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 autonomous analysis toward a generic God of the philosophers. These arguments 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 a proclamation of the gospel – as a dry skeletal 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. Saint Bonaventure says that Christ is our metaphysics. This position 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 Five Ways of Aquinas should be understood as “ways” rather than “proofs.” Saint Thomas is seeking to bring people to Christ through specific ways in which people can be lead to God. Bishop Robert Barron presents Aquinas’s Five Ways in this manner. Rather than modern proofs, Aquinas is seeking to unite the person to the very God sustaining our existence.

Saint Bonaventure’s work, The Soul’s Journey into God, is a goodexample of presenting arguments for the purpose of glorifying God in the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also, to illumine the person’s soul toward the ascent of being united in participatory union with Christ. Moreover, Saint Bonaventure, in true Augustinian 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 that mediates 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 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.

 

– Lucas G. Westman

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