Theology and Philosophy

The way in which the respective disciplines of philosophy and theology relate to each other is clearly a function of one's conception of reason and of faith. This selection of examples ranging over the Christian tradition has shown us how culture-bound such conceptions can be, and so should help us to correct the preconceptions we might bring to such a discussion. Moreover, having the perspective we do on modernist conceptions of the endemic opposition between the two should open us to appreciate those who saw them as more complementary than opposed. An historical-systematic approach to the tradition can help us to mine it for conceptions and distinctions which our age may have obscured. In this way we will not only be alerted to our own preconceptions, but can also work to correct them in the light of a richer range of mentors. That very exercise should allow us to appreciate traditions as vehicles for reflection rather than repositories of opinions, and so free us to pursue our own inquiry in a more self-critical and promising spirit.


1 For an astute presentation of Aquinas, see Mark Jordan's contribution to Kretzmann and Stump (1993:232-51), entitled: "Theology and Philosophy," as well as Jenkins (199 7).

2 See his celebrated Surnaturel, translated as The Mystery of the Supernatural (De Lubac 1967).

3 For an illuminating historical account of Aquinas's debt to pseudo-Dionysius (and through him to neo-Platonism), see Booth (1985), and for a more systematic treatment, see Rudi te Velde (1995). For Aquinas's relation to Maimonides and others, see my "Aquinas and Islamic and Jewish Thinkers," in Kretzmann and Stump (1993:60-84).

4 For a detailed study of this correlation between "processions" and creation, see Emery (1995), or a fine review and summary of the argument by Houser (1996:493-7).

5 My Knowing the Unknowable God (Burrell 1986) details the way in which Aquinas assimilated the work of Avicenna and of Maimonides to forge his alternative account.

6 Lonergan's seminal work Insight has recently been republished as part of his collected works by the University of Toronto Press (199 7).

7 Michael Buckley's At the Origins of Modern Atheism (1987) offers an illuminating contemporary complement to De Lubac's Drama of Atheist Humanism (1949).

8 Consult, preferably, Nicholas Lash's edition of Newman's An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (19 79) for its illuminating introduction.

9 These views are elaborated successively in Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (MacIntyre 1988), and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry (MacIntyre 1990).

10 A good beginning for Plantinga's work is his essay "Reason and Belief in God," in Plantinga and Wolsterstorff (1983).

11 Pierre Hadot's original work, Exercises spirituels et philosophie antique, 2nd edn. (1987) is now out of print, but an excellent summary of his thought is available in his Qu'est-ce que la philosophie antique? (1995) and a superb collection of his articles has been translated and presented by Davidson (1995).

12 It would be fascinating to ask whether "philosophy" so conceived would be vulnerable to the critique which Richard Rorty reserves for what he takes it to be, following the modern Cartesian paradigm.

13 For an enlightening view of Augustine reversing neoplatonic tendencies, see John Cavadini, "Time and Ascent in Confessions XI" (1993:171-85). For another essay on the intrinsically narrative character of his thought, see Wetzel (1992).

14 For an illuminating discussion of the linguistic-conceptual apparatus indispensable to articulating God as "distinct from" creation, yet in a way which forbids us to think of God as something else in the universe, see Tanner (1988); and for a lucid presentation of "the distinction" of creator from creation as decisive for Christian theology, see Sokolowski (1981).

15 For a discussion of Augustine's sources, see Henry Chadwick's translation (which I shall use throughout) of the Confessions (1991:xix).

16 An English translation by Howard and Edna Hong, with extensive critical apparatus, was published by Princeton University Press in 1980; a later translation by Alastair Hannay was published by Penguin in 1989.


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