Christocentric Natural Theology: Theology of Revelation Part 5
Nature for its own sake, natural theology as an excuse for separation from Christ is properly idolatrous, but a Christocentric natural theology is not. St. Thomas was not arguing for the worship of nature or against a properly grounded subjectivity. Scholasticism can indeed break Christianity down into proposed truths apart from the Christian story, but it need not do so. Christianity and natural theology are not an either/or but when done properly, a both/and. The primacy of revelation is retained in Von Balthasar’s solution but also grasps the infinite difference between human failed love and Divine Love.
We can have a theology that depends on subjectivity, and our subjective appropriation, but it’s no less true objectively because we do not believe it or act on those beliefs. The Church affirms ex opere operato, the work is worked in itself. Truth does not depend on us. There are some things whose truths don’t depend on humans to make them true or not. While some aspects of the quantum universe might demand that and the keyword is might, we can’t assume that this is universal. Nor can we assume that objectivity is a hopeless project. The sacraments are true, the Church’s witness is true.
The problem is when we assume that humans rightly constitute the truth of things outside their own objective presentations of truth due to their participation in Christ Himself who is Truth. It’s a thing’s participation in Christ, and not our constitution of the thing that makes it true objectively or not.
When humans no matter how humble claim to create or disable truth through witness, they fail to understand that Christ Himself and not our action towards or against His coming determine His objectivity, and the objectivity of other things in and through Him.
Sacramental and eschatological reality show us that God correlates to reality, but in such a way that our grasping at the natural world to know Him and our grasp even at Dogma to know Him will fall short, but are our best attempts. Despite the frailty with which we might reach God we need not worry for He has already reached out to and claimed us, and the evidence is clear.
This evidence does not need to be the created order itself or things about it, because these cannot lead us to Christ, nor are they ultimately conclusive or reliable. Love alone is credible.
Love is that which can lead us to the Divine revelation, because we have anticipated such a love without being able to express it. We have desired it, without knowing what we sought, and here is the logos, but one that stands outside a cosmic and anthropological reduction, it is the self interpreting act of God that makes itself known to us on its terms. It speaks to us as wholly other, self-legitimating despite protest. It is as unintelligible as intelligible, and while able to be received cannot be grasped as another object juxtaposed with others when we begin with Love proper.
What compels us is not that we can reach Christ through the book of nature, but that this book has been claimed by God and demands to be read in and with and through Christ as is fitting of our worship. Everything we thought we knew every word we might raise is burned away by a consuming fire, but that fire comes from the cross shattered Christ. The consuming fire is the overwhelming all consuming beauty that demands all our attention and only properly calls out for the response of love. Our own reading does not happen in terms of natural reason, but in terms of love, a properly aesthetic appropriation of where natural theology meets and coincides with Divine Revelation.