S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
The doctrine of the "development of doctrine" is in the end nothing
more than a restatement of the Church's faith in Her Lord, who is
joined to her irrevocably as 'One Flesh,' not as a time-less conqueror,
but as her Risen Lord, who continues to bear the marks of the One
Sacrifice that she freely mediates in our time in and through her own
Sacrifice of Praise.
In the end it doesn't matter whether our theories say that Catholic
doctrine can't change, or that Catholic doctrine should change exactly
in the way that the New Class thinks convenient. Practically, of course,
there is a huge difference between the two. But -- as this book has tried
to show -- no theory can condition, let alone necessitate, the New
Covenant in any way, and attempts to do so, however well-intentioned,
are profound scientific mistakes, with very unfortunate consequences
over the long term.
The Risen Lord, the Son of God and the Son of Mary, "one and the
same," is complete surprise completely intelligible. He will be
'predictable' only if the New Covenant is not a 'time-full' Event, but is
instead the working-out of a time-less Design prior even to him.
Otherwise, he is free, not even in principle bound by necessity, which
is the power of sarx, 'flesh.' He will therefore surprise us.
For he is the Risen Lord who is the Lord of history. He is not the
Lord over history, who in Victory refuses time, and condemns and
destroys it. Rather, he empties himself into time, so completely that He
bears the marks of his Passion even as Risen, even as bound by time in
no way whatever. As that Lord and no other He is present to us now, in
our now, his One Sacrifice fully re-presented in the Church's free
liturgical mediation of her faith.
The Event-character of the New Covenant, its "radical historicity,"
is fundamental to it, as is its radical freedom. The free response in
history to that radically historical Event has its own radical freedom, as
we will now see.
The object of Catholic theology is a free Event, 'time-full' relations
not even in principle necessary, conditioned, or predictable by some
time-less Design or logic prior to them, and a free response to that
Event. Catholic theology's object is of its essence 'time-full' and not
dehistoricized. The fact that the Risen Lord still bears the marks of his
Passion (thus even as Risen and Ascended he remains concretely in
time, as the Lord of history) has another very simple implication that
has mostly been missed -- or even refused -- because of the very long
predominance of dehistoricized cosmology within Catholic theology.
For what "beatific vision" has been proposed in which the saints
are in Heaven with a Risen Lord who bears the marks of his Passion?
Such a Heaven can not have such a Lord unless it too is a place where
1. Both the Event-character and the priority
of the New Covenant are fundamental to
everything, but we're definitely not used to
thinking in that way. We often assume that
certain ideas or 'principles,' ones that are
supposedly 'value-free' or 'obvious' --
perhaps something like 'Ockham's Razor'
(very roughly: "pick the simplest
explanation that meets the facts"), or
perhaps, something like 'quality of life' --
are more than just convenient and partial
rules-of-thumb, but instead have
'independent' existence in a time-less 'real'
place. That immediately turns these
concepts into dehistoricized cosmologies --
and then there's nothing left of them but the
insane "vanity" that is 'flesh' apart from the
Eucharistic 'order' of history. Fr. Keefe is
insistent that we can not treat the priority of
the Eucharistic Event even to our very
thoughts as a bit of pious blather, to be
discarded the instant we want to get
'practical' or act 'grown-up.' The New
Covenant, being acts in time of persons
(Christ with his Bride), is no 'idea' or
'structure' but a living Event, complete
surprise completely intelligible, grace, the
font of all life. Nothing is prior to those
living acts in time. Fr. Keefe says, either
take that with rigorous seriousness every
step of your intellectual way -- or stop
pretending that you're still doing Catholic
theology. (See also Chapters 11 - 12).
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.