It has long been a cornerstone of Catholic belief that Christians can be intelligent and creative thinkers—inquisitive seekers after truth—as well as men and women of ardent faith. Catholics are entirely committed, then, to the claim that human rationality and religious faith are complementary realities since they are equally gifts of God.
But understanding precisely how faith and reason cohere has not always been a smooth path. At times, theology has allowed philosophy to become the leading (and baleful) partner in the faith-reason relationship, thereby lapsing into rationalism or relativism. At other times, theology has been tempted by fideism, with philosophy now regarded as little more than a pernicious intruder corrupting Christian faith, life and thought.
The essays in this volume display how Catholicism understands the proper confluence between philosophy and theology, between human rationality and Christian faith, between the natural order and supernatural grace. To illustrate these points, the book draws on a long line of Christian thinkers: Origen, Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas and, in our own day, Fides et Ratio of John Paul II and the Regensburg Address of Benedict XVI.
How is theology always a "Jewgreek" enterprise—to borrow a term from Jacques Derrida—always a combination of the biblical (Hebraic) and philosophical (Hellenic) traditions? Why is one particular element of philosophy, metaphysics, essential for the intelligibility and clarity of Catholic theology? Why is this so much the case that John Paul II could state emphatically: "a philosophy which shuns metaphysics would be radically unsuited to the task of mediation in the understanding of Revelation"?
But theology cannot simply be about dialogue with philosophers of yesteryear. Theology must constantly incorporate fresh thinking and remain in lively conversation with an extensive variety of contemporary perspectives. This book displays how reciprocity and absorption has been characteristic of theology’s past and must represent its future as well.
"I do not know of any work in the field with such a broad range of dialogue partners that touches upon the underlying problem of the correspondence between theology and philosophy in the realm of hermeneutics."~Rev. John McDermott, SJ, Sacred Heart Major Seminary, Detroit, MI