One thought on “Christ’s Particular Universal Human Nature

  1. Every so often I try to deepen my appreciation for Aquinas, but I struggle. I know, I know, it’s me not him. It’s just hard for me sometimes to find in his writings practical applications to the Church’s million-and-one problems.

    But recently while reading a book about St. Thomas, I realized that I hadn’t appreciated something that I do believe can help fix problems in our day. That is, I had thought of the “scholastic” question-and-answer style as being a combative, polemical and confrontational format. But the author got me thinking that it’s actually the opposite. Its point was to be ultra-fair to both sides by laying out the arguments for and against the question. No strawman caricatures or ad hominem attacks allowed. No rhetorical flourishes that color much of the patristic writings. Furthermore, it’s a very courteous way to argue since it honors your opponents by letting their arguments go first. In fact, the articles even start with the suggestion that your opponent’s position “appears” to be more convincing. The Scholastic may or may not succeed in talking an unbiased reader away from his opponent’s beliefs. But the reader is always left with a better understanding of why reasonable people can believe the position he rejects, and this builds civility across intellectual divides. I have to think this method was therefore a unifying force in the medieval Church, and built professional respect between theologians and scholars with strong, conflicting opinions.

    We can use much more of these Scholastic principles today. In our politics both ecclesial and national, the discussion has devolved into camps hurling insults and labels at one another. We could use a Thomistic return of honest people disagreeing, even vehemently, though in a civil, rational, but open way.

    Bishop Knestout for example is not behaving in a way consistent with the venerable Thomistic/Scholastic tradition. You’ve laid out your objections; you’ve raised valid points that deserve cogent responses, but he simply decides not to answer them. He could answer your objections point by point, like Aquinas would, openly with dispassionate reason. In so doing he would respect you, the survivors for whom you advocate, and the countless other Catholics who agree with your points and share your exasperation.

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