Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Where God is, there is the future

~an excerpt from an article by Fr. James Schall, SJ in Ignatius Insight
Another issue that is important for Europe, Benedict adds, is "the dialogue of reason." There is a "tradition of thought which considers as essential a substantial correspondence between faith, truth and reason. Here the issue is clearly whether or not reason stands at the beginning and foundation of all things." This was the theme that the pope addressed in the Regensburg Lecture. The civilization to which we belong is founded in and addressed by reason. Scripture itself recognizes this. This understanding of logos, reason, is the basis of man's internal order within oneself and of the grounds on which we know that we are addressed by God's self-revelation. God's "self-revelation," as Benedict explained to the Cistercians needs a faith that is open to reason and that is capable to receive it, hence to a philosophy that is based on what is.

What is the fundamental issue here? "The issue is whether reality originates by chance and necessary, and thus whether reason is merely a chance by product of the irrational and, in an ocean of irrationality, it too, in the end, is meaningless," Benedict explains, "or whether instead the underlying conviction of Christian faith remains true: In principio erat Verbum--in the beginning was the Word; at the origin of everything is the creative reason of God who decided to make himself known to human beings." The doctrine of creation thus holds that the foundation of the order in things is rooted in nothing less than the Logos, the Word, in which all things not God found their meaning and order. This is why the pope could say, as he did in the Vienna Konzerthaus, that "God calls each of us into being and gives us a task." He awaits our "response." This is the ultimate basis of our given dignity. We do not give ourselves being, but accept it as a gift. And our being itself implies a task that leads to God through our response to others.

As a confirmation and affirmation of what he has been saying, Benedict cites his friend, the non-Christian German philosopher, J├╝rgen Habermas. Habermas remarked that an understanding of the modern era requires an understanding of Christianity as something more than a "catalyst." The notions of "social coexistence" and "freedom" that stem from "egalitarian universalism" arise from the Jewish notion of justice and the "Christian ethics of love." Many thinkers and ideologue seek to find an alternative explanation of the validity of these ideas. "To this day an alternative to id does not exist," Habermas concludes. One might say, in general, that one of the most astonishing aspects of modern philosophy is its reluctance to understand the role of Christianity in western civilization and in the progress of reason. Habermas, along with thinkers like Christopher Dawson and Pierre Manent, is a refreshing exception.
Read the whole thing

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