Is Anybody Home?

“And here we close the loop upon a matter first addressed at the begining of this essay, that of the relationship between a ‘natural theology’ and a ‘negative theology’. If it is certainly wrong-in terms at least of the reading of Thomas-to set them in that opposition according to which a natural theology tells us about God those things-his existence and his nature-which a negative theology forbids us, nonethless, any account is equally flawed according to which a proof of God’s existence leaves us with nothing at all but an unoccupied space of ‘negativity’ on the other side of creation. It is because they feared some such apophatically inspired absolutization of the negative which would have to be indistinguishable from a nihilistic atheism (since it would allow no room for any criterion on which to distinguish them) that Milbank and Pickstock thought it necessary to attribute to Thomas some mode of experience, presupposed to reason’s exercise, of the ‘actuality’ of perfection. But there is no need to appeal on Thomas’ behalf to any such experience in order to insure against a purely nihilistic account of the unknowability of the rationally transcendent, or of the aesthetically sublime, as the ase may be: and it is better not to do so, since as I have said, there is absolutely no evidence that Thomas thought the human intellect was ever in possesison of such an experience. For Thomas apepared to think that there are only two ways in which God can be known this side of death: either by reasons’s graft, or else by faith’s gift. For Thomas there is no experience of God of any kind in this life.”

Denys Turner, Faith, Reason and the Existence of God, 119-120.

“But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory,  and the two men that stood with him.” Luke 9:32

4 Responses to Is Anybody Home?

  1. […] than that whereby a cause is known through its effect. (Summa Contra Gentiles, Ch. 47) [See also here.] Posted by NeoChalcedonian Filed in Historical Theology, Roman […]

  2. Ken,

    Are the sacraments the divine essence? Is there anything other than the divine essence that is deity? Is the divine essence experienced or known in this life?


  3. Kenneth J. Hendrickson says:

    — allegedly from Denys Turner:
    > “For Thomas there is no experience
    > of God of any kind in this life.”

    I haven’t read Mr. Turner’s book. Sadly, I have only read a little of St. Aquinas. But with the little I know, I *know* that Mr. Turner does not know what he is talking about.

    In Hebrew, “to know” is to have an *intimate experience*. To “know” is the Hebrew idiom for sexual intercourse, for example.

    Whatever you can accuse St. Aquinas of, you cannot accuse him of disbelief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When we receive the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Himself!! We *know* Jesus. We have a *real experience* with the same God who created the universe. We eat Him for breakfast.

    There is no more intimate experience we can have of Jesus in this life than the Holy Eucharist. Even the mystics with their personal experiences do not experience Jesus in a more intimate and close way than the least spiritual sinner who receives the Eucharist.

    So Turner is wrong. We do *know* God in this life. We know Him through the sacraments … most especially the sacrament of the Eucharist.

    Kenneth J. Hendrickson

%d bloggers like this: