Fall 1983, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 241-255.

Donald L. Gelpi:
      Two Spiritual Paths: Thematic Grace vs. Transmuting Grace (Part 1)

A generally accepted theology of grace fails to explain the experience of conversion, ineptly interprets non-Christian religious experience, and mutes the church's kerygmatic preaching.

Father Gelpi, S.J., professor of systematic theology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, California, is author of Pentecostalism: A Theological Viewpoint and Charism and Sacrament: A Theology of Christian Conversion, among other books and articles.

ST. TERESA of Avila prized theological competence in her spiritual directors. That wise and holy lady knew that a healthy spirituality must be rooted in sound doctrine. For many years I found a particular theology of grace attractive. That theology of grace, for a variety of historical reasons, denies that "pure human nature" exists in the concrete and implies a particular psychological and theological understanding of the relationship between nature and grace. I call this approach "a theology of thematic grace." The theologians who defend this position -- Karl Rahner, for example -- do not use my term thematic grace, but it describes what they espouse. They defend the hypothesis that every human individual longs spontaneously for the beatific vision. This longing, however, remains implicit and unthematic until it is explicated and thematized by supernatural faith.

Eventually both personal and pastoral experience, as well as reflection on the presuppositions of this theology, convinced me of its invalidity. In this article I will try to explain why I abandoned a theory of thematic grace for an understanding of grace as ongoing and radical transmutation. I will suggest, moreover, that these two doctrines lead to different approaches to spiritual growth and development.

My reflections divide into four sections. In the first I will review the emergence and popularization of the notion of thematic grace. In section two, I will argue that, despite an initial attractiveness, the idea of thematic grace finally rests on a fallacious conception of human nature. In section three, I will argue that a valid insight into human existence demands both that we rehabilitate theologically the notion of human nature and that we replace the notion of thematic grace with an understanding of grace as ongoing, radical transmutation. Finally, in the fourth section I will attempt to explore the practical consequences of my argument for an understanding of Christian spirituality.


Joseph Maréchal, S.J. (1878-1944), laid the speculative foundations for a modern theory of thematic grace. A philosopher rather than a theologian, Maréchal attempted to reply systematically to the contention of Emmanuel Kant that the idea of God is an empty, unverifiable conception.

Maréchal reached the height of his speculative career at a difficult time for Catholic intellectuals. Between 1922 and 1923 he published the first three volumes of his monumental five-volume work, Le point de départ de la metaphysique (The Starting Point of Metaphysics). At the time witch hunts for modernists had subsided. But conservative integralists still kept a weather eye peeled for deviant speculative innovations. Catholic intellectuals had to submit to the constraints of strict ecclesiastical censorship. Maréchal's sympathetic reading of Kant's philosophy in the third volume of The Starting Point of Metaphysics caused alarmed conservatives to label him a "Kantian." They intended the label as a reproach. In the 1920s Kant's works were still listed on the index of forbidden books. Loyal Catholic intellectuals were expected in obedience to Pope Leo XIII's encyclical Aeterni Patris to defend some form of Thomism. In the eyes of suspicious integralists, Maréchal's Kantian leanings left him open to the charge of heterodoxy.

Maréchal defended himself from this attack by publishing immediately the final volume of his projected five-volume work. The fourth would not appear till after his death. But after careful censorship and several revisions, the fifth volume saw print three years after the third, in 1926. In it Maréchal argued that a Thomistic theory of knowledge anticipates the problems raised by Kant and demonstrates the invalidity of the Kantian attempt to reduce the idea of God to an empty, unverifiable philosophical concept. In Kant's analysis of the a priori structures of knowing, Maréchal argued, the German philosopher had erred by limiting his account of human cognition to an analysis of the relationship between concrete sense images and abstract universal ideas. In the process, Maréchal urged, Kant had overlooked a more fundamental a priori structure of consciousness, a structure which a Thomistic theory of knowledge supplies. For Aquinas had penetrated to the reason why we apply abstract, conceptual labels to the things we see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, We do so in order to form judgments about them. And our judgments grasp reality, being, truth. To the reflective mind, Maréchal believed, the alleged human ability to ask endless questions about things and to make endless judgments about them teaches us that the human intellect of its very nature thirsts inexhaustibly after truth, after reality, after being itself.

Maréchal waxed most eloquent whenever he described the faculty of the intellect as a dynamic appetite for being. In Thomistic psychology, being supplies the spiritual faculty of the intellect with its formal object. Maréchal portrayed this relation of the intellect to being in dramatic terms. He saw the human mind as a driving appetite for being, restlessly unable to find satisfaction in the judgmental grasp of any particular, limited, contingent reality. The understanding of this person or that event leaves the human mind unsatisfied, he argued. It spontaneously seeks more knowledge, other insights, other truths. And this alleged fact teaches us that when the intellect thirsts for being, it really thirsts for Absolute Being, for Infinite Truth, for God. It yearns, moreover, not for some empty idea of God but for the living actuality itself. Since, furthermore, the intellect provides the will with the objects of spiritual desire, within the spiritual faculties of the intellect and will there wells up naturally an insatiable longing for the divine. That longing is conditioned in the sense that nature of itself lacks the means to fulfill it, but it nevertheless springs from human nature. As a consequence, Maréchal did not hesitate (with the blessing of Aquinas) to discover in every human psyche a natural longing for the beatific vision. And, he noted, natural appetites demand fulfillment, even when that fulfillment is effected through an act of divine grace.(1)

FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS P Maréchal's seminal work has helped inspire several influential Catholic theologians. Among them, Henri de Lubac, S.J., and Karl Rahner, S.J., have perhaps built most effectively on his insights in order to develop and popularize their particular theologies of thematic grace.

De Lubac marshaled his encyclopedic grasp of the Christian theological tradition in order to lend sanction to Thomistic belief in a natural desire for the beatific vision. But his thought advanced significantly beyond that of Maréchal's in its systematic assault on the concept of "pure nature." We live, de Lubac argued, in a world transformed by grace. Theologians need not, therefore, construct hypotheses about the way things might have been arranged had the order of grace never existed. Rather, they must give an account of the world as it actually exists in its concrete graced condition. Moreover, he rejected any attempt to conceive the order of grace as merely reproducing at a supernatural level powers and operations already present in human nature. Rather, the spiritual dimension of human nature must be so conceived that by its very existence it opens onto the divine. He insisted on the continuity between the natural and the supernatural orders: "grace prefects nature." He believed that the gratuity of divine grace was sufficiently preserved if one holds that God, in creating each individual, assigns it a supernatural end. In impressing a supernatural destiny upon the human spirit (however that might occur), God elevates it to a purpose and a fulfillment that exceeds its natural powers.

De Lubac conceded the paradox of conceiving human nature as naturally destined to a supernatural end. But he believed that the infinite horizon of the intellect and will sets human nature apart from subhuman creatures. It instills in the human spirit a natural desire for union with God as the only reality that can satisfy the human spirit's infinite longing for truth and goodness. Since this union can be accomplished only through the action of divine grace, the soul's capacity for union should be characterized as obediential: at no point can human nature claim grace as something owed to it. The desire for divine union, moreover, can be fulfilled only by supernatural means.

Deprived of the light of revelation and left to its own devices, the human spirit will, de Lubac believed, overlook its mysterious and spontaneous longing for God. The idea of a natural longing for a supernatural fulfillment also baffles common sense, which seeks to deny it. Only the person of faith, he insisted, recognizes that "the offer of grace expresses in the realm of moral liberty the same act of divine origin which the summons to the supernatural expresses in the ontological realm."(2)

Karl Rahner's theory of thematic grace differs from de Lubac's both in details and in complexity. A subtle and nuanced thinker, Rahner has absorbed theological influences from a variety of sources. But his Maréchalian roots show themselves both in his method and in the metaphysics of knowledge which he espouses.

Like Maréchal, Rahner's thought seeks to blend Kantian transcendental method with a neo-Thomistic metaphysics and theory of knowledge. But Rahner advances beyond Maréchal in his concern with the theological implications of a Thomistic metaphysical psychology. Not content to seek for the conditions for the possibility of knowing in general, Rahner extends transcendental method into the realm of Christian belief. He seeks to grasp the conditions for the possibility of faith in Christian revelation. Among those conditions, however, he includes a metaphysics of knowledge reminiscent of Maréchal's. Moreover, he believes that that metaphysics explains and unifies every human speculative enterprise, including the enterprise of theology.

Rahner characterizes the human person as a "spirit in the world." The human spirit, by the spontaneous dynamism of both intellect and will, stands from the first moment of its existence oriented toward being. This spontaneous orientation expresses the essence of spirit and endows it with a "transcendental" horizon which includes the world-transcending reality of God. But the human spirit also exists in the world because, being embodied, it becomes conscious of its transcendental dimension through interaction with sensible, spacio-temporal realities. These supply the words, the categories, that the human spirit needs in order to reach explicit self-awareness. Of its very nature, therefore, the human spirit lives in dynamic openness to a God whose historical words and deeds of self-revelation provide humans with the categories they need to grasp their inbuilt, a priori openness to the infinite, mysterious, and ultimately ineffable reality of God.

Rahner's endorsement of the main lines of a Thomistic theory of knowledge becomes even more apparent when he identifies the transcendent horizon of spiritual self-awareness, the human mind's dynamic "pre-apprehension of being," with the formal object of the faculty called the "agent intellect." This faculty, or power of the soul, supposedly mediates between the transcendental and the categorical dimensions of the human spirit. In its dynamic pre-apprehension of any and every reality, the agent intellect endows the human spirit with an abiding essential openness to both created and uncreated being. At the same time, by abstracting from sensory and imaginative awareness the concepts the mind needs to interpret itself and its world, the agent intellect provides the human spirit with the categories it needs to reach explicit selfawareness to thematize its longing for God.(3)

Rahner's endorsement and elaboration of a Maréchalian metaphysics of knowledge helps provide speculative warranty for his theology of thematic grace. But he exhibits more concern than de Lubac to qualify Maréchal's belief in a natural human desire for the beatific vision. Maréchal, Rahner suggests, failed to make it sufficiently clear that the beatific vision is not owed to human nature as such. Without proper theological qualification, any attempt to speak of a natural desire for a supernatural reality could seem to call into question the gratuity of divine grace. For it fails to distinguish adequately the gratuity of creation from that of redemption. In other words, it could seem to confound God's free gift of natural existence with his free gift of supernatural life.

Because the beatific vision is a work of supernatural grace, Rahner holds that the longing for it present in the spiritual faculties of intellect and will must also result from the supernatural gracing of each individual. Every human individual from the first moment of existence lives, therefore, in a "supernatural existential." That is to say, grace so transforms the essential dynamic structure of spirit that it longs spontaneously not only for God but for the knowledge of Christ that culminates in the beatific vision. As a consequence, every human being will hear the word of God spoken in Jesus either as the explicitation of its spontaneous longing for a triune, incarnate God, or as a silence. Moreover, because this graced expansion of the formal object of the spiritual faculties of intellect and will is built (somehow) a priori into the psyche, a direct experience of pure human nature no longer lies within the realm of human possibility. Humans can know themselves consciously only as graced.

Rahner's metaphysics of knowledge and the theology of explicit grace it inspires colors the rest of his theology in significant ways. He characterizes guilt and sin as a denial of one's a priori orientation to God and to Christ. Because it is a priori, God's implicit and unthematized self-communication to humans takes place (as an offer) before it is accepted or rejected. Faith thematizes spirit's supernaturally elevated transcendentality. In other words, the historical revelation of God in Christ supplies a posteriori the categories that allow us to interpret the a priori gracing of our experience. Belief in a supernatural existential also colors Rahner's theology of mystery. Our graced pre-apprehension of God orients us to the Christian mystery as such, a mystery that infinitely transcends its particular categorical interpretations and expressions. The supernatural existential also transforms into anonymous Christians all of those non-Christians who follow the spontaneous graced dynamisms of spirit. For anonymous Christians on conversion to Christianity discover the categories they need in order to thematize the longing for Christ that had previously motivated their spiritual quest.(4)

Rahner offers the subtlest and most nuanced account of the dynamics of thematic grace. As a consequence his theory has had considerable impact. It has been popularized in Juan Luis Segundo's four-volume catechetical work, A Theology for the Artisans of a New Humanity.(5) It has also influenced the liberation theology of Gustavo Gutierrez.(6) It is regarded as self-evident by many theologically informed, liberal Catholics.

For many years I found a theology of thematic grace attractive. It avoided the extrinsicism of the old Scholastic text books which spoke of nature and grace as two parallel, but otherwise seemingly unrelated, realities. A theology of thematic grace appealed to experience: it invited individuals to reflect on their personal experience and judge whether or not they discovered there the dynamisms which a theology of explicit grace described. By treating all people of good will as anonymous Christians, it seemed to establish an atmosphere of religious tolerance that boded well for ecumenical dialogue, not only among Christians, but among world religions as well.


With time, however, both personal reflection and pastoral experience have caused me to abandon this particular theory of grace as demonstrably invalid and as spiritually and pastorally misleading. I would like to explain why.

In its present formulation, a theology of thematic grace presupposes the adequacy of Kant's transcendental method. This method, however, has been proven philosophically to be inadequate. Charles Sanders Peirce (1839-1914) can, I believe, claim to be one of the greatest philosophical minds the United States has produced. As a young man, he read Kant's Critique of Pure Reason every day for several hours, until, by his own testimony, he could recite long sections of it by heart. He discontinued the practice when he became convinced of the invalidity of Kant's logic and method. Kant, Peirce contended, had assumed that there is only one kind of inference, or argument, namely, deduction. A professional logician, Peirce had demonstrated to his own satisfaction that there are three kinds of inference, or argument: abductive (or hypothetical) inference; deductive (or predictive) inference; and inductive inference (or the verification or falsification of a deductively clarified hypothesis).(7) In other words, if the human mind is to explain any reality, it must, on the basis of limited data, formulate a fallible hypothetical account of why the reality in question behaves the way it does. It must then understand the predictable consequences of the explanation it proposes. Finally, it must show that its predictions obtain in reality. Let us take an example.

When Charles Darwin set sail on the Beagle, he did not intend to formulate the theory of evolution. But as he amassed more and more biological data, he became convinced that natural selection accounts for the origin of species. That is to say, he proposed evolution through natural selection as a hypothetical explanation of how species originate. But he did not publish his theory for years partly because he knew that, in order to justify it, he had to show that it explained the origin of every biological species. The ability of natural selection to explain the origin of all species remains disputed to this day because the evidence that Darwin predicted deductively would materialize sometimes failed to do so.

I will spare the reader the details of Peirce's theory of logic. But I regard his position as demonstrably sound. If so, however, those who assert that they have proven anything by the use of transcendental method make an inflated and unverifiable logical claim; one cannot deduce a priori the universal structure of the human mind by the simple expedient of reflecting on one's own thought processes. One can only formulate a hypothesis about the way the human mind may be expected to work, an hypothesis based on extremely limited data, an hypothesis that may or may not be true.

A theology of thematic grace in its present formulation stands or falls also with the truth or falsity of Thomistic faculty psychology. Unfortunately, a Thomistic account of human cognition breaks down at two significant points. It cannot adequately explain the origin of the faculties, or powers, of the soul; nor can it satisfactorily explain the origins of intellectual knowledge. We cannot here enter into all the intricacies of these issues.(8) But with regard to the first, St. Thomas says the faculties are produced by the substance of the soul through a process of "natural resultance."(9) This answer, however, is only a verbal solution; it does not really solve the problem and Thomists have not come forth with a more adequate answer.

In regard to the second issue, Aquinas, in order to preserve the spirituality and immortality of the soul, argued that it possesses purely spiritual faculties, namely, the intellect and will. But he also held that all human knowledge originates in the senses. To explain the origin of intellectual knowledge, he postulated the presence in the human spirit of an "agent intellect." This intellect, being spiritual, uses the sensible phantasm to produce a spiritual effect, an impression on the so-called passive intellect, which is what we usually understand by intellect and which forms abstract concepts -- just as the human mind enables a pencil to make intelligible marks on paper. This analogy between the pencil and the image in the imagination limps, of course, for a pencil writes on another material reality, like paper, whereas the sensible image is supposed to produce a purely spiritual effect on a purely spiritual reality, namely, the passive intellect. So Thomistic faculty psychology makes it impossible to explain the derivation of intellectual from sensory knowledge.

All of this may sound far from a theology of thematic grace except for the fact that, in its present formulation, that theology is validated by Thomistic faculty psychology. Maréchal, de Lubac, and Rahner -- all rely on it for their particular contributions to the theology of thematic grace.

Let us put the matter succinctly. A theology of thematic grace argues to the human spirits openness to the infinite "metaphysically" and "a priori." If Peirce's theory of inference holds (and I for one believe that it does), then metaphysics can make no privileged speculative claims. A priori arguments offer only unverified hypotheses. As a consequence, the hypotheses of metaphysical psychology labor under the same fallibility as scientific ones and require similar validation. By the same token, hypotheses about the dynamic structure of the human mind require validation in human cognitive behavior. But alas for a theology of thematic grace, human behavior provides no evidence for affirming the presence in any given individual either of an insatiable desire to grow intellectually or of an orientation toward infinite being.


Psychological testing discovers in the human psyche not an insatiable appetite for being and for truth, but a spontaneous and initially innocent egocentrism that is transformed through habit and through fear into an ego inertia that resists challenge and transformation. Careful study of human cognitive behavior discovers no other tendencies in the human psyche than those acquired in the course of a lifetime. In order to be oriented to the finite idea "being as such," one needs the metaphysical education of a Rahner. Moreover, judged in the light of human cognitive activity, the human intellect enjoys no infinite horizon but only a finite and expandable one. Humans enjoy only limited intellectual interests. They come quickly to an end of the questions they can ask and even more quickly of those they can answer. And they organize the limited solid information they possess into equally limited frames of reference. They can develop finite religious interests and ask finite religious questions. But they can and do elect not to do so.

Here developmental psychology offers some especially enlightening information. Jean Piaget, the dean of developmental psychologists, has argued persuasively that philosophers of knowledge can never agree because they never take the time to test their hypotheses against the way human beings actually think.(10) studies of cognitive development in children, together with those of Lawrence Kohlberg and other developmentalists, give solid evidence for believing that the human mind advances in its thinking from one limited frame of reference to another. Until the age of approximately eighteen months, children live at a sensory-motor level. They cannot even imagine a world. Until the age of eleven they cannot think abstractly. Once the capacity to think abstractly emerges, the mind joins similar propositions together to form identifiable frames of reference: common sense, mathematics, positive science, philosophy, theology. But all these frames of reference open a limited window on the world.(11)other words, the "horizon" of the human mind from birth to death remains irreducibly finite. When healthy the human intellect seeks to expand its horizon on the world. But such expansion may or may not occur.

Nor can we assume that every human intellect enjoys essentially the same cognitive tendencies as every other. The Myers-Briggs test has provided some experimental validation of Jungian personality theory. That theory, however, distinguishes eight major psychological types with correspondingly different ways of thinking.(12) In point of fact, transcendental method in its preoccupation with personal reflection on one's own cognitive structures appeals spontaneously to introverts. And with the spontaneous egotism that characterizes the finite human intellect, those who ply transcendental method tend to assume (incorrectly) that everyone thinks exactly as they do.

The fundamental finitude of the human mind also calls into question Karl Rahner's theological explanation of the human experience of mystery. That humans can and do encounter mystery in the course of their lives cannot be seriously contested. But because Rahner fallaciously assumes that transcendental method gives him privileged access to the dynamic structure of the human psyche, and because he interprets that structure in categories derived from Thomistic faculty psychology, he locates openness to mystery in the powers of the spirit, and especially in the intellectual pre-apprehension of being as such. A more psychologically plausible account of the experience of mystery locates it not in the intellect, finite as it actually is, but in imaginative and appreciative forms of knowing. If anything, intellectual activity dissipates the human sense of mystery. The more rational explanations the human mind possesses, the more diminished its sense of the mysterious. In point of fact, we discover mystery at the precise moment when our rational explanations break down, when we come to an end of what our finite intellect can account for. Then we are thrown back on vaguer feeling, on myth, intuition, imagination, and ritual in order to deal with ourselves and our world. But both rational experiences of intelligible explanation and mythic and ritual explorations into mystery transpire within finite, human frames of reference.

Another difficulty accrues to the attempt of a theology of thematic grace to identify God with the supposedly infinite horizon of the human intellect. Paul Tillich has stated it best. Like Rahner, he believed that the human spirit enjoys an essential orientation to infinite being. Like Rahner he interpreted that orientation as an orientation to God. But Tillich argues quite correctly that if the very reality of God functions as the horizon of the human intellect, then that reality can never be expressed in space and time. For the horizon of the intellect, being infinite, can never be grasped in finite, created categories or expressed by finite, created beings. For Tillich, therefore, the divine Being subsists in a realm infinitely removed from any finite, created reality. Finite, created religious symbols can then only point toward the infinite, transcendent, divine horizon of the human spirit, much as an individual can stand on the Pacific shore and point toward the western horizon. But the horizon itself is never seen, never grasped as such. Only things within the horizon are. As a consequence, Tillich found the incarnation of a divine person unthinkable. And having denied the divinity of Jesus, Tillich also found no theological justification for belief in a triune God. Rahner defends both the incarnation and trinitarian belief. But he has never explained satisfactorily how his identification of God with the horizon of the human spirit avoids the logic of Tillich's argument.(13)

I have been trying to explain some of the speculative motives that caused me to abandon a theology of thematic grace. I have pastoral motives as well.


A theology of thematic grace claims to interpret human religious experience, even though it argues to the dynamic structure of that experience a priori. It suggests that the Christian convert will experience faith in Christ as the conscious explicitation of an implicit orientation to God and to Christ present within the psyche prior to conversion. The converts I have dealt with have experienced nothing of the kind. They describe their conversion experience not in Mare*chelian or Rahnerian categories but in terms reminiscent of Jonathan Edwards. They speak of a new and wholly different sense of God, of themselves, of the world. They testify to a new taste for spiritual things. They speak of transformation in the Spirit, of a new creation which conversion effects, of its revolutionary and transforming consequences. (14)

Nor can we verify universally the presence of the supernatural existential in every human person. If, as Rahner contends, the supernatural existential gives dynamic structure to every human psyche, then every time one transcends categorical thinking and raises to thematic consciousness the transcendental "horizon" of the intellect, one will discover there a longing not only for God but for Christ. Oriental mysticism ambitions just such a transcategorical thematization of the horizon of knowing. But unfortunately for a theology of the supernatural existential, one does not find at the end of every mystical quest either a longing for God or a desire to know Christ. Some forms of oriental mysticism are entirely compatible with an atheistic world view. Moreover, careful study of mystical experience suggests that the longing for God and for Christ will terminate the mystical quest only if it motivated it from the start. Instead of being built a priori into the psyche, graced longing for God and for Christ is conditioned upon faith.(15) In other words, even though a theology of thematic grace appeals to religious experience, when the chips are down it fails finally to interpret the very experience to which it appeals.

I have also found that a theology of thematic grace finally creates more confusion than mutual understanding in ecumenical exchanges. For it fallaciously assumes that all people relate to God in essentially the same way. As a consequence, a theology of thematic grace fails to credit sufficiently the incredible variety of human and religious experience. And it betrays well-meaning Christians into projecting into the unconverted, attitudes which result only from converted faith in God. Belief in the supernatural existential also leads the same well-intentioned Christians to project into the religious experience of non-Christians elements that derive specifically from a Christian conversion experience. In other words, in ecumenical exchanges a theology of thematic grace all but ensures mutual misunderstanding. Here I in no way wish to deny analogies among the religious experiences of Christians and non-Christians. But I resist facile generalizations about their essential likeness as methodologically unjustified. I would insist that similarities be validated case by case.

Finally, I have found that a theology of thematic grace tends to mute the kerygmatic voice of the church. One cannot help but wonder if both Jesus in his ministry and Peter on Pentecost would have preached as effectively as they did had they summoned their respective audiences, not to repent and believe the good news, but to thematize the a priori orientation to God and to Christ built into their agent intellects. Moreover, I have found that those who espouse a theology of thematic grace often feel less need to proclaim the gospel at all. They frequently prefer to trust in the good will of the unconverted and in the implicitly graced character of their choices.

If the preceding objections can survive scrutiny, they point to the need for a different understanding of human nature than the one which gives speculative warranty to a theology of thematic grace. They also demand that our theological interpretation of the way human nature comes to be graced be correspondingly revised. To this double problem we will turn in the second installment of this article.

(Part 2 of this article, to appear in the winter 1983 issue, will describe the theology of transmuting grace and then compare the spiritual paths which lead from each theology of grace.)

  1. Joseph Maréchal, Le point de départ de la metaphysique, 5 vols. (Louvain: Editions du Museum Lessianum, 1926-47), 5.
  2. Henri de Lubac, Le mystère du surnaturel (Paris: Aubier, 1965).
  3. Karl Rahner, Hörer des Wortes: Zur Grundlegung einer Religions-Philosophie (Munich: Kosel Verlag, 1936).
  4. Karl Rahner, Theological Investigations, vol. 1 (Baltimore: Helicon, 1954), pp. 297-346.
  5. Trans. John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973).
  6. A Theology of Liberation, trans. and ed. Caridad Inda and John Eagleson (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1973).
  7. C.S. Peirce, Collected Papers, ed. Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss, 8 vols. (Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1933-60), 1:4; 2:619-44.
  8. For more details, see my book Experiencing God: A Theology of Human Emergence (New York: Paulist Press, 1978), pp. 131-34.
  9. Summa theologiae, I, ques. 77, art. 6, ad 3. I am concerned in this article primarily with transcendental Thomism rather than with Aquinas himself. Since transcendental Thomism acquiesces in a Thomistic philosophy of human nature, one cannot deal adequately with the issues raised by a theology of thematic grace without some attention to those facets of Aquinas's philosophy which ground it. As we shall see, the theology of transmuting grace endorses the main lines of a Thomistic theology of grace. But it attempts to provide that theology with an updated philosophical understanding of human experience that speaks in an inculturated North American idiom.
  10. John Flavell, The Developmental Psychology of John Piaget (Princeton: van Nostrand, 1963).
  11. Jean Piaget, Insights and Illusions of Philosophy, trans. Wolf Mays (New York: World, 1971). When one concedes the finitude of the human mind, one need not deny thereby human openness to mystery or religious transcendence. Both result from specific transforming encounters with the Holy that expand and challenge the finite human ego to assent to some specific act of divine self-communication. A finite human experience of transcendence develops dynamically, through the ongoing expansion of one's experience of a divine reality that always encompasses and goes beyond whatever I can know of it. We know the transcendent reality of God in two ways: through ego processes which advance through concept, image, and affection, or through the unitive knowing that is loving effected by infused contemplation.
  12. C.G. Jung, Psychological Types, trans. H. Goodwin Baynes (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1923); David Keirsey, Please Understand Me: Character and Temperament Types (Del Mar, Calif.: Prometheus Nemesis, 1978).
  13. Paul Tillich, Systematic Theology (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1967).
  14. Jonathan Edwards, A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, ed. John E. Smith (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959).
  15. R.C. Zaehner, Mysticism: Sacred and Profane (New York: Oxford, 1961).