt between reason and faith in terms of the public and private. The believer is, ‘quarantined’, her affinity with a religious community compromised, and the ‘transmission of a collective religious heritage’ obstructed (McCaffery 2009, p. 33). The antinomy not to be missed here is that where postmodern philosophy has increasingly moved to decentre the individual through différance, liberalism has increasing pushed in the opposite way, shoring up the subject in a rights-based theory: religious expression is less about a critical enquiry as saying something pre-determined and fixed about one’s identity. However, what unites these two approaches is that in both cases, the return of religion is made without reference to institutional forms. Hence Derrida’s ‘religion without religion’ begins to sound suspiciously like the new-ageism ‘I am spiritual, not religious’. In other words, the debate may be less about the distinction between a fixed or unfixed identity, as the secular reasoning which allows the inner complicity between two mutually opposing views.

Badiou: The ‘Act’ of Faith At the other end of our postmodern spectrum is the work of Badiou. Badiou’s work addresses, in true revolutionary fashion, the question of an ‘act’ which breaks the bonds of ideological interpellation. Like Derrida, Badiou is a thinker of difference: Being is irreducibly multiple, not transcendent but finite. However, he frames his question not in the usual postmodern fashion (i.e. how to exercise contingencies against modernity’s absolutes?), instead: given the prior multiplicity of Being, how does a universal truth arise in the first place?

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Much of Badiou’s work takes its conceptual direction from mathematics, but it is to St Paul he turns when fleshing out a working model for the concerns. The key lies in Badiou’s approach which theorizes a procedural account of the ‘event’ of truth. ‘Truth’ in this context does not concern the adequation between knowledge and its object; it is the process itself that matters. At the heart of a truth procedure is an ‘event’ or trauma, an unpredictable encounter which breaks with the existing situation thereby escaping conventional representation. As such, an event is neither calculable nor demonstrable by terms outside of the event; it rests not on an eternal ground, but the mere fact of its occurrence. In St Paul, it is the declarative power of Christ’s resurrection which constitutes the event, throwing up a gap of uncertainty which, according to Badiou, could not be accommodated by existing Jewish and Greek thought. And it is this uncertainty upon which a subject must rest a conviction, henceforth declaring his or her faith in the event. In the act of faith the subject gives continuity to the event and becomes a subject as such. That is to say, the subject is a subject only to the extent he or she maintains fidelity to the event. The subject does not pre-exist the event, indeed, it is precisely the ‘extrinsic conditions’ of a subject’s existence or ‘identity’ that Badiou counters (Badiou 2003, p. 14); rather, it is what the subject says that founds the singularity of the subject’ (Badiou 2003, p. 53). Post-event, the process of truth becomes one of infinite verification, a constant examination within the situation of the consequences of the wager upon which the event was decided such that the subject (what Badiou refers to as an ‘apostle’) persists in that Truth. Hence Christianity is not deemed true to the extent it conforms to external or transcendental criteria (i.e. there really is a God?), but whether its participants maintain fidelity to the event of the resurrection in such a way as to organize a new field of experience. The subtitle of Badiou’s book on St Paul is ‘The Foundation of Universalism’: Something is universal if it is something that is beyond established differences. We have differences that seem absolutely natural to us. In the context of these differences, the sign of a new truth is that these differences become indifferent. So we have an absorption of an evident natural difference into something that is beyond that difference. (Badiou 2005, p. 38) ‘Indifference’ here is not the dispassionate neutrality of the secular sphere in which differences are ‘respected’, ‘tolerated’ or ‘accommodated’, his position is more radical: indifference arises because no moral judgement is being offered; the event literally renders previous markers irrelevant; they simply cease to matter in the old way. This is the meaning of Paul’s claim in Galatians that ‘there is

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neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female – for all of you are one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3.28). What then of difference? ‘The acknowledgement of difference is itself founded on a subjective disposition that comes from Paul’s experience of declarative difference in the Event of resurrection that differentiated him from others’ (McCaffrey 2009, p. 220). In other words, difference is principally the difference of the event.

Badiou and Ethics: From Difference to Sameness The significance of Badiou’s account comes to the fore when set against the postmodern ethics of alterity. In an affront to the postmodern concern for the Other, Badiou states: ‘the whole ethical predication based upon recognition of the other should be purely and simply abandoned’ (Badiou 2001, p. 25). What is at stake here can best be put with reference to the simple question: what constitutes a political act? Often, an apparently transgressive act can work not so much to challenge an existing situation as reinforce it. Think, for example, how disregarding road law is often the very mechanism which allows the traffic to run smoothly. On Badiou’s reading, Derrida’s ethics of Otherness does not introduce anything new into the political field – it merely maintains that liberal differences should be respected in an attitude of openness. For Badiou such positions can only represent particularity, not universality, and thereby contribute to identity politics; that is, in support of marginalized groups who make foundational appeals on the grounds of a given identity or rights such as gender or religion. Hence, where the thrust of Derrida’s critique is shaped by an apophatic openness to the Other, Badiou offers a decisionist ethic. The ethical imperative shifts from observing Otherness and uncertainly to making a wager on an uncertain event. Again, its not that Badiou does not value difference, but that the liberal respect of difference does not do justice to the qualitative difference set in process by a truth procedure, and hence the real question is not how to recognize differences but ‘recognizing the same’ within a field of multiplicity that genuinely constitutes a difference (Badiou 2001, p. 25).

Badiou: Faith and Reason However, the most critical distinction between Badiou and Derrida lies in their respective relation to theology: where Derrida evacuates the institutional husk of theology in favour of the distilled kernel of justice and faith, Badiou’s claim

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is that it is precisely the dogmatic claims of religion which matter over against an unmediated kernel. On first sight, Badiou’s philosophy appears to vindicate Nietzsche’s prediction: Being as event, or to employ Badiou’s term ‘grace’ simply arrives; it is unfathomable, a happening to us, and to which the subject must respond. Hence Badiou readily assigns St Paul’s work the status ‘fable’ (Badiou 2003, p. 4). However, as Geoffrey Holsclaw highlights, what Badiou also does is provide a means of ‘discerning fidelity’ which unites a subjective disposition with dogma (Holsclaw 2010, p. 240), as well as maintaining the centrality of history (the event) without succumbing to historicism. In doing so, Badiou appears to offer Christian theology a path out of its exile between modern rationalism and the postmodern fideism of Derrida.

Post-Secularism: Faith and Reason In sum, both Derrida and Badiou contribute to a re-invigoration of theology. Derrida appears to offer a path beyond the deconstruction of metaphysics, reconstituting faith as a paradoxical openness to the Other that maintains a messianic kernel; Badiou makes St Paul productive for politics precisely in its dogmatic claims; in both cases religion puts the revolution back into politics. Moreover, both highlight the importance of faith to reason: for Derrida it is faith’s uncertainty; for Badiou it is the decisionist element of faith. What unites these thinkers however is the double-bind: the re-enchantment of philosophy at the expense of metaphysics. Both maintain an opposition between faith and determinate religion: Derrida wants a faith void of religion; Badiou wants dogma without faith. What of religion that returns in this world is not the institutional religion which gave rise to faith, but a faith that is not circumscribed by metaphysics.

Postmodern Theology? Postmodern philosophy has arguably carved out a new space for theological reflection, and a revitalizing of theology in its wake. Yet a problem remains, the form of its return accentuates liberal trends which ensure religion remains privatized, void of institutional framing and political import. However, as suggested if, à la postmodernism, all claims to truth, including the social sciences, are contingent, then the claims of secular social-theory have no right to primacy over the claims of theology: both are founded in mythos, and the difference pertains to which one can invoke the imaginative capability to

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prioritize peaceful differences. While Liberalism is able to accommodate the postmodern subject, the postmodern subject is still unable to accommodate religion, merely tolerate it to the extent it remains a private pursuit devoid of politics. What then of an alternative space in which differences could coincide? To answer this we need only return to Heidegger and pose two related questions: first, why accept his account of metaphysics and onto-theology in the first place; second: is the association of metaphysics with Christianity a given in the way the postmodernists suggest? These are the questions posed by Phillip Blond with the suggestion that Heidegger’s narrative about the forgetting of Being masks the relational account of being already underway within the Christian metaphysical tradition of the middle-ages. For Blond, ‘an account of being as presence, which itself relies upon the forgetting of ontological tradition, is not to be found in any properly figured account of the Christian tradition up to Thomas Aquinas’ (Blond 2002, p. 280); rather, ‘it is only the modern epoch which appears to have forgotten being’ (Blond 2002, p. 282). Blond draws on the work of the French Jesuit Henri de Lubac, and John Milbank, among others to suggest that the metaphysics which Heidegger disdains has its foundation in the theological sundering of nature and super-nature in the Late Middle Ages, a diremption which remained foreign to most patristic and mediaeval thinkers for whom nature and grace were paradoxically intertwined. Theologians had every good intention in sundering the two. To conflate God and nature is to undermine the possibility that creation is a free gift from God. Yet as Milbank argues, it is a short step from here to a full-bloodied secular autonomy of the natural realm which can only explain its cause in terms that are immanent to itself (Milbank 2006). Theology meanwhile is increasingly consigned to the super-natural, of which only revelation can secure its status. The transcendent primary cause of Greek and Christian thought subsequently becomes something to which only immediate intuition or institutional authority can directly appeal to; whereas secondary causes (i.e. nature) becomes its own self-enclosed realm, unable to transcend its condition and hence distinguish between truth and illusion (Blond 2002, p. 282). The result of this modern separation is a legacy which permits only ‘unmediated appeals to the absolute’ or ‘the random desire of elements’ (Blond 2002, p. 283). On this reading, secularization is the not so much the result of abandoning theology, but results from a specifically theological turn, so to return to this rupture is one means by which to begin to sketch an alternative genealogy of metaphysics. A similar point, although differently put, can be found in the criticisms of Derrida by Oliver Davies and Denys Turner: ‘negative theology resonates

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positively with a deeply rooted trend in contemporary religiosity towards the privatisation and internalisation of religion’ (Davies and Turner 2002, p. 2). Derrida accepts the comparison of his work with negative theology only insofar as apophatic theology defers meaning indefinitely and is stripped of all reference to a transcendent God. Yet negative theology was marked less by the refusal of an hyper-essentialized God, and more as a corrective to the ‘exuberant excess’ of the Divine Names generated through liturgical and biblical interpretation: ‘Being cancelled in this way, these are shown not to be ordinary language use at all but speech that is burdened to the point of excess: as exhausted as it is full’ (Davies and Turner 2002, p. 3). By contrast, Derrida’s denial is limited by the theology it denounces: ontotheology which has little bearing on the world, and whose negation merely consigns one to modern atheism. It is beyond the scope of this chapter to begin to the constructive task, it needs only to be said that what Heidegger, Derrida, and Badiou fail to even consider is the mediaeval doctrine of participation: creation is not self-existence but has existence by virtue of God’s grace. Creation is real, but not as distinct from God, it is only real to the extent it participates, which is to receive itself as gift: the more we participate in God, the more human we become. And because this was further shaped by the relations within the Trinity, Christianity was able to link first causes with secondary causes in a way which avoided the metaphysical dogma attributed to it by Heidegger (Milbank and Oliver 2009, pp. 13–24). My point then is that Heidegger’s ‘forgetfulness of Being under the weight of onto-theology’ obfuscates an alternative theological account which resisted precisely that scheme. Of course, it cannot be a question of returning to premodern narratives, because theology must now speak within the conditions of radical immanentism, yet an awareness of participatory metaphysics may allow the creative space for a more critical alternative to postmodernism.

Conclusion Thus far I have surveyed two principal postmodern philosophers. What connects them is their post-metaphysical shift. In the work of Derrida transcendence is turned into a personal responsibility for the Other which mediates a wider justice to come; in the work of Badiou, the event is articulated on the basis of a dogma. In both cases we have a reconfiguration of reason and faith. Where modernity was apt to separate out reason and faith, Derrida uses faith to restore dignity to reason, while Badiou offers a discernment of the role of faith in establishing the conditions for a universal truth. Both do away with the intelligible rationalism

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of God, translating our thinking about faith and reason into a renewed awareness of contingency and the responsibilities of world building. Derrida revises faith as a critical venture against certainty; Badiou revises the dogma of resurrection as the basis for universal truth in the postmodern soup of particulars. Yet at the heart of these philosophies is the passing of institutional religion, and a deepening of the lines drawn by modernity between immanence and transcendence, absence and presence, the public and private. So while postmodernism heralds the death of the autonomous rational subject, it quickly oscillates to become revelation-based philosophies, only now revelation takes on a purely fideist colouring. If we are then to move beyond postmodernism, might we not exercise incredulity towards the narrative that it offers among others?

Bibliography Badiou, A. (2001) Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, New York: Verso. — (2003) St Paul: The Foundations of Universalism, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Badiou, A. and Miller, A. (2005) ‘An Interview with Alain Badiou: Universal Truths & the Question of Religion’, in Journal of Philosophy and Scripture, 3:1, 38–42. Baudrillard, J. (1983) Simulations, New York: Semiotext (e). Bauman, Z. (1993) Postmodern Ethics, Oxford: Blackwell. Blond, P. (2002) ‘The Absolute and the Arbitrary’, in Modern Theology, 18:2, 277–85. Caputo, J. (1997) The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida: Religion without Religion, Indianapolis: Indiana University Press. Critchley, S. (1999) The Ethics of Deconstruction: Derrida and Levinas, 2nd edn, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Davies, O. and Turner, D., eds (2002) Silence and the Word: Negative Theology and Incarnation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Derrida, J. (1976) Of Grammatology, Maryland: John Hopkins University Press. — (1981) Positions, Chicago: Chicago University Press. — (1982) Margins of Philosophy, Chicago: Chicago University Press. — (1986) ‘Différence’, in M. C. Taylor (ed.) Deconstruction in Contexts, Chicago: Chicago University Press. — (1992) ‘How to Avoid Speaking: Denials’, in H. Coward and T. Foshay (eds) Derrida and Negative Theology, Albany: SUNY. — (1994) Spectres of Marx: The State of Debt, the Work of Mourning, and the New International, New York: Routledge. — (1997) Adieu: To Emmanuel Levinas, Stanford: Stanford University Press. — (2005) Writing and Difference, London: Routledge. Guarino, T. (2009) Vattimo and Theology, London and New York: T&T Clark. Hart, K. (1997) ‘Derrida’, in G. Ward (ed.) The Postmodern God, Oxford: Blackwell. Heidegger, M. (1962) Being and Time, New York: Harper & Row. — (1969) Identity and Difference, New York: Harper and Row. — (1986) ‘The End of Philosophy and the task of Thinking’, in M. C. Taylor (ed.) Deconstruction in Contexts, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

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Holsclaw, G. (2010) ‘Discerning Fidelity: Badiou between Faith and Reason’, New Blackfriars, 9:1033, 229–41. Hoy, D. (1979) ‘Forgetting the Text: Derrida’s Critique of Heidegger’, Boundary, 8:1, 223–36. Kant, I. (1995), ‘What is Enlightenment?’, in Isaac Kramnick The Portable Enlightenment Reader, London: Penguin Books. — (1998) The Critique of Pure Reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lyotard, J. F. (1984) The Post-modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. — (1989) ‘Lessons in Paganism’, in A. Benjamin (ed.) The Lyotard Reader, Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 122–54. McCaffrey, E. (2009) The Return of Religion in France: From Democratisation to Postmetaphysics, New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Milbank, J. (2006) Theology and Social Theory: Beyond Secular Reason, 2nd edn, Oxford: Blackwell. Milbank, J. and Oliver, S., eds (2009) The Radical Orthodoxy Reader, London and New York: Routledge. Nietzsche, F. (1998) Twilight of the Idols, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rubenstein, M-J. (2003) ‘Unknown Thyself: Apothaticism, Deconstruction, and Theology after Ontotheology’, Modern Theology, 19:3, 387–417. Saussure, F. (1986) Courses in General Linguistics, Illinois: Open Court. Smith, J. K. A. (2005) Derrida: Live Theory, London: Continuum. Ward, G., ed. (1997) The Post-modern God, Oxford: Blackwell.

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Chapter 14 Theology and Non-Western Philosophy Martin Ganeri OP Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford and Heythrop College, University of London Introduction As contemporary Western theologians consider the relationship between theology and philosophy they are aware as never before of the presence of the many highly sophisticated non-Western traditions of intellectual reflection on religious themes that show many similarities to those central to Western theology, such as revelation, God, creation, and the nature and destiny of the human person. Is it legitimate, important, useful or even possible for contemporary Christian theology to engage with such non-Western philosophy? Before we can consider this question further it is necessary to make clear how the key terms are going to be used in this chapter. First, ‘theology’ and ‘non-Western’ are taken to denote both origin and geography. ‘Theology’ here means that Christian theology which has historically developed in Europe and America, whether it has remained in these areas or not. ‘Non-Western’ thus includes Jewish and Muslim philosophy as it developed in Islamic Spain as well in the Middle East, as well as Eastern philosophy, such as that found in Hinduism and Buddhism. If the distinction is not tied to both origins and geography, it becomes impossible to know what counts as a contrast between ‘theology’ and ‘non-Western,’ since Christianity is itself by origin a non-Western religion, and non-Western philosophy has also developed in Europe and America over the centuries. Moreover, ‘philosophy’ is taken to be intellectual reflection or ‘thought’ in general, specifically religious thought, or ‘theology’ as this term is often used. ‘Philosophy’ is a Western term, often contrasted with ‘theology’ in the Western context and use of the term poses particular problems when applied to non-Western traditions where the contrast is not made. In this chapter ‘philosophy,’ ‘thought’ and ‘theology’ are used interchangeably, though always with the core theme in mind of how reason serves religious faith.

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In contemporary Western theology the discipline that argues most emphatically that theology should engage with non-Western philosophy is the emergent one of ‘comparative theology’, which one of its leading advocates, the American Catholic theologian, Francis Clooney S.J. (1950–), has characterized as the ‘theologically conscious study of religions other than one’s own’.1 Such a general definition of comparative theology suggests and indeed encompasses a considerable variety of actual approaches. Comparative theology is practised by theologians belonging to different Christian denominations, who promote different understandings of what the theological task is and who make a variety of greater or lesser claims about the aims and achievement of engagement with non-Western philosophy. They also differ in what kind of engagement they prefer, with some studying a single text or single tradition of another religion and others surveying a number of traditions centred on a major theological theme. All, however, claim that engagement with non-Western philosophy is possible, interesting and useful for the doing of Western Christian theology. Nonetheless, contemporary comparative theologians face some serious questions about the success of their work. One area of challenge centres on the question of whether the work of comparative theologians shows sufficient continuity with Christian theology defined as a reasoned exploration of Christian revelation and faith, in critical engagement with other positions and subject to scrutiny and validation by the theologian’s own ecclesial community.2 Comparative theologians are routinely academics working in a university context where there is the freedom to develop a theological account as he or she chooses. Can such comparative theology qualify as Christian theology in the sense above or does it translate into a form of religious studies, in which claims about the truth and the demands of faith and of faith communities are marginalized and excluded? A second area of challenge concerns the epistemological issues involved in any Western theology engaging with a non-Western philosophy and relates to objections from contemporary critiques of intercultural engagement, especially Western interaction with Eastern culture. Comparative theology might appear to be as just a contemporary manifestation of Orientalism, the intellectual subjection of the East for purposes of Western colonial power and domination.3 Comparative theology has, moreover, to deal with the wider objections of cultural incommensurabilists and post-liberal theologians, for whom there are considerable obstacles in the way of any meaningful communication or theological interaction between cultures.4 Contemporary reflection on the relation between rationalities and cultures has highlighted the ways in which any intellectual system or rationality is formed within a particular tradition, which conditions the reasoning of those within that tradition and their perspective on other cultures. There would seem to be no neutral or common rationality that all share. Emerging from a rationality embedded in a particular tradition terms

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and concepts found in one tradition often do not have equivalents in another tradition into which they can be translated or compared.5 To what extent do comparative theologians show an awareness of these issues and address them or do they merely assume that all religious traditions have the same rationality or can be reduced to one that is neutral and common to all? In this chapter we shall first consider Christian theological engagement with non-Western philosophy in the mediaeval period as represented by the work of St Thomas Aquinas (1224/25–74). The work of Aquinas has been a major paradigm for understanding the relationship between faith and reason in Christian theology generally. It has also been a particular model for those Catholic Christian theologians who have sought to engage with Eastern philosophy, such as those working in India from at least the time of Roberto de Nobili S.J. (1577–1656) to the present.6 In the contemporary Western academy there has also been a retrieval of Aquinas’ theology as a model for modern engagement with other religions.7 Second, we shall consider two leading and representative contemporary comparative theologians, Francis Clooney and the British Anglican theologian, Keith Ward (1938–), and consider both how their work relates to that of Aquinas and how they address contemporary theological and cultural concerns about engagement with non-Western philosophy. We shall argue with reference to the first challenge that contemporary comparative theology should be regarded as the continuance of a longstanding Western Christian theological engagement with non-Christian and non-Western thought, especially as found in the theology of mediaeval Scholasticism, and above all in the work of Thomas Aquinas. Contemporary comparative theology thus stands within an established understanding of how Christian theology may be done. Comparative theologians are certainly keen to categorize their work as theology rather than religious studies. Nonetheless, contemporary comparative theologians are rightly criticized for showing a reluctance to make critical judgements, especially negative ones, about the truth and value of the traditions they study, in marked contrast to the approach of earlier engagements such as Scholastic theology.8 Moreover, the radical diversity of Christian theological traditions and positions in the modern period that forms the basis on which different comparative theologians work result in theologies that are often incompatible with the Christian theology found in earlier engagements as well as that found in other contemporary theologies, comparative or otherwise. With regard to the second challenge, contemporary comparative theology does promote a dialogical understanding of theology that encourages accountability and mutuality in theological conversations across religions. This reflects and addresses modern concerns about both the Orientalist nature of Western approaches to non-Western cultures and goes some way itself to address the

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anxieties about intercultural communication in incommensurabilist and post-liberal theological perspectives. At the same time, in continuity with the Scholastic approach, contemporary comparative theologians advocate a basic confidence in the universal and natural capacity for humans to reason and to have a reasoned conversation about truth across religious or cultural divides that stands radical objections to any intercultural and interreligious communication, although compatible with contemporary affirmation of the conditioned nature of all rationalities. Here again, however, there is considerable variety in viewpoint between comparative theologians and the greater the assumption or claim to neutral categories the more vulnerable their accounts become to criticism.

Scholastic Theology and Non-Western Philosophy: The Work of Thomas Aquinas Western Christian Scholasticism bears testimony to a substantial engagement between Christian thinkers and non-Western philosophy in the mediaeval period. The mediaeval West was surrounded by what Marshall Hodgson has referred to as the ‘Islamicate’, Muslim dominated territories, but where there were Jewish, Christian as well as Muslim philosophers active.9 Western Christian scholastics knew and used Muslim and Jewish commentaries on and adaptations of the works of Greek philosophy, as well as independently composed Jewish and Muslim philosophical and theological treatises. Christian scholastics were able to regard Jewish and Muslim thinkers as having something intelligible and useful to say about the fundamental themes of God, creation and human nature, even though Christian attitudes towards Judaism and Islam at that time were routinely very negative and condemnatory. It was, after all, a period that witnessed both crusades against Islam and persecutions of Jews.10 The most influential of all Christian scholastics, Thomas Aquinas, was remarkable for the extent to which he used Jewish and Islamic philosophy and for the respect and courtesy he showed his sources. Aquinas makes reference in his works to Muslim thinkers such as Avicenna (Ibn Sina, d.1037) and Averroes (Ibn Rushd, d.1198), to Jewish thinkers such as Moses Maimonides (1138– 1204), as well as to the Liber de Causis, a Latin work of considerable importance in the Christian West based on an Arabic reworking of Proclus (Kitab al Khair, The Book of Pure Goodness), on which Thomas wrote a commentary at the end of his life.11 Their philosophy exercises a considerable and positive influence on the development of his theology throughout the whole course of his work.

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Sacra Doctrina and the relationship of faith and reason What account, then, does Aquinas himself give of the relationship between theology and non-Western philosophy? At the beginning of the Summa Theologiae Aquinas defines sacra doctrina as a science that takes the articles of faith, the revelation received from God, as its principles.12 Sacra doctrina is probative (argumentativa), working from these principles to demonstrate other things, both through the exercise of human reasoning and the use of authorities, namely Sacred Scripture, the doctors of the Church and those philosophers, who have come to knowledge of truth by natural reason.13 For Aquinas the shape of such reasoning and the nature of the authorities appealed to depends on what those involved have in common, what principles drawn from revelation or human authorities they can agree on and hence reason from. Because Jews accept the Old Testament, discussion with them can draw on this part of revelation as well as human reason and philosophical authorities. In the case of Muslims, there is no shared revelation and so discussion is limited to reasoning and use of philosophical authorities alone.14 Thus, Aquinas develops a scheme in which engagement with non-Western philosophy has a place within theology as the science of sacra doctrina. This clearly does not make Aquinas an advocate of a liberal theology or a pluralist theology avant la lettre. In his account Islamic thought is given the same status as Greek philosophy, part of natural human philosophy.15 His comments about Muhammad reflect the extreme negativity of his time.16 Moreover, in his discussion of the probative work of sacra doctrina the emphasis is on disputation and the refutation of the views of others. However, Aquinas’ actual use of Muslim or Jewish philosophy testifies to the importance they did have for his own theology. Aquinas does not, in fact, just set out to refute what Muslim or Jewish thinkers have to say. He also agrees with many of the points he finds in their accounts. Muslim and Jewish philosophy helps to shape and clarify his Christian theology as it develops and matures. Their commentaries and independent works themselves become authorities to which he refers and with which he reasons as he constructs a Christian theology.

Aquinas’ engagement with Islamic and Jewish philosophy The American Thomist, David Burrell C.S.C., is one of the leading advocates of Aquinas as a model for a contemporary Christian theological engagement with non-Western philosophy.17 He has made clear both the extent of Aquinas’ engagement with Muslim and Jewish thinkers, especially Avicenna (Ibn Sina) and Moses Maimonides, and the way such non-Western philosophy makes a

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positive contribution to his theology. Aquinas treats Muslim and Jewish thinkers as fellow travellers and as interlocutors into common theological concerns, especially the desire to find the right relationship between what they maintain on the basis of faith and what can and should be said by the reason found in Greek philosophy: Aquinas’ intellectual inquiry bridged the divide initially posed by alien faiths, allowing him to discover and exploit cognate strategies for explicating shared perspectives on creation, providence, and often parallel trajectories towards the goal of human fulfilment.18 Burrell follows Louis Gardet’s characterization of Aquinas’ approach as one in which Muslim philosophy is seen as a resource to be mined for ‘conceptual strategies’.19 He also notes that Aquinas appropriates and transforms the ideas he finds in this philosophy as he thinks it to be useful and necessary for the development of his own theology determined by the principles of Christian faith, just as he does with Aristotle and other Greek thought.20 Thus, in order to express the distinction between God as creator and created being Aquinas takes from Avicenna the distinction between essence and existence as a useful conceptual strategy for distinguishing creatures, in whom there is composition of essence and existence and hence dependent being, from the creator, whose existence is his essence. Yet he rejects the implication he finds in Avicenna that existence should be classified as a form of accidental being that comes to an essence and instead recasts the distinction as being one between the potential and the actual being of a substance. In his mature theology the simple non-compositeness of essence and existence in God’s unique case continues to be affirmed, while his final expression of creation is as the production of the whole being of a thing, wherein ‘being created’ is the relation of a substance has as a whole to the creator.21 Likewise, it is an Islamic rendition of the Neoplatonic work, the Liber de Causis, which provides Aquinas with conceptual strategies for articulating the sui generis relation of creation. The Liber de Causis is a source for some of Aquinas’ most distinctive ways of depicting creation, such as the idea of God as the first and universal cause of the being of all things and the idea of creation as the emanation and participation in being. In his mature work on creation Aquinas continues to depict creation as the emanation and participation in being. At the same time, Aquinas consistently rejects Muslim acceptance of secondary creators from the Neoplatonic scheme.22 In common with the Jewish philosopher, Moses Maimonides, Aquinas endorses a generally apophatic approach to knowledge of God, yet he rejects Maimonides’ negative understanding of divine predication, instead developing

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his account of analogy. With Maimonides Aquinas accepts that unaided human can establish that the world is created, but not that it has a beginning, as revelation informs us. On this question Aquinas refers to and considers the different Muslim views that developed as they inform the discussion, noting, for instance, that they felt it reasonable to affirm both the eternity of the world and its createdness.23 Non-Western philosophy, then, is clearly important to Aquinas as a resource for reasoning about faith, in the engagement between theology and philosophy. Later Christian tradition has received and accepted this engagement as making a legitimate contribution to the expression of Christian faith. Aquinas takes it for granted both that the reasoning found in sacra doctrina is conditioned by the articles of Christian faith and the authorities of Christian tradition and that human reasoning can cross cultural boundaries. Aquinas unbending commitment to the objectivity of truth encourages such openness, while also, and along with his commitment to the truth of Christian revelation, leads him to critically appraise Jewish and Muslim philosophy as a conceptual resource for acceptance, rejection, appropriation and transformation.

Contemporary Comparative Theology Contemporary comparative theology, as a self-conscious commitment to do theology in a positive encounter with other religious traditions, might seem the least likely of all modern theological disciplines to present as the heir of mediaeval Scholasticism. Yet contemporary comparative theology has considerable common ground with the approach found in Aquinas. Christian comparative theologians also see theology as the reasoned exploration of faith, in which their perspectives and commitments are shaped by their being members of their Christian communities. Moreover, their engagement with other religious traditions is remarkably similar to Aquinas’ account of the probative science of sacra doctrina. Other religious traditions function as authorities, which along with human reasoning become the resources out of which the theological account is constructed. The work of Francis Clooney and Keith Ward helps us grasp something of the character and variety of contemporary comparative theology and to consider its relationship to Scholastic theology. These two theologians differ markedly in terms of the scope of their engagement with non-Western philosophy and in their understanding of the task of Christian theology and of central Christian doctrines. Nonetheless, they share a commitment to theological engagement with non-Western philosophy that has much in common with the approach of Aquinas, while their work also reflects and addresses contemporary concerns

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about Western engagement with non-Western culture in a way that cannot be expected of Aquinas.

Francis Clooney For Francis Clooney comparative theology takes the form of a Christian theological engagement with particular texts from different Hindu traditions.24 Clooney is an accomplished and recognized Indologist, fully competent in Sanskrit and Tamil. He undertakes detailed and precise studies of Hindu texts, which are then set in comparison with other texts from the Christian tradition. This manifests his own preference that comparative theology should resist the temptation to make grand statements about religions in general and instead proceed by way of individual case studies. Clooney is very attentive to contemporary reflection on hermeneutics and its application to such textual study, as expounded by such figures as Hans-Georg Gadamer and Roland Barthes.25 Clooney’s main model for the theological act is, in fact, as a form of attentive spiritual reading. Comparative theology is an exercise in which the texts from the two traditions form an expanded narrative and where the theologian learns and is transformed through reading texts from a number of different traditions together. However, Clooney is also concerned to explore such engagement as an exercise in theological reasoning across traditions about central themes in theology.26 Thus, in Theology After Vedanta (1993) Clooney compares texts from one of the most influential of Hindu theological traditions, Advaita Vedanta, with Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae and its commentaries. He characterizes his own work as Indological, comparative and theological.27 As ‘Indological’, such engagement with Hindu texts has to meet the standards of good scholarship and give an accurate account of that Hindu text. As ‘comparative’, it is concerned to consider carefully the relation between the accounts, being open to dissimilarities as well as similarities. As ‘theological’, such work is properly ‘faith seeking understanding’, in which the theologian is concerned about the truth of what is being studied, about what is being learned about God and the human relationship with God, and about the identity of the faith of the theologian and his and her community after the encounter.28 Accordingly, Clooney first undertakes a detailed study of the sacred texts and commentarial traditions of Advaita Vedanta. He identifies the textual character of the Advaitic tradition and its theology, in which the theological account is built up as a rich text woven from layers of sacred scripture and commentaries and in which religious truth is realized through transformative reading, through study and meditation on scriptural texts as interpreted by the commentaries. Advaita

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is centred on forms of textual reasoning, since it is driven on by exegetical and textual strategies for understanding and connecting sacred texts and sections of commentaries together.29 Second, and in the light of this, Clooney considers how Aquinas himself constructs the Summa Theologiae and how authoritative texts are important to his theological method, as well as the pedagogical character of the construction of the Summa as a whole. He also considers the importance of a commentarial tradition on the Summa in Catholic Thomist theology. In this comparative section Clooney draws on modern Western discussions of hermeneutics and reading theory, in order to explore what it means to read the textual traditions of Advaita and Thomism together.30 Third, Clooney considers what implications this has for the faith and identity of the theologian and for his relation to his religious community. The theology that emerges after Vedanta is for the most part simply a greater understanding of the textual character of both theological traditions. For a Christian Thomist theologian this may well mark a retrieval of an aspect of the Thomist tradition that has tended to be obscured by an emphasis on the Summa as simply a mine for doctrines and reasoned arguments rather than as a text to be read in its entirety. The Christian theologian engaging with Advaita Vedanta has, meanwhile, a role as the mediator for such comparative engagement for the service of the whole community.31 In Hindu God, Christian God (2001), Clooney develops a somewhat different emphasis, this time exploring the work of reasoning about major themes across religious traditions. Here Clooney describes comparative theology as ‘interreligous, comparative, dialogical and confessional’.32 These last two terms are important elements in understanding Clooney’s work as a whole and build on the approach taken in Theology After Vedanta. Comparative theology is ‘dialogical’ in that such theology should be accountable to others. What is said about them should be accurate and the goal is a genuine conversation between theologians and theologies. The expectation of Christian theologians is that members of other religious traditions will also engage in the same type of theological conversation, using Christian texts as their other tradition for study. It is ‘confessional’ in that the comparative theologian is a committed believer within his or her own tradition and the purpose of comparative theology is to seek a deeper understanding of his or her faith, but that this process of understanding now includes engagement with another religious tradition. The theologian will still hold to the faith claims of his or her own tradition and critically appraise others, challenging and rejecting, as well as accepting some of the ideas encountered.33 In this book Clooney considers what a number of Hindu and Christian theologians have had to say about five central theological themes including rational proofs for the existence of God, the nature of God, the possibility of divine embodiment and the relation of revelation to reason. Thus, for instance, he

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considers and compares the fact that theologians in both Christian and Hindu traditions have developed forms of the cosmological proof for the existence of God, as well as accounts that reject this proof.34 All these arguments are of interest and importance to any theologian who seeks to resolve this particular issue: Since the arguments cross cultural and religious boundaries, theologians of all traditions regardless of their faith positions must decide where they stand on issues related to reasoning about God’s existence. They must discern which theologians from which religious traditions are their real allies and then pose their arguments in forms that are comparatively and dialogically intelligible and credible. Nor do the sides, once recognized, remain entirely stable. Arguments may actually lead somewhere; persuasion may work; theologians may change their minds; intellectual and religious conversion becomes possible.35 In these five case studies what emerges is both that there is reasoning within these traditions about these themes and that a rational conversation can take place across the traditions. The positions theologians develop and the reasons they give for them are open to scrutiny by others. They are accountable to others and are likely to be better reasoned accounts if they take into account what others say. Thus comparative theology is simply theology that considers all the views and arguments available to it. Clooney argues that in the contemporary context where religious traditions are in such close proximity it is difficult to justify limiting theology to the study of just one tradition and to ignore these other traditions: Religions are unique and truths are revealed, while theology remains in large part a more mundane, complex and interreligious activity in which there is no substitute for comparative and dialogical practice. While individual theologians might be excused due to their narrow specializations, on the whole no theologian can intelligently avoid theology’s interreligious implications. Consequently, good theologians are inevitably involved in reconstructing theology as a comparative and dialogical project that thereafter can be seen as confessional, attentive to specific traditions’ views and confident in asserting arguable religious truths.36 For his own part Clooney does not attempt to develop a systematic theology out of the interreligious engagements he undertakes. He is primarily concerned to explore what is involved in such comparative theology itself, what methods

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are to be employed and what counts for good practice. He is content to point to the presence of what seem to be common themes and methods across traditions, be they textual or discursive in nature, rather than make any major claim about any theological account that might be constructed out of this encounter. Clooney’s view of comparative theology has much in common with Aquinas’ approach, though the scope has now widened to include Hindu traditions. Both use texts from non-Western philosophy as authorities and enter into reasoned discussion with the views found in them. Both show a confidence that communication can take place. At the same time, Clooney differs from Aquinas both in the attention he gives to modern hermeneutical theory and, related to that, the emphasis he places on the dialogical character of good comparative theology. He is sensitive to questions about whether, or to what degree, someone outside a tradition can enter into it and understand it.37 He is aware of the fact that such comparative study uses and reads texts in a way that is different from their traditional role and understanding. This is where the dialogical character of such theology is very important. A theologian should attempt to get an authentic and accurate understanding of the traditions he or she is studying and be accountable to members of those traditions. Such a theological conversation is not intended to be a one-sided exploitation of another tradition, but a mutual, positive and respectful interaction, open to such transformation as the faith commitments of theologians and their traditions allow and encourage. How well, then, does Clooney’s work meet the challenges facing comparative theology? In terms of the degree to which comparative theologians are Christian theologians, Clooney does identify himself as a Catholic Jesuit theologian and is concerned that his theology is communicated to and received by the Catholic community. At the same time, his work remains almost entirely articulated within the context of the academy and received by fellow academics. In any case, Clooney concludes very little by way of substantial constructive developments of any aspect of Catholic theology in the light of the engagements he has undertaken, so that it becomes difficult to make any assessment about the difference such engagement might make to reflection on Catholic faith. Rather the focus of his work is almost entirely on the process of doing comparative theology as such. Thus it remains to be seen what degree of acceptance his comparative theology gains within the Catholic community and what contribution it actually makes to Catholic theology. Clooney likewise argues that comparative theology should be concerned with the truth and value from a Christian perspective of what it studies, but refrains in practice from any substantial reading of the Hindu accounts through the interpretative and critical lens of Catholic faith or from making much by way of specific judgement about the truth or value of the Hindu accounts he considers.38 For Clooney, the focus of comparative theology is primarily on what the Christian theologian learns from other traditions about

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his or her own faith in the light of the other tradition, even though it does not exclude questions of appraisal of the other tradition as well. Moreover, he argues that the larger questions of the meaning and truth of other religions as such is more the task of theology of religions than of comparative theology.39 In terms of epistemological concerns, Clooney’s work is many ways a model for good practice. His outstanding Indological scholarship itself is matched by a sensitivity to the dialogical and hermeneutical issues involved in such comparative reading. He acknowledges that a Christian theologian’s entry as an outsider into Hindu traditions will be limited and imperfect, but argues that there can still be a real understanding of the texts and genuine rational discussion across the traditions. However, his work remains a product of a particular tradition, Western Christian theology. As the Hindu academic, Parimal Patil points out in his response to Hindu God, Christian God, from a Hindu perspective the work is one clearly framed by the expectations and categories of a Christian theology done in the modern Euro-American academic context, one that extracts and transforms the Hindu materials in the process.40

Keith Ward Keith Ward’s approach is at once different from that of Clooney because his comparative work is set in a much grander frame of enquiry. Ward takes major theological themes and considers them in the light of a number of different religious traditions, as well as more recent developments in Western scientific, philosophical and historical perspectives. His major and mature work is found in a four-volume series,41 which he describes as a ‘systematic Christian theology, undertaken in a comparative context.’42 In the first volume of the series, Religion and Revelation (1994) Ward, like Clooney, argues that the comparative approach in theology is the proper theological response to the contemporary world. Theology is faced by an awareness of the diversity of religious traditions and hence of convergent and divergent accounts of the major themes with which theology is concerned. In this context, theology should consider and engage with other religions just as in the past it has engaged with the ideas and cultures current at the time: I think the time has come when it is positively misleading to consider religious traditions in isolation. Theologians have in fact always taken their interpretative clues from philosophical and cultural factors not confined to Christianity. Aquinas, for example, took Aristotelian philosophy, well seasoned with Platonism, and used it to rethink Christian doctrine in the thirteenth century. For a short time, his works were even banned from the

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Ward argues that to meet the different contemporary challenges there is need for a modification of Aquinas’ concept of theology as sacra doctrina. While accepting a definition of theology as the ‘rational elucidation of revelation’,44 he argues that since contemporary theology is faced by a variety of claims for divine revelation, as well as by critical objections to any claim for revelation by developments in modern historical and scientific knowledge, theology cannot be content just to assume the self-evident truth of a given revelation, as Aquinas does, but has to go further back and consider the origins and status of revelation itself and only then to offer a reasoned account justifying a particular revelation.45 In regards to other major themes, theology likewise should be open to rethinking beliefs in the contemporary context. For Ward, theology is, thus, a ‘self-critical discipline, aware of the historical roots of its own beliefs, a pluralistic discipline, prepared to engage in conversation with a number of living traditions; and an open-ended discipline, being prepared to revise beliefs if and when it comes to seem necessary’.46 To some extent, Ward wants to differentiate comparative theology from confessional theology. He states that confessional theology is the exploration of a given revelation by those who fully accept it and live by it, whereas comparative theology is ‘an intellectual discipline which enquires into ideas of ultimate value and goal of human life, as they have been perceived and expressed in a variety of religious traditions’.47 Ward’s concern is, however, to widen the scope of theology rather than reject the value and importance of faith commitment as such. When he comes to sum up what he has achieved in the last of the four volumes, Religion and Community (2000), he makes it clear that the result for a Christian theologian is meant to be a better Christian theology: The first result of the investigation in these volumes has been to provide an interpretation of Christian faith that remains recognizably mainstream, while being modified by its response to both critical and complementary insights from non-Christian traditions. The second result is, I hope, to provide a comparative investigation of the concepts of revelation, God, human nature and destiny, and of the nature of a religious community. It is precisely because that comparative study is undertaken from a Christian viewpoint (and all such study must be undertaken from some viewpoint, acknowledged or not) that it comes to constitute a positive Christian theology.48

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Like Clooney, Ward is also concerned about the dialogical character of such theology. He stresses that comparative theology is a ‘co-operative enterprise. It is a way of doing theology in which scholars holding different world-views share together in the investigation of concepts of ultimate reality, the final human goal, and the way to achieve it’.49 What theologians say about other traditions should also be something that members of those traditions can accept as an accurate description, without excluding critical evaluations from being possible and acceptable. Ward is also a leading contemporary philosophical theologian and his work is a sustained exercise in carefully reasoned constructive theology. Ward’s aim here is again more ambitious than Clooney. Ward intends, we have seen, to produce a ‘systematic Christian theology undertaken in a comparative context’. Thus in an earlier work, Concepts of God (1998), he argues that there is an understanding of an ultimate Reality as transcendent, eternal and immutable being, but also as the source of the world, present in all the classical or premodern accounts of five major religious traditions, including Advaita Vedanta and Thomist Christianity.50 In Religion and Creation (1996), on the other hand, he considers four twentieth century theological accounts in which the ultimate Reality is understood as having a more dynamic and responsive relationship with the world than the classical accounts allow. For his part, Ward finds the classical account paradoxical to the point of incoherent and suggests that the modern development provides a better account philosophically, and also accords with the picture of God found in the sacred texts and spiritual experience of members of these traditions. He thus promotes a ‘dual aspect theism’, in which God is affirmed to have both an immutable, eternal aspect and a dynamic, responsive and relational aspect. This he finds already implicit in the classical traditions, but only fully acknowledged and developed in modern accounts.51 Ward’s type of comparative theology is thus clearly one that results in an account rather different in theological method and contents from that of Aquinas. His approach is also one that is strikingly different in scope and aims from that of Clooney. Ward is keen to argue that his approach is theology rather than religious studies and is that of an Anglican clergyman working within the tradition of liberal Protestant theology, which is marked by a rejection of the inerrancy of authority and by an openness to significant revision of Christian doctrine and claims in the light of the encounter with other religious traditions, general philosophical reflection and recent scientific discoveries.52 Like Clooney, Ward argues that comparative theology engages with questions of truth and value, but for Ward this means the critical examination of all the religious traditions he deals with according to the same principles of revision as he applies to Christian doctrine and claims. Ward’s general epistemological stance coheres with his liberal Protestant theology. While affirming that the comparative theologian’s work is done from the

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perspective of the tradition to which he or she belongs, Ward is keen to argue that there can and should be a neutral comparative theology that is distinct from confessional theology. He also argues that there are neutral criteria for rationality that people in different religious traditions share, against the idea that rationalities are particular to the religious tradition a person belongs to.53 Here he refers and rejects an argument put forward by Gavin D’Costa that all theology about other religions is done according to the criteria and standards of one’s own tradition; in other words, the kind of confessional theology from which Ward wants to distinguish comparative theology.54 Ward seems here, however, to create a dichotomy that is unnecessary. In the case of the confessional and tradition conditioned theology of Aquinas and Clooney the ability to reason across religious traditions is depicted as part of a common human nature, but still formed by the tradition of revelation and faith to which the theologian belongs. In fact, Ward’s comparative theology is as much conditioned by the categories of his own Christian tradition as Clooney’s is. The decision to write a systematic theology, the choice of the major themes for the volumes within it and the type of concepts and terms used to discuss the different traditions are all drawn from liberal Christian theology as done in the Western academy. Ward’s own approach is then one very much formed by and consistent with the criteria of a theologian working within the liberal Protestant tradition. However, the kind of revisions Ward makes to central Christian doctrines and claims, especially about revelation, God and Christology, mean that the content of his theological account is unattractive to those outside the liberal tradition, while his epistemological approach seems both to understate the importance of particular traditions in shaping theology and in any case to be unnecessary, in order to secure the possibility of theological openness to other traditions.

Conclusion: Theological Engagement with Non-Western Philosophy At the beginning of this chapter we noted a number of objections to contemporary comparative theology and to the engagement with non-Western philosophy it promotes. Part of our response has been to point to the continuity between Scholastic theology and such contemporary engagements. In itself, theological engagement with non-Western philosophy has for long been an accepted and valued part of the work of Western Christian theology. Contemporary comparative theology may be viewed just a modern application of this, widening the scope of such engagement to include further non-Western philosophies such as Hinduism and Buddhism. Thus to object to Western Christian engagement with non-Western philosophy in principle is to object to the whole history of encounter with non-Christian philosophy and culture, including Greek philosophy.

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However, even if the continuity of contemporary comparative theology with longstanding traditions of Christian theology is granted, this still leaves some major challenges that contemporary comparative theology must meet if it is to become a component of mainstream theology in the future. A sine qua non is that the particular Christian community to which the comparative theologian belongs receives his or her work as a legitimate and useful part of its own theological reflection. This depends on what the scope and task of theology are perceived to be within that community, and also on the exercise of an ecclesial responsibility on the part of a theologian who belongs to that community. In the case of Clooney and Ward, they work in different Christian traditions and the divergence of their comparative theology reflects this. Nonetheless, they do show a concern to locate their theology within the tradition to which they belong. Yet the accountability of contemporary comparative theology in general to Christian communities is often weak because of the academic context in which comparative theology is done. The modern university setting makes comparative theologians immune to how well their theology is understood and received by these communities and can be conducive to the comparative theologian developing theological accounts that are fairly free-floating experiments in theological speculation, without any mooring in any particular ecclesial community.55 When it comes to the wider issues of intercultural communication and the particular charge of Orientalism, the emphasis contemporary comparative theology gives to the dialogical aspect of such engagement is a helpful and important further development. Any form of cultural or interpersonal communication would seem to involve an element of subjective interpretation and involves a fusion rather than simply a meeting of cultures. What is at stake is not whether such interaction should occur, but what principles of good practice should govern it. There should at least be an attempt to develop an account of another culture that is recognizable as such by that culture. It is such a commitment to good practice that is emphasized in the dialogical aspect of contemporary comparative theology. However, in order to gain fuller acceptance for their work they still need to address more fully the epistemological as well as the cultural objections to the interpretation and use of non-Western and non-Christian texts by Western and Christian theologians, as well the contested nature of assertions of common rationality or concepts across traditions. One way forward is for comparative theologians to acknowledge more fully the ways in which any attempt to translate and use concepts from one tradition by another is in reality a transformation both of those concepts as used in their own tradition and a transformation of the new tradition in which they come to be used.56 If Scholastic theology provides a precedent for contemporary comparative theology, the Thomist engagement with non-Western philosophy itself remains

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of considerable continuing interest and value for contemporary theology. Indian and other Eastern philosophies have much to contribute both to contemporary Thomist reflection on doctrines such as the nature of God and creation. The identification that there are non-Western forms of Scholastic enquiry may, likewise, contribute to the understanding and promotion of this theological genre in the contemporary academy. The Thomist is committed in principle to such an encounter, open to disagreement as well as agreement, as good reasoning in the pursuit of truth demands.57

Notes 1 Clooney, F.X. (2007),‘Comparative Theology’, in J. Webster, K. Tanner and I. Torrance (eds) The Oxford Handbook of Systematic Theology. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 657. For useful introductory surveys see this article and Clooney (1995), ‘Comparative Theology: A Review of Recent Books’, in Theological Studies, 56.3, 521–50. 2 As made for instance by G. D’Costa, (2003), ‘Christ, Revelation and the World Religions: A Critical Appreciation of Keith Ward’s Comparative Global Theology,’ in B. T. Bartel (ed.), Comparative Theology: Essays for Keith Ward, London: SPCK, pp. 33–43. 3 For these issues, see J. J. Clarke (1997) Oriental Enlightenment: The Encounter between Asian and Western Thought, London and New York: Routledge. 4 The classic statement of post-liberalism is G. Lindbeck (1984) The Nature of Doctrine: Religion and Theology in a Postliberal Age Philadelphia: Westminster Press. 5 Articulated, for example, in the work of the moral philosopher, Alisdair Macintrye, in A. Macintyre (1988) Whose Justice? Which Rationality? London: Duckworth and (1990) Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry London: Duckworth and with specific reference to interreligious engagement in G. D’Costa (1993), ‘Whose Objectivity? Which Neutrality? The Doomed Quest for a Neural Vantage Point from which to Judge Religions’, in Religious Studies, 29.1, 79–95. 6 Such as the twentieth century ‘Calcutta School’ of Jesuit Indologist missionaries and their successors. See W. Halbfass (1988) India and Europe: An Essay in Understanding. New York: SUNY. 7 See the various articles in (2004) ‘Aquinas in Dialogue’ Modern Theology 20.1, and M. Ganeri (2007) ‘Catholic Encounter with Hindus in the Twentieth Century: In Search of an Indian Christianity’, in New Blackfriars, 88, 410–32; ‘Knowledge and Love of God in Ramanuja and Aquinas’, Journal of Hindu Christian Studies 20, 4-1 (2010) ‘Two Pedagogies for Happiness: Healing Goals and Healing Methods in the Summa Theologiae of Thomas Aquinas and the Sri Bhasya of Ramanuja’, Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 66. 8 For a detailed consideration of this, see G. D’Costa (2009) Christianity and World Religions. Disputed Questions in the Theology of Religions. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 34–55. 9 D. Burrell, C.S.C. (1993) ‘ Aquinas and Islamic and Jewish Thinkers’, in N. Kretzmann and E. Stump (eds) The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 61.

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10 For example, E. Gilson (1955) History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages London: Sheed and Ward; A. S. McGrade (ed.) (2003) The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 11 For this text and Aquinas’ engagement with it see, C. R. Hess, O. P. and R. T. Taylor (trs) (1996) St Thomas Aquinas Commentary on the Book of Causes. Washington: CUA and Burrell (2004) ‘Thomas Aquinas and Islam’, Modern Theology, 20.1, 71–90. 12 Summa Theologiae (S.T.) 1a 1.2. 13 S.T.1a 1.8 c. and ad 2 14 S.T.1a 1.8 c. and ad 2; Summa Contra Gentiles (S.C.G.) 1.2.3. 15 S.C.G. 1.2.3. 16 S.C.G. 1.6.4. 17 For example, D. Burrell (1986) Knowing the Unknowable God: Ibn-Sina, Maimonides, Aquinas Indiana: Notre Dame; (1993) Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions Indiana: Notre Dame. 18 Burrell, ‘Thomas Aquinas’, p. 73. 19 Ibid., pp. 73–4. 20 Ibid., pp. 74–5. 21 Burrell, Knowing pp. 19–50; Freedom, pp. 62–70. 22 Burrell, Thomas Aquinas pp. 71–90. 23 Burrell, Knowing, pp. 51–70, 92–108; Freedom, pp. 70–9. 24 F. X. Clooney, S. J. (1993) Theology After Vedanta. New York: SUNY; (1996) Seeing Through Texts. New York: SUNY; (2002) Divine Mother Oxford: Oxford University Press; and (2009) Beyond Compare Washington: Georgetown University Press; (2001) Hindu God, Christian God. Oxford: Oxford University Press; (2010) Comparative Theology: Deep Learning Across Religious Borders. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 25 See, for instance, Clooney, Theology, pp. 70–5; (2007), pp. 77–82. 26 Especially, Clooney Hindu God, 27 Clooney, Theology, pp. 1–14. 28 Ibid., pp. 4–6. 29 Ibid., pp. 37–152. 30 Ibid., pp. 153–86. 31 Ibid., pp. 187–206. 32 Clooney, Hindu God, pp. 7–12. 33 Ibid., pp. 168–81. 34 Ibid., pp. 29–61. 35 Ibid., p. 60. 36 Ibid., p. 163; see also (2007), p. 653. 37 For instance (1993), pp. 149–52; (1996), pp. 42–7; (2009), pp. 139–42. 38 Something rightly observed about Clooney and other comparative theologians by D’Costa (2009). 39 For instance, Clooney (2010), pp. 15–16. 40 (2001), pp. 185–96. 41 K. Ward (1994) Religion and Revelation; (1996) Religion and Creation; (1998) Religion and Human Nature and (2000) Religion and Community. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 42 Ward, Religion and Community, p. 339. 43 Ward, Religion and Revelation, p. 37.

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220 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55

56

Theology and Philosophy Ibid., p. 1. Ibid., pp. 7, 36. Ibid., p. 48. Ibid., p. 40 Ward, Religion and Community, pp. 340–1. Ibid., p. 339. K Ward (1998) Concepts of God, Oxford: Oneworld, originally published as (1987) Images of Eternity London: DLT. (1996), pp. 282–4. As he states in his review of his life and work in T. W. Bartel (ed.) (2003), pp. 195–7. (1994), pp. 317–24. G. D’Costa (1993). For a fuller examination of the problematic relationship between the practice of traditional Christian theology and that of the study of religion in the modern secular university see, G. D’Costa (2005) Theology in the Public Square, Oxford: Blackwell. Many contemporary comparative theologians work as academics without any substantial belonging or accountability to a Christian tradition, as acknowledged, for instance, by Clooney in his survey of comparative theology and its practitioners. See Clooney (2010). Something, for instance, which Macintyre has drawn attention to and explored in (1988), pp. 370–88.

57 See note 5.

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Index Abelard, Peter 32 , 38, 39, 43, 44 Collationes 39 Abraham, William 182 Adams, Marilyn 174, 175 Adams, Nicholas 11 Adams, Robert 174 Adelard of Bath 42 , 43, 44 De Eodem et Diverso 42 Adorno, Theodor W. 77, 134, 143 Hegel:Three Studies 143 Advaita Vedanta 209, 210, 215 Alan of Lille 38 Regulae Theologicae 38 Alexander, Archibald 67 Al-Farabi 5 Allen, E. L. 163, 164 Alston, William 104, 174, 175 Alvarez, Diego 66 Anaximander 92 Anselm of Canterbury 8, 31, 33, 34–5, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 61, 62 , 176, 179 Cur Deus Homo 39 De Grammatico 37 Monologion 36 Proslogion 35, 36, 39, 40 Antigone 132 Apologists 18–19 Aquinas, Thomas 5, 10, 33, 40, 43, 64, 69, 71, 78, 95, 102 , 104, 105, 106, 110, 111, 112 , 176, 179, 191, 198, 204–16 Summa contra Gentiles 33 Summa Theologiae 8, 33, 110, 111, 206, 209, 210 Aratus 3 Phaenomena 3

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Aristotelianism 20, 25 Aristotle 5, 8, 33, 34, 37, 42 , 43, 49, 50, 51, 52 , 55, 63, 102 , 103, 105, 136, 137 Categories and De Interpretatione 37 De caelo 103 Metaphysics 104, 105 Organon 49 Athenagoras 20, 22 auctor 40, 41 auctoritas 40–1 Augustine 4, 5, 8, 10, 31, 34, 37, 59, 60, 65, 67, 89–100, 105, 106, 163, 176, 179 The City of God 5, 90, 94, 96 Confessions 35 De Doctrina Christiana 37 De Musica 5 De Trinitate 34 Enarrationes in Psalmos 35 The Trinity (book 16) 4 Authenticus 41 Averroes (Ibn Rushd) 105, 205 see also Ibn Rushd Avicenna (Ibn Sina) 105, 205, 206, 207 see also Ibn Sina Avis, Paul 9 Bacon, Roger 42 , 44 Badiou, Alain 13, 143, 187, 194–7, 199, 200 see also truth vs. Derrida 196–7 Balthasar, Hans Urs von 139, 141 Banner, Michael 76 Barth, Karl 9, 50, 59, 67, 68, 69, 76, 123, 126, 139, 141, 147, 177, 179 Barthes, Roland 209

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222 Baudrillard, J. 187 Bauer, Bruno 145 Bauman, Zygmunt 187 Bavinck, Herman 69 Bayle, Pierre 59 Bede 4 Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles 4 Benedict of Nursia 35 Bentham, Jeremy 75, 76 Bentley, J. 144 Berdyaev, Nicolas 156 Bergson, Henri 161 Berlin Wall, the 143 Bernard of Clairvaux 36 On Loving God 36 Beza, Theodore 64 Bible, the 33, 41, 62 , 82 1 Cor. 1.18–31 18 2 Pet. 1.16 104 Acts 17.18, 22–31 18 Galatians 3.28 196 Isaiah 7.9 34–5 Mt. 22.29–30 104 New Testament 18 Old Testament 19, 21 Psalms, the 35, 41 Romans 1.18–23 18 Romans 1.20 94 Blond, Phillip 198 Blondel, Maurice 161 Blund, Johannis 43 Boethius 5, 31, 32 , 33, 37, 38, 105 The Consolation of Philosophy 5 De Hebdomadibus 38 De Trinitate 32 Bonaventure 36 Itinerarium Mentis ad Deum 36 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich 138, 140 Brentano, Franz 172 Buber, Martin 156, 161, 163 Bultmann, Rudolf 54, 121, 164, 177 Buri, Fritz 164 Burnet, Gilbert 72 Burrell, David 206 Butler, Bishop Joseph 9, 80, 81, 82

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Index Calvin, John 58, 60, 62 , 63, 64, 65, 66, 68, 71, 179 Camus, Albert 157, 158 capitalism 12 , 143, 162 Caputo, J. 192 , 193 Cassiodorus 35, 41 Chalmers, Thomas 67 Chillingworth, William 80 Chisholm, Roderick 174 Christian culture 1 Christianity Hellenization of 23, 24 Thomist 213 Christian neo-Platonism 5 Chrysippus 3 Church, R. W. 82 Cicero 5, 8, 31 Cioran, E. M. 158 classical foundationalism 107 Cleanthes 3 Clement of Alexandria 3, 4, 20, 21, 22 Stromata 21 Clooney, Francis 13, 203, 204, 208–11, 212 , 213, 215, 216, 217 Hindu God, Christian God 210, 213 Theology After Vedanta 209, 210 Coakley, Sarah 79 Cocceius, Johannes 66 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor 73, 75, 76, 80, 82 , 83 Aids to Refl ection 76 Collingwood, R. G. 138 Communism 143 A Community of Character 137 Cooper, D. E. 172 Copleston, Frederick 163 Coward, H. 191 Crisp, Oliver D. 12 , 181 Critchley, Simon 192 Cunningham, William 67 Damascene, John 105 Darwin, Charles 150 Davies, Oliver 198, 199 Dawkins, Richard 74 D’Costa, Gavin 216, 218, 219 De Beauvoir, Simone 158 deconstruction 189, 191, 193

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Index deism, English 116 De Lubac, Henri 198 De Nobili, Roberto 204 Der Begriff (notion) 132 , 133, 134 Derrida, Jacques 13, 116, 139, 165, 173, 177, 187, 189–94, 196, 199, 200 see also différance Descartes, Rene 64, 78, 91, 130, 132 , 134, 162 Diderot, Denis 132 Rameau’s Nephew 132 différance 190, 191, 192 , 194 Dionysius 191 doctrines of deification 23 of incarnation 8, 23, 175 of original sin 65 of Scripture 175 of trinity 8, 23, 61, 65, 106, 109, 110, 175 Dorner, August 54 Eagleton, Terry 144, 152 Ebeling, Gerhard 54 Edwards, Jonathan 64, 174, 179 Engels, Friedrich 143, 150, 152 Enlightenment, the 9, 10, 50, 53, 63, 64, 116, 132 , 193 Epicureanism 3 Epimenides 3 Epistle to Diognetus 22 Euclid 38 Evans, G. R. 8 evidentialism 106, 107, 109, 110 existentialism 2 , 12 , 156–8, 177 and personalism 160–3 and phenomenology 158–9 faith seeking understanding 34–5, 60–3 Fascism 77, 162 Feuerbach, Ludwig 126, 145, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150 The Essence of Religion 148 Fichte, Gottlieb 54 fideism 106 Fifth Ecumenical Council, the 27 Flew, Antony 174 Florovsky, Georges 18, 24

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Formula of Concord 48 Foshay, T. 191 Foucault, Michel 139, 165 Frege, Gottlob 172 , 177 French revolution, the 143 Frend, W. H. C. 22 Freud, Sigmund 77, 165 Gadamer, Hans-Georg 126, 209 Ganeri , Martin 13 Gardet, Louis 207 Gavrilyuk, Paul 7 Geach, Peter 174 Gerbert of Aurillac 37 Geuss, R. 144 Gilbert Crispin 39 Girard, Rene 177 Gladstone, William Ewart 81 Gnosticism 23 Gore, Bishop Charles 9, 73, 76, 83 Graham, Elaine 79 Greek metaphysics 25 Gregory Palamas 28 Gregory the Great 31, 41 Grosseteste, Robert 42 Gunton, Colin 179 Gutiérrez, Gustavo 146, 147 A Theology of Liberation 146 Hales, John 80 Hamann, Johann Georg 130 Hampson, Daphne 79 Harnack, Adolf von 18, 23, 24, 49, 121 Dogmengeschichte 23 Hart, Kevin 190 Harvey, V. A. 148 Hebblethwaite, Peter 9 Hegel, G. F. W. 9, 11, 47, 54, 117, 124, 129–41, 147, 148, 149, 152 , 188, 189 Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion 136, 141 Phenomenology of Spirit 130, 133, 134, 138, 139, 141 Philosophy of Right 152 Science of Logic 133, 139, 140

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Index

Heidegger, Martin 13, 116, 134, 157, 159, 160, 173, 177, 187, 188, 189, 190, 198, 199 Hellenism 23, 24 Helm, Paul 9, 174, 175 Henson, Hensley 83 Herder, Johann Gottfried 78 Hermogenes 4 Hick, John 174, 175 Hildebrand, Dietrich von 163 historical consciousness 9 Hodge, Charles 67 Hodgson, Leonard 73 Hodgson, Marshall 205 Holsclaw, Geoffrey 197 Holy Spirit, the 3, 21, 41, 118 Homer 55 Hooker, Richard 9, 71, 72 , 79, 80, 81 Horkheimer, Max 77 ‘The End of Reason’ 77 Hort, F. J. A. 83 The Way the Truth the Life 83 Houlgate, Stephen 138 Hugh of St Victor 33 De Sacramentis Ecclesiae 33 Hume, David 50, 74, 76, 77, 130 Husserl, Edmund 159, 160, 163 Hyppolitus, bishop 22 , 23 Ibn Rushd 5, 43 Ibn Sina 5, 43 idealism 99, 131, 162 , 186 German 54, 141 Hegelian 75 ontological 25 Platonic 89–90 transcendental 11 Inge, R. W. 72 Inwagen, Peter van 174, 175 Irenaeus 179 Islamic and Jewish scholarship 42–3 Jacobi, Friedrich Heinrich 11 Jacobson, E. 144 Janssens, Louis 162 , 165 Jaspers, Karl 156, 161, 163, 173 Jenson, Robert 8

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Jesus Christ 3, 21, 49, 50, 51, 53, 89, 94, 95, 104, 118, 120, 132 , 144, 162 Jewel, John 79 Johann Eck 37 John Hales of Eton 72 John of Damascus 179 John Paul II, Pope 5, 7, 163 Faith and Reason 5–7 John Scotus Erigena 36 Jowett, Benjamin 82 Justin Martyr 20–1, 22 , 55 Kant, Immanuel 2 , 11, 47, 50, 54, 67, 73, 74, 77, 91, 116, 117, 119, 120, 121, 122 , 123, 124, 125, 130, 132 , 133, 135, 137, 138, 173, 178, 186, 191, 193, 194 Critique of Practical Reason 119, 122 Critique of Pure Reason 122 , 123, 133, 138 Kantianism 102 Keble, John 73, 81 Kee, A. 144 Kerr, Fergus 82 Theology after Wittgenstein 82 Kierkegaard, Søren 76, 134, 156, 158, 161, 163, 164 Kilwardby, Robert 42 Kitab al Khair (The Book of Pure Goodness) 205 Kohlenbach, M. 144 Korsgaard, Christine 90, 91, 92 Kuyper, Abraham 68, 69 Laertius, Diogenes 3 Langmead Casserley, J. V. 72 language 189 Lash, N. 144 Law, William 72 A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life 72 Leibniz, Gottfried 53, 130 Leiter, Brian 172 Lessing, G. 117, 119 Nathan the Wise 117 Levinas, Emmanuel 116, 125, 126, 139, 163, 173, 191, 192 Lewis, David 173

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Index

225

liberalism 193, 198 Liber de Causis, the 205, 207 Locke, John 9, 64, 65, 78, 81, 130 logic mediaeval revival of 37 Lucas, J. R. 74 Luther, Martin 8, 9, 50, 51, 52 , 76, 179 Lutheranism 9, 47, 49 Lyotrard, Jean-François 13, 187, 188, 189, 190

Milbank, John 9, 78, 144, 153, 187, 198, 199 Mill, John Stuart 75, 137 Mitchell, Basil 9, 74 Moore, G. E. 178 More, Henry 72 Mounier, Emmanuel 161–2 Muhammad (prophet) 205 mysticism negative 37

McAdoo, H. R. 72 McCaffrey, E. 188, 194, 196 McGrath, Alister 76 MacIntyre, Alasdair 145, 174 MacKinnon, Donald M. 9, 83 McLellan, David 146 Macquarrie, John 73, 156, 164 Maimonides 43, 105, 205–8 Marcel, Gabriel 156, 162 , 163 Marcuse, Herbert 77 Maritain, Jacques 161–2 Marius Victorinus 31 Marshall, Bruce 179 Martini, Jacobus 9, 53 Marx, Karl 2 , 11, 12 , 77, 143–54, 188 The Communist Manifesto (with Friedrich Engels) 143, 150 Das Capital 148, 149 ‘Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts’ 148, 149 The German Ideology 149, 151 ‘Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy ’ 150–1 ‘Theses on Feuerbach’ 148, 149 Marxism 11, 146–7, 150, 191, 192 mathematica 32 Maurice, Frederick Denison 9, 73 Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy 73 Maximus the Confessor 27–8 Meisner, Balthasar 9, 47, 53 Meister Eckhart 191 Melanchthon, Philip 47, 49, 50 Merleau-Ponty, Mauruce 159 Merrigan, Terrence 12 Míguez Bonino, J. 147

Neoplatonism 105, 133 New Essays in the Philosophical Theology 174 Newman, J. H. 12 , 73, 81, 82 Newton, Sir Issac 64 Nicaea 26 Nicholas of Amiens 38 Nietzsche, Friedrich 134, 144, 165, 186, 188 ‘How the Real World became a Myth: the History of an Error’ 186 nihilism 6, 186

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objective truth 10 occasionalism 65 Ockham, William 179 Oliver, S. 199 Orderic Vitalis 41 Orientalism 203, 217 Origen of Alexandria 27, 28, 179 Owen, John 179 Paley, William 73 panentheism 65 Pannenberg, Wolfhart 147, 179 Pascal, Blaise 161 Pattison, Mark 72 Peacocke, Arthur 76 Pelikan, Jaroslav 27 Personalism 12 Peter of Poitiers 41 Phenomenology 12 Philo of Alexandria 19, 20, 21 Philosophia 33 philosophy analytic 171–4 and philosophical theology 174–80

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226

Index

Augustine’s conception of 89–100 caution against 22–3 and the Christian doctrines 23–8 Christianity’s early encounters with 18–22 Apologists 18–19 Hegel’s conception of 129–41 critical thinking 137–40 historical thinking 130–2 social thinking 132–7 postmodern 186–200 physica 32 Pike, Nelson 174 Pinckaers, Servais 106 Les sources de la morale chreitienne 106 Pippin, Robert 133 Plantinga, Alvin 63, 105, 109, 174, 175, 179 Plato 5, 20, 21, 32 , 42 , 51, 55, 63, 90, 91, 92 , 93, 94, 117, 186, 189, 190 Phaedrus 20 Republic 20 Timaeus 20, 32 Platonism 5, 10, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28, 31, 35, 89, 102 , 213 Augustine’s departure from 96–100 Augustine’s reception of 90–6 Latinized 31 Polanyi, M. 75 Polkinghorne, John 76 Popper, K. 75 Porphyry 37 Isagoge 37 positivism 186 post-Enlightenment 10 postmodernism 2 Pound, Marcus 13 Prior, A. N. 174 Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite 27–8, 36, 37, 105 Pythagoras of Samos 94 Quine, Willard Van Orman 173 Rahner, Karl 179 Ramsey, Michael 83 rationalism 6, 62 , 78, 197, 199 rationality 6, 10, 43, 74, 75, 77, 78, 79,

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81, 83, 103, 107, 113, 175, 193 Rea, Michael 173, 174, 180 reason centrality of, the 79–80 and deception 76–8 and feminism 78–9 modesty of, the 81 pride and 76 realism of, the 81–2 scientism and 74–6 Vitality of, the 80–1 Reformation, the 61 Reid, Thomas 63 religion as alienation 147–50 Marx’s critique of 144–7 Renaissance, the 8, 79 Ricoeur, Paul 124, 126 Ritschl, Albrecht 49, 121 Robert of Melun 41, 42 Robinson, Marilynne 165, 166 Rollock, Robert 66 Roman Catholicism 6 Rota, Michael 10 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques 162 Rubenstein, M-J. 191 Russell, Bertrand 173, 178 Russian revolution, the 143 sacra doctrina 205–6, 207, 212 Saint Albert the Great 6 St Paul 3, 4, 18, 21, 42 , 55, 63, 76, 94, 195, 196, 197 Saint Thomas 6, 103, 105 Sanderson, Robert 72 Sartre, Jean-Paul 156, 157, 158, 163 Saussure, Ferdinand de 189 Scheler, Max 161, 162 , 163 Schelling, Friedrich 54, 134 Schlegel, Karl Wilhelm Friedrich 73 Schleiermacher, F. 12 , 50, 54, 59, 67, 126, 134 scholasticism 64 Scott , Peter Manley 11, 144, 152 Scriptures, the 41, 62 , 63, 71, 80, 119 Segundo, J. L. 147 Seneca 31, 60 De Clementia 60 Sittlichkeit (ethical life) 132 , 133

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Index Smith, J. K. A. 189, 190, 193 Socrates 42 , 92 , 93, 94 Solomon, Robert C. 160 Sophiology, Russian 28 Spender, Dale 79 Man Made Language 79 Spinoza, Baruch 117, 119, 134 Stalinism 77 Stoicism 3, 20, 23, 25 Strawson, P. F. 173 Stromateis 1.19 3 structuralism 189 Derrida’s relation to 189 post-structuralism 189 structure 189 studium sacrae scripturae 33 Stump, Eleonore 174, 175 Swinburne, Richard 9, 73, 173, 174, 175 Taylor, A. E. 73 Taylor, Jeremy 80 Temple, Archbishop William 9, 73, 75, 76, 83 Tennant, Frederick Robert 9 Tertullian 4, 5, 22 , 23, 76 De anima 4 De praescriptione 4 Thales of Miletus 92 theologia 32–3 theological method 65–8 theology Analytic 180–3 Aristotelian philosophy to, conributions of 103–5 branches of 1 comparative, contemporary 207–8 confessional vs. comparative 212 Eastern Orthodox 8 existentialism and 163–6 kantian philosophy and 116–26 Lutheran 8 after Marx 153–4 natural 69 negative 190–1 non-Western philosophy and 202–18 Aquinas’s use of Islamic and Jewish philosopy 206–8 postmodern 197–9 Reformed 58–69

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and general culture 68–9 philosophical influences on 63–5 relationship with philosophy 1–2 , 7, 23 Thomistic philosophy, contributions of 106–13 Thirty Years War, the 9 Tillich, Paul 139, 141, 164 Tracy, David 165 tradition 80 Troeltsch, Ernst 49 truth 195 Turner, Denys 144, 145, 198, 199 Turretin, Francis 66, 179 Vattino, Gianni 13 Vedanta 14 Vermigli, Peter Martyr 58, 64, 65 Vico, Giambattista 78 virtue ethics 10 Voetius, Gijsbert 66 Walker, Peter 81, 83 Ward, Graham 9, 77, 78, 188 Ward, Keith 13, 73, 204, 208, 213–16 Concepts of God 215 Religion and Community 214 Religion and Creation 215 Religion and Revelation 213 Warfield, B. B. 67 Warnock, Mary 158 Westphal, Merold 10 Wetzel, James 10 Whichcote, Benjamin 72 Whitehead, A, N. 75 The Whole Duty of Man 72 William, Bishop of Syracuse 42–3 William of St Thierry 36 Witsius, Herman 66 Wittgenstein, Ludwig 75, 172 , 177 Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 75 Wojtyla, Karol 162–3 Wolff, Christian 137 Wolterstorff, Nicholas 63, 174, 175 Zanchius, Jerome 65 Zeno of Citium 3 Zimmerman, Dean 178 Žižek, Slavoj 144

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