Apologetics, Metaphysics, Philosophy, Saint Bonaventure, Saints, Theology

The Gospel & Apologetic Method

Saint Bonaventure Quote copyThe arguments for the existence of God should not be treated as abstract tools leading to a potential presentation of the gospel, or rather, an autonomously ‘neutral’ analysis toward a generic God of the philosophers. The preambles of the faith should be intimately intertwined in our evangelization and recognized as a step forward in the ascent of the soul to God our Creator. When they are treated as something other than the grounds for proclaiming the gospel – as a purely rationalistic inductive type of analytics – they become a philosophy in the tradition of men rather than Christ.

A better approach to presenting arguments for the existence of God emphasizes a Christo-centric metaphysical world picture. Saint Bonaventure states that Christ is our metaphysics. This philosophical view of the Seraphic Doctor is directly influenced by the scriptural depiction of Christ as having an impact on how we view the entire cosmos. The Great Commission demands nothing less than a radically new outlook on reality, a Christ centered reality. The Church Father’s received the apostolic tradition of a cosmic Christ as well as the understanding of creation as theophany. So understood, the preambles of faith should be understood as demonstrative “paths” or “ways” toward God. The “ways” to God through the use of reason offers the certainty the Church has determined to be the outcome of classical natural theology while avoiding the modernistic appeal to probability calculations so popular among mainstream apologetic circles.

Saint Bonaventure’s work, The Soul’s Journey into God, is a good example of presenting arguments for the purpose of glorifying God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ while simaltaneously working towards the illumination of the person’s soul toward the ascent of being united in participatory union with Christ. Moreover, Saint Bonaventure, in typical Patristic fashion shows the external and internal ways in which the soul traverses into God. The things of nature are like mirrors or vestiges pointing toward God; by encountering creation we are encountering the “vessel” mediating the knowledge and speech of the Triune God. When we close our eyes and reflect upon our inner being we become aware of our soul’s immortality and contingent dependence upon the eternal and necessary Blessed Holy Trinity.

There is quite literally nowhere we can hide from God. And why would we want to? God is the source of our joy, and the Incarnate Christ is the mediator between God and man. True happiness, true love, true perfection can only be found in the sacramental union instituted by Christ. Our apologetic methodology ought to keep this in mind when defending the deposit of faith.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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