Experience of God

Michael J. Scanlon and O. S. A.

in The Experience of God

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780823225187
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823237135 | DOI:

Series: Perspectives in Continental Philosophy

Experience of God

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John D. Caputo reminds us that the impossible immobilizes us on the cognitive level, but then we shift to the conative, to the sphere of praxis and the pragmatic order. This is where Saint Thomas Aquinas developed his theology of grace even to the point of a theology of “merit”, wherein our grace-enabled praxis creates our eternal destiny. As Caputo might put it, we experience the impossible by doing it. For Aquinas, merit is not a psychological category of motivation — it is grace realism in the pragmatic order. Aquinas developed his theology of merit within his theology of grace, elaborated in the philosophical categories of Aristotle. He spoke of “human nature”, which is the essence of the human being as source of human activity unto a human end. As part of the modern vocabulary, the term “experience” fell under the suspicion of the Vatican, which delayed the development of any modern Catholic theology. Today, postmodern philosophy and theology question subjectivity together with the objectivity of metaphysical language as appropriate loci for talk about God.

Keywords: God; experience; Saint Thomas Aquinas; grace; theology; impossible; merit; pragmatic order; metaphysical language; John D. Caputo

Chapter.  2141 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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