Catholicism in an age of discontent
Our postmodern age needs both the radiant light of Christ’s theological wisdom (Balthasar) and encouragement to venture out in search of decisive philosophical understanding (de Lubac).
Along with these two imperatives we must adopt a third, one brought to the fore in the current pontificate. Our theological and philosophical efforts to overcome postmodern fear of—and despair about—truth must be accompanied by spiritual charity toward those who live disoriented and loveless lives in today’s secular culture.
The deepest threat to Catholic intellectual life today stems not from a lack of engagement with the outside world, but from ignorance of our own tradition and widespread loss of authentic biblical and doctrinal thinking. Dogmatic amnesia within the Church is the central intellectual challenge facing the Church today.
De Lubac’s apologetic response was to show how Catholicism provides the authentic answer to the human search for genuine solidarity and universal communion. Today, the challenge is different: to convince human beings that the search itself is even possible.
Consequently, the Church needs to make philosophical arguments in the public square, ones that show that the world is inherently intelligible (and that our minds are naturally made for objective truth). This will resonate powerfully in today’s skeptical consensus.
In short, the Church should simultaneously promote Catholicism as the religion of mystery and as the religion that promotes reason’s full capacity for grasping universal truths.
What is needed is a Catholic theological interpretation of modern pluralistic democracy, one that insists on real space for the ideas and active contributions of religious traditions, while underscoring the value of respectful argument and even friendship among those who hold competing views.
A key task, then, which twentieth-century Catholic theology largely ignored, is to show the fundamental compatibility of the modern natural sciences with a deeper philosophy of nature and a metaphysics of the human person, one religious in orientation.
Thomas Joseph White, Catholicism in an age of discontent, in: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/11/catholicism-in-an-age-of-discontent
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