An Anthropology of Gaudium et Spes

(detail) The Virgin, Jesus, and St. John the Baptist, by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1881).

The radical originality of God:
When God created man, male and female, “He established Himself”
as the “un-originate origin” of the diversity of the sexes.

Part I of II

In Part I of this essay (Part II is here), there is an examination of the various ways that “gift” expresses the radical originality of the Being of God and, at the same time, how the reciprocal path of creature to Creator and Creator to creature absorbs us in the wonder of our being (cf. Ps 139: 14)

Prologue: “{M}an, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself” (Gaudium et Spes, 24). The “embodied” reciprocal, self-gift of man, male and female, is a “Personal” expression of the Mystery of God.

This essay centers, as it were, on the interrelationship between God-as-Creator, and the creation of man, male and female. There emerges, then, a kind of central axis to the relationship between Creator and creature. This central axis is that just as God the Father is the “origin without origin” of the Blessed Trinity, so God the Creator has made Himself the “origin without origin” of man, male and female. Furthermore, then, the creation of man, male and female, is not to exist as if God ceases to be at the root of man’s being; rather, just as the Father is the permanent “origin without origin” of the Blessed Trinity, so man is “permanently” rooted in the mystery of his Creator.

When, therefore, man and woman are created in the Garden of Eden, and are without sin, it is as if they exist in the “very being” of God (cf. Acts 17: 28). Created by God, Adam and Eve exist in a real relationship “of origin” to God. Thus, even after the fall, when Eve exclaims that she has “gotten a child with the help of God” (Gn 4: 1), this indicates that, although much has to be rebuilt, the essential interrelationship between God and man, between God as the “origin without origin” of man, male female, remains. Thus, the mission and work of Christ and the Holy Spirit is not so much a kind of coming to us, as it is a kind of “coming” through the “origin without origin” to us. In other words, just as man, male and female, is rooted in God as the “origin without origin,” so the life of the Blessed Trinity unfolds through that interrelationship of man and God; and, therefore, the saving missions of the Son and the Church are, as it were, “equally” rooted in the interrelationship between man and God.

Remarkably, then, recognizing that we are rooted in the “origin without origin,” our redemption makes it possible for God to fulfill his plan in us: “the intention of the creator in creating man in his own image and likeness will be truly realized, when all who possess human nature, and have been regenerated in Christ through the Holy Spirit, gazing together on the glory of God, will be able to say ‘Our Father’’’ (Ad Gentes Divinitus, 7).

Finally, just as we depend on the word of God to “found” our theological investigation on what is revealed (cf. Dei Verbum, 24), so we depend on the modern integration of the anthropological tradition of the teaching of the Church to be the framework within which this investigation unfolds (cf. Dei Verbum, 10) 1 2. Thus, on the basis that nothing we can say “adds” to Revelation, nor anything we omit “detracts” from Revelation 3, nevertheless, it is clear that there needs to be progress in understanding who we are in Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22, 24; cf. Dei Verbum, 8). It is abundantly clear from the times in which we live that man, male and female, seeks what the Church offers: a rediscovery of the mystery of man, male and female, created in the image and likeness of God. This vision of man in Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, “is almost a reflection of the Resurrection, which always and in every way shines through the Sacrifice – thus instilling hope into the minds of Christians, not only in the eschatological sense, but also in the temporal dimension in every one of its aspects”. 4

The order of this essay, then, is as follows: Mary is a “beginning” (I) who leads to a consideration of the Gift of Creation (II). Next is a look at how Gaudium et Spes has stimulated Christian anthropology (III), which is then followed by a closer examination of the biblical text of Gn 1-2. Finally, there is a discussion of a wide range of points which have arisen in the course of the whole work.

I. Mary expresses the “personalization” 5 of the mystery of our creation 6

It was while pondering the question of how to express the mystery that each person of the Blessed Trinity is a Gift “to, for, and from” the other, that I began wondering about the Incarnation of the Son of God in the womb of the espoused, Virgin Mary.
There are, then, in our faith, and the reality it depicts and draws upon, hidden mysteries. This does not mean that they are known to only a few, or that they are recently discovered. Rather, it means that there is a realization that a familiar fact of our faith, namely the Incarnation, the very conception and birth of Christ, in and through the womb of Mary, encapsulates truths which speak of the inseparable interconnectedness of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, the structure of creation and of salvation history.

On the one hand it is hardly surprising to find that the conception, maturation and birth of Christ, in and through the Virgin Mary, at once virgin and married to St. Joseph, communicates the very interpersonal mystery of our salvation. Thus, the Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1: 35), is conceived in the Virgin Mary. Is the espoused, Virgin Mary a kind of “outward sign,” a natural sacrament, of the “eternal begetting” of the Son, from the Father, through the Holy Spirit?

On the other hand, the unexpectedness of a thought, or the difficulty of expressing it clearly, leads one to wonder that what has taken place “through time” has an eternal significance and, as it were, a remote and “eternal” origin in the mysterious depths of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. Why, in other words, did the Blessed Trinity choose this “path” for the Incarnation of the Son of God? Furthermore, is there a significance to the “passivity” of St. Joseph and, in him, a kind of “humbling” of men that reveals the absolute necessity of the action of God at the beginning of human life and, pre-eminently, at the conception of Jesus Christ, and in the work of our salvation? For St. Joseph could “figure” as the need of man for the action of God. Thus, Eve, who said in the context of the conception of her first son, “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord” (Gn 4: 1), speaks for all men concerning the dependence of man on God for “his” existence.

In terms of our theme, then, of an unfolding of a theology of gift, the very nature of these events transcending the natural order and thus being totally beyond the capacity of human beings to determine, may be what commends them to this discussion. In other words, it is precisely the gratuitousness of the gift of Jesus Christ to Mary and Joseph and the whole human family that reveals, more than anything else, the sheer generosity, beneficence and gratuitousness of being God. The gift of faith, then, is a deeply personal, communal and gratuitous gift; and, as such, reveals the general characteristic of all gifts of God to us:”we are touching here on supernatural reality, which is in man but does not originate from”. 7 Nevertheless, in touching on the supernatural, on what precisely is beyond human power to accomplish, there is an encounter with the nature of the whole of reality as gift: the sheer giving of created being in the act of creation. 8 How else could Scripture begin if not with the amazing words: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gn 1: 1). In other words, hidden in the very familiarity of these words lies the inexpressible mystery of what was conceived from all eternity being given the definitive expression of a gift without end: a beginning without end. Perhaps, to adapt an expression of Karol Wojtyla, we need a “consciousness of the gift” 9 of existence itself to begin again the renewal of the religious life of man, male and female.

“Gift”, in other words, is an answer to the metaphysical question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (Fides et Ratio, 76) But what will arouse us to see the originality of creation and, implicitly, to wonder at the originality of God being the Blessed Trinity? In other words, there seems to be such an abundance of imaginative explanations for the existence of everything that it is almost impossible for people to see the originality of the question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” 10 What is more, if we do not live life out of a gratitude for the gift of life, then we are in danger of grasping what is not ours to get; 11 and, in the attitude of “grasping,” there is the possibility of the person becoming an “instrument” for the meeting of needs and, therefore, of being used. 12 What “appears,” then, to be about a desire for a child, ends up being about a right to a child which expresses an intrinsically “anti-life mentality” 13 Thus, it is possible that the gift of life is “denatured” and turned into a product that depends on the application of a quality control mentality that radically fails to recognise that love is the only adequate response to the presence of the human person. 14

In the creative action of God, however, God gives us himself in the act of making man male and female; and, therefore, the spousal act of love is a “real” participation in what it is for God to love.

II: The Gift of Creation
The concept of “gift” is clearly related to the concept of creation; 15 but, one might also say, the concept of “gift” is inherent in creation and needed to be made explicit.

To begin with, however, there is the question of how we even “conceived” of our existence as “created.” Historically, there is not only an interaction between different ideas and cultures concerning the development of the world and the human being, 16 there is even a certain “originality” to the perception of Genesis 1: 1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (bereishiith baaraa Elohiim hashaamayim ve,aeth haa,aaretz). 17 An originality, however, which pertains to the truth about there being a beginning; and, secondly, an originality in the literary expression of it. Consider, for example, the “wit” and structure of the opening of the very book of Scripture with the words: “In the beginning …” 18 In that Scripture is the work of both a true human author, and the Holy Spirit (Dei Verbum, 11), it is fascinating to consider how the writer of Genesis came to realise the “logic” of a beginning and, indeed, the fact that God was perceived to be not only capable of it 19 but actually the author of creation. 20

One can see, for example, the difficulty philosophers have had of retaining the primary point of departure as the “external fact {which} fertilizes the internal intelligence.” 21 So Christian philosophy is constantly taking to itself what is actually true, and not only retaining it, but recognizing that there is only one author of all that is true, namely God (cf. Fides et Ratio, 53): all truth is the work of the Holy Spirit (Fides et Ratio, 44). With respect to the perception, then, of creation having an absolute beginning in an act of God, that both brings it to exist and sustains it, there is the added difficulty that, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, philosophy cannot decisively prove that there was a beginning. 22 Thus, even in our own time, natural philosophers advert to this indirectly in postulating that visible reality has always existed. 23

Hence, as it was said earlier, the question arises: How was it that the author of Genesis was able to “witness” to the existence of a beginning to creation? A reason according to faith would be that the author understood that the action of God was a word of God which brought to exist what it promised; and, in that respect, Moses was a preeminent witness to this in the course of his long life and mission. There is even an indication in the text that Moses “progressed” in his appreciation of the power of God (cf. Num 11: 21-23).

A reason according to philosophy or natural science is constantly evidenced in how Moses develops an explanation of how each thing has a particular cause within the general cause. The general cause is that God created the heavens and the earth (Gn 1: 1); and, therefore, within that general or first cause, lies the subsequent and particular causes. Thus, just as every plant and tree have a seed (cf. Gn 1: 11-12) so there had to be what produced the seed. In other words, in this instance, what came first was the fully grown plant or tree. Then, more fundamentally, just as every animal has young, so the young need a parent to rear them; and, therefore, the parent animal comes first (cf. Gn 1: 20-24). Finally, on the logic of a parent kind of creature coming before the young of a species, Adam and Eve are created with a view to the coming into existence of their child (Gn 1: 26-28; and cf. Gn 4: 1). Furthermore, the whole structure of the early chapters of Genesis work back, as it were, from what exists, including suffering and sin, to a first beginning prior to the existence of sin and suffering. Or, as the account itself posits it, from a beginning that is “very good” (Gn 1: 31) unfolds all that exists, including an explanation of the existence of evil as having a particular, “temporal” moment of origin subsequent to that of the beginning of creation, and the creation of man, male and female.

In terms, then, of our discussion about the interrelationship of “creation” and “gift,” it is clear that there is also the implicit “gift” of man coming to understand that “he” had an origin: a coherent origin from a uniquely creative act of God which, as it unfolds, constantly reaffirms and repeats God’s creativity. In other words, even in the brief account that is given of the “act” of creation there is the constant theme, already, of the beginning of creation establishing a pattern of an ongoing act of God. Thus, even when it comes to the conception of the first child, the author does not see it in terms of parent and child but as a cooperative act between man and God which “gives” a child to the woman (cf. Gn 4: 1). Originality, then, and “gift,” are deeply interrelated in the creative act of God from which all that exists both originates from nothing, and continues to develop from each subsequent act of God.

Finally, then, the emphasis that emerges from these early chapters of Genesis is this: that it is not so much that creation is ex nihilo, from ‘no pre-existent thing’ (CCC, 296), as that creation is from God. It may seem too obvious to be stated but there is, in other words, a deeply perceived relationship between God and what exists that translates into the all too familiar terms of creation and Creator. Familiarity, however, need not blind us to the realization that everything points back not just to a beginning but to a Beginner: to Elohiim who grasps the whole from the beginning: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gn 1: 1). Just, then, as there are contemporary, cultural reasons why there is an emphasis on the interrelationship of the creation of man, male and female, and the mystery of God 24, so this seems to have precipitated a wider renewal of our understanding of the mystery of “God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” 25 But not just of God, the Father almighty, but of creation being the creative act of the Blessed Trinity.

III: Gaudium et Spes and the Original Gift of God
There is a perception, then, of the renewal of Christian anthropology as one of the works of the Second Vatican Council: “Gaudium et Spes signals the first time that a council has consciously … set forth a systematic account of Christian anthropology in an independent thematic context.” 26 Furthermore, this anthropology takes account of how man is changed through his contact with Christ and, at the same time, is both called to perfect this world, and to live in the perspective of the new heavens and the new earth. 27 Clearly, then, the Church is addressing a need to articulate a vision of the human person that is not based on the following extremes: “he either sets himself up as the absolute measure of all things, or debases himself to the point of despair.” (Gaudium et Spes, 12)

IIIi. The Original Gift of God in the context of chapters one and two of Gaudium et Spes on man made in the image of God

Chapter One
In the exceptional work of the Second Vatican Council, which took Christian anthropology to a new point of departure in the Church’s desire to dialogue with the contemporary world, 28 Gaudium et Spes begins chapter one with the title “Man as the Image of God” and closes it with the title “Christ the New Man.” Kasper himself, although already quoted as positive, thinks that there is a “certain lack of clarity … in the text with respect to the relationship between man’s character as God’s image according to Genesis 1: 26, and of Jesus Christ according to Colossians 1: 15.” 29 On examination, however, it transpires that the opening and closing of chapter one on the theme of man made in the image of God forms a kind of inclusio on the theme of “image.” At the same time there is an illuminating development between a reflection on man based on creation and a reflection on man “coming to himself” in the coming of Christ. Thus, the chapter begins with a summary account of the “original anthropology” which is also very modern in its emphasis: “For by his innermost nature, man is a social being; and if he does not enter into relation with others, he can neither live nor develop his gifts.” (Gaudium et Spes, 12) But then the chapter concludes with the realization that “In reality, it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of man truly becomes clear.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22)

In other words, chapter one is reflecting, in a progressive way, on how the experience of man “brings him to himself” and, in bringing him to himself, brings him into the light of Christ as the One who can illuminate who man is in the full proportions of his being: a sinner and, by implication, in need of a savior. (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 13) But man is not just a sinner; rather, “he” is that mysterious being made in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there are wider references to man’s experience of life, and to the type of being that this experience reveals him to be: “Man is not deceived when he regards himself as superior to bodily things, and as more than just a speck of nature, or a nameless unit in the city of man.” (Gaudium et Spes, 14) What is more, he is drawn into dialogue with God who “awaits him” in “those deep recesses of his being” and which entail recognizing in “himself a spiritual and immortal soul.” (Gaudium et Spes, 14)

Thus, the Fathers began with the recognition that man “by his innermost nature is a social being” (Gaudium et Spes, 12) who cannot fully know himself except in Christ. (Gaudium et Spes, 22) But then they go on to say that for man to know himself in Christ is to take account of a particular gift which was given to each one of us in the very Incarnation and, by implication, through the whole Pascal Mystery: “for, by his incarnation, he, the son of God, has in a certain way to united himself to each man.” (Gaudium et Spes, 22) In other words, in chapter one, the Fathers of the Council have, as it were, progressed to the point of Christ coming into contact with the being of man through the Incarnation, just as God awaited dialogue with him in the depths of his being. The “social being” of man, then, entails both that receptivity to dialogue with God, and to the coming of Christ

Chapter Two
Thus, in chapter two, signifying a new dimension to their thought, the Fathers of the Council say: “the Lord Jesus … has opened up new horizons closed to human reason by implying that there is a certain parallel between the union existing among the divine persons, and the union of the sons of God in truth and love.” (Gaudium et Spes, 24) Thus, our self-knowledge in Christ is such that man finds that his being is illuminated beyond what can be naturally known. The reality of man, which “by his innermost nature is a social being,” (Gaudium et Spes, 12) is illuminated in the dazzling brilliance of Christ himself, in the interpersonal mystery of Christ being the Son of the Father. Tus, the “social being” of man, male and female, is illuminated in the light of the “social being” of the Blessed Trinity. Therefore, man is understood to be “the only creature on earth that God has wanted for his own sake” and that “man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” (Gaudium et Spes, 24)

There are three, immediately relevant characteristics of Christ, which are noted in the following three points. Firstly, that Christ is, as the second person of the Blessed Trinity, essentially constituted as a “social being” in the very mystery of the inseparable nature of being God, and being one of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity. Secondly, through the Paschal Mystery of the conception, birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is the “law” of the self-gift: “man can fully discover his true self only in a sincere giving of himself.” (Gaudium et Spes, 24) Thirdly, Jesus Christ is the “Word became flesh” (Jn 1: 14) and, in assuming flesh, assumed the flesh of a male man. The flesh of his manhood, therefore, entails his identity as an inseparably divine “social being” that is expressed and “translated” into his full participation in the human reality he, as God, created.

As a whole, then, it is not so much that there is a “lack of clarity” in the treatment of man as that man is treated, deliberately, in two ways. In the first place, man is treated as an existential being who lives, suffers, and hopes (cf. also Gaudium et Spes, 10), expressing in the process that he is one who can recognize “in himself a spiritual and immortal soul” which, when reflected upon, leads to the understanding that man is one in body and soul. (Gaudium et Spes, 14) In other words, in these ways, people more generally can recognize themselves in the man described according to reason and experience and, yet, who is already “found in the Scriptures” in a way that makes him more intelligible to himself: “What Revelation makes known to us is confirmed by our own experience.” (Gaudium et Spes, 13) Thus, the doctrine of original sin finds “existential” evidence in the lived reality of our lives (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 13, but also 10); however, Revelation also points to a beginning to both sin and, therefore, to an original goodness of creation. (Gaudium et Spes, 13 and 12)

Revelation, however, also speaks “beyond” the horizon of natural reason, and opens up a complementary vision of who man is. Thus, finding his humanity in Christ, (Gaudium et Spes, 18) man also finds that “his” humanity is transformed. This is because the fullness of man’s humanity in Christ is taken up, as it were, into the mystery of the Blessed Trinity (Gaudium et Spes, 24). In other words, these chapters of Gaudium et Spes are a “translation” of the principle of the complementary, compatibility of faith and reason: of the two orders of truth which do not contradict each other (cf. CCC, 159). The appeal, as it were, of this type of exposition, is precisely to make a new presentation of the intelligibility of both reason and faith; and, as such, to show that these terms are both capable of being in dialogue with this generation, and that the one, as it were, leads to the other: reason points beyond itself to faith as the answering vision.

In the forthcoming and final part of this exposition of the mystery human personhood, it becomes increasingly clear that the Word of God is indispensible to our self-understanding; indeed, in the contemplation of man, male and female, the “features” of the mystery of the Blessed Trinity are increasingly discernible.

The End of Part I of II

  1. Cf. too, Karol Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council, translated by P. S. Falla,London: Collins, Fount Paperbacks, 1980, p. 40.
  2. J.N.D. Kelly, Early Christian Doctrines, London: Continuum, fifth edition, 1977, pp. 163-188: Man and his Redemption. This chapter illustrates the various difficulties which surrounded the articulation of the doctrine concerning man, particularly the truth about the soul and the body. Clearly, however, the Tradition and Magisterium of the Catholic Church has retained and developed various elements of this teaching, notably that on man, one in soul and body (Gaudium et Spes, 14; CCC, 365, but also 362-368).
  3. Cf. “A Reading from the treatise of St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, Bk I, 10, 1-3: ‘Since faith is one and the same, the man who has much to say about it does not add to it and the man who has less does not subtract from it.’”p. 116* of The Divine Office: II: Lent and Eastertide, London: Collins, 1974.
  4. Wojtyla, now Pope John Paul II, Sources of Renewal, p. 83.
  5. The focus on Mary is also helpful from the point of view that God creates out of His own freedom and with a view to the fulfilment of the freedom of His creatures; and, therefore, Mary, the Mother of the Lord, helps us to keep in view the whole dynamic of graced action manifesting an integral reality of grace and nature.
    More widely, even the human, graced spousal action of being open to life is a decision made in freedom and in the hope of the help of God; and, conversely, the lie of contraception is not just a lie in the heart of the reciprocal self-gift of marriage (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 11)—it is a contradiction of that dialogue in freedom with the Creator who created us in, as it were, his very being. In other words, responsible participation in the work of the Creator is a virtuous act in the full truth of man, male and female; and, as such, perfects us and honors the graced work of God in us.
  6. This essay began as an assignment for the MA in Applied Theology, Marriage and Family Pathway, Maryvale Institute, albeit it has been extensively revised.
  7. Wojtyla, Sources of Renewal: The Implementation of the Second Vatican Council, p. 19.
  8. Cf. Livio Melina, “Epiphany of Love: Morality, Cosmology, and Culture,” Communio, 32 (Summer, 2005), pp. 246-259: pp. 255-256 “The world, too, is a gift, which carries in itself the mark of the free generosity of the Giver {cf. footnote 29 of the article}. And at the same time the world is an invitation to reciprocity, to unite ourselves to the original intention of the Giver, fulfilling it in the communion of person{s}”.
  9. Cf. Sources of Renewal, pp. 15-25.
  10. Cf. Dawkins, The God Delusion, London: Bantam Press, 2006, in which he posits an “account” of the possibility that there is no beginning to what visibly exists (e.g. pp. 145-146).

    However, if there is no beginning and no first cause, then it is not clear how anything can exist at all. The principle is this: if there is no beginning and no first cause, then there is no intermediary cause in the chain of causes and, therefore, there is no cause of what exists now. Thus, if there is no cause of what exists now, then nothing exists. But something exists. Therefore, either there is a first cause, which began everything, or there is a first cause which keeps everything in motion. Either the first cause of all that exists, or the first cause of motion, in the broad sense of change, is called God.

    The First Cause of all that exists, or the First Mover, to use Aristotle’s concept, is God, on the basis that what brings to exist, or brings about the first movement in what exists, is necessarily different to anything that was either brought to exist, or is dependent on another for its first movement. Therefore, God exists. The latter response to Dawkins draws on the first two of St. Thomas Aquinas’ five arguments for the existence of God (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, Qu. 2, Article 3 at: newadvent.org/summa/1002.htm#article1).

    Unfortunately then, an explanation which is really an account of what exists, and which does not address the philosophical need for a cause of motion, or a beginning of everything, ends up with a kind of “tangential” relationship to reality and evokes a sense of a “virtual” world rather than constitutes a convincing account of what actually exists.

    Nevertheless it is helpful that Dawkins has stated a variety of reasons for his position and, as such, implies a willingness to enter into dialogue about it.

  11. Cf. West, Christopher: “In-Vitro Fertilization and the Hermeneutic of the Gift”, catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=8413
  12. Thus, in Love and Responsibility, (translated by H. T. Willetts, London: Fount, 1982) Wojtyla contrasts the positive attitude of love with the negative attitude of use.
  13. Cf. William May, “Contraception, Gateway to the Culture of Death”, pp. 1-20: christendom-awake.org/pages/may/contraception.htm 28/04/2011
  14. Cf. Wojtyla, Love and Responsibility, p. 41.
  15. Cf. N. J. Healy III, “The World as Gift”, Communio, 32 (Fall, 2005), p. 395; and cf. Melina, “Epiphany of Love: Morality, Cosmology, and Culture”, pp. 255-256.
  16. Cf. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, “In the Beginning … ” translated by Boniface Ramsey, OP, Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1995.
  17. The transliteration employed in this essay is an expression of my own, somewhat “guessed” understanding of the sound of the biblical Hebrew.
  18. Cf. Francis Etheredge, Scripture: A Unique Word, Cambridge Scholars Publications, 2014, for at least two, if not three investigations of the opening chapters of Genesis.
  19. Note, for example, that although I attribute human authorship to Moses, it is interesting to consider that Moses had to come to believe in a power of God so incredible that God could not only feed all the people in the desert (cf. Num 11: 21-23) but create the world from nothing (cf. also the footnote below).
  20. While it is not the focus of this essay, the question of Mosaic authorship inevitably comes to the fore – if for no other reason than that Moses experienced the action of God to such an intense and unique degree that it “fitted him,” as it were, for conceiving God as capable of creation.
  21. Note how many people, including St. John Paul II, observe that Descartes “derailed” the human perception of reality by giving the primary point of departure as thought (cf. Crossing the Threshold of Hope). In G. K. Chesterton’s Aquinas, this idea is put in a way so relevant to this theme that I will quote what he says: “M. Maritain has used an admirable metaphor, in his book Theonas, when he says that the external fact fertilizes the internal intelligence, as the bee fertilizes the flower. Anyhow, upon that marriage, or whatever it may be called, the whole system of St. Thomas is founded; God made Man so that he was capable of coming in contact with reality; and those whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder” (G. K. Chesterton, Aquinas, London: Hodder And Stoughton, 1943, pages 148-149.).
  22. Cf. Copleston, Aquinas, pp. 137-138.
  23. Cf. Dawkins, drawing on others, in The God Delusion, pp. 145-146. The question also arises, then, whether there is a radical point of disagreement between an evolutionary kind of beginning to man, male and female, and one which sees creation as an integral act of the Creator. In other words, does a theology of the gift entail, as God “begets” a gift of human creation as a kind of “living mirror” of his own reality, an account of our origin that is incompatible with a theory of human, bodily evolution?
  24. Note, for example, the longstanding development of Karol Wojtyla’s investigation of man, male and female, the interrelationship of their creation, and the Blessed Trinity (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 11, etc.) and Pope Benedicts’ reflections on the need for a catechesis on creation (cf. In the Beginning …)
  25. CCC, The Credo, The Apostles’ Creed, following paragraph 184 of the Catechism.
  26. Kasper, “The theological anthropology of Gaudium et Spes,” p. 129.
  27. Cardinal J. Ratzinger, now Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI, “40th Anniversary of Gaudium et Spes,” pp. 1-2: vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20050318_ratzinger-gaudium-spes_en.html 06/05/2011.
  28. Kasper, “The theological anthropology of Gaudium et Spes”, p. 129.
  29. Kasper, “The theological anthropology of Gaudium et Spes”, p. 137.
Francis Etheredge About Francis Etheredge

Mr. Francis Etheredge is married with eight children, plus three in heaven. He is the author of Scripture: A Unique Word, and a trilogy From Truth and Truth (Volume I-"Faithful Reason"; Volume II-"Faith and Reason in Dialogue"; Volume III-"Faith Is Married Reason"), all of which are published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Francis is currently a freelance writer and speaker and his “Posts” on LinkedIn can be viewed here. Poetry; short articles; autobiographical blog; excerpts from books; and “Philosophize: A Ten Minute Write.”

He has earned a BA Div (Hons), MA in Catholic Theology, PGC in Biblical Studies, PGC in Higher Education, and an MA in Marriage and Family (Distinction).

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  1. […] Part II of this work (Part I is here), there is a continuation of the dialogue with Gaudium et Spes and, subsequently, an increasingly […]