Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, & the Moral Life ed. by Reinhold Hütter and Matthew Levering

Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 33 (1):218-219 (2013)
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In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:Reviewed by:Ressourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, & the Moral Life ed. by Reinhold Hütter and Matthew LeveringMatthew ShadleRessourcement Thomism: Sacred Doctrine, the Sacraments, & the Moral Life Edited by Reinhold Hütter and Matthew Levering Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 2010. 409 pp. $64.95This edited volume is a festschrift in honor of Romanus Cessario, OP, but, as its title suggests, it also has the larger goal of showing that “ressourcement does not dispense with, but in fact requires, Thomism” (3). The contributors’ efforts to bring to light the insights of Aquinas are organized into three sections: theological method, sacramental theology, and moral theology.Readers of this journal will be most interested in the latter section. Highlights include Craig Steven Titus’s response to Jean Porter’s criticism of Aquinas’s doctrine of the unity of the virtues, in which Titus claims that Aquinas has a more developed awareness of moral struggle and development, even among the virtuous, than Porter allows, and that therefore Aquinas is not averse to the idea of a “flawed saint” (331). Steven A. Long distinguishes between acts that are necessary for the completion of a given end and those that are not, arguing that for the former the end defines the species of the act whereas the latter possess their own end and species independent of further intentions. Long’s purpose is to refute Martin Rhonheimer’s contention that condoms can be used by married couples to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by showing that the use of condoms is not necessary for this purpose (since abstinence is also available), and therefore that such use must be considered an act of contraception regardless of any other good intentions involved. Joseph W. Koterski provides an excellent overview of the classical roots of the natural law theory and its modern exponents that could be useful in undergraduate and graduate courses, although the essay seems mismatched for the volume since the likely reader will probably find little new in it.An evaluation of the overall project of the volume requires a reading of the essays in the first section on theological method. Thomas Joseph White points to the Dominican theologians Marie-Dominique Chenu and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange as two extremes in the debate over historicity in theology: “in one we find history without sufficient recourse to dogma, while in the other we have dogma without sufficient recourse to history” (96). White insists that [End Page 218] theologians must find the proper balance between the two. It is not entirely apparent that those loosely identified with ressourcement Thomism have found this balance, if “recourse to history” includes sensitivity to the questions and concerns of one’s own age. In many of the essays in this volume it is unclear whose questions the authors’ exegeses of Aquinas are meant to answer, although other essays are quite engaging. Of course historical exegesis is necessary, but those involved in the mid-twentieth-century patristic ressourcement understood that the recovery of the sources was necessary precisely as an answer to the burning questions of the contemporary world. This is not accommodation, since the Christian tradition proposes something new to the world, but it proposes it with the confidence that human questioning is rooted in the innate desire for the triune God. The advocates of the earlier ressourcement saw the Thomism of their day as an obstacle to this dialogue between the Christian tradition and the contemporary world. The project of ressourcement Thomism will succeed to the extent that it shows how the teachings of Thomas Aquinas can contribute to this dialogue. [End Page 219]Matthew ShadleLoras CollegeCopyright © 2013 Society of Christian Ethics...



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