D. Stephen Long, grace, love, ontology

Long on Gift, Love, and Ontology

I do not mean to keep quoting from Long, but he has put forth an interesting work that intersects well with some of my own interests. And since I refer to this blog more than I’m sure any other reader does, so as to help organize my own thoughts, here is another post with another quote.

Here we find Milbank answering the question why there is something rather than nothing. The answer is ‘gift.’ The gift of Christ to redeem us is the plenitude that allows us t ‘glimpse’ the Fall and thereby Creation. This answer assumes that love is as basic to our existence as reason, which is something Balthasar endeavored to show. We do not understand reason well if it remains unrelated to love. We can only know what we love and love what we know. Love is the perfection against which Creation and reason can appear.

John Paul II states this well. “The truth Revelation allows us to know is neither the mature fruit nor the highest reach of the reflections of human reason. On the contrary, it is the expression, together with its particular characteristics, of a totally free gift: it stirs up and disturbs ideas and requires that it be accepted as a declaration of love.” Only on the basis of an ontology of love can gift be understood Because love, and not pure reason, is the basic structure of being, the failure of human reason to achieve its infinite desires is not negative but positive. Thus we do not need to negate reason in order to believe, but rather supplement and intensify it. We receive knowledge as a gift. To forget the necessity of gift, or to bracket it out as philosophically problematic, is equivalent to forgetting that our very being only comes through the laborious gift of another. Of course, gift’s necessity does not entail reception. I can reject the gift of being. Gift, another name for the Holy Spirit, is the fullness of being, the perfection that surrounds us with an inevitable desire for truth, goodness, and beauty. It illumines our lives.

Page 158-159.


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