Monday, August 23, 2010

The Importance Of Nature In A Theology Of Grace

I love it when Pope Benedict XVI agrees with me! I've long stressed the importance of a proper understanding of nature in order to safeguard a proper understanding of grace. If you allow nature to be swallowed up into grace and say that everything is grace, then you actually cheapen grace. If everything is grace, then nothing is. I feel that this is the mistake of de Lubac, Gilson, et al. Below, Pope Benedict elaborates on the consequences of not having a firm foundational concept of nature for grace to build upon, elevate, and perfect:
“There is...a theological concealment of the concept of creation…[where] nature is undermined for the sake of grace; it is robbed of its belongings and gives way, so to speak, before grace. Here we should recall the crucial text of 1 Corinthians 15:46: ‘It is not the spiritual which is first but the physical, and then the spiritual’ (RSV). There is a series of stages that must not be absorbed into a monism of grace. I believe that we must develop a Christian pedagogy that accepts creation and gives concrete expression to these two poles of the one faith. We must never try to take the second step before the first: first the physical, then the spiritual. If we skip this sequence, creation is denied, and grace is deprived of its foundation.”
-Joseph Ratzinger, ‘In the Beginning…’

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