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Response to Professor Peter—II

Catholic Theological Society of America
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  • Philosophy


RESPONSE TO PROFESSOR PETER-II 1 Pet 3:15, to which Professor Peter alludes in his interesting contribution, admonishes the Christian reader: "Always be prepared to make a defense (apologian) to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you." Fully in accord with this text* is the Roman Catholic position that there exist "motives of credibility" for the Chris- tian faith. Paul himself makes use of such a motive when he points out to the Corinthians that most of the five hundred witnesses of the risen Lord are still alive (1 Cor 15:6) and thus can be consulted. The resur- rection of Jesus has a special place in Christian apologetics because it provides, as Moltmann says, a glimpse of the future and final meaning of life. The question is: in what sort of relationship does God's future, as revealed in the resurrection of Jesus, stand to our present? what sort of "motive of credibility" is provided by the apostolic witness that Jesus has been raised from the dead? Professor Peter believes that St. Thomas deserves a hearing in this matter, since "he saw the not-yet in terms of its beginning in the here-and-now." Hence he can remedy the irration- ality of Moltmann's position, which "has considerably diminished any grounds in the present (emphasis mine) for making statements about God and providence." The trouble is that the Thomistic texts cited have nothing to do with the resurrection of Jesus. Professor Peter's affirmation that "The Lord's future gifts are already anticipated in history, helping give a meaning to history" may be true as a general proposition, but when applied to the resurrection it is highly misleading. Difficulties arise on two counts: (1) The relationship of the risen Lord to this present age is a strictly dialectical one, so that our share in the power of the resurrec- tion can in no way be explained by metaphysical analogy. (Contrast: "Participation and analogy go hand in hand in this case.") (2) The grounds for the credibility of the

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