Continuing to look at the Catholic contribution to civilisation, in this our third post, we will try and cover a part of the enormous subjects, philosophy and theology. Quite a task, but, with the help of Lumen, we may at least be able to do some worthwhile scratching on the surface.
Christianity has been responsible for building up one, and laying the foundations, as well as building the other. Philosophy developed in Greece between the 6th and 3rd century BC. It was an attempt to reason out the nature of things, who and what we are, where we come from.
The Church has drawn on philosophy and developed ideas of free will, the immortality of the soul and the virtuous life.
It was possible to even hold the concept of theology as a discipline, because the Church understood that God is a God of reason. It is therefore possible to understand revealed truth.
Fathers Marcus Holden and Andrew Pinsent write:
“The discipline of uncovering this order is called ‘theology’, which St Anselm described as ‘faith seeking understanding.’ On one hand, theology helps protect religion from fundamentalism. On the other hand, by making revelation credible to reason, theology also helps to oppose cold rationalism without faith. Beyond uncovering ordered truths about God’s revelation, however, theology also seeks to describe what it means to know and love God.”
Children of God
‘Abba’ is the word Jesus uses when speaking to God. Father or even daddy, is the English equivalent. Christians therefore, are not subjects of a remote law-giving deity, but his children, and he has given them a world they can understand and shape.
When we were children, we had to learn things in manageable stages, and the understanding of God is no different. It was shaped by giants of philosophy such as:
“St Augustine (d. 430) who drew from Plato and made many novel contributions, stimulating, for example, the study of the will and St Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), who absorbed and transfigured the philosophy of Aristotle.
“The many other Catholic philosophers include St Anselm (d. 1109), Bl Duns Scotus (d. 1308), Suárez (d. 1617) and Blaise Pascal (d.1662).
“Recent figures include St Edith Stein (d. 1942), Elizabeth Anscombe (d. 2001) and Alasdair MacIntyre.”
“Knowing God and loving God are intimately linked, implying the possibility and value of theology in helping us to seek the face of God.”
When we look at science, we will see how this gift of being able to comprehend the world because a logical, loving being made it, is so central not only to Catholicism, but to the world of today that Catholicism built.
Extracts taken from LUMEN -The Catholic Gift to Civilisation by Fr Andrew Pinsent, Fr Marcus Holden
You may also find helpful