152 Chapter 12
METHOD AND SYSTEM
Also, the Thomist is committed, not to the 'fleshiness' of 'flesh,' but to the reality of its signing of the
Eucharistic 'order.' To put it another way, the Augustinian always begins with 'flesh,' and emphasizes the
impossibility of it becoming more than itself -- and thus commits to holding the surprise of the New Covenant
as a present reality.
By contrast, the Thomist commits to holding the intelligibility of the New Covenant as a present reality.
In a word, the Thomist commits to the use of an historical system to study a metaphysical reality (the
Eucharistic relation of 'flesh' to 'One Flesh') whose reality and intelligibility is not itself in question, as it
always is for the Augustinian, lest the utter surprise of the New Covenant go unremarked.
To put it in a very homely way, if the Thomist really took the Augustinian seriously, the Thomist would
never get out of bed in the morning to do Thomism. Making the Eucharistic Event systematically intelligible
would be impossible. And yet, of course, the Augustinian is completely correct. By the same token, the fact
that the Thomist does indeed make the Eucharistic Event systematically if provisionally, historically,
intelligible is a fact that can never be accounted for by the Augustinian. So, the Thomist is also completely
Thus, as reconverted to the "prime analogate," the New Covenant, both Augustinianism and Thomism are
viable but methodologically mutually exclusive Catholic theologies.
Fr. Keefe is therefore at pains to state that Augustinianism is not a failed Thomism. It is not Thomism of a
lower intellectual or theological order than 'real' Thomism. To the contrary, Augustinianism repudiates
Thomism's fundamental method -- the a priori acceptance of a formal system -- as categorically objectionable
from the outset.
To the Augustinian, the entire Thomistic project is methodologically unavailable.
Similarly, Thomism is not an arrogant Augustinianism. Rather, it repudiates Augustinianism's
fundamental method -- the acceptance of an intuitive a priori available only in 'now,' which can never really
be articulated -- as categorically objectionable from the outset.
To the Thomist, the entire Augustinian project is methodologically unavailable.
Therefore, Augustinianism and Thomism are, from their outsets, two completely viable and yet
fundamentally incompatible theological methods -- with exactly the same object. This is one reason Fr. Keefe
urges both to become much more methodologically conscious and consistent, lest either become a mere
What puts the 'Catholic' in both methods -- what makes them theologies -- is their object, the identical
"prime analogate" of both. They are both Catholic theologies due to their fundamental dependence on the
Augustinianism would immediately become pessimistic, cynical, lost, insane, desperate to flee to the
time-less while knowing that was impossible -- in our day its logical conclusion would be some form of
postmodernism -- if 'flesh's' present relation to the Risen Lord were not absolutely real.
Thomism would immediately become sterile, totalitarian, enslaved to necessities of its own making, no
longer tied to time -- in our day its logical conclusion would be some form of scientism -- if its adopted
system were not a fully historical 'private' work or prayer in 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.