Philosophy and Theology

Theology is Not Merely Rational Knowledge of Revealed Truths

"To say that theology is philosophy applied to revealed truth is to say by definition that theology is the scientific misunderstanding of revealed truth (in the same way that a certain exegesis which, deprived of the theological habitus is nothing more than the purely rational light—'animal' in St. Paul's meaning of the word—of historical criticism applied to the word of God."

- Jacques Maritain, The Dream of Descartes [56]

Don't Use a Broken Instrument

F. X. Maquart, "De la causalité du signe: Réflexions sur la valeur philosophique d'une explication théologique."  Revue Thomiste 32 (1927): 40-60.  (My translation.)

"Divine in its principles, sacred theology remains human in its methods.  It makes use of reasoning just as the exclusively natural sciences do.  It even uses these latter sciences as instruments.  In particular, metaphysics is its normal servant—it has its place marked on each one of theology's pages.  Indeed, theology is addressed to men, and it therefore must speak to them in a human manner.  With the assistance of this instrument, made to its measure, our mind endeavors to penetrate (however little that it can, in a manner that is wholly deficient and analogical) into the inner mystery of dogmas, which will ever evade being fully understood while we live in this world.

Still, it is the case that these theological explanations, however imperfect one may suppose them to be, cannot be just anything whatsoever.  It is necessary that they have a solid base, and only a true philosophy can give them such a solid base.  Given that a theological explanation has its value only by the rational principles upon which it is based, the examination of this value must therefore look fully into the explanation's philosophical supports."  (40)