The Corner

Aquinas on God and Man’s Destiny

Today is, in the Catholic Church, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, considered by most to be, along with St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the two greatest theologian/philosophers in Catholic history. Quite serendipitously, I am reading a forthcoming book, The Religion of the Future by Roberto Mangabeira Unger, in which Aquinas makes this bracing appearance:

In his sermon on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Aquinas wrote: “Since it was the will of God’s only-begotten Son that men should share in his divinity, he assumed our nature in order that by becoming man he might make men gods.” Were it not for the worshipful language of the Christian preacher-theologian and the sense of untroubled orthodoxy in the ensuing discourse about the Incarnation and the Eucharist, we might suppose that we were reading from Feuerbach or Emerson rather than from Aquinas.

I think Aquinas had hold of a radical truth in that statement, and I would suggest that what is true in such thinkers as, e.g., Emerson, is what Aquinas is expressing in orthodox form. But my interest here is not so much in saying which one is more right, because whichever side I argued for, my view could simply be dismissed as the special pleading of a pro-Thomist Catholic or of a pro-Emersonian Transcendentalist. No, what I want to stress here is that both of these schools of thought are pointing in the same general direction — of Man as having a destiny beyond Man, a destiny of the kind that a reductionistic materialist philosophy would deny him. C. S. Lewis liked to refer to Christianity as the event in which “myth became fact”; Aquinas discussed — with what Unger calls “untroubled orthodoxy” — how, specifically, this envisioned destiny of Man may become fact. Is this provable? Perhaps not. But that thinkers so diverse could point in the same direction is suggestive.

(Incidentally, Unger was Barack Obama’s professor at Harvard Law School, and supported him in 2008 — but, in 2012, called for his defeat because he was, in Unger’s view, not progressive enough. In addition to his work at Harvard, Professor Unger has been a prominent political figure in his native Brazil.) 

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Kat Timpf Chased Out of Brooklyn Bar

Fox News personality and National Review contributor Kat Timpf was forced to leave a bar in Brooklyn over the weekend after a woman she had never met became enraged upon learning she worked in conservative media. Timpf, who has twice previously been harassed while socializing in New York City, first described ... Read More
Film & TV

The Dan Crenshaw Moment

Given the spirit of our times, things could have gone so differently. On November 3, when Saturday Night Live comic Pete Davidson mocked Texas Republican Dan Crenshaw’s eye patch, saying he looked like a “hit man in a porno movie” — then adding, “I know he lost his eye in war or whatever” — it was a ... Read More
U.S.

The Present American Revolution

The revolution of 1776 sought to turn a colony of Great Britain into a new independent republic based on constitutionally protected freedom. It succeeded with the creation of the United States. The failed revolution of 1861, by a slave-owning South declaring its independence from the Union, sought to bifurcate ... Read More
Elections

Fire Brenda Snipes

Brenda Snipes, the supervisor of elections in Florida’s Broward County, does not deserve to be within a thousand miles of any election office anywhere in these United States. She should be fired at the earliest possible opportunity. Snipes has held her position since 2003, in which year her predecessor, ... Read More
Elections

Florida’s Shame, and Ours

Conspiracy theories are bad for civic life. So are conspiracies. I wonder if there is one mentally normal adult walking these fruited plains -- even the most craven, abject, brain-dead partisan Democrat -- who believes that what has been going on in Broward County, Fla., is anything other than a brazen ... Read More
World

How Immigration Changes Britain

Almost nothing is discussed as badly in America or Europe as the subject of immigration. And one reason is that it remains almost impossible to have any sensible or rational public discussion of its consequences. Or rather it is eminently possible to have a discussion about the upsides (“diversity,” talent, ... Read More