Natura Pura: On the Recovery of Nature in the Doctrine of Grace

Natura Pura: On the Recovery of Nature in the Doctrine of Grace

STEVEN A. LONG
Romanus Cessario
Joseph Koterski
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 294
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x03sx
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  • Book Info
    Natura Pura: On the Recovery of Nature in the Doctrine of Grace
    Book Description:

    From speculative theology to the exegesis of Aquinas, to contemporary North American philosophy and Catholic social and ethical thought, to the thought of Benedict XVI, this work argues the crucial importance of the proportionate natural end within the context of grace and supernatural beatitude. Long argues that, in the effort to avoid naturalism, Henri de Lubac unwittingly consummated the loss of nature as a normative principle within theology, both doctrinally and exegetically with respect to the teaching of Aquinas. The author argues that this constitutes an understandable but grave error. De Lubac's view of the matter was adopted and extended by Hans Urs von Balthasar in The Theology of Karl Barth, in which Balthasar argues that Aquinas could not even consider pure nature because it was impossible for him even to make the conceptual distinction implied by this problem,a view contradicted by Aquinas's text. Long argues that in The Theology of Karl Barth, Balthasar's account evacuates nature of its specific ontological density and treats it as mere createdness as such,a kind of dimensionless point terminating the line of grace. Given the loss of natura within theological method, its recovery requires philosophic instrumentalities. In its third chapter this book argues that by reason of its lack of any unified philosophy of nature or metaphysics, the analytic thought so widespread in Anglophone circles is merely a partial metaphilosophy and so cannot replace the role of classical Thomism within theology. The fourth chapter argues against those who construe affirmation of a proportionate natural end as equivalent to social Pelagianism or minimalism in the public square, engaging the work of Jacques Maritain, Jean Porter, and David Schindler, Sr. In an appendix, the author examines the early thought of Cardinal Ratzinger / Pope Benedict XVI, and its development toward the Regensburg Lecture.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4818-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-9)

    The following chapters converge on one central point: the crucial need to return to the actual teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas with respect to the distinction within unity of nature and grace.¹ Never has the phrase of Jacques Maritain, “distinguish in order to unite,” been more necessary, yet seemingly more desolate and forgotten. This sad condition is not the fruit of any malign design, but rather the effect of a confluence of many errors—often unintentionally amplified in the heroic effort to suppress their implications without correcting them at the root.

    Many contemporary Roman Catholic theologians—to the degree that...

  5. Chapter One ON THE LOSS, AND THE RECOVERY, OF NATURE AS A THEONOMIC PRINCIPLE: REFLECTIONS ON THE NATURE/GRACE CONTROVERSY
    (pp. 10-51)

    Dr. Lawrence Feingold is to be thanked for the comprehensive, instructive, and irenic character of his workThe Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters.¹ The doctrinal and historical intricacy, the sympathy, indeed, the sheerlargenessof intent of this book, merits extensive consideration. Hence, insofar as mastery of a teaching implies critical command of the contrary case, the publishing of this book marks a potent challenge for those who assume—on the warrant of de Lubac’s claim—that most of St. Thomas’s commentators have preferred “Renaissance corruptions” to the genuine teaching of Aquinas....

  6. Chapter Two A CRITICISM OF NATURE AS VACUOLE FOR GRACE
    (pp. 52-109)

    In chapter 1, I responded to the famed thesis of Henri de Lubac while attempting to situate the theological problematic within which that thesis could seem the sole intelligible strategy for preserving the truth of Christian revelation from naturalism. In this fashion, one strives to preserve the theological intention whilst remediating the error. In this chapter, the very error that the last chapter was spent correcting will be seen fructifying in the theology of a great Catholic savant. Hans Urs von Balthasar is without doubt one of the most fertile and theologically powerful Catholic minds of the past hundred years....

  7. Chapter Three ON THE IMPROPRIETY OF TREATING THEOLOGY’S HANDMAIDEN LIKE AN ANALYTIC
    (pp. 110-139)

    The essential role ofnaturain theological method, with all its ontological dynamism, density, andrelativeautonomy vis-à-vis therevelata, raises the stakes with regard to the understanding of nature and being.¹ Following upon the theological recovery of nature, a correct and fruitful approach to the understanding of these principles is necessary within theological method. Hence, there arises the possibility that the type of thought that has flourished during the long winter of Catholic disengagement withnatura, and that is circumambient in North America and Great Britain, may by default be judged a fit inheritor of, or substitute for, the...

  8. Chapter Four WHY NATURA PURA IS NOT THE THEOLOGICAL STALKING HORSE FOR SECULARIST MINIMALISM OR PELAGIANISM
    (pp. 140-199)

    We have argued that nature is neither a pure theological posit, a mere geometric point without magnitude terminating the line of grace, nor the preserve of logicism, Humean conventionalism, scientism, and the other “isms” with which contemporary analytic thought still finds itself somewhat historically burdened.¹ Nor will a partial logical meta-philosophy suffice as a method for the systematic contemplation of nature and being. Classical Thomism, we are arguing, retains its normative place within the narrative of philosophy and theology, a place that has been occluded in part by the dialectical evisceration of nature as a principle within theology, and in...

  9. Chapter Five CONCLUSION
    (pp. 200-211)

    The preceding pages articulate how central will be our understanding of the relation of nature and grace for the proper contemplation and living of Christian life, and for the Christian’s participation in cultural and public life. It has considered the implications of the teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas that there is indeed an end proximate and natural, distinct from the supernatural end, and from which the human species is derived. With no injustice God could have created man merely with this order,in puris naturalibus, but from the divine goodness, love, and liberality instead created man in sanctifying grace. Yet...

  10. Appendix: Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict XVI
    (pp. 212-222)
  11. Notes
    (pp. 223-272)
  12. Index
    (pp. 273-282)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 283-284)