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NATURE IS GRACE
answer." 'Deep' means: "if I worked on this problem forever, I'm not
sure I could get the answer, but I know that the question is important."
On the physicist's scale then, Covenantal Theology is somewhere
between 'non-trivial' and 'deep' -- my guess is that it leans toward
'deep.' If that is so, then theologians attempting to 'understand'
Covenantal Theology in terms of what they already 'know' -- the
theological methods and categories they already use -- may find it
difficult or even impossible to understand that Covenantal Theology is
highly critical of those very methods and categories. They would be
trying to use what they already 'know' -- to understand that what they
already 'know' is mistaken.
In situations like that, most people simply get confused. It couldn't
possibly be the case that what is already 'known' is incorrect -- it
couldn't even be the case that anyone would seriously question what is
'known.' Our normal reaction is just to be baffled by talk that
questions our fundamental assumptions. If someone were to tell us that
there is and will always be some amount of space between us and the
chair on which we are currently sitting (this is actually true), we might
well have little or no reaction, so far outside of our current
understanding would that statement be. This may be a real part of the
reason Fr. Keefe's work has so far been uninfluential.
On the other hand, another reason Covenantal Theology might
have had so little impact is precisely its potential impact on Catholic
theology on the physicist's 'trivial' scale. A large amount of theological
work might have to be re-done, if Covenantal Theology's basic ideas
That work would be physicist-'trivial,' in the sense that it could be
done by any competent theologian who understood and accepted the
new approach to those problems taken by Covenantal Theology.
However, the sheer amount of that kind of work might not be 'trivial' in
any common-sense meaning of the term. If Catholic theologians ever
accepted Fr. Keefe's conclusions, they might -- this is not a prediction,
only a possibility -- come to the conclusion that large portions of
previous Catholic theology will have to be completely re-done, or even
Especially in his Appendix, written after the First Edition was
published, in response to some of the problems his (few) readers had
with his argument, Fr. Keefe says that his work -- if it is correct --
might indeed be 'non-trivial' or 'deep' in the sense I'm using, and
therefore hard to read. There are also hints that he suspects that the
physicist-'trivial' work that theologians would need to do if they were
to take his methodological reconversion seriously might be substantial.
It seems to me that moral theology would be one area where the
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.