Monday, December 1, 2008

Nativity -- Day 4

I've been reading Andew Louth's: Discerning the Mystery on and off for a while now. Here's an excerpt:
The notion of the tacit has deeper resonance within the Father's thought, however, than in the though of Poanyi. In them the tacit is interpreted as silence, the silence of presence, the presence of God who gives himself to the soul who waits on him in silence. The silence of the tacit makes immediate contact with the silence of prayer: and prayer is seen in the Fathers to be, as it were, the amniotic fluid in which our knowledge of God takes form. Participation in the tradition of the Church implies participation in a life of love, of loving devotion to God and loving care of our neighbour. Participation in the tradition is indeed a moral activity: it implies a growing attentiveness to Our Lord, and a growing likeness to him. In other words, the Fathers understand the place of what we have called, following Gadamar, paideia in making us into those who are capable of knowing God, or rather in making us receptive to God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ. Hort's assertion that 'the perception of truth depends as much on the state of him that desires to perceive as on the objects that are presented to his view' is axiomatic for the Fathers.

The idea that theology must work within the alleged heritage of the Enlightenment now looks much less compelling. For it is just this heritage that is the object of the criticism of Gadamar and Polanyi. And it is not simply that theology is free to return to a way of approach that was so fruitful in the early centuries; more than that, we find not only that a common pattern emerges from the criticism of Gadamar and Polanyi, despite their very different starting-points, but that this common pattern has a striking resemblance to the pattern that we can discern in the approach of the Fathers of the Church. The way of much theology since the Enlightenment – with only a few notable exceptions, in England those who drank deep of the wine of the Fathers, such as the fathers of the Oxford Movement, and such as Hort – is seen to be based on assumptions about how we come to knowledge that are being rendered increasingly incredible and na├»ve.

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