Volume 23, Issue 2, Autumn 2018
Mimetic Wisdom: René Girard and the Task of Christian Philosophy
How Girard Helped Me Understand the Distinction between Nature and Grace
Questions concerning the relationship between nature and grace, reason and faith are central to Christian anthropology. With philosopher/theologian Bernard Lonergan’s essay “Natural Knowledge of God” as a starting point, these questions will be considered in conversation with the work of Rene Girard and theologian James Alison. Lonergan agrees with Karl Rahner that, with regard to these questions, dogmatic theology needs to be transposed into a theological anthropology. Given that Girard is an anthropologist of religion and culture who is open to theology, his work can be useful in effecting such a transposition. For example, Girard’s thought can help us understand what Lonergan means when he writes: “I do not think that in this life people arrive at natural knowledge of God without God’s grace, but what I do not doubt is that the knowledge they so attain is natural.” Implicit in this statement is an awareness that “natural reason” needs to be freed of its biases before it can operate freely and “naturally.” Girard’s anthropological approach to the Bible helps to explain why this is the case.