Fall 2001

Introduction: Faith, Metaphysics, and the Sciences

Adrian J. Walker

Metaphysics' relation to theology implies a distinctive, but ample understanding of the unity that figures in Fides et Ratio. In "Knowledge, the Transcendentals, and Communion," Juan Sara, developing the "meta-anthropology" of Ferdinard Ulrich and Hans Urs von Balthasar, sees the fundamental figure of being as a "circumincessive idenity consisting in the mutual exchange of self." Thanks to circumincession, held together in Christ, the unfolding of being in the transcendentals (beauty, goodness, truth, and unity) is the locus of the mutual opening of the Trinitarian unity, on the one hand, and the cosmos recapitulated in man, on the other—a transparence in which "[t]he Son's incarnate readiness vis-à-vis the Father and the world harbors the mysterious center of each" transcendental, "that is to say, the obedience of love."

Piero Coda's "Theological Knowledge from the Perspective of the Charism of Unity," reflecting upon the experience of the "Abba School" founded by Chiara Lubich to rethink the logic of the disciplines in light of the charism of the Focolare movement, argues that this "obedience of love," manifested in "Jesus forsaken," indicates a renewal of theology as participation in Jesus' "knowing God in God." The way of theology is a union which God and with all in God that, forged in the crucible of "Jesus forsaken," is not absorption, but sharing in God's way of being through not being: "'Jesus forsaken, because he is not, is. We are if we are not.'" This theology of unity "gives birth," Coda argues, "to a new ontology, a decisively new vision of being."

If unity-as-love is the key to the interrelation of "Faith, Metaphysics, and the Sciences," it is also the key to the problem of "Fundamentalism and the Word of God." Angelo Scola's "Which Foundation? Introductory Notes" opens the discussion of our second theme with a reflection on the notions of "foundation" that vindicates it against both the defamations of "post-modernity" and the totalizing claims of modernity. Starting from the "irrepressible given" that "something gives itself to someone," Scola argues that "unity attests itself with the force of an event that is absolutely irreducible to this polarity" in order to secure testimony as the bond between freedom and truth. Writing before the events of September 11th of this year, Scola offers a timely meditation on the difference between the martyr and the suicide bomber. Recalling the monks killed by terrorists in Algeria a few years ago, Scola explains that the martyr, taking upon himself the evil perpetrated by his attacker—in this case the murderers of the monks—frustrates evil's will to "unjustifiability," thus overcoming it through testimony to the absoluteness of love. "[F]undamentalism," then, "fails to see that . . . each man, and only he, decides about his humanity, because the foundation itself chooses the act of human freedom as the locus of its donation. In this sense, fundamentalism is always objectively a bearer of false witness."

Taking up Scola's concluding reflection on "inter-religious dialogue," with its intrinsic openness to martyrion, as "intrinsic and essential aspect of Christian faith itself," Roch Kereszty explores the possibilities of rapprochement among Christianity, Judaism, and Isalm in "The Word of God: A Catholic Perspective in Dialogue with Judaism and Islam." Avoiding both false irenicism and false polemic, Kereszty tries to make distinctively Christian beliefs about the Word of God more intelligble to Jewish and Muslim interlocutors, while stressing how dialogue with Jews and Muslims can enrich the Catholic understanding of the Word of God. Responses to Kereszty, together with Kereszty's reflection on the responses, will appear in an upcoming issue of Communio.