Faith is purified through intellectual adventure


By Father Bud Grant

Fr. Bud Grant

In response to my November article, a letter to the editor included this concern: “the fostering of knowledge and love of the Catholic faith to undergraduates, I fear, may get lost in the academia science intellect. Logic and reason are replaced by mystery and mysteries make up the cornerstone of the Church.”
The writer is, I think, echoing a fear that possessed the great Franciscan theologian Bonaventure (d. July 15, 1274), who was deeply worried that unharnessed rational inquiry would lure its proponents to a denial of faith which, he rightly understood, cannot be completely encompassed by the “academia science intellect.”
Bonaventure imagined an incipient crack between faith and reason which would yawn into a chasm. Some would say his vision was prophetic; it was certainly grounded in history. In the previous century Peter Abelard (d. April 21, 1142) had insisted on pursuing his rational curiosity beyond what, at that time, was a fairly narrow frame of permitted questioning by a Church which still assumed that the flat earth was the center of the cosmos. Abelard attempted a subtle, if a bit devious, solution.

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