S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
assigned the word within Covenantal Theology.
The refusal can never come as the fulfillment of a 'task' pre-
assigned, either by God or man. It must be, and is, a creation ex nihilo,
freely, covenantally united to the New Covenant through the sacrament
of Matrimony. In this way and in this way only can it be really
creative, genuinely surprising, inexhaustibly meaningful, a true
mediation of grace, grace itself.
In the end, the refusal of contraception is only natural as grace. The
act of refusal itself, in order to be grace, truly natural, must not be
necessitated or conditioned either by God or man. God himself must be
surprised by it! This is, simply, the character of free covenantal
existence as Covenantal Theology states it.
I think it is possible to put the point even more strongly:
God is the Tri-unity of Persons most surprised by it.
Mr. Minsky can be 'surprised' by
what we do only if it is part of the
world of Chance, and is therefore
arbitrary and thus pointless.
When we look at ourselves with the eyes of 'flesh' alone, we see
that we are beings immersed in Cause and Chance, not capable of any
real surprise, ever. God sees us differently, as we really are.
Our sole link with our full reality in this fallen world is
sacramental. In the Eucharist we see, in visible and effective sign, that
'flesh' is covenantally related ex nihilo sui et subjecti (out of no
necessity on the part of either the superior or the subjecti -- the
subordinate). Only in the Eucharistic Event does fallen 'flesh' have any
certain knowledge of its true nature. Yet there, fallen 'flesh' does
plainly know itself as capable of surprise -- of being grace, truly
So, to say that a man's refusal of contraception is surprising is to do
nothing more -- or less -- than to refuse all our 'wisdom,' and to seek
the meaning of our activities in the New Covenant, "one and the same"
with the Eucharistic Event which is its free liturgical re-presentation.
If we try to understand our activities without reference to the
Eucharistic Event, the "prime analogate," as Fr. Keefe calls it, we will
certainly conclude to human existence as fundamentally irresponsible,
precisely because it is incapable of being surprising.
Absent the free relation of 'flesh' in the Church's Sacrifice of Praise
to the One Sacrifice of her Lord, who is the Lord of history, all human
activity is meaningful only by being in principle predictable (Caused),
or it is unpredictable, but only because it is arbitrary and pointless. In
either case, human responsibility for any act is impossible. We did it
because we couldn't help it, or we did it, and it doesn't matter. In either
case, nothing 'surprising' ever occurs. The very idea that any human act
could be surprising: that is, both unpredictable, even in principle, and
Within any dehistoricized cosmology, there
is no alternative to necessity other than
license: you're either bound whether you
like it or not, or you can do whatever you
want. This is obviously not what 'surprise'
means -- surprise is historical, intelligible,
and responsible, 'time-full' within the
Eucharistic 'order.' The task of speaking in
this way can not be shirked, even if devising
an appropriate vocabulary turns out to be a
'non-trivial' problem. It should be
emphasized that modern science, as Mr.
Minsky shows, is especially good at
removing the pretense of the 'middle box'
from our thoughts and intentions. Thus, the
whole traditional theological separation into
'free' will, and necessitated action (we're
'free' to 'choose' an action that is not itself a
surprise), is precisely what Mr. Minsky
successfully attacks as a flight to his middle
box -- you can't squirm out of the grasp of
Cause and Chance just by having thoughts.
In sum, any development of 'morality' in
terms of a time-less framework must
conclude to Man as a 'vanity,' as
fundamentally irresponsible -- not a very
helpful conclusion, if you're a Catholic. The
effort has to be abandoned. It is currently
difficult to think outside the aged categories
-- but those categories fail, and they fail
utterly. Perhaps by poetic justice, they fail
not because of 'godless modern science.'
They fail by their very nature, of necessity.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.