150 Chapter 12
METHOD AND SYSTEM
(2) Their two approaches exhaust the methodological
possibilities for Catholic theology.
This is the second reason Fr. Keefe argues for a much greater
methodological explicitness and consistency within both
Augustinianism and Thomism: although methodologically mutually
exclusive, they have all too often incoherently adopted parts of the
other's assumptions, categories, and questions, thereby making
themselves into incoherent hodge-podges rather than mature
So, after both Augustinian and Thomistic "searching" are
reconverted to the same Eucharistic Event, what would remain as
mutually exclusive differences between them? Here are some
The Augustinian speaks in paradoxes, beyond common
The Thomist speaks in
beyond common sense.
The Augustinian is systematically anti-systematic.
The Thomist is anti-
The Augustinian's philosophical roots are in Plato's
The Thomist's philosophical
roots are in Aristotle's world.
Augustinianism and Thomism have exactly the same object, the New Covenant, but the methods they
employ in the "searching" that is their free response to that Eucharistic Event, are mutually exclusive -- or at
least, they should be.
Why should they be? Take one example. The classic Augustinian formulation is simul justus et peccator -
- at once justified and sinful. The Augustinian is committed as a matter of basic method to maintaining the
full tension of that statement. We are justified -- and yet we're sinful; we're sinful -- and yet we're justified.
The Augustinian is committed to the idea that it is impossible to answer or resolve this contradiction.
Instead, his intellectual method amounts to continuing to say both things simultaneously.
Maybe that sounds just crazy, or stupid, but consider: how in the world can 'flesh' be part of the
Eucharistic 'order' of history? Well, it can't possibly be -- and yet it is.
As a Catholic Platonist, the Augustinian first of all focuses on the utter "vanity" of 'flesh,' and how
amazingly ridiculous is the surprise of grace. 'Flesh,' while not even for an instant fleeing the 'fleshiness' of
time, nonetheless freely signs the Eucharistic 'order' of history.
The Augustinian is committed to maintaining the full 'flesh'-iness of 'flesh,' and the completeness of the
surprise of its relation to 'One Flesh' and 'life' in the Eucharistic 'order' of history. Since 'flesh' is "vanity"
through and through, 'flesh' can't really even talk about the New Covenant. Nonetheless, 'flesh' in Christ
effectively signs the New Covenant.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.