331 Chapters
Medium 9781442266445

“Proto-Ecumenical” Catholic Reform in the Eighteenth Century: Lodovico Muratori as a Forerunner of Vatican II

Mangina, Joseph Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

“Proto-Ecumenical” Catholic Reform in the Eighteenth Century: Lodovico Muratori as a Forerunner of Vatican II

Shaun Blanchard

Introduction

The name of Lodovico Antonio Muratori (1672–1750) does not often enter discussions of the Second Vatican Council. On one hand, it is understandable that most scholarship on Muratori concerns his impressive historiography, his discovery of the “Muratorian Fragment” in the Ambrosian library, and his moral philosophy and political thought.1 But Muratori also composed a rich corpus of theological writing that advocates deep reform in the Catholic Church—through Christocentric renewal, liturgical rejuvenation, and regulated devotion to Mary and the saints. These are some of the same key areas targeted at Vatican II for reform and revitalization.

I intend to consider Muratori’s writings on Church reform alongside the reforms implemented by Vatican II—chiefly in the Constitutions Sacrosanctum Concilium, Lumen Gentium, and Dei Verbum. A retrieval of Muratori’s theology can shed light on current debates over continuity and discontinuity, ressourcement and aggiornamento, and contribute to the genealogical question of when key ideas began germinating which came to fruition at the Council. My goal is not to suggest a certain hermeneutic for the Council or contribute to a specific postconciliar debate—it is rather to reach back further than the nineteenth century to highlight a figure that shared many concerns with reformers at Vatican II, and offered many of the same answers.

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Medium 9781442229112

RUMINATIVE OVERLAY: MATTHEW’S HAUERWAS

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Markus Bockmuehl

Stanley Hauerwas has achieved a remarkable feat: from a virtually cold start he has launched forth into a vibrant commentary on one of the longest and most influential of New Testament books.1

This is the third volume in the much-trumpeted new Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, initiated and overseen by an editorial team led by R. R. Reno of Creighton University. Interestingly, none of the eight dust jacket blurbs concern the volume now in hand, but all extol either the series in general or the first volume on Acts.2

And what we get is certainly no damp squib or tentatively pussyfooting experimentation, but a vigorous tour de force in fine Hauerwasian mettle. The commentator is predictably excellent in affirming the integration of the interpreter as both reading and read by the text, presumed to be called to faith within the peaceable kingdom that is Christ’s. Hauerwas memorably stresses the gospel call to discipleship, mercy, and holiness within the “community of the forgiven,” “the kingdom of repentance.” Indeed, the great mission of disciple-making which Jesus entrusts to the apostles is here characterized by a full-circle return to Jesus’s own opening proclamation: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is present” (249, the closing words of the commentary).

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Medium 9781442229150

THE SPEED OF SLOTH: RECONSIDERING THE SIN OF ACEDIA

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Jeffrey A. Vogel

In his book Time Exposure, the sociologist Richard Fenn argues that the haste characteristic of life in contemporary Western societies stems from a loss of belief in divine providence. This loss, which he notes is compatible with continuing belief in God, exposes human beings to pure time, with no guarantee of meaning other than that which they fashion for themselves. As he puts it, “To live in the secular world, then, is to take the world on its own terms. It is this world, not some other, that holds the secrets behind our own existence. Bereft of the shelter of institutions that transcend the passage of time, individuals have to seize their own times; time is indeed all they have.”1 Though the traditional doctrine of providence has never been a guarantee of access to the meaning of events, it has made the time things take acceptable, as the believer can imagine a time more decisive than his own, that is, God’s time. With the “secularization of time,” however, waiting has become “exceedingly problematical.” The full weight of importance falls on the accomplishment of an action; the time it takes to do anything is merely something to pass through, and the more time it takes, the more one feels that one is lagging behind others who are faster. The only way to guarantee survival into a future that has been evacuated of God is to take it by force, to arrive there earlier, to never miss an opportunity to begin to stake one’s claim. When the future is envisioned in terms of scarcity, it “is the fool who is willing to be kept waiting.”2 Though the unencumbered freedom of possibility that follows the loss of belief in providence may be “heady,” it also “brings with it the burden of time. The awareness of the passage of time makes every one, in the end, marginal.”3 If the believer in providence trusts that everything is encompassed within the divine initiative, that there is no far side, no edges, which, if crossed, would put one beyond God’s regard, the secular person has a distinct feeling of being exposed to time, left to his own devices not to fall behind.

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Medium 9781538114018

Scripture on the Edge of God

Pro Ecclesia Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Scripture on the Edge of God

Ephraim Radner

Nothing could be more gratifying and humbling to me than the discussion of Time and the Word offered by this symposium of deeply perceptive and faithful theologians. I am enormously grateful. The breadth of discussion makes my own response challenging. At the outset I will simply offer my genuine thanks for whatever praise has been offered. But for what follows, I will turn to the questions and sometimes clear critiques my colleagues have helpfully laid out. There is a common thread among these, that is, a concern about over-loading the divine nature of Scripture, such that, on the one hand Scripture may seem to take the place of God or on the other, that it may seem to swallow up the distinct singularities of historical existence—creation, events, individuals, persons. I will try to address this under several general headings.

An Experiment

I want to admit up front that many of the specifics related to the general concern just mentioned derive from my own lack of clear understanding about the matters Time and Word addressed! This is due to my own intellectual limitations, no doubt, but also to the fact that the book as a whole was an experiment, one in which I was trying to work something out, without yet knowing where it would end up, or quite seizing the implications of what I was doing. I will explain the particular experiment below, but first I want to make an apology, both in the sense of defense as well as asking for pardon.

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Medium 9781442229242

Calvin’s Critique of Merit, and Why Aquinas (Mostly) Agrees

Ecclesia, Pro Rowman & Littlefield Publishers ePub

Calvin’s Critique of Merit, and Why Aquinas (Mostly) Agrees

Charles Raith II

Although Calvin addressed a number of aberrations (as he understood them) that had been introduced into the Christian religion, a central component of Calvin’s reformation polemics targets his opponents’ teaching on merit. I have argued elsewhere that the relationship between the role of faith and the role of merit in justification forms the central conflict in Calvin’s commentary on Romans,1 and given the centrality of Romans for Calvin’s theology2 and for the Reformation in general, it is clear that the topic of merit was, and in many ways is, a contentious point between Catholics and Protestants.3 In order to contribute to understanding points of contention and advancing the dialogue particularly on the topic of merit but also with implications for surrounding topics, this essay is designed to accomplish two goals. The first is to pinpoint the primary issues that Calvin takes with his opponents’ teaching on merit. There are three: the first pertains to the relation between merit and justification. Calvin believes that his opponents ultimately assert two bases for justification or salvation: faith and works.4 The second pertains to the competitive-causal schema between human and divine causality that undergirds his opponents’ articulation of merit. Human causality is understood as independent or autonomous from divine causality in the meritorious act, which causes numerous problems for properly conceiving the place of “rewards” in light of God’s salvific economy. The third pertains to the notions of “worth” and “due” as they relate to merit, a topic that is intimately connected with the previous point but also goes beyond it. Even if the proper causal relationship is understood, Calvin denies the act itself has a worth corresponding to the reward. With this analysis in place, I then turn to the thought of Thomas Aquinas, and I argue that Aquinas presents a point of rapprochement on the topic of merit. It has become increasingly recognized that Calvin’s polemics are largely directed toward teachings that are different than, and even in conflict with, Aquinas’s own thought.5 Discovering the precise relationship between Calvin’s theology and Aquinas’s theology requires careful analysis, and although I do not attempt to present a full presentation of Aquinas’s teaching on merit, I do highlight that Aquinas addresses all of Calvin’s concerns and in a way that affirms the problems Calvin perceives in his opponents’ teaching and supports many of Calvin’s positive insights.6 At the same time, there are points of difference that need addressing. Aquinas’s conception of merit differs from Calvin’s due to Aquinas’s more participatory view of human action that enables him to evaluate the worth of the meritorious work in terms of the Spirit as principal cause. Calvin, however, evaluates the worth of the meritorious work solely in terms of its human principle. Different judgments about worth reflect different conceptions of merit within God’s salvific economy. Aquinas and Calvin also differ as it pertains to the graced individual’s ability to fulfill the law. Aquinas affirms while Calvin negates human ability to perform a truly good work. This also contributes to different conceptions of merit and its role in bringing about human salvation. The underlying conviction of this article, however, is that recognizing both points of similarity and points of difference enables genuine dialogue between Reformed and Catholic theology that will bring about a fruitful ecumenical future.

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