|Curt Stoller commented on FOR THOSE WHO HOLD FAST TO LOGIC AND REASON, MORAL RELATIVISM AND NOMINALISM, WHEREIN THE REALITY AND MEANING OF WORDS ARE COMPROMISED, ARE NOT OPTIONS
Thank-you Anselmus. Your name stirs fond memories of St. Anselm’s Monastery in Manchester, New Hampshire. Your perceptive comments remind me of my favorite theologian, St. Bonaventure, the Seraphic Doctor. This saint who is often misunderstood and seldom taken very seriously in intellectual circles, is actually quite profound and not just in a pious, devotional sense.
With Aristotelianism taking the medieval world by storm, St. Boanventure noted some interesting things that some modern Thomists have dared to say even slipped by the Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas. And they have great relevance today. All the early Scholastic Doctors of the Church were one in acknowledging that human knowledge is in touch with necessary, eternal truths, for example the Law of Non-Contradiction. But in everyone’s haste to assimilate the great Aristotle, very few people were in the mood to dare to criticize some of Aristotle’s presuppositions. One of those presuppositions was the eternity of the world. St. Bonaventure noticed that the idea of the eternity of the world provided a foundation for man’s knowledge of necessary and eternal truths. If the world is eternal then man can derive eternal truths ultimately from the world itself. But if the world is not eternal because created out of nothing and man is not eternal because created out of nothing, then that leaves only God as the locus of eternal truths. And that meant for St. Bonaventure that St. Augustine was correct in his belief in Divine Illumination. Only God is an eternal, necessary Being. Nothing else can ground eternal truths. St. Bonaventure, in his own age, was criticized for being too conservative, for keeping too much of St. Augustine and the Fathers of the Church. He lacked the boldness of St. Thomas Aquinas.
But to a Bonaventurean, the Seraphic Doctor provided the Catholic Church with the final answer to the relativism of Kant and all his intellectual progeny. When I was a student; Thomism was almost mandatory. I felt very alone in my study of St. Boanveture’s work but was encouraged that a German priest named Joseph Ratzinger was publishing works on St. Bonaventure. It was Father Ratzinger who developed St. Bonaventure’s theology of history. St. Bonaventure by de-idolizing Aristotle’s eternal world and de-idolizing Aristotle’s eternal Agent Intellect redefined time as not simply the measure of motion but as the measure of created existence itself.
It is interesting that Father Ratzinger, now His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, finds in relativism the keystone of all modern errors including the secularism which gives rise to abortion and euthanasia. Lite or Liquid Catholicism is based on modernism which is ultimately based on Kantianism, which as Anselmus has shown goes back to nominalism and I would say to belief in the eternity of the world. For moderns, access to eternal truth is impossible because given the non-eternity of the world and the non-eternity of man and the non-existence of an Eternal God; all roads to such truths are closed. Therefore there is only philosophical nihilism and the absurd leap of faith. There exists for moderns, no ‘preambles of the Faith’ because of Kantianism. So what is left? Only ‘touchy feely liquid Catholicism: “Let’s all just get along.” Unfortunately, ‘let’s all just get along’ means looking the other way when hundreds of millions of God’s unborn children are being killed by abortion and looking the other way when doctor’s refuse to feed the elderly in nursing homes.
When I was a child I used to see a sign in front of a famous fast food restaurant that read: “over a million served.” And then it later read: “over two million served”. And then “over ten million served.” I guess the company got tired of replacing those expensive signs because now the signs just say: “millions of millions served.” Those signs used to be funny. But now they remind me of the millions and millions of unborn children who are killed by abortion, a number approaching a billion and still growing. Who recites the Office of the Dead for those children of God? Who says a funeral Mass each day for those children? Jesus teaches that even the small ubiquitous and dull colored sparrows that are sold two for a penny are watched by God. And how much more does He watch the fall of His beloved children in abortion “clinics” each day. Relativism in natural knowledge. Relativism in scripture scholarship. And the cost in human lives.