Book Review: Engaging the Doctrine of Creation

Thoughtful, irenic, clear writing style, and without doubt the most prolific American theologian today. You have probably already guessed his name, but in case you haven’t, here are a couple more hints. He has authored over twenty books and has edited or co-edited almost the same number. The number of essays he has written for scholarly journals and collections is virtually countless (if you don’t believe me, check out his curriculum vitae, which he hasn’t updated since 2016—he’s no doubt too busy working on his next three books). He is as comfortable writing on biblical theology as systematic theology. When he prepares to write on a given topic, he first reads … everything! Still need another hint? He is an expert in the theology of St Thomas Aquinas.

Yes, dear readers, I’m talking about Matthew Levering, professor of theology at Mundelein Seminary and author of Scripture and Metaphysics, Jesus and the Demise of Death, and Was the Reformation a Mistake?

Levering’s recently published book Engaging the Doctrine of Creation follows the approach for which he is well-known: a balanced overview of his topic, supported by a plenitude of quotations and scholarly references, concluding with his always judicious assessments. For a poor yokel like myself, the invocation of so many voices, patristic, medieval, and contemporary, can be quite overwhelming yet at the same time helpful. One cannot read Levering without jotting down the titles of articles and books with which one wants to follow-up. (Did I mention he’s a master of content footnotes?) Levering reads and thinks within the theological tradition. He does not seek controversy, but neither does he avoid hard questions. His judgments are always informed by the magisterial teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. I suppose that this might be frustrating for anyone who is hungry for ground-breaking, cutting-edge, best-selling theology; but for someone like myself, I find Dr Levering’s approach reassuring. As the title indicates, Levering’s goal is to engage the traditional Christian doctrine of creation in light of contemporary concerns. His discussion is intentionally non-comprehensive. He tells us right at the beginning, for example, that he will not be devoting as much attention as he would like to the creatio ex nihilo or the doctrine of providence. No doubt he will address these topics more thoroughly in a future volume.

Chapter 1 is devoted to the topic of the divine ideas. Divine ideas? Isn’t that a Neoplatonic relic? But Levering quickly shows us that it’s a question that can be neither ignored nor dismissed. After all, how did God come up with the idea of creation? Was it something novel and unexpected for him, like an artist sitting down before a canvas, not knowing what the brushstrokes would reveal? That doesn’t seem quite right. As St Augustine writes: “He was not ignorant of what he was going to create.” Yet this might suggest that the divine consciousness is “an eternal data bank of the forms of creatures,” and that doesn’t seem quite right either. As his principal dialogue partner on this topic, Levering chooses the Eastern Orthodox theologian Vladimir Lossky. Lossky vigorously objects to the Augustinian and Thomistic formulations of the divine ideas. They undermine the Church’s teaching of the creatio ex nihilo and commit the Church to an emanationist construal of creation, as if the cosmos is merely a prosaic, disappointing copy of God’s inner life. Levering summarizes Lossky’s critique over the course of several pages, before offering his response. He believes that the Orthodox theologian has misunderstood the nature of divine eternity and ontological status of the divine ideas:

Given Aquinas’s understanding of eternity as God’s intelligent and free self-presencing, the divine ideas should not be located “prior” to creation, as though God considered the panorama of his options (the divine ideas) and then implemented some of them volitionally in creation. Rather, there is only the triune creator God, who in his eternal ingelligent presencing freely wills certain things to be, without changing his infinitely actual will.

Chapter 2 is devoted to the topic of divine simplicity, which is a hot topic in contemporary theology. Many argue that Aquinas’s understanding of divine simplicity inevitably leads to determinism. Analytic critics call this modal collapse. If the divine essence is incomposite, then the freedom of God is severely compromised. Levering here chooses as his principal partner the Eastern Orthodox philosopher David Bradshaw, who offers a trenchant critique of Aquinas in his book Aristotle East and West. Levering devotes ten pages to summarizing Bradshaw’s arguments. As in the previous chapter, Levering believes that Aquinas can meet the challenge. The Angelic Doctor, as it turns out, was not unaware of the problem posed to freedom by the divine simplicity and addresses it at some length in both the Summa Contra Gentiles and the Summa Theologiae. We must distinguish, says Levering, between “the necessary and free modes of God’s one eternal will: “We know that in willing himself necessarily—in the very same act of willing, since God’s infinitely actual will does not change or alter in any way—wills finite things freely in accord with their contingent mode of being.” I do wish, though, that Levering had explicitly addressed the alleged problem of modal collapse. Something seems wrong about the way the problem has been formulated by analytic philosophers. By my mind, they misunderstand the nature of divine transcendence.

For me personally chapters 1 & 2 are the most interesting in the book, both because of my own Orthodox commitments and my recent reading in St Dionysius the Areopagite. I kept wondering if the Areopagite might have something to add to the debate, particularly as exegeted by Neoplatonist philosopher Eric Perl. If God exists beyond being (and does Aquinas really think otherwise?), does the divine simplicity really pose the either/or dilemmas advanced by Lossky and Bradshaw? I lack the theological chops to offer a judgment on the debate, but I think that Levering has presented a substantive response that needs careful consideration by Eastern critics of Aquinas. It may still be that the Byzantine distinction between essence and energies offers a superior philosophical defense of divine freedom; but let’s not pretend that it does not have problems of its own, as David Bentley Hart, among others, has pointed out. More importantly, we need to stop pretending that this is a make-or-break issue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. The Latin theological tradition is not defined by the Thomism of Thomas. Duns Scotus has his own interpretation of divine simplicity, and he’s just as Catholic as Aquinas.

Chapter 3 is devoted to the multiplicity of creatures. Why did God choose to create so many different kinds of beings? And why the dinosaurs? As his dialogue partners, Levering chooses the Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder and St Basil the Great. When the cosmos is understood as theophany, he suggests, even dinosaurs manifest the divine glory:

The vast interstellar spaces, with thier explosions and implosions, their black holes and dark matter and yet-to-be discovered mysteries, are not meaningless. The extinct species that make up such an overwhelming majority of all species that have ever lived are not purposeless. Nothing is cosmic waste or cosmic absurdity, even though material things decay and die, collide with each other, and consum each other as part of the ongoing unfolding of spatiotemporal being … Rather than being useless, dinosaurs and galactic systems are theophanic: in their finite actuality, they point to the creator who is pure act.

Chapter 4 is devoted to the Imago Dei. Levering surveys the different opinions that have been advanced by both classical and contemporary theologians. His dialogue partner is Richard Middleton. I skimmed this chapter pretty quickly, I confess, but folks who love Old Testament exegesis should find it fascinating. Levering concludes: “The intelligent capacity for royal-priestly communion with God, a free participation in God’s wise governance and gifting, is what distinguishes the human race from all other animals.”

Chapter 5 is devoted to reflection upon the divine command “’be fruitful and multiply” in light of the very real threat of ecosystem collapse. Maybe God shouldn’t have saved Noah and his family. Look what’s happened as a result. Levering raises pressing concerns about overpopulation and the depletion of natural resources that the Churches—and humanity—must address. He avoids apodictic conclusions, both because he is non-scientist and because he is seeking to be faithful to the teaching of the Roman Church on contraception. I suspect that some readers, perhaps many, will be disappointed. Levering is a biblical optimist: “I take heart from the seeming recklessness of the provident God who, despite the destruction caused by fallen humans and despite the overpopulation of the land of Israel and its environs, commands his people to be fruitful and multiply.” When does optimism become reckless gambling?

Chapter 6 is devoted to the question of original sin. How do we properly interpret Gen 2-3, given all that we now know of the history of the cosmos and the emergence of human life on our planet? Levering’s Latin Catholicism comes to the fore in this chapter. He cites Pope Pius XII’s 1950 encyclical: “the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents.” In other words, Catholics are bound to believe in a historic Adam and Eve from which all human beings are descended. Why is a commitment to monogenism important? Because the Tridentine doctrine of original sin depends upon it. Somewhat surprisingly, Levering neither exegetes Trent for us nor provides a statement of what he understands original sin to be, though its general features become clear as the discussion proceeds. The essential point is that death—not just physical death but the inherited condition of spiritual death that is damnation—is God’s just punishment for the disobedience of Adam and Eve. If death is not a just punishment, he reasons, then the horrible calamities and sufferings of human history reveal a “cruel, unjust God.” Levering picks four dialogue partners: Karl Rahner, Peter Enns, Jonathan Edwards, and Thomas Aquinas.

I found this chapter disappointing, probably because I’m not an Augustinian on the doctrine of original sin. Discussion of Eastern Orthodox alternatives is reserved to the footnotes. How one assesses Levering’s presentation will depend on how persuasive one finds Aquinas’s arguments. Nor does Levering offer any help regarding the challenging theodicial questions raised by the presence of death, violence, and predation before the emergence of humanity. But perhaps a convincing solution is unavailable to us, whether Augustinian or not.

Chapter 7 is devoted to the atonement of Christ. Again Levering remains firmly in the Latin tradition and its commitment to satisfaction and retributive justice. Yes, satisfaction has a place in the tradition, even the Eastern tradition; but does it deserve the centrality the Latin Church has conferred upon it? Levering chooses Reformed philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff as his principal dialogue partner. Wolterstorff argues, in Levering’s words, that “Jesus made a crucial ethical advance by rejecting the ‘reciprocity code’ as a standard for justice.” No longer is justice to be conceived as retributive, a balancing of the scales; no longer are we to return evil for evil. “Love your enemies,” the Lord declares, “and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt 5:44). Levering agrees with Wolterstorff’s interpretation, with this important qualification: Jesus did not repudiate the reciprocity code tout court. We may still anticipate God’s repayment of our acts of love: “You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:13-14). Levering also points out that Jesus affirms retributive justice in the parable of the Last Judgment, as does the Apostle Paul. Levering concludes:

Although Wolterstorff rightly underscores the ways in which Jesus rejects the reciprocity code, therefore, he exaggerates when he argues that Jesus’ “rejection of the negative side of the reciprocity code implies opposition to retributive punishment in general.” On the contrary, Jesus consistently looks forward to a retributive punishment that God will apply at the final judgment to those who reject God’s offer of mercy in Jesus. Wolterstorff is, of course, aware of this, but he does not give it sufficient attention. He states simply, “If redressing injury (harm, evil) has any place at all in the moral order, God will do it. Leave it to God.” But if the Gospels and Epistles are any evidence, there is no “if” about whether “redressing injury” has a place in God’s moral order.

This leads Levering into a discussion of the Cross as satisfaction for the sins of humanity:

In my view, the above biblical texts about Jesus’ cross indicate that the justice that Jesus fulfilled on the cross—as part of his mission to accomplish the restoration of Israel and to inaugurate the kingdom of God—was in fact retributive justice: Jesus paid the retributive penalty of death for us. As I noted above, the New Testament also teaches that those who are being configured to Jesus’ love by the Holy Spirit will receive an everlasting reward due in reciprocal justice (though the reward will go beyond any merely human reciprocity), while those who freely reject Jesus’s love will receive retributive punishment.

In other words, Levering believes that the Scriptures teach a retributive theory of substitutionary atonement. The Eastern Fathers are notably absent (cf. Patrick Henry Reardon’s Reclaiming the Atonement). Pascha disappears into the background. Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, and Edwards win the day.

As I read this chapter, I kept thinking that Levering really needs to read George MacDonald’s unspoken homily “Justice,” as well as the growing body of biblical and philosophical scholarship on restorative justice. He is not ignorant of this scholarship—he mentions some of it in his footnotes—but it does not inform his conclusions; it cannot inform them, because of Levering’s (and Aquinas’s) prior commitment to the Latin dogma of eternal punishment (cf. John Kronen and Eric Reitan, God’s Final Victory). (Hell has a way of working itself back into one’s reading of the Scriptures.) Levering is not quite comfortable, though, with the notion of eternal punishment and so seeks to mitigate the divine wrath by invoking a distinction, which he finds in Aquinas, between active and passive punishment: “God does not actively inflict the punishment [of eternal perdition], but the punishment is retributive because the punishment consists in a harm that the sinner incurs due to the harm that the sinner has inflicted.” I wonder where Levering finds this distinction between active and passive eschatological punishment in the New Testament. It doesn’t seem to fit, for example, with Jesus’ parable of the Last Judgment. God’s condemnation of the goats is as active as his rewarding of the sheep.

I recommend Engaging the Doctrine of Creation to all theologically-minded Christians, no matter their denominational commitments. It is classic Levering, which means that it is filled with biblical and theological substance and thoughtful analysis. I have only one suggestion—and it’s probably unfair of me to raise it. One day I hope the author will eventually turn to writing his own systematic theology. If and when he does, I hope he will provide us with his own voice, rather than the many voices of the theologians and exegetes he has exhaustively devoured. Matthew Levering has both the intelligence and the erudition for such a project.

To my readers, I suggest that Engaging the Doctrine of Creation might be profitably read alongside the little book by Simon Oliver: Creation: A Guide for the Perplexed. The two books complement each other very well.

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8 Responses to Book Review: Engaging the Doctrine of Creation

  1. malcolmsnotes says:

    Nice Review Al.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem Levering even comprehends the depth of either the modal collapse criticism nor the problem with the divine ideas.

    If God is simply identical to his willing of creation, then creation collapses into God – as either a “part” of God, or something necessarily following from his nature. But anything necessarily following from God’s nature would just be God, per DS. On the other hand, since God cannot have parts per DS, then creation must just be identical God. Both views, obviously, are rejected by orthodox theologians.

    Consider: if God is simply his act of will, which is simply himself, and if this is simply identical to God’s act of creation, then simply by positing God, you necessarily posit creation. It is irrelevant whether or not the divine will “changes” or moves from potency to act in the creative act. The problem is one of distinction. Or, more precisely, modality and dependence. Is creation necessary? If no, then simply by positing God (or his will, which is just God), you cannot also necessarily posit creation. But then, the act of creating cannot itself be identical to God or the divine essence itself. Unless you draw a distinction in God – of him willing himself *and also* willing creation, say. But then, DS collapses too, because you have a real distinction in God. For notice the *and also* – which is not identical to the divine essence itself simply willing itself.

    Likewise with the divine ideas (DI). According to DS, whatever is in God, just is God. That is, it is identical to the divine essence. But if DI’s are in God, then God is identical to his ideas of creatures. Now, would Levering say that the divine essence is just God’s idea of creatures? Is the divine essence, say, simply identical to God’s idea of all possible worlds? What about God himself? Does God have an idea of himself? And if so, how could that idea be different than his idea of creatures, since God himself is not identical to creatures, and the divine essence just is God’s idea of possible worlds?

    Maybe there are answers to these questions reconcilable with DS. But the fact that the objections aren’t even brought up suggests that most defenders of DS don’t really understand the consequences of the metaphysics well enough to begin with.

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    • Thomas says:

      “… if God is simply his act of will, which is simply himself, and if this is simply identical to God’s act of creation, then simply by positing God, you necessarily posit creation.”

      That is precisely why St. Thomas does not identify God’s acts of willing the world with the act of willing himself, and regards the former as true by extrinsic denomination. I’m not as well read in the other Medievals, e.g., Scotus, but as far as I can tell this has been a solved problem for centuries, at least in the tradition stemming from St. Thomas Aquinas.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Chris, you didn’t mention if you have read Levering’s book or not. If you haven’t, then you don’t know, do you, whether Levering “comprehends the depth of either the modal collapse criticism nor the problem with the divine ideas”? Do check out the first two chapters of the book and assess for yourself.

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      • malcolmsnotes says:

        I haven’t read it. My comment was based off your review. Of course, if he does comprehend it that’s excellent, and I would be all the better to comprehend him, so then I could comprehend the answer.

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    • Levering discusses the modal collapse in other works as well, especially his Scripture and Metaphysics: Aquinas and the Renewal of Trinitarian Theology. I don’t have it in front of me, but see his chapter on God’s knowledge and will.

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  2. Fr. Kimel, thanks for the review. I do wonder, as you do, how instructive Dionysus might be in the simplicity debate. I finished reading Perl’s Theophany last week and found it to be one of the most fascinating books I have read in recent years. While there was much that stuck out to me in Perl’s treatment of the Areopagite, one that stood apart was how he deals with determinism and freedom. As I have wrestled with the implications of simplicity, the question of determinism has always loomed large. Coming from the Calvinist tradition, which nowadays I am much more loosely attached, simplicity has added new depths to the issue that go far beyond the way confessional Reformed theology has construed Divine sovereignty. I can’t really speak to how Levering deals with the matter, since the only awareness I have of his work is this review – and know this, I hold you personally responsible for my ever growing must-read list!

    Forgive me if circling back to Dionysus wanders far afield from this review. But, what seems clear to me is that his models for determinism and freedom, at least as far as my reading across Orthodox, Catholic, and Reformed traditions is sui generis inasmuch as he transcends the usual categories of compatibilism and libertarianism. It is this transcendence that preserves the validity of both by allowing the tensions between the two to remain a genuine feature of Divine activity and the manner in which creation remains, proceeds, and returns within the act of creation. Thomas, as I read him, more than other theologians seems to pick up on the Dionysian models even if Dionysus himself navigates the relations between necessity and freedom with more finesse. The best I can come up with is that while choice might be an expression of freedom, it is not the essence of it. Rather freedom is expressed in being, for creatures, this means we are not truly free until we are the beings we were made to be and that we fail to be beings inasmuch as our choices are still inclined to privations, which by definition is a movement into non-being. When it comes to the outworking of simplicity, God’s freedom is not deliberative, but expressive of the plenitude of his perfections which are disclosed to us in the Divine Names which are all identical to his goodness and which emanates from himself into creation.

    I think that any theological formulae of creatio ex nihilo ought to deal seriously with Dionysus, as he, perhaps more than anyone else captures the fullest expression of what it means to be a creature. I have benefited greatly from the work you have done on this topic and I look forward to (hopefully) more posts that deal with it.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Jed, you are spot on in this comment. I agree with you that Deny’s apprehension of divininity transcends “the usual categories of compatibilism and libertarianism.” Clearly he read David Bentley Hart’s The Hidden and the Manifest. 😉 I’m not sure if I agree with you, though, that the Areopagite dealt with divine freedom with more finesse that Aquinas. By my reading, he really doesn’t address it head-on, whereas Aquinas does. If Perl is right in his interpretation of Aquinas (see Thinking Being), then Aquinas’s understanding of the divine esse is equivalent to Dionysius’s hyperousios. What Aquinas does, which Denys doesn’t, is to reflect at length on the attribute of divine volition in light of the radical understanding of divine transcendence that he found in the Areopagite, Augustine, Avicenna, and The Book of Causes. Does he succeed? The spirits divide.

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  3. Mark says:

    Thanks for summarizing this massive work!

    I ran into it on googlebooks a bit ago, and was dissapointed to see he didn’t like Enns. “The Evolution of Adam” was a game changer for me. But as Louth points out in his Introduction to Orthodox Theology, reformed (and in Levering’s case, Catholic) folks have a much more difficult time taking Adam as a symbolic/mythical figure.

    Perhaps Levering is pushing harder than he needs to for a literal Adam, even from a staunch Catholic perspective. It certainly seems like Benedict XVI doesn’t see a historical Adam as an absolute necessity. Here’s Benedict’s most pertinent comments:

    “as people of today we must ask ourselves: what is this original sin? What does St Paul teach, what does the Church teach? Is this doctrine still sustainable today? Many think that in light of the history of evolution, there is no longer room for the doctrine of a first sin that then would have permeated the whole of human history. And, as a result, the matter of Redemption and of the Redeemer would also lose its foundation. Therefore, does original sin exist or not? In order to respond, we must distinguish between two aspects of the doctrine on original sin. There exists an empirical aspect, that is, a reality that is concrete, visible, I would say tangible to all. And an aspect of mystery concerning the ontological foundation of this event. The empirical fact is that a contradiction exists in our being. On the one hand every person knows that he must do good and intimately wants to do it. Yet at the same time he also feels the other impulse to do the contrary, to follow the path of selfishness and violence, to do only what pleases him, while also knowing that in this way he is acting against the good, against God and against his neighbour. In his Letter to the Romans St Paul expressed this contradiction in our being in this way: “I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (7: 18-19). This inner contradiction of our being is not a theory. Each one of us experiences it every day. And above all we always see around us the prevalence of this second will. It is enough to think of the daily news of injustice, violence, falsehood and lust. We see it every day. It is a fact.

    As a consequence of this evil power in our souls, a murky river developed in history which poisons the geography of human history. Blaise Pascal, the great French thinker, spoke of a “second nature”, which superimposes our original, good nature. This “second nature” makes evil appear normal to man. Hence even the common expression “he’s human” has a double meaning. “He’s human”, can mean: this man is good, he really acts as one should act. But “he’s human”, can also imply falsity: evil is normal, it is human. Evil seems to have become our second nature. This contradiction of the human being, of our history, must evoke, and still evokes today, the desire for redemption. And, in reality, the desire for the world to be changed and the promise that a world of justice, peace and good will be created exists everywhere. In politics, for example, everyone speaks of this need to change the world, to create a more just world. And this is precisely an expression of the longing for liberation from the contradiction we experience within us.

    Thus, the existence of the power of evil in the human heart and in human history is an undeniable fact. The question is: how can this evil be explained? In the history of thought, Christian faith aside, there exists a key explanation of this duality, with different variations. This model says: being in itself is contradictory, it bears within it both good and evil. In antiquity, this idea implied the opinion that two equally primal principles existed: a good principle and a bad principle. This duality would be insuperable; the two principles are at the same level, so this contradiction from the being’s origin would always exist. The contradiction of our being would therefore only reflect the contrary nature of the two divine principles, so to speak. In the evolutionist, atheist version of the world the same vision returns in a new form. Although in this conception the vision of being is monist, it supposes that being as such bears within itself both evil and good from the outset. Being itself is not simply good, but open to good and to evil. Evil is equally primal with the good. And human history would develop only the model already present in all of the previous evolution. What Christians call original sin would in reality be merely the mixed nature of being, a mixture of good and evil which, according to atheist thought, belong to the same fabric of being. This is a fundamentally desperate view: if this is the case, evil is invincible. In the end all that counts is one’s own interest. All progress would necessarily be paid for with a torrent of evil and those who wanted to serve progress would have to agree to pay this price. Politics is fundamentally structured on these premises and we see the effects of this. In the end, this modern way of thinking can create only sadness and cynicism.

    And let us therefore ask again: what does faith witnessed to by St Paul tell us? As the first point, it confirms the reality of the competition between the two natures, the reality of this evil whose shadow weighs on the whole of Creation. We heard chapter seven of the Letter to the Romans, we shall add chapter eight. Quite simply, evil exists. As an explanation, in contrast with the dualism and monism that we have briefly considered and found distressing, faith tells us: there exist two mysteries, one of light and one of night, that is, however, enveloped by the mysteries of light. The first mystery of light is this: faith tells us that there are not two principles, one good and one evil, but there is only one single principle, God the Creator, and this principle is good, only good, without a shadow of evil. And therefore, being too is not a mixture of good and evil; being as such is good and therefore it is good to be, it is good to live. This is the good news of the faith: only one good source exists, the Creator. Therefore living is a good, it is a good thing to be a man or a woman life is good. Then follows a mystery of darkness, or night. Evil does not come from the source of being itself, it is not equally primal. Evil comes from a freedom created, from a freedom abused.

    How was it possible, how did it happen? This remains obscure. Evil is not logical. Only God and good are logical, are light. Evil remains mysterious. It is presented as such in great images, as it is in chapter 3 of Genesis, with that scene of the two trees, of the serpent, of sinful man: a great image that makes us guess but cannot explain what is itself illogical. We may guess, not explain; nor may we recount it as one fact beside another, because it is a deeper reality. It remains a mystery of darkness, of night. But a mystery of light is immediately added. Evil comes from a subordinate source. God with his light is stronger. And therefore evil can be overcome. Thus the creature, man, can be healed. The dualist visions, including the monism of evolutionism, cannot say that man is curable; but if evil comes only from a subordinate source, it remains true that man is healable. And the Book of Wisdom says: “he made the nations of the world curable” (1: 14 Vulgate). And finally, the last point: man is not only healable, but is healed de facto. God introduced healing. He entered into history in person. He set a source of pure good against the permanent source of evil. The Crucified and Risen Christ, the new Adam, counters the murky river of evil with a river of light. And this river is present in history: we see the Saints, the great Saints but also the humble saints, the simple faithful. We see that the stream of light which flows from Christ is present, is strong.”

    BENEDICT XVI

    GENERAL AUDIENCE

    Paul VI Audience Hall
    Wednesday, 3 December 2008

    I pasted this into an email to myself months ago and I’m actually not sure where I found it but I’m sure if you copy and paste some phrases, you could find it on google.

    I find his explanation of the origin of sin/evil breathtaking. And it seems like his point is that the story of salvation works with or without a historical Adam/Eve.

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