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Volume 8, Number 2 (Spring 2013)

On the Natural and Revealed Meaning of Human Sexuality: Response to John Hittinger's "Plato and Aristotle on the Family and the Polis"
By Paul Gondreau
ABSTRACT

In his essay, Prof. John Hittinger suggests that a metaphysical understanding of the human being is needed for an adequate understanding of human sexuality, and that the Christian faith sheds considerable, even new, light on such an understanding. Responding to this, this essay argues that in an anthropology that takes the body as integral to our human identity, in contrast to a Cartesian-like account which does not, human sexuality is naturally ordered to marriage as a procreative-unitive institution. As a body-soul composite unity, the human being enjoys a dual (yet inseparable) ordering to the joint goods of procreation and unitive love. The biblical account, particularly the Genesis creation narrative, confirms unequivocally this joint ordering and lends especial attention to the personalist or unitive ordering of our sexuality. That God himself, in his assumed humanity, takes on a (male) sexed nature, and that our sexuality gains a share in the sacramental economy through the sacrament of marriage indicates, indeed, what kind of "new" understanding of the meaning and purpose of human sexuality is offered in the Christian faith.

The Eucharist and the Historicity of the Faith
By Daniel Hauser
ABSTRACT

This essay argues that the Eucharistic worship of the Church, as the representation of the One Sacrifice of Christ, the New Covenant, is the historical locus of the continued sacramental presence of Christ in history, and therefore ought to be the starting point of any systematic theology. It is precisely in the one sacrifice of the New Covenant offered in the Mass that the Church participates in the very events that form the foundation of her life. In this work, the theologies of Henri de Lubac and Donald Keefe will be examined in order to demonstrate why the Eucharist should be the foundation of systematic theology and what the significance of a Eucharistic theology might be.

Plato and Aristotle on the Family and the Polis
By John Hittinger
ABSTRACT

The question of the family is at the heart of many important political issues. Platonism poses a special challenge to Christianity because the individual is lost in the abstract universal and the historical event is of no consequence. Christianity affirms the goodness of marriage and the importance of the complementary differences between male and female. Christianity is a creed based upon the recognition of the unique event of the Incarnation and measures history by that event. Aristotle sees the importance of family as the basis for community, but he does not adequately establish the significance of the individual and the intrinsic goodness of marriage and family. The superiority and sovereignty of the political regime overshadow the family. Although Aristotle makes important strides beyond Plato, his philosophy still bears the mark of a rationalist and monistic metaphysics that is an unwarranted imposition upon Christian theology. The true humanism will take nothing less than the restoration through the new Adam, an embrace of the true religion, and a metaphysics of esse, or metaphysics of the gift. Blessed John Paul II made some important contributions to this deepening of the integral humanism through his work on the phenomenology of love, through his work on Gaudium et spes, and through his work on the theology of the body and family which he developed during his papacy.

Anselm and Appropriating the Divine Life
Fr. David Vincent Meconi, S.J.
ABSTRACT

Anselm's theology of deification is not worked out in any one contained place but must be traced through his many writings.  In significant ways he abandons the traditional Latin nomenclature used hitherto, (e.g., calling Christians "gods" only once) but nonetheless has a robust presentation of one's new life in Christ.  This essay lays out the three main areas where Anselm's understanding of the glorified life in Christ shows forth.  The first reveals his great appreciation for the human person as an image and likeness of God.  The second argues how the Incarnation is what effects humanity's transformation and fulfillment of their divine deiformity.  Third is Anselm's understanding that the Church is the only locus deificandi, for only here are the channels of grace needed for human divinization are available.

On the Throwing of Rocks: An Objection to Hasty and Un-careful Criticisms of Anselm's Doctrine of the Atonement
By Gavin Ortlund
ABSTRACT

In much contemporary debate concerning the meaning of the atonement, Anselm's Cur Deus Homo is caricatured, simplistically summarized, treated only with respect to its historical influence, and/or quickly dismissed. This article seeks to defend Anselm's doctrine of atonement from some of the primary criticisms typically raised against it. It focuses on four criticisms expressed in the writings of Gustav Aulen and J. Denny Weaver. First, it argues that, far from focusing on Christ's satisfying death at the expensive of his entire incarnate life, Anselm views Christ's death within a larger framework of Christ's entire saving work as restoring human nature. Second, it argues that Anselm's argument is not logically reducible to his living in a feudal society. Third, it argues that Anselm's atonement theology is neither rationalistic nor legalistic, but situates the legal element of salvation within a broader motif of restoration to the happiness and flourishing lost at the fall. Fourth, it disputes the charge that Anselm's theory of atonement sanctions passive submission to violence. An important insight which recurs throughout the article, but especially in arguments one and three, is that Anselm's understanding of the incarnation bears certain resemblances with an Athanasian/Ireneaen theme of recapitulation, in which the Word's very assumption of human nature at the Incarnation unites it with divinity and incorruptibility. The presence of a recapitulation theme in Anselm opens up intriguing avenues of thought for contemporary constructive models of atonement that seek to draw from the church's reflection on the atonement throughout the centuries.

Anselm vs. the Fool (with a Little Help from David Hume): Can the "Unsurpassable" Be Surpassed?
By Dennis L. Sansom
ABSTRACT

Anselm begins Proslogion chapters 2 and 3 with the "Fool" saying, "There is no God." This paper explores the possible content of the Fool's claim. To falsify the claim that God is the unsurpassable reality, the Fool needs to explain reality sufficiently enough that God's existence would be contradictory to the explanation. Hume's Philo in Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion attempts to do this in his critique of Demea's argument for God's existence. However, if the Fool adopts this argument, the Fool would fail because, due to an inconsistency and vagueness in Philo's argument, he cannot prove that God does not exist. 

Aristotle and John Paul II on the Family and Society: A Reply to John Hittinger
By Walter J. Thompson
ABSTRACT

Despite their differences, Aristotle and John Paul II are not at odds in their accounts of the person, family and society. Guided by the revelation of God in Jesus Christ, Christian political theology must move beyond Aristotle, but it need not reject him. Indeed, Aristotle's political philosophy provides much-needed resources of reason for defending the dignity of the person and the value of the family in the modern world.