Conversio religiosa B
Archival Number: A562b
Author: Lonergan, B.
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran
56300D0L060 April 30 (2)
Religious conversion B
Religion under the explicit, historical, interpersonal aspect is the transition from the reign of sin to the reign of God.
Sin: (a) what is said, done, desired against the law of God – formal sin; aversion from God and conversion to creatures, known and chosen (indirectly); (b) sin is known through the law: Romans 3.20; it is conversion to creatures, aversion from God preceding knowledge and choice; the wound of ignorance, malice, concupiscence, infirmity: 1-2, q. 85, a. 3; (c) thus, we are born without the virtues, the habits of good operation; until we acquire the virtues, we lack them, and whoever lacks the virtues lacks prudence, justice, temperance, fortitude, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, the arts; in individual cases one is able through inquiry, reflection, deliberation to know and choose the good, but is not able in similar cases to inquire, reflect, deliberate. De veritate, q. 24, a. 12; compare In II Sent., d. 28, q. 1, a. 2.
The reign of sin: sin reigns in the world, Romans 6.20.
(1) this is omitted in classical philosophy, which treats of man as such and of that which is common to people asleep and awake, children and adults, wise and foolish.
(2) it is the terminus a quo of Christianity and of the NT (Romans 1.18-3.20) and the terminus a quo of apologetics, which wants to lead others to conversion. Classical apologetics: man inquiring about a hypothetical divine revelation, and about his hypothetical obligations.
(3) it is a historical fact of the first magnitude; history that prescinds from sin prescinds from concrete fact, which is found always and everywhere; it is not out of humility but in truth that we pray, ‘Forgive us our trespasses.’ This has decisive effects under other aspects but especially under the religious aspect.
(4) the fact of sin is not omitted just because the principal element is omitted in a historical account.
What is the reign of sin? A model, that is, not a fact, a typical case that is described, but a dynamic scheme that (1) necessarily is verified, under the hypothesis of sin, (2) exhibits the indubitable consequences of sin, given sin.
‘Gratia operans’ Theological Studies 1941-42, Insight, especially chapters 6, 7, 18, 20, and Epilogue.
It is the reign of sin (1) because it excludes religious conversion, and (2) it distorts psychological, social, and cultural development. Thus it enters as a determination of methodical categories: comparative, synthetic-organic [N.B., earlier this was ‘complexiva’], genetic, dialectical: horizon understood developmentally and in terms of conversion.
It distorts development. How does one attain to the synthetic-organic, and the genetic [development]? (a) by nature: family, hunger, thirst, fruit-gathering, fishing, hunting, cultivation of the earth, among primitives, and after a nuclear war; (b) all further matters from the data through inquiry, understanding, counsel, election, action, doing, whence at a given time the progressive process starts over again on its own. Challenge and Response as model, not as empirical generalization: Walsh, Philosophy 1963, Toynbee Reconsidered.
Insofar as sin enters (1) there enters something unintelligible, irrational, absurd, contrary to right reason. Why did Adam sin? Why did the angels sin? If there were a ‘why,’ it would not be sin. There are apparent reasons and excuses, but there is no reason why sin is, since sin is precisely opposed to reason. There is a radical dialectical element, a contradiction between the rational and the irrational.
(2) There enters something absurd into the human situation. The absurd is not found only in the inner acts of will but also in the consequent action and doing/making.
(3) The absurd enters into the human situation in a cumulating way: given the reign of sin, just as earlier so also later counsels are distorted by the absurd; in lieu of a progressive process there is had a process of growing absurdity. [Sideline: revolution, reform, aggiornamento]
(4) Look at human affairs with new eyes. We do not need the writings of Kafka and Camus, but just inspect those daily affairs that students and professors ask about, that the faithful ask about, and acknowledge as absurd what are absurd, ask and you will find sin, the probability of sin, the fear [?] of sin and abuse [?]. Along these lines are social, political, economic, bureaucratic, educational, legal determinisms. We are caught in snares, even after Christ, even in priestly and religious life. How much more other works, subordinates, administrators, in industry, commerce, medicine, military, diplomacy, the scientific world.
(5) Not only is the human situation cumulatively penetrated with absurdities and distorted, but also human culture makes its own compromises. Culture is a kind of superstructure. The meaning that is embodied, not in daily practical actions but in art and letters, is not necessarily corrupted by the absurdity of the concrete situation; it can oppose the absurdity, and the higher it is, the more vehemently it will do so.
But this opposition seems ‘unreal,’ in an ivory tower, separated and segregated from concrete life, from any possible concrete way of living. Then cultural works are ‘idealistic,’ and what is realistic is what displays man as he is, and what is approved is man who lives as best he can.