Conor Cunningham’s “Natura Pura, The Invention of the Anti-Christ: A Week With No Sabbath, writes about “the catastrophe that is ontological naturalism” and its relation to the concept of natura pura.

Of specific interest to me is how Cunningham relates this conversation to the concept of supernatural grace. Because creation is teleologically ordered, “grace presumes nature, but at the same time it proposes nature” (248). Cunningham goes on to argue that only in the world of Gratia non tollit naturam, sed perficit can there be utter newness:

“the event of this God incarnate is utter rupture; and it is, therefore, pure newness; it must be. But if newness is thought almost in spatial terms, if, that is, this newness is absolute, then no relation can obtain, for newness understood this way is new to the point of being irrelevant, foreign or alien, unnatural even. Put it this way: if, metaphorically speaking, the ‘Old Testament’ cannot recognize the ‘New Testament,’ if, that is, it does not anticipate and in a sense desire the message of the New Testament, or if nature does not recognize or recollect (anamnesis) grace, then they are immiscible. When God becomes incarnate there is real becoming (and also fittingness, conventia), something happens to creation – creation is taken up into the life of the eternal God. In short, deification is hominization. Consequently, ‘the glory of God is many fully alive, and the life of man is the vision of God’ (Irenaeus)” (248-9).

Cunningham’s reference to “spatial terms” is key, I think. So many recent conversations surrounding the “event” of Christianity are thought in purely spatialized terms, thus harboring a hidden bias toward natura pura. Instead, Cunningham prods us to think in terms having to do with anamnesis, conventia, deification and the communicato idiomatum.

Why is this important? In a world shorn of conventia, how could grace be seen as anything other than an alien intrusion? If there is no such thing as real substantial relations, how could we ever hope to have a politics of peace?

Advertisements