The Unchanging Truth of God?
Crucial Philosophical Issues for Theology
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
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
"‘It’s interpretation all the way down.’ Thomas Guarino’s latest book demonstrates the limitations of this common postmodern adage. Nuanced but bold, The Unchanging Truth of God? makes a lucidly argued case for metaphysics—one produced within the house of faith. Applauding John Paul II’s plea for the ‘legitimate autonomy’ of philosophy as well as Benedict XVI’s notion of a ‘healthy secularism,’ Guarino charts a path that avoids the extremes of both rationalism and fideism. This book offers a significant contribution, which should be read not only by Catholics but also by Protestants and Orthodox."~Hans Boersma, author of Seeing God: The Beatific Vision in Christian Tradition
" The Unchanging Truth of God? is divisible into the question whether theology needs philosophy and the question whether philosophy needs metaphysics. These lead to a third question, whether theology needs metaphysics. What makes The Unchanging Truth of God? unique is not simply that Guarino dares to ask such questions in an age when they seem to have been answered sufficiently and negatively, but especially on account of Guarino's ability to move seamlessly between ancient, medieval, modern, and postmodern thought. The Unchanging Truth of God? is essential reading for both theologians and philosophers."~Michael Sweeney, Xavier University
"Far from having aged, the essays take on new import in light of our present parlous situation in theology and the Church. The essays are a pleasure to read: substantive in content, crystalline in argument, incisive in expression."~First Things
"[Guarino’s] book is a masterful treatment of the question central to his book, namely, ‘what it means to speak of truth that is perpetual, universal, and materially identical over time,’ in short, the unchangeable truth of God."~Homiletic and Pastoral Review