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A. General reflections. 8 min., 21 sec. Real Audio.

A. Deeper reflections. 13 min., 32 sec. Real Audio.

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What are your questions, comments, reflections? What resources do you recommend?
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The following Christological Outline is not tidy with respect to categories because it is somewhat holographic in the sense that each item below is like a fractal and relies on a web of coherence that holds together its relationship to all of the other items, always containing, implicitly, what the other items signify, too. The experience of the Incarnation is thus an holistic and integrated dynamism. As such, it relies on all of our epistemic capacities: a) indirect evidence, b) immediate,
noninferential awareness & intuition; c) inference; d) numinous/mystical experiences; e) direct evidence; f) common sense and g) meta-rationality and super-reasonableness and all of our epistemological enterprises: phenomenology, science, theology, philosophy and metaphysics.

Wrongful use, overemphasis or deemphasis, or even invalidation, of any of these epistemic capacities or epistemological enterprises, will compromise the catholicity of one's Christology, which is to say that it will yield a heterodox perspective that tears at the fabric of our coherent Christological web. Any given item, then, could lose its fractal character and the holistic Christology would dis-integrate. [See specific perils listed in each category below for a description of the more common heterodoxies encountered in Church history.]

I. Jesus - the Essentialistic Perspective & Interpretive Exercise - the principles of systematic theology

A. Preambula Fidei - philosophical knowledge about God, acquired through reason alone:

Jesus from natural and social sciences - indirect evidence & inference
Jesus from natural theology - natural revelation
Jesus as logos
Jesus - the speculative approach: inductive, deductive and eminentist
Jesus - metaphysically: cosmologically, ontologically, epistemologically & teleologically
Jesus - natural & logical genera of physical, metaphysical and meta-metaphysical realms and
Jesus as formal, material, efficient, instrumental and final causations in each realm
Jesus - consciousness and the unconscious, natural and supernatural
Jesus - primal ground, primal being, primal support, primal destiny
Jesus - the rationalistic perils (over-emphasis of speculative and kataphatic)

B. Creed - dogmatic theology - the illuminative experience:

Jesus from scripture - divine revelation & historico-biblical theology
Jesus from tradition - doctrinal-speculative theology
Jesus as mythos
Jesus from Systematic & Fundamental Theology - deductive
Jesus - the kataphatic approach
Jesus - the noetical experience
Jesus - the fideistic & encratistic perils (over-emphasis of speculative and apophatic)

II. Jesus - the Existentialist Perspective & Spiritual and Moral Exercise - experiential data of religious experience

A. Cult - the cultivation of religious experience:

Jesus from the arts and humanities
Jesus from sacramental theology
Jesus - the affective approach
Jesus - the aesthetical experience
Jesus - the pietistic perils (over-emphasis of affective and kataphatic)

B. Code- moral theology - the purgative experience:

Jesus from moral theology
Jesus from spiritual theology
Jesus from ascetical/mystical theology
Jesus - the apophatic approach
Jesus - the quietistic perils (over-emphasis of affective and apophatic)
Jesus - the ethical experience

C. Community - the unitive experience:

Jesus from ecclesiology
Jesus as Mystical Body
Jesus from eschatology
Jesus - the eminentist approach
Jesus and apokatastasis
Jesus - the shared hermeneutic
Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I think you've pretty much named the theological and philosophical parameters, JB.

What interests me most, here, is how the early community moved from belief in the resurrection to acknowledging the divinity of Christ.

I think Huston Smith describes a likely scenario:

In the end, especially when he laid down his life for his friends, it seemed to those who knew him best that here was a man in whom the human ego had disappeared completely, leaving his life so completely under the will of God that it became perfectly transparent to that will. It came to the point where they felt that as they looked at Jesus they were looking at the way God would be if he were to assume human form. That is what lies behind their final lyric cry: 'We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten son of the Father, full of grace and truth."
"The Religions of Man"

I like that one. The more intellectual discussions came later, and were necessary, of course, especially to counter other intellectual positions that detracted from the sense of the community about the nature of Jesus. I think Huston Smith captured the essence of that intuition, in many ways. Note that there are no references to power and miracles, only to the constancy and clarity of love.
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Denise Carmody's review in America of Who Is Jesus? by By Thomas P. Rausch

Carmody expands on the following themes in Rausch's book:

1) A Christology rooted both in history and faith, Scripture and tradition.

2) The historical Jesus is essential to, but not
sufficient for, an adequate Christology.

3) Jesus' Jewish background

4) The movement that Jesus created.

5) The three strands of Jesus' preaching -
a) his sayings, b) his parables and c) his use of the image of the kingdom of God.

6) The role of miracles in Jesus' ministry.


"The core of the miracle tradition cannot be denied. Jesus healed the sick and performed exorcisms. If the miracles of Jesus do not compel faith, they presuppose it. It is that openness to the transcendent God at the heart of faith that enables the one healed to recognize God working in and through the ministry of Jesus."
7) Why did Jesus die?

8) Is the resurrection of Jesus a historical event?

9) What did the early Christians make of Jesus' death and resurrection?

10) The historical-critical methodology

11) The New Testament Christologies

12) Jesus in language drawn from Greek philosophy and Jesus as transforming the God of Greek philosophy.

"Christianity rejected completely the Hellenistic idea of a transcendent divinity able to interact with the world only through intermediaries. Instead, it taught that in the human person of Jesus God was indeed present and active in the world. Thus God's revelation in Jesus is not just self-revelation, but self-communion; God is both transcendent and immanent."
13) The meaning of (original) sin and the price of salvation.

14) Images and metaphors explaining salvation.

15) What kind of a God demands the crucifixion of his Son as payment for our sins?

Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I am no longer certain of whatI am placing my faith in. The doubts created by modern sociological,
epistomological, cultural, mythological, and psychohistorical speculations leave me confused about orthodoxy. I come from a Lutheran upbringing and 20 years of fundamentalist/evangelical belief.
Some have suggested I am mentally ill to place my faith in such things Frowner Mystics I meet in meditation groups have often given up orthodoxy.
Could the whole thing be a representation of
myth or the most successful conspiracy ever perpetrated. Is there something I missed?
Intellect is not enough. I am asking Christ
to reveal the truth to me. I may have become so open minded that my brain leaked out Wink I still believe in a diety both personal and underlying all. I can't go for Buddhism, but the mystical Christ may be more than the God of my youth.
Thank you for the topic.
michael <*))))><
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Michael - are you familiar with the document: Evangelicals & Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium ?

You wrote: I come from a Lutheran upbringing and 20 years of fundamentalist/evangelical belief. There is MUCH we have in common. For me, two of the very best sources on the Internet, which I have often consulted, for sound Christian philosophy, metaphysics and theology are Leadership University and First Things: the Journal of Religion and Public Life. . Some of the principals involved as major contributors to those two websites are listed below as either participants or endorsers of Evangelicals & Catholics Together.

Perhaps you would resonate with the following quote from ECT ?

Together we search for a fuller and clearer understanding of God's revelation in Christ and his will for his disciples. Because of the limitations of human reason and language, which limitations are compounded by sin, we cannot understand completely the transcendent reality of God and his ways. Only in the End Time will we see face to face and know as we are known. (1 Corinthians 13) We now search together in confident reliance upon God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ, the sure testimony of Holy Scripture, and the promise of the Spirit to his church. In this search to understand the truth more fully and clearly, we need one another.
I know Phil is most impressed with the political and economic thought of Michael Novak, for instance. There is much common ground, I think, between your perspective and background and that of the Catholics here.

That document concludes:

Nearly two thousand years after it began, and nearly five hundred years after the divisions of the Reformation era, the Christian mission to the world is vibrantly alive and assertive. We do not know, we cannot know, what the Lord of history has in store for the Third Millennium. It may be the springtime of world missions and great Christian expansion. It may be the way of the cross marked by persecution and apparent marginalization. In different places and times, it will likely be both. Or it may be that Our Lord will return tomorrow. We do know that his promise is sure, that we are enlisted for the duration, and that we are in this together. We do know that we must affirm and hope and search and contend and witness together, for we belong not to ourselves but to him who has purchased us by the blood of the cross. We do know that this is a time of opportunity-and, if of opportunity, then of responsibility-for Evangelicals and Catholics to be Christians together in a way that helps prepare the world for the coming of him to whom belongs the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
PARTICIPANTS: Mr. Charles Colson Prison Fellowship Fr. Juan Diaz-Vilar, S.J. Catholic Hispanic Ministries Fr. Avery Dulles, S.J. Fordham University Bishop Francis George, OMI Diocese of Yakima (Washington) Dr. Kent Hill Eastern Nazarene College Dr. Richard Land Christian Life Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Larry Lewis Home Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention Dr. Jesse Miranda Assemblies of God Msgr. William Murphy Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston Fr. Richard John Neuhaus Institute on Religion and Public Life Mr. Brian O'Connell World Evangelical Fellowship Mr. Herbert Schlossberg Fieldstead Foundation Archbishop Francis Stafford Archdiocese of Denver Mr. George Weigel Ethics and Public Policy Center Dr. John White Geneva College and the National Association of Evangelicals

ENDORSED BY: Dr. William Abraham Perkins School of Theology Dr. Elizabeth Achtemeier Union Theological Seminary (Virginia) Mr. William Bentley Ball Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Dr. Bill Bright Campus Crusade for Christ Professor Robert Destro Catholic University of America Fr. Augustine DiNoia, O.P. Dominican House of Studies Fr. Joseph P. Fitzpatrick, S.J. Fordham University Mr. Keith Fournier American Center for Law and Justice Bishop William Frey Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry Professor Mary Ann Glendon Harvard Law School Dr. Os Guinness Trinity Forum Dr. Nathan Hatch University of Notre Dame Dr. James Hitchcock St. Louis University Professor Peter Kreeft Boston College Fr. Matthew Lamb Boston College Mr. Ralph Martin Renewal Ministries Dr. Richard Mouw Fuller Theological Seminary Dr. Mark Noll Wheaton College Mr. Michael Novak American Enterprise Institute John Cardinal O'Connor Archdiocese of New York Dr. Thomas Oden Drew University Dr. James J. I. Packer Regent College (British Columbia) The Rev. Pat Robertson Regent University Dr. John Rodgers Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry Bishop Carlos A. Sevilla, S.J. Archiocese of San Francisco

Posts: 2881 | Registered: 25 August 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Below is an excerpt from an exchange I had with *&^%($. Basically, what it is saying is that MOST people do NOT approach philosophy, metaphysics and natural theology in the same
way that academic philosophers and theologians do and that it is not necessary that they do so in order to properly approach reality, in order to live the life of faith or to otherwise take life seriously.

Most people grasp the truths of philosophy, metaphysics and natural theology through common sense and intuition and from simply living in
the world in social and community life. So, to some extent, all that the philosophers do is to, more or less, methodically articulate the various inferences and intuitions that are available to all through, what is for the most part, a grasp of the obvious. There is some peril, in trying to articulate a grasp of the obvious, that one might make what is already obvious somewhat obscure, thus doing the obvious
no favor at all!

I just say all of this to you because I wanted to affirm what I think is a very good intuition of yours about the nature of apologetics.
Peter 3:15, reads: "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect ..." and that does not necessarily mean that one must be a natural theologian or versed in systematic theology. Rather, one gives their answer moreso by the
manner in which they live their life in accordance with the Gospel, "proving" the Gospel and its philosophy in their very manner of being who they are and doing what they do.

The academic approach, then, is called essentialistic. The lived approach is called the existential. If anyone is going to do one and
not the other, then they best be advised to forsake the former and embrace the latter. And, further, for those who do take both approaches, there is no inherent merit in that. Some are theologians and some are plumbers. That's all. And if all were theologians and not plumbers, then we'd all perish from cholera.
dilettantish, in his opinion. As Kierkegaard wrote: "Jesus died on the cross, and now academics get Ph.D.'s writing about his death on the cross."

This is the excerpt:

I certainly agree with *&^%$#('s assessment, and I think that it properly broadly conceives what the term philosophy may refer to vis a vis the enterprise of taking life seriously, whether expressed through the arts, community life, morality and such and whether articulated by formal academia or as lived out in the life of the anawim. Such is the very fundamental nature of those systems that live out creed, code, cult(ivation) and community structure, or, as I
referred to those dynamisms, that live out doctrine, ritual (art) and law in response to truth, beauty and goodness.

If someone like Jacques Maritain, a great existential thomist, added anything to academic philosophy and its essentialistic articulations, it was precisely an emphasis on the lived existential realities to which they corresponded. And even further, Maritain helped us to recognize that we can come to a knowledge of reality/being, not just through our essentialistic philosophical contemplations but also through our existentialistic intuition(s) of
reality/being. Maritain, of course, also recognized that, in addition to a philosophical contemplation, an intuition of being and/or a mysticism of self, there was yet another route to knowledge of reality, which was a mystical contemplation.

So, I certainly affirm a broadly conceived notion of the philosophical enterprise and further recognize that it is not academic philosophy that has a monopoly on insights into
the nature of reality, that maybe even most people live out their philosophies based on profound intuitions and that some may, thereby,
be unconsciously competent when it comes to essentialistic articulations of these intuitions.

At the same time, I think it is important to check one's intuitions against the time-honored schools of thought and to articulate those intuitions with terms that are rigorously predicated and properly nuanced, not setting the existentialist and essentialistic approaches as being, in any way, over-against one another.
And further, in a separate piece of correspondence (more technical) to one of my Lutheran friends, I wrote:


On occasion, I have meditated on the distinctions that have been drawn between a) the dialectical and analogical imaginations; b) the processes of apophasis and kataphasis; c) the essentialistic and existential approaches; d) the theoretical and practical knowledges; e) objective and subjective truth; and other such tensions. Recently, I had looked at these distinctions using Maritain and a) his excursus on the essentialistic and existential distinction, b) his distinctions between philosophical contemplation, mysticism of the self, and mystical contemplation, as they incorporated his understanding of c) knowledge through connaturality and of d) an intuition of being. It seemed to me that Maritain�s distinctions could provide a bridging principle between an understanding of philosophy as �a life seriously lived� in community and expressing itself in manifold and diverse ways through the arts, sciences, humanities and religion and a more narrowly conceived understanding of philosophy as an academic discipline or merely speculative enterprise. In the process of digesting certain dialogues between Barth and some Jesuit theologians, I had also drawn some inspiration from Lonergan and Rahner�s transcendental thomism, especially in Rahner�s use of Heidegger�s existentialism (dasein), in coming to grips with how our understanding of the alternating processes of apophasis and kataphasis in human cognition (sensing/abstracting/judging), as well as in mystical contemplation (Keating), might inform how it is we might best incorporate the insights of our dialectical and analogical imaginations in our approach to God. All of these distinctions speak, of course, both to the possibility for and the limits of a natural theology.

In light of the above musings, my recent re-reading of one of Ralph McInerny�s Gifford Lectures, Truth and Subjectivity, was of special interest to me. It was one in a series of lectures that comprised an apologia for natural theology. In that lecture, he gave a positive critique of Kierkegaard�s emphases on subjectivity and practicality and also of John Henry Newman�s illative sense, as he evaluated them against Aristotle and Aquinas. Interestingly, he also invoked Maritain�s approach as a bridging principle between the objective and subjective and between the theoretical and the practical. This was reminiscent of how it was that I saw the transcendental thomists blending the best insights of aristotelian thomism and existential thomism (though it is existential thomism I would locate in the middle, acting as the bridge to many otherwise disparate views) in their attempt to describe, anthropologically, our human experience of knowledge of ourselves, of our world and of our God.

There thus seem to be some recurrent themes in how it is that we might go about resolving tensions between practical and theoretical philosophy, between Barth and his Jesuit dialogue partners, between Kierkegaard (& Newman) and the scholastics, between those who would affirm or deny natural theology, etc. Now, McInerny�s critique, however irenic, was not facile but very involved and highly nuanced. And, honestly, I don�t fully grasp all of the concepts and reasoning involved in applying the above-discussed bridging approaches, other than the very general one that Maritain sets forth in affirming that, if we draw distinctions, it is only toward the end of uniting. So, I positively affirm that I do believe that bridges can sometimes be built between our hermeneutics, perhaps more often than many of us suppose.
Finally, the role of natural theology (reason) in relationship to faith is very well articulated (best I've seen anywhere, really) in a book review by Daniel P. Moloney , wherein he writes:

Natural theology is most helpful for apologetics: If you want to explain Christianity to non-Christians, and they won�t admit the truth of Scripture or tradition, at least you and they will always have the created world in common. This quick little syllogism�God created the world, which reveals something about God; since the created world is in principle knowable by all people, then God revealed Himself to all people through the created world�has encouraged thinkers in every pluralistic age to study God�s creation in the hopes of helping their nonbelieving neighbors to come to know God.
And he closes with:
But as long as there is a world, Christians will need to prepare it to receive the faith. To prepare the world, it will be necessary to study worldly people and what they are prepared to believe, just as Paul did at the Areopagus. None of Hauerwas�s observations makes that task, which is also the task of natural theology, any less necessary�or urgent.

Since the thrust of the Christian Mysteries project pretty much entails both natural and revealed theology, I reckoned it pretty much wouldn't matter where I introduced this defense of natural theology -- but Phil may wish to relocate this part of the thread, beginning with Michael's last post?

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JB, that's quite a dialogue you've been involved in. Thanks for sharing it. Lots to chew on.

You wrote: Since the thrust of the Christian Mysteries project pretty much entails both natural and revealed theology, I reckoned it pretty much wouldn't matter where I introduced this defense of natural theology

No problem at all with your putting it here. I'm wondering, however, what you see natural theology contributing to an understanding of the resurrection? It seems that this mystery, in particular, goes beyond what natural theologizing can intuit. Comments?
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Phil wrote: "I'm wondering, however, what you see natural theology contributing to an understanding of the resurrection? It seems that this mystery, in particular, goes beyond what natural theologizing can intuit. Comments?"

The reason this natural theology discussion ended up here is only a result of my attempt to address Michael's above-statement: "Intellect is not enough. I am asking Christ to reveal the truth to me."

That was a loaded statement vis a vis its implications for one's approach to faith and reason, fides et ratio. On one hand, it could be argued that reason is enough to draw a very compelling inference regarding the probable existence of God and to infer, even, some of the Divine Attributes. The intellect is enough to guide one to the preambles of faith, the praeambulae fidei, to the God of the Greeks, the God of the philosophers, Who can be known through natural revelation, through Creation. OTOH, the intellect is not enough to take one beyond the praeambulae fidei to the mysteria fidei, the mysteries of faith that are made known to us through divine revelation. Clearly, the mystery of the Resurrection is gifted us through Divine Revelation, even as the Resurrection Event gains corroboration through historico-critical methods (not overly constricted). As a critically important historical event, it seems to me that the Resurrection Event requires all people to come to some sort of conclusion about it.

BUT, I never really thought about the relationship of natural theology to the resurrection. Now that you mention it, however, it does occur to me that there is a relationship, but not regarding Jesus' resurrection, in particular. Through methods of natural theology, the Greeks had, for centuries prior to Jesus, nurtured a belief in an afterlife, in addition to their belief in the Unknown God, the God of philosophy. Although the Old Testament contains some references to an afterlife that clearly grew out of the Hebrew heritage, it may be that their understanding of same grew more robust during the Diaspora when they were exposed to Hellenistic influences. It seems to me that, not so much due to wishful thinking (as many nonbelievers would allege), the Greek understanding of the afterlife grew out of inferences that were reinforced by their philosophical and metaphysical reflections, which is to say, by their natural theology.

Natural theology does not necessarily lead to empirical proof, to conclusively rationally demonstrable evidence, but does lead to some very compelling common sensical inferences and very strong intuitions. The lack of direct proofs and evidence don't inhere in any faulty methods of natural theology vs those of other enterprises (like empirical science) but rather inhere in the very nature of the objects under consideration, which are sometimes immaterial, sometimes even Uncreated. Wink The inferences of natural theology, the proofs of God and certain elements of divine revelation, if not compelling in and of themselves, become increasingly compelling when, as the lawyers say, taken as a whole . As Josh McDowell says, it comprises evidence that demands a verdict!

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That's a very good reply, JB. Thanks! And I think it adds much to the thread topic. It's interesting to see that the chasm between what we can know through natural theology and what is revealed by God need not be so vast concerning this topic. Indeed, it does seem that there was something of a preparation for acceptance of resurrection in Greek philosophy, which filtered its way into Jewish theology. As you know, Paul cleverly appealed to Jewish resurrection theology in preaching the Gospel, and on occasions where it helped to turn the Pharisees and Saduccees against each other.
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Phil wrote: It's interesting to see that the chasm between what we can know through natural theology and what is revealed by God need not be so vast concerning this topic.

Interestingly, the fact that many of the praeambulae fidei also happen to be included in the mysteria fidei, concerning many topics, has made Divine Revelation all the more compelling to many, hence philosophy is known as the ancilla theologi� to be employed in the defense of revealed truth, which, in a sense, presupposes the truths of natural reason and super-rationality.

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