(FAITH and JUSTICATIONS – continued)
Benedict XVI, pope since 2005, has not been trying to proselytize so much as to hold the Roman Catholic Church together. He had a long career as an academic, serving as a professor at various German universities. And as a professor he was steeped in the world of argument. But he ignores Thomas Aquinas, who is still regarded as a doctor of the Church. Aquinas' arguments – on epistemology more than ethics – have been picked apart and rejected by most academic philosophers. In Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: the Church as Communion, Benedict complains about the scholastic approach to truth:
The philosophy of religion and religious studies in general are no doubt very significant disciplines, but their limitations can least of all be overlooked at the point where they try to move beyond the academic world. For they can offer man no counsel. Either they are talking about what is past or they describe what is present in a contradictory fashion, side by side and linked together, or else they come fumbling after what has to do with ultimate questions, a fumbling that must in the end always remain a question without being able to overcome the darkness that surrounds man most of all when he is asking where he comes from and where he is going, asking about himself. (pp 30-31)
Pope Benedict offers the same argument that Smith, Spong, Newberg & Waldman do: arguments about what faith does for those who possess it – the effect argument. But he goes a little further by speaking of reason as necessary for faith. He sees faith as more than merely a choice. He is not an existentialist in the manner of Soren Kierkegaard. It's inconsistent with his rejection of scholasticism as an approach to truth.
Pope Benedict remains more traditional in his Christianity than the Reverend Spong. The Reverend Spong believes that humans do not have the mental tools for knowledge of the god Jehovah. Pope Benedict, on the other hand, speaks of his knowledge of the god Jehovah in the form of promises and fulfillment. In his Christmas message in 2010, Pope Benedict stated that "God is faithful to his promises but often surprises us by how He fulfills them."
Copyright © 2010-2011 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.