S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
Thus, for Fr. Keefe, Catholic theology need not be systematic, but then it must be, as a matter of
consistent method, anti-systematic!
This is Augustinianism's manner of methodological coherence. Being entirely present-directed and thus
intuitive, unalterably committed to witnessing to the 'flesh'-iness and therefore the "vanity" of 'flesh,' perhaps
especially the "vanity" of formal structures, only its faith in the Risen Lord saves it from utter
meaninglessness, but in and through the Church's free liturgical mediation of her faith, he does so save it, at
every present moment.
Similarly, Catholic theology need not refrain from casting its questions within the framework of a formal
system, but then it must also be systematically historical regarding that system, as a matter of consistent
This of course would constitute methodological coherence within a reconverted Thomism. Being
unalterably committed to a skepticism about present-directed intuition, and to confidence instead in formally
systematic inquiry, Thomism would formally and systematically conclude to the dehistoricization of time,
thus to the fundamental insanity of reality and its total enslavement in Cause and Chance, but for its faith in
the Risen Lord of history, sacramentally re-presented in and through the Church's free liturgical mediation of
Thus: two mutually exclusive methods of Catholic theology, both (as reconverted) finding their object,
their methodological coherence -- their confidence -- directly in the Eucharistic Event.
An intellectually incoherent 'mixing' of Augustinianism and Thomism (or at least of Platonism and
Aristotelianism) has happened more than once in Catholic theology's long history. For instance, so-called
'neo-Platonism' mixed Platonic assumptions with Aristotelian ideas about logic. That fundamentally
incoherent philosophical mixture was often resorted to in early Catholic theology, and always had less than
beneficial intellectual consequences.
Therefore, Fr. Keefe strongly urges theologians to stick to their chosen lasts, whether Augustinian or
Thomist, because intellectual hodge-podges do no one any good. These may 'solve' some problems
temporarily -- but they do so only by fudging the problems, and that's never a good thing in the long run. It
might at times be very difficult for Catholic theologians to maintain the methodological integrity of their
chosen 'stream' of Catholic theology, but they still have to do it.
After having said all this about the importance of methodological integrity within both Augustinianism
and Thomism, I probably do need to remind you, though, that people are never 'Augustinians' or 'Thomists,'
any more than people are 'theologians,' 'scientists' -- or jugglers.
Augustinianism and Thomism are the two basic ways Catholics can perform their 'private' work or prayer
in the New Covenant when their "searching" is by means of intellectual questions of higher and higher
Nobody is an 'Augustinian' or a 'Thomist' when he's asleep, when he's juggling, or when he is participating
in the liturgy, the public work of the Church. When you're asleep or you're juggling, that's a totally different
'private' work or prayer than theology is. On the other hand, when you're at Mass, its public reality transcends,
completes, and unifies all 'private' work or prayer.
So, trying to 'be' an 'Augustinian' or a 'Thomist,' as if it were some kind of life-style, is silly at best, and, at
worst, substitutes being an 'Augustinian' or a 'Thomist' for our blunt 'time-full' participation in the Eucharistic
'order' of history. We need to sleep and eat and do the millions of other things besides theology that also, in
the New Covenant, inexhaustibly mediate that Covenant in our 'private' work or prayer, and we need to let the
Mass and the other sacraments be what they are -- the only really public work fallen Man can participate in.
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.