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74 Antiphon 16.1 (2012) of ressourcement. And if the Church wants to practice a theology that is genuinely ecumenical without losing particularity, scholarly while also pastoral, contemplative and active, open to the world but never worldly, one would be wise to turn to Boersma’s work. Timothy O’Malley University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, Indiana Aidan Nichols, O.P. Conversation of Faith and Reason: Modern Catholic Thought from Hermes to Benedict XVI Chicago/Mundelein, Illinois: Hillenbrand Books, 2009 x + 222 pp. $23. In Conversation of Faith and Reason, the prolific Dominican theologian Aidan Nichols, who has published at least six books since this one, surveys the development of ecclesial understanding of the relationship between faith and reason over the last two centuries. Similar accounts can be found in the middle chapters of Avery Dulles’s The Assurance of Things Hoped For (1994) as well as Gerald McCool’s two volumes Nineteenth-century Scholasticism (1977) and From Unity to Pluralism (1989). However, whereas Dulles’s work (often cited by Nichols) treats “faith” more generally and systematically, Nichols focuses intensely on the faith-reason relationship and makes his constructive contribution through a sensitively developed historical narrative. McCool and Nichols treat many of the same figures — Georg Hermes, Anton Günther , Louis Bautain, Gregory XVI, Leo XIII, Joseph Kleutgen, Pierre Rousselot, and Etienne Gilson — but with different terminal points. McCool’s analysis concludes with Gilson’s discovery of systematic pluralism in the medieval philosophical heritage and lifts up Bernard Lonergan and Karl Rahner as two theologians who may direct the way forward after the decline of neo-Scholasticism. Nichols, on the other hand, focuses his attention on how these various figures have shaped the debate over the relationship between faith and reason as it leads up to Blessed John Paul II’s 1998 encyclical Fides et Ratio and more recent statements by Pope Benedict XVI. As one has come to expect from Nichols, his writing is clear and measured as he manages to synthesize and make intelligible even the most difficult figures. After an introductory chapter that moves quickly from the New Testament all the way up to the Council of Trent and which provisionally defines faith and reason, Nichols’ next three chapters engage three thinkers whose work became the object 75 Book Reviews of ecclesiastical censure in the nineteenth century: Hermes, Günther, and Bautain. He next explores the magisterial statements against these three figures, noting both conceptual/doctrinal critiques and the pastoral context of these interventions. Culminating with the First Vatican Council, these interventions set certain ground rules for Catholic theology: the need for some mutuality between faith and reason, and the need to take the narrow path between rationalism (in its many forms) and fideism/traditionalism (99-100). The second half of the book leads up to Fides et Ratio, which Nichols describes as a “synthesis all its own of the constructive elements [that] investigation of the history of the faith-reason relationship in nineteenth- and twentieth-century European Catholicism can identify” (172). Pope Leo XIII, Maurice Blondel, and Hans Urs von Balthasar each contribute key constructive elements. However, it is Gilson’s embodiment of a philosophy “both genuinely rational in its criteria of judgment” and yet accepting of revelation that receives Nichols’ highest praise (133). Gilson argues that philosophy is done most richly within the context of revelation; it is this point that Nichols finds rightly repeated in John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Philosophy and theology are ultimately interdependent. Although the Church does not have one philosophy (while some philosophies are inherently incongruous with Catholic theology—Nichols points to certain forms of postmodernism, for example—a plurality of options remain), all theology must be accompanied by serious philosophical reflection. On the other side, philosophy has its own proper methods, but it cannot be indifferent to God’s self-revelation in Christ. As Benedict XVI argues, philosophy helps theology avoid fundamentalism and being relegated to the private sphere; theology reminds philosophy of the greater questions of human existence, helping it to avoid triviality and transforming it with the recognition of love as the ultimate reality. There is always danger in this sort of historical survey that the...


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