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Pro Ecclesia Vol 21-N2: A Journal of Catholic and Evangelical Theology

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Pro Ecclesia is a quarterly journal of theology published by the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. It seeks to give contemporary expression to the one apostolic faith and its classic traditions, working for and manifesting the church's unity by research, theological construction, and free exchange of opinion. Members of its advisory council represent communities committed to the authority of Holy Scripture, ecumenical dogmatic teaching and the structural continuity of the church, and are themselves dedicated to maintaining and invigorating these commitments. The journal publishes biblical, liturgical, historical and doctrinal articles that promote or illumine its purposes.

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Confessing Eternity: Karl Barth and the Western Tradition

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Confessing Eternity: Karl Barth and the Western Tradition

Adrian Langdon

Christian theological reflection on the divine perfections has combined two major traditions: the biblical narrative, which centers on the self-revelation of God, and Greek philosophical sources. It may be argued that these culminate in the via triplex and analogical reflection. The Greek philosophical tradition primarily defined the divine being negatively, in distinction from human and created existence, while Christianity claims a positive unveiling of the triune divine nature. The Christian revelation complements the via negativa with a via positiva (or via causalitatus). Yet, as Aquinas argues, description of God’s being is not merely univocal; God still transcends normal language and description. Thus the analogical language of the via eminentiae is necessary.1 God is love, for example, but he is love in a most eminent way, the ultimate measure and source of love as demonstrated on the cross and with the resurrection.

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The Role of the Eucharist in the Salvation of All: A Reconnaissance

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The Role of the Eucharist in the Salvation of All: A Reconnaissance

Peter John McGregor

Does the Eucharist have a role to play in the salvation of all people, and, if so, what role might it have? In Salvation outside the Church Francis Sullivan states that in the Eucharist the church offers the sacrifice of Christ for the salvation of all.1 He points out that, according to Gaudium et Spes, “the Holy Spirit, in a manner known only to God, offers to every man the possibility of being associated with the paschal mystery,” and that “if the Church is to be the universal sacrament of salvation, it is not enough that it be a sign; it must also serve as an instrument of salvation.”2 He claims that in Lumen Gentium there is an analogous relationship between the humanity of Christ as an instrument of the divine Word in the work of salvation and the church as the instrument of the Holy Spirit in bringing the grace of Christ to every human person.3 He proposes that this instrumental role of the church is carried out through its mission as a “priestly people,” offering spiritual sacrifices to God.4 Moreover, he reminds us of the teaching of Pope Pius XII that Jesus,

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The Analogy of Faith: Unity in the Science of Faith

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The Analogy of Faith: Unity in the Science of Faith

Gottlieb Söhngen (translated by Kenneth Oakes)

Karl Barth’s account of the analogia fidei, which we defined earlier as a likeness or similarity to God that comes from faith, is similar to Luther’s: it functions as a protest against the Catholic analogia entis, or a likeness to God that comes from nature.1 Here we can see how Reformation theology truly is Protestant theology. We now want to consider whether the adjective “Catholic” can only modify the analogy of being and not the analogy of faith. Could there really be a Catholic analogy of faith, with the adjective “Catholic” meaning “understood from the perspective of Catholicism”? In what follows we will explore such a Catholic analogy of faith, one which stands and speaks for itself without any regard for Catholic protests against the Reformation.

The Catholic Analogy of Faith as the Unity in the Orders of Faith’s Knowledge

It is important to note that the Catholic account of the analogy of faith, taken in its technical and strict sense, has no direct relationship to the analogy of being. The analogy of faith is mentioned three times in Denzinger’s Enchridion Symbolorum: (1) from the 1893 encyclical Providentissimus Deus concerning the study of Scripture:

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Aquinas and Calvin on Merit, Part II: Condignity and Participation

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Aquinas and Calvin on Merit, Part II: Condignity and Participation 1

Charles Raith II

Few claims likely pain the Protestant ear more than hearing that believers receive eternal life as a due in justice on account of the worth of their works, that they obtain eternal life “by right [ex iure]” because of merit.2 Yet this is precisely Aquinas’s claim.3 As I explored elsewhere,4 Calvin’s extensive polemics against his opponents’ teaching on merit include many elements that are in harmony with Aquinas’s teaching, such as the unmerited reception of justification and the noncompetitive causal relationship between divine and human willing in meriting.5 At the same time, Calvin insists, and in genuine contrast to Aquinas, that the works of believers do not have a worth corresponding to the reward given from God. Calvin argues that believers receive eternal life on account of God’s grace and our participation in Christ rather than because our works have a worth that renders eternal life a “due.”6 God’s grace is demonstrated in that he “accepts” our works even though they are not deserving of the reward; he “considers” them pleasing and returns reward.7 Calvin states, “Good works . . . receive by way of reward [remunerationis] the most ample benefits of God, not because they so deserve them but because God’s kindness has of itself set this value on them.”8 For Calvin, Scripture is clear that no one can obtain something from God as their “right [iure]”; one must be “called away” from considering their own “dignity” and instead look to the grace of God and the work of Christ for obtaining eternal life.9

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Divine Ecstasy and Divine Simplicity: The Eros Motif in PSEUDO-Dionysius’s Soteriology

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Divine Ecstasy and Divine Simplicity: The Eros Motif in PSEUDO-Dionysius’s Soteriology 1

J. Warren Smith

Since the publication of Anders Nygren’s Agape and Eros, the academic discussion of Pseudo-Dionysius’s use of ero¯s as a divine attribute has centered around the question, does Dionysius’s theological appropriation of the Greek concept of ero¯s preserve a doctrine of God that is genuinely and distinctively Christian?2 Scholars have addressed this question either by challenging Nygren’s dichotomous characterization of ero¯s and agape¯ and/or by arguing that Dionysian ero¯s represents a genuine synthesis of Christian and classical conceptions of love.3 Judgments about the distinctly Christian character of Dionysius’s theology have focused on the degree of Dionysius’s reliance on Neoplatonic thought, particularly that of Proclus.4 According to Nygren, Proclus, already influenced by Christian notions of agape¯, reinterprets Plotinus’s exitus-reditus motif as God’s salvific condescension to raise creatures into beatific union. This scheme Dionysius merely appropriates and passes on to the Catholic mystical tradition.5 De Vogel counters Nygren’s interpretation by arguing that Dionysius’s basic notion of condescending, redemptive love (ero¯s pronoe¯tikos), which he took from Proclus, reflects a tradition dating back to Socrates: the philosopher’s vocation is to edify and, in a sense, to redeem inferior ignorant souls (epimeleia te¯s psyche¯s). This notion of the higher caring for the lower gained currency in Plato’s account of Providence in Phaedrus (248b). Thus, the philosopher’s descent back into the cave to free the souls whose minds are in bondage to the shadowy and illusory realm of the sensible and the mundane mirrors at the microcosmic level the redemptive activity of cosmic Providence.6 Dionysius’s innovation, De Vogel contends, is that he makes ecstatic ero¯s a central attribute of the Divine himself, a characterization that would have been unimaginable for Plotinus and Proclus.7 John Rist construes Plato’s notion of the higher caring for and raising up the lower to be the nascent doctrine of the downward-flowing ero¯s that becomes more fully developed by Plotinus and Proclus.8 Yet he argues that Dionysius’s translation of the Platonic notion of providential, descending ero¯s in terms of divine ecstasy is an adaptation of the Neoplatonic concept of ero¯s contrary to a distinctively Christian view of God. He observes that for Plotinus and Proclus the One loves itself in itself and in others, but does not pass outside itself in the ecstatic manner (ekstatikos ero¯s) of Dionysius’s God.9

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