S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
Catholics don't have answers because the Eucharistic Event, the
New Covenant, is not an answer. It is not any idea or theory about
reality. It is the re-presentation of reality, in and through the free,
covenantal, sacramental, historical, nuptial relation of the Bride and
her Head, 'One Flesh' in the One Sacrifice.
Catholics can only stand within the blunt physical, sacramental,
'time-full' acts given in and through the Eucharistic Event. This
standing is the sole understanding available to Man -- no other exists.
The only way 'in' to time is by being baptized into the death of the
Lord -- and, as even the pagans know, there is no other alternative:
there is no way out of time.
Catholics can not give any man, even
themselves, an 'answer,' because reality is not an answer, but is the
Eucharistic Event, in all its blunt physicality and particularity, in all its
ridiculous refusal of the time-less, without remainder.
This is Good News, but, because the News is truly free, Man is
always free to reject it. No iron necessity forces Man to be free. If "but,
on the other hand, is it true?" is really the challenge, "Force me to
accept reality," then the Catholic must, by all that is holy, remain mute,
for such binding by necessary reasons directly contradicts the New
Covenant, and Man's freedom.
1. Fallen existence is still covenantal
existence ("Through Him all things were
made"), but this reality can only be
appropriated sacramentally -- the Fall was
not 'pretend.' In this life we live solely by
baptism into his death. At death the reality
of covenantal existence is no longer only
available sacramentally. Since our sole entry
into covenantal existence is in his death, Fr.
Keefe thinks that physical death -- which is
also his death -- is the sole moment that the
unbaptized are free to appropriate the reality
of life lived in the death of the Lord, a life
daily available to the baptized.
Alternatively, if "An sit verum?" (but, on the other hand, is it true?) is really the question, "What is the
difference between your claim and any other?", again, the Catholic can in the end only point to the Eucharist,
not answer. From the earliest years of the Church, Catholics have presented evidence that the New Covenant,
once it is freely appropriated by Man, is indeed radically and inexhaustibly intelligible. Two thousand years
later, they're still showing that -- and still able to show that -- as Fr. Keefe's book demonstrates. Nonetheless,
the word 'once' in the 'once it is freely appropriated' part of the last sentence is fundamental, for there is no
place to stand from which even to ask the question about differences, except the Eucharist. First Man has to
stand within the Eucharist; then he can -- finally -- begin to ask questions and tell the difference between
reality and no-thing.
The Church can only appeal to other Christians in the same way: you can only understand fully by
standing within the Eucharist. Nothing -- not even the Bible -- can be understood apart from the New
Covenant. In other words, the Church says to nearly all Protestants: the Bible is true because "This is my
Body, This is my Blood" is true, and for no other reason. The Eucharistic Event, the New Covenant, created
the Bible -- not the other way around.
When Christians reject Catholic sacramental realism, they inevitably, if inadvertently, replace the New
Covenant with some time-less framework, for that is fallen Man's only alternative to the Eucharistic Event.
The difficulty for all Protestantism then becomes the two classic alternative problems of all dehistoricized
For evangelical, fundamentalist, and other 'traditional' Protestants, one of the problems created by a
rejection of the 'time-full,' historical Eucharistic Event is an unbridgeable gap between Faith and Reason.
Take evolution, for instance. These Christians devote strenuous effort to trying to explain away Darwin's
profound insight, without which modern science could scarcely function. (Some Catholics try this too, in spite
of the fact that the Holy Father has said that it's not necessary.)
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.