Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chesterton on Aristotelian Christianity

In a word, St. Thomas was making Christendom more Christian
in making it more Aristotelian. This is not a paradox but a
plain truism, which can only be missed by those who may know
what is meant by an Aristotelian, but have simply forgotten
what is meant by a Christian. As compared with a Jew,
a Moslem, a Buddhist, a Deist, or most obvious alternatives,
a Christian means a man who believes that deity or sanctity
has attached to matter or entered the world of the senses.
Some modern writers, missing this simple point, have even talked
as if the acceptance of Aristotle was a sort of concession
to the Arabs; like a Modernist vicar making a concession to
the Agnostics. They might as well say that the Crusades were
a concession to the Arabs as say that Aquinas rescuing Aristotle
from Averrhoes was a concession to the Arabs. The Crusaders
wanted to recover the place where the body of Christ had been,
because they believed, rightly or wrongly, that it was a
Christian place. St. Thomas wanted to recover what was in essence
the body of Christ itself; the sanctified body of the Son of Man
which had become a miraculous medium between heaven and earth.
And he wanted the body, and all its senses, because he believed,
rightly or wrongly, that it was a Christian thing. It might be
a humbler or homelier thing than the Platonic mind; that is why
it was Christian. St. Thomas was, if you will, taking the lower
road when he walked in the steps of Aristotle. So was God,
when He worked in the workshop of Joseph.

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