The Academy does important things, right? Of course, the people involved are smart people, after all, and they are paid well, and travel and earn their TV-watching time. It’s like the Gospel Coalition. Good things are done: they’re good people. I do not lament the more humane endeavor of classic theism that once took place. I come to bury it, not to praise it. Scholasticism is past, so says von Balthasar, and he is an honorable man. So say Rahner and Barth and Pannenberg, and they are all of them honorable men. Have we not seem them honored? Classic theism cannot have been based on truth we today can acknowledge. How can it, coming in the darkness before Hegel? How can it, distinguishing that which must be conflated? It is not chastened in its thinking, and what has more need of chastity than reason? Reason, after all, is fallen, depraved, promiscuous. Intelligent people can no longer believe reason is innocent, we are no longer so naive. And this is stated by intelligent men, all learned men, with degrees earned and honorary; who can dispute this? Do their writings not bear the mark? If the prose is clear, the ideas are clearly contradictory, and therefore difficult and sublime. If the prose is not clear, then it bears a deep imponderability to lesser minds, a straining of language beyond recognition for the sake at grasping what is beyond reach. They trade in asymmetry, paradox and other such eruditions. It makes for a fecundity of secondary literature, and what could be more vital?
They say that scholasticism must be left behind, that when we confess one holy, catholic and apostolic church we no longer mean as we used to mean, and so it is. It is clear to us where Aquinas stands on this or that: even on difficult issues. Is this not the sign of a weak mind? And what immodesty in men such as Anselm, believing he could be right or think his way through a difficulty without consulting Kant. Let us be charitable however, there was a kind of groping Christianity before Hegel, it is just that it had not come out of the womb. But we cannot go back to the womb, we can no longer be nourished directly, we must stand free and independent of that which enveloped and nourished us while we were yet unborn. It is time to try eating sawdust and concrete, grown-up food, not lesser and more comforting pabulum. Time to drink something modern (petroleum, for instance, which was never even refined in the unenlightened past). Time to put a chip in our heads to do our thinking, so bypassing any taint of original sin.
Thank God for the academy of today! And especially today, for if worse times lie ahead the guys we have to read will no longer be read. That is why it is urgent that we read them, praise them, grapple with them, expound them, remain intoxicated and perpetuate the illusion. Otherwise they would be relegated to the insignificance they naturally deserve and people would sample modern Christianity through that which is more congenial and satisfying: C.S. Lewis, A.W. Tozer, and others of such obvious universal Christianity and perennial philosophy.