Thursday, May 10, 2012

Resurrection & transformation of the material world - Dr Eric Mascall

Eric Lionel Mascall OGS (1905 -1993), a priest of the Church of England, a theologian, Thomist philosopher, staunch Anglo-Catholic, and prolific writer, was known for his brilliance at mathematics from an early age, winning a scholarship to Pembroke College Cambridge where he took the Mathematical Tripos. 

In 1931, after three unhappy years as a schoolmaster, Mascall entered Ely Theological College and was ordained two years later. He served in London parishes until his appointment as Sub-Warden of Lincoln Theological College in 1937. He taught at Christ Church Oxford from 1945 until he became Professor of Historical Theology at King’s College London in 1962. 

Upon his retirement in 1973 he became Canon Theologian of Truro Cathedral and continued to live in the clergy house of St Mary’s Bourne Street, London, where he was Honorary Assistant Priest. He spent part of 1976 in Rome as a Visiting Professor at the Gregorian University. He was awarded a DD by Oxford in 1948 and by Cambridge in 1958. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1974. 

Mascall travelled extensively abroad, especially in the USA, Rome, and Romania, for the purpose of meeting and addressing a variety of Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox individuals and groups. 

In The Christian Universe he wrote: "The faith which the Church has proclaimed throughout the ages, embraces and coordinates a wider range of human experience, opens up more possibilities of human living and offers in the end a deeper and richer ecstasy of fulfillment than any alternative way of life and thought . . ." 

Here are some Mascall quotes on the implications of the resurrection of the flesh of Jesus for the renewing of the whole creation: 

"As the scholastics say, grace does not destroy nature but perfects it. By their very dependence upon God, finite beings are inherently open to him; an absolutely autonomous and incapsulated finite entity would be a contradiction in terms. A created universe—and there can be no other—is necessarily not only a finite but also an open one. Nature has, simply as nature, a potentia oboedientialis for the supernatural."
- from The Openness of Being (p. 146) 

“Because there still appear to be people who, after nearly a century of relativity and quantum theory, think of the material world as composed of indestructible ultramicroscopic billiard-balls controlled by fixed unutterable laws, it may be well to recall that modern physics views the world as a spatiotemporal manifold of centres of energy and spontaneity; in such a world Jesus’ resurrection may well be seen, not as a violation or an overriding of the inherent and proper workings of nature, but rather as their joyful and blessed fulfilment, in bringing nature to a perfection that it could not reach by its own efforts.” 

“The stupendous theme [of Christianity is] that God’s ultimate purpose for the human race and for the whole material universe is that they should be taken up into Christ and transformed into a condition of unimaginable glory, and that it is for this that God took our human nature, in which spirit and matter are so mysteriously and intricately interwoven.” 
- from the Christian Universe (p. 109)

"Because we are by nature physical beings linked by our bodily metabolism both with one another and with the rest of the material world ('Whatever Miss T. eats', Mr de la Mare has reminded us, 'turns into Miss T.'), our resurrection will involve nothing less than the transformation of the whole material order."


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