Nature Grace Dualism Part 2
The presence of nature grace dualism throughout Roman Catholicism has resulted in a host of worries. Goldsworthy quotes Vittorio Subilia’s observation that Roman Catholicism is marked by “a phenomenon of complexio oppositorum.” The claim is an historical one supported by the evidence of Roman Catholic syncretism. While Gnosticism and mystery religions are cited as examples of non-Christian systems of thought that have at times been adopted by Roman Catholicism and blended in with Christian categories the non-Christian systems of thought stemming directly from philosophy are perhaps more interesting to the conclusions this series is directed toward.
Subilia notes that the Christian elements of Roman Catholicism sometimes exist alongside of non-Christian elements in such a way that it is almost impossible to recognize them. The knowledgeable reader will note that the examples of secular philosophical ideas being ‘baptized’ into Roman Catholicism are plentiful and that they are often not recognized by those who are unfamiliar with their original sources and histories and are therefore accepted as consistent with Christianity. Apologists have traditionally been more concerned with elements of a conclusion they hope to draw regarding the Christian faith than they have been with the baggage of consequences that comes along with those elements or the methodology relied upon in order to utilize whatever argument is necessary to affirm the element of the Christian conclusion. It is not so much the conclusions of such endeavors that are problematic as it is the method by which those conclusions are reached. A consistent non-Christian methodology will by no means yield a Christian conclusion and even if it did the methodology would be undermined by the conclusion drawn while using it.
Interestingly Subilia is also quoted concerning the Roman Catholic norm which is of course the Roman Catholic Church itself. The relevance of this point to the argument being made in its context appears to be that there is no higher authority (“authoritative point of reference”) by which the Roman Catholic Church is to judge concerning what is true and what is not. Thus the aforementioned syncretism is not only granted a pass but an endorsement. Goldsworthy notes that the interpretive implications of what Subilia has described stretch far into the hermeneutic endeavor.
I will be relying heavily upon Gospel Centered Hermeneutics by Graeme Goldsworthy for this series. You may read a brief review of the book which mentions a little about its relationship to Van Tillian presuppositionalism. The material above is discussed in more depth on page 110 of this book and this page is my main source for what I have written.