Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Theodor Steinbüchel on Pascal

"Given its exclusive character of 'natural religion,' which does not know another God than that of the philosophers, deism could not imagine the mysteries...of God, by his own decision, from beyond the bounds of creation, calling man;...of an 'instant,' which is not deducible from history, in which God, in his extra-worldly being, unknowable from creation and from our created knowledge, reveals Himself to man;...of God who is separate from nature and history and binds himself, nonetheless, to them, to inform man of his gracious will of salvation, a special will committed to man but which is also the way to communion beyond all natural limits with the God of this revelation... In the era of mathematical rationalism, no one has grasped more profoundly the difference which opens between the deist God 'of the philosophers and of the wise' and the God of the Bible, than the mathematical genius Blaise Pascal, entirely worthy of the title given him by Nietzsche as 'the first Christian,' at least in the sense of being a faith which is authentic, personal and inflamed by revelation. Pascal's Memorial, written in 1654, that is, four years after the death of Descartes, by a thinker of a similar and congenial mind, shows the total opposition between the God Who is thought (gedachtem Gott) and the real God manifested to man with 'certainty, joy, peace.' Making itself absolute, deist rational knowledge leaves no room for God beyond practical reason. The ethos which emanates from supernatural revelation is eliminated in favor of a morality of reason known and pursued by man. The deist idea of transcendence is no longer that of revelation. With revelation, God is above the cosmos and is also the One Who inclines towards his world to draw it near to Him, while man, not remaining a prisoner of the loneliness of his autonomy, presents himself as a creature who realizes in the law of his essence the idea and the norm of his Creator and exercises an obedience to the law of revelation which purifies his humanitas and elevates it to God."

Theodor Steinbüchel, Die Philosophische Grundlegung der Katholischen Sittenlehre I, Düsseldorf: Schwann, 1951, 31.
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