S GUIDE TO COVENANTAL THEOLOGY
the sacramental representation of the New Covenant, which is a
gratuitous truth, a complete surprise, and it is not, nor can it be, a time-
less truth, a logical inevitability!
If you recall, in the Introduction, "On Children, Grandmothers, and
Grown-ups," I said that Covenantal Theology had begun when Fr.
Keefe asked the childish questions, What is nature? What is grace?
"Dehistoricized cosmology" is the paradigm of the time-less,
necessary truth, of logical inevitability. However, if there's one thing
grace isn't, it's "logically inevitable."
You can try to shoe-horn grace into a pagan paradigm of logical
inevitability, but, try as you might, it just won't fit. On the other hand,
you can't get much closer to the heart of the Catholic faith than grace.
Fr. Keefe is probably the first theologian in a really long time to
face this obvious fact intellectually, as a theologian.
Catholics insist that grace is a gift from God. It's unmerited.
Nothing in what we do, and nothing in our fallen world, 'forces' God to
give grace. We can never make an argument to God that we deserve
grace. Grace is just wholly outside the world of necessary implications
and logical inevitabilities.
But all dehistoricized cosmologies divide all of reality into Cause
and Chance, into the necessary and the arbitrary. Within them all,
absolutely everything that is not necessary is meaningless. So, within
them all, grace is either necessary (but then it's not really grace), or it's
Fr. Keefe, after long thought, finally concluded the obvious:
therefore, Catholic theologians have to ditch all dehistoricized
cosmologies -- forever. They are -- every single one of them --
fundamentally incompatible with the Catholic faith.
Dehistoricized cosmologies are both ancient and modern, and
pervasive, as Chapters 2 -- 3 tried to illustrate. Further, apart from the
Eucharist, they're all we've got, as Chapter 5 will demonstrate.
Nonetheless, when you take any of them seriously, you end up forever
trying to keep yourself from making statements that are contrary to the
faith. How would you like to be a Catholic theologian whose basic
intellectual categories say that absolutely everything that exists is
either necessary or meaningless, while you want to talk intellectually
about grace? It's an impossible intellectual situation to be in,
This is why Covenantal Theology is such a radical book, and such
an important one. It's also why it's been so indigestible to Catholic
theologians. Who wants to hear that his basic intellectual categories
may have to be junked?
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.