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 Fr Aidan Nichols

Nichols on God

Extracts from

A Grammar of Consent

by Fr Aidan Nichols O.P.

Part 1


Today, in the Western countries at least, believers in God live for the most part within a culture that is shot through with skepticism in religious matters and with a practical atheism where all decisions of moment are concerned. It may sound paradoxical to say that an environment of this kind can be of great help to the reflective believer in his or her life of faith. Yet such skepticism and practical atheism can equally easily act as a stimulant as it can as a depressant or dissolver. This particular mental milieu that we share is not so much the product of a more or less successful refutation at the level of theory of the allegation that God exists. Much more is it the result of an imaginative collapse, the breakdown of a worldview. Now to some extent, an imaginative collapse can only be remedied by an imaginative renaissance. That was the implication of an earlier study,
The Art of God Incarnate, whose subtitle was meant to indicate the close relation of Theology and Image in Christian Tradition, though with particular reference to visual images, so vital in both Catholicism and Orthodoxy. [1] The picture of the world that empiricists (professional or not) have forced upon us makes it difficult, imaginatively difficult, to sense the palpable pressure of God in our experience. But we are not obliged to accept this picture, and almost any creative use of the imagination takes us over the edge of its canvas. The practical breakdown of the theistic worldview is a sickness for which philosophy, too, can offer a therapy, if not a complete cure. The twentieth-century Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset once suggested that it is precisely at these moments of the disintegration of some great view of the world, of some major interpretative framework for existence, that philosophy comes into its own. [2] When an overall framework of meaning, itself created by an interplay of experience and reflection, begins to break down in people's imaginations the most useful philosophizing is done.

The example that Ortega y Gasset gives, which will be familiar to many, is that of Socrates and his enemies, the Sophists. At a time when the traditional ethics of the Greek city-state were in the melting pot, the Sophists had begun to use the time-honored language of ethical commendation ("
This is good"; "that is right") in a quite new way. In place of telling us what reality around us is like, pointing out the values embedded in the real, awaiting our discovery and delight, the Sophists used moral terms as counters or weapons. They set out to manipulate their hearers in the interest of the speaker's own rise to fame and fortune. The crisis of life and thought was Socrates' opportunity. Only through a breakdown of traditionally accepted ways could just those conditions be created that would nurture a person of his or her qualities. Putting the old tried and tested values on a new and better foundation, demonstrating their rational intelligibility, required the kind of distance that the Sophistic crisis provided. Some things cannot be seen properly if you are too close to them, just as a painting needs to be viewed from some distance. There is no necessary virtue in having your eyeball up against the brushwork. Perhaps the retreat of theism in our own society provides a parallel opportunity to stand back and take a fresh look at its rational resources.

It is worth noting that Socrates was not concerned simply to restate the old beliefs in fresh and more reasonable ways. He also wanted to purify them, by stripping away forms of expression or associated and less worthy ideas that detracted from the value of those traditional beliefs. The Christian philosopher can find an encouraging analogy here also. The value of philosophy to the Christian lies primarily, it may be said, in what it can offer by way of purifying and enriching our image of God, our sense of God. (I have offered some suggestions for the role of philosophy within theology elsewhere, in the second section of
The Shape of Catholic Theology.) [3] Not all philosophical writing can serve this purpose, of course: and yet we should not be too quick to dismiss the services, malgré eux, of even atheistic philosophers in criticizing our taken-for-granted, perhaps time-desecrated rather than time-hallowed, images of God. The kind of philosophizing that I have in mind is that which remains in touch with the origins of philosophy, those origins that even now appear in the word philosophy, "the love of wisdom." All great philosophy possesses not only system, coherent organization, but also vision, penetration into human life and into the mystery of being, the dark and dizzy fact that there is something rather than nothing. Great philosophers, in brief, have great souls. The use of philosophy to the man or woman who is embarked on the quest for God consists in the confrontation between his or her own sense of God, on the one hand, and the sense of God that is located and lived with in the great-souled, on the other. Not normally the product of books that describe such a confrontation, faith in God can be touched, and touched up, by a meeting with the philosophers and may even, in certain circumstances, be ignited by that encounter.

Written into the structure and argument of this book is a principle not usually met with in religious philosophy: the communion of saints. That, in John Donne's words, "
no man is an island" is generally regarded as too commonplace a thought to suggest something as elevated as a philosophical method. Similarly, the claim, as in T. S. Eliot's evocation of Little Gidding, that "the communication of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living," seems too remote a piece of dogmatic theology to guide the philosophic hand. Nevertheless, I believe that if we are to stand any decent chance of discerning the presence of God in the most basic facts of our human experience we cannot afford to be individualists in splendid isolation. We have to be on the alert for experiential cues for the apprehension of God as these are offered to us in the life and thought of a whole range of lovers of wisdom in the past. In that portion of the Catholic church that I happen to know best, the bit belonging to the British Isles, we have the twin advantages of a continuous Catholic Christian tradition, stretching back ultimately into the Roman world, and a wider cultural context where response to the word tradition is on the whole favorable, despite the best efforts of the Utilitarians and their crew. Having written these words in Norway, where Catholic Christianity has had to be reconstructed haltingly and painfully from scratch, and where the relation of those alive today to the riches of the medieval Catholic past can be rebuilt only in a literary way, the merits of the British situation seem obvious. But in practice, obsession with contemporary experience, surely one of the greatest of all limiters and a real sickness of the life of the mind, is as widespread among the spiritual descendants of Anselm, Scotus, and Newman as it is anywhere. This is sad, for each age has its blindspots, and only the oblique angle
of the historian's view from the past as he or she relives it can identify them.
[4] Contact with the living past, by which is meant in this context the past in all its latent powers of spiritual fruitfulness for the present, is the best cure for intellectual myopia.

In the last fifty years the members of the Dominican Order, to which I belong, have contributed a good deal to this process of ressourcernent, the refreshing and renewing of the life of faith by broader and deeper acquaintence with the theological resources of the past. My Yves Congar was intended as an act of homage to one such attempt. [5] In the later 1960s and 1970s it sometimes seemed as if this movement had served its purpose and finished its work. Theological activity, both of the heavy and the popular varieties, began to address itself purely to what were taken to be the most pressing contemporary problems, a type of thinking summed up in the formula, "The world sets the agenda." Only with the coming of a new decade in the 1980s could one see clearly that what might be called "Newsweek theology" was in fact a capitulation of the most dramatic and abject kind to the last generation's radical inability to be taught by the living past. Such matters as social justice and the future of the third world, the disposition of roles between men and women in society, the fate of our common environment - these are, certainly, weighty human issues, and possibly, even probably, Christian theology may have light to shed on them over and above the ordinary workaday resources of human ethics and common sense. But to let such questions as these become the dominant motif of Christian proclamation and Christian believing is to fuddle, and eventually to destroy, the Christian pattern. For traditional Christianity has a unity, the unity ultimately of a Face. You cannot rearrange the features of a face without making its bearer wholly unrecognizable. Christians do no service to their own age if they forget that with their Master they belong to all the ages. Not least, their resources consist in the riches of the faithful generations that preceded them, hence the peculiar actuality of such historical theologians as Hans Urs von Balthasar (about whom I hope to write a full-length study) and Joseph Ratzinger (whose work I have described in The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger: An Introductory Study). [6] The distinguished English (in fact, Scottish) Dominican into whose hands I made my first vows, the late Father Ian Hislop, once described the purpose of the Order of Preachers as "the theological articulation of contemporary experience." Without wishing to deny an element of truth in that claim, I think it fairer to describe that purpose as, rather, "the contemporary articulation of theological experience." The "pre-Conciliar Church," when all is said and done, includes the apostles.

This book has been written, quite deliberately, not so much as an exercise in personal ingenuity as an exploration of the tradition of Christian philosophy. To my mind not one theological movement among many,
ressourcement is the enduring character of the Christian life of reflection. The office of the Spirit of truth in the Christian community, as St. John's Gospel indicates, is to remind disciples of all that the Christ has said to them. Yves Congar, 0. P., in his massive study of the experience of the Holy Spirit in the Church, writes that "le chrétien est un homme précedé," "the Christian is essentially a man who has predecessors." [7] In this way, one likes to think, the life of the Dominican friar is simply a paradigm of the basic Christian life in one of its essential facets. He lives by theological contemplation, by adoration of the inexhaustible Source of meaning from which the Church has lived and experienced down the centuries. He sends himself to school with the mysteries of God, Christ, and the Church, through the sacred liturgy - itself a deposit of the corporate past - and through study, all animated by a personal search for God. (In my Yves Congar, I have tried to bring out these dimensions in an account of one theologian's work.) [8] Since he has the right to preach precisely as part of an ordo, an order, a community and tradition, he has something fortunately richer than his own meager individual resources of reflection to offer those who are hungry for the Word of God. "No thinker is the sun and the sunlight, for this is the Truth itself, infinite, utterly mysterious, always new yet older than man." [9] If truth has no judges at least it has witnesses. In this spirit, Friedrich von Hugel saw the theological enterprise as essentially an interrogation of witnesses, and I shall draw this preface to an end by making some words of his my own. He is introducing the first edition of his great study, The Mystical Element of Religion:

And I thus trust that the book may turn out to be as truly Catholic in fact as it has been in intention; I have striven hard to furnish so continuous and copious a stream of actions and teachings of Christian saints and sages as everywhere to give the reader means of correcting or completing my own inferences; and I sincerely submit these to the test and judgment of my fellow Christians and of the Catholic Church. [10]

I should like to make mention of two relatively recent books that have helped me in writing this text: Rowan Williams's The Wound of Knowledge (London, 1980) and Noel Dermot O'Donoghue's Heaven in Ordinarie (Edinburgh, 1979). Their combination of, on one hand, a willingness to be taught from the deepest sources of Christian wisdom, the saints and the mystics, with, on the other hand, a concern for a proper philosophical rigor seems to me to indicate the most hopeful way forward for Christian thinking in the near future, More remotely, I am happy to return fraternal thanks to those English Dominicans of Blackfriars, Oxford, who had the ungrateful task of introducing some elements of philosophy into my head; and above all to Father Fergus Kerr, then prior of Blackfriars, who taught us that philosophy and contemplation belong together and who kindly read and helpfully commented upon this book in its first draft. It only remains to thank my brethren of the Dominican community in Oslo for their hospitality, friendship, and generosity in allowing me time and space enough, within the round of conventual duties, to prepare the materials for this book. Lastly, I wish to thank Jeannette Morgenroth Sheerin of the University of Notre Dame Press in the most wholehearted way possible for the great care with which she has refined this material for publication. I dedicate the book, though conscious of its shortcomings, to the memory of John Henry Newman, in whose oratory at Littlemore I celebrated the Mass for the first time in my priestly life, and whose anniversary year we are now keeping.

Easter, 1990


The author and publisher are grateful for the following permissions to reprint:

The Scottish Journal of Theology, published by the Scottish Academic Press, for an earlier version of chapter 1: "John Henry Newman and the Illative Sense," in vol. 38.3 (1985), pp. 347-368. © The Scottish Academic Press 1985.

The Downside Review, for an earlier version of chapter 4: "Anselm of Canterbury and the Language of Perfection,: in vol. 103.352 (1985), pp. 204-2 14.

New Blackfriars, for an earlier version of chapter 10: "Gabriel Marcel, Philosopher of Mystery: A Centenary Appraisal," in vol. 70.828 (1989), pp. 289-300.

The Chesterton Review, for an earlier version of chapter 11: "G. K. Chesterton's Argument for the Existence of God," in vol. 12.1 (1986), pp. 63-73.

Aitken and Stone, Ltd., publishers of
The Poems of St. John of the Cross, translated by Roy Campbell, © 1979, for the use of the translation of "Noche oscura."

Constable and Co., Ltd., publishers of Helen Waddell's
Mediaeval Latin Lyrics, © 1948, for the translation of "O mea cella."


1. A. Nichols, O.P.,
The Art of God Incarnate: Theology and Image in Christian Tradition (London, 1980).

2. Ortega y Gasset, Ideas y creancias (Madrid, 1940); cited and translated in F. C. Copleston, S.J., Religion and Philosophy (Dublin, 1974), p. 19.

3. A. Nichols, O.P.,
The Shape of Catholic Theology: An Introduction to Its Sources, Principles, and History (Collegeville, Minn., 1991).

4. See R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of History (London, 1946).

5. A. Nichols, O.P., Yves Congar (London, 1989).

6. A. Nichols, O.P., The Theology of Joseph Ratzinger: An Introductory Study (Edinburgh, 1988).

7. Y. Congar, O.P., Je crois en l'Esprit-Saint (Paris, 1979), vol. 1, p. 7.

8. Nichols, Yves Congar.

9. N. D. O'Donoghue, O.C.D., Heaven in Ordinarie (Edinburgh, 1980), p. 112.

10. F. von Hugel, The Mystical Element in Religion as Studied in Saint Catherine of Genoa and Her Friends, 2d ed. (London, 1923), vol. 1, p. xxvii.


The aim of this book is to show how we can reasonably assent to the existence of God and, indeed, respond to God's presence in the depths of our experience. The fundamental contention is that human experience, when its inner order and coherence are drawn out by reason, proves to have a theistic order and coherence that are only fully explicable in terms of the reality of God. In this sense the title of this book,
A Grammar of Consent, points back to the work done by John Henry Newman in his Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent. [1] Newman, as I shall show in the next chapter, highlighted the proper form that an argument for God's existence should take. This is neither deductive nor, in any strict, formal sense, inferential, as theological rationalists would hold; nor is it couched purely in terms of religious experience straitly so called, as many of their extreme opponents would allege. It is, rather, a cumulation of experiential cues (many of them apparently secular in character) that indicates the reasonableness of assent to the proposition, "God exists," although, in the nature of things, these cues cannot compel that assent. Yet this is not simply a restatement of Newman's Essay. I part company from Newman where the content of the argument for God's existence is concerned. I believe that Newman was mistaken in concentrating his energies so exclusively on one aspect of our experience, our awareness of moral obligation. There is, it seems, an irreducible plurality and a richness in the experiential indicators of God, just as there is in the texture of experience itself. Particular writers in the history of Christian philosophy, because of their particular backgrounds or biographies or temperaments, have illuminated now one, now another, aspect of this total experiential field or flow that is the life of humankind. What we need to know is that these various pointers to a transcendence implicit in experience, yet going beyond it (as the word transcendence itself suggests), really do aim in the same direction. We need not simply a grammar of assent but a grammer of consent. The chapters of this book will try to unfold such a consenting harmony among the various voices who will be speaking through them.

The text will offer, then, in the first place, a sketch of the rational form of that thinking which issues in religious assent (introduction and chapter 1): here the aim is to show that the kind of thinking that leads to an affirmation of God's existence is reassuringly like the thinking that we employ in many everyday judgments about ourselves, our friends, those we meet, and the common world we share. As grammar derives the laws of language from everyday use, so a grammar of assent to the propositions of religion will try to show that religious thought is intimately related to the thought processes of everyday life. Second, the book will contain an apologia for the case that the concept of God, which religious thinking produces, has application in reality (chapters 2 to 11). The areas of experience that prove to be theistically evidential are more spacious than we may have suspected. The whole essay will also constitute something of a phenomenology of belief. The views adopted here on the subject of theistic belief involve an evocation of the inner "feel" of that belief, its experiential consistency. The grammar is in one sense unitary: it sees Newman's exposition as a substantially correct account of the nature and limits of reason in regard to religion. In another sense, however, the grammar is as manifold as the writers it describes and the readers into whose hands it may fall. As Newman saw, the personal reading of experience is indispensable in all assent to God.


In speaking of the evidences of revealed religion, Newman stressed in both his Anglican and his Catholic periods the importance of prior disposition, of the attitudes that each spectator brings to the allegedly revelatory event. In the case of the evidences of natural religion, i.e., of the affirmation that God exists, Newman rarely touches on the possible analogues of such states of mind and heart as he took to be the individual's
praeparatio evangelica before opening the Gospels, hearing the Word preached, assisting at the liturgy or studying the history of the Catholic church. I would like to suggest that a suitable analogue, where the basic affirmation of God's existence is concerned, lies in a certain confidence in our own experience. I shall try to explain myself.

The quest for religious truth has often been imagined as a journey, perhaps a mountain climb or, again, a pilgrimage. In terms of that metaphor, Catholic teaching has it that some at least of the resources we need for the journey are already given in our ordinary experience. We do not need to appeal to the authority of some revelation before we set off. Indeed, it is hard to see what sense we could make of the gift from without of a map unless we had first decided from within that there was a goal, and that a journey thither was worth the making. The tracks already lead out and up in a variety of directions.

Signposts and markers abound. The supplies that any traveler needs are available around us in the form of experiential confirmation or feedback to reassure us that we are progressing to some purpose. In the light of this metaphor, the problems of the person who is seeking to know if there is any ontological basis to religion, any foundation in reality for its claims, are twofold.

First of all, he or she must have sufficient confidence to trust his or her own experience, for this is a person's basic resource. By experience here I mean what at an unsophisticated level the man or woman in the street means by this word; or again, at a more reflective level, what a novelist might mean by it. I do not mean what philosophers of an empiricist bent have coerced that mauled and suffering word into signifying, for, as Donald Nicholl has written,

No illusion has produced more baneful effects on modern thought than that which maintains all our experience to be sense-experience. The reason for this limitation is not far to seek; it arose from the prestige given by philosophers to seventeenth century physical science. Having noted the success of this science, which successfully used instruments in order to record impressions of the world, they tried to build up a picture of the world from the sort of impressions which are recorded on instruments. They tried to turn themselves into instruments receiving "impressions" (which an instrument, by the way, does not do), in order to work out what the world would look like if they themselves were instruments and not human beings. For this reason the Humians talked interminably about sense-data, as though sense-data were the original material upon which human beings have to work in order to construct a picture of the world..

It is not surprising that the picture of the world presented by Hume (and his positivist successors) is not one which human beings recognise as the one in which they live. [2]

Theism cannot survive the adoption of materialist or empiricist accounts of knowing whose conceptual apparatus leads one to see reality as "a mechanistic" congeries "of elements, a bundle of unthinking, purposeless, insignificant bits of matter or sensation." [3] But then no satisfactory account of human man's experience can survive those epistemologies either. An account of experience, like theism, depends on our approaching reality as "a molar, totalistic, meaningful whole. . . which contains many levels of meaning, and which different sorts of analysis can dissect in different ways."[4]

The absolutely indispensable condition in the search for the foundations of religion is a fundamental confidence in the capacity of the mind to take in the realities around it and within it - whatever shape these may prove to have. One must take one's own experience of the world au sérieux. Any other posture, indeed, will prove suicidal. Systematic skepticism or doubt must eventually saw off the branch on which they are sitting, for skepticism and doubt of this variety are as vulnerable to a dose of healthy skepticism and doubt as are any other theories of human knowledge. Sensitivity to the force of experience, on the other hand, leads us to uncover within experience itself all kinds of indications of further dimensions to the real. By it own weight, experience can propel us beyond itself into the sphere of a surrounding and undergirding reality, even though that reality cannot necessarily be felt on our pulses at any given moment.

The second prerequisite for the person who starts out on the religious quest is this: the person must not only trust his or her resources but also count and take stock of them. As I suggested in the preface, it is shortsighted in the extreme to believe that we can contextualize and interpret our experiential resources entirely by ourselves, as selfsufficient individualists. Since human beings know themselves primarily through the forms they produce (forms that vary from a philosophy to a sonnet to a scratched image in a catacomb), the possibilities of human experience can only be done full justice when we look back into the treasury of forms of our past. As the late nineteenthcentury German philosopher Wilhelm Dilthey saw, contemporary life must be directed for its own possibilities to the forms fashioned by earlier generations where they are accessible to what he called
die verstehende Besinnung, "comprehending recollection." In one sense we have no choice in this. The very language we speak has a powerful, if subtle, control over the scanning of reality, the interpreting of experience. And language, as Ludwig Wittgenstein so forcefully reminded us, is nothing if it is not public, corporate, and inherited. [6] But the very fact that each individual human being has a distinctive use of language, a personal voice, even though the distinctions between our favored idioms and images may be infinitesimal in certain cases, implies that our shared use of language does not in itself guarantee that we shall interpret our experiences in solidarity and communion with others. This is true whether the others in question are others who speak our own particular language, or whether they are others who have irradiated some aspect of human life through their writings (as with the figures we shall be considering in this book), or whether, finally, they are all the other language users of the earth, all the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve. It is only too painfully obvious that we can use language selectively to buttress and confirm our own prejudices and to disallow or discourage attitudes and evaluations that we find unfamiliar or uncongenial. For the most part, this is not a matter of bad faith; it is simply that we are not educated enough, in the most primary sense of that word: we are not sufficiently "drawn out" from our own individuality and practical egocentrism to be able to place our experience in the ampler interpretative context that awareness of what others have lived, thought, and suffered always gives.

This book will try to enable people to take stock of their experience of the world by placing various crucial aspects of experience in the interpretative contexts offered by a number of seminal thinkers of the past. In so doing it will hope to respond to that other need of the person in the search for the foundation of religion - the confidence that if only the cues of experience are followed up they will lead to ever-increasing illumination, to a condition where our experience becomes, so to speak, more palpably itself. This may sound thoroughly esoteric: in fact it is a commonplace. To have the experience but miss the meaning is a leitmotiv of the human condition. Fortunately, so is the discovery that experience takes on new clarity and depth when resituated with the benefit of hindsight. Our first impressions of a foreign country, the initial impact of a poem, the primordial stirrings of sexual desire in an adolescent - all of these are enhanced and enriched by the understanding that follows on picking up the cues that they first gave us. We come to grasp the meaning of our experiences by accepting an interpretative context for them. But that interpretative context, or the approximate direction in which to find it, is normally suggested by the very character of the experiences themselves. We take them not simply as hard facts but as pointers, cues, signs. In "The Dry Salvages," one of his
Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot spoke of the moments of sudden illumination that punctuate human living. We may have the experience, he pointed out, yet miss the meaning. But he held out the possibility of our subsequent drawing close to the meaning in a way that both re-creates, "restores" the original force of the experience and enlarges, reshapes, re-forms it, rendering it transparent to an object greater than our hearts, "beyond any meaning/We can assign to happiness." Nor, so Eliot insisted, is this "past experience revived in the meaning" a matter, merely, of one individual's experience, or even that of an individual generation; it is, rather, the experience "of many generations."[7]

We shall be trying then, to make sense of vital aspects of experience; and we shall be doing that by deliberate exposure to what other people in the tradition of philosophical reflection in the Christian Church have made of those aspects of experience. Their subject matters are, to the best of my knowledge, constants of human living; they cannot but have some relation to our own lives. Obliquely, then, the reader is asked to carry out a reflection on her - or himself and her or his own experience. This is an "over-the-shoulder" kind of looking, for our object out front consists in a gallery of living images, men who have lived out experiences related to our own but have lived them out with an intensity and fidelity to their implications, their meaning, which in all likelihood enormously surpass any such qualities of which we might boast.


If this were all, though it would be much, it might well leave us in a somewhat disintegrated state. For shall we not finish with a series of disconnected partial readings of experience, a set of discreet interpretations of distinct aspects of life, not always an easy fit one with another? Will not the traveler be faced with a bewildering variety of possible tracks in wildly divergent directions? This will indeed be our situation unless we can suggest an overall context for our limited contexts, a view of what it is to produce a context for experiences that might suggest how to come by a context for experience as a whole. For it is here, as Wolfhart Pannenberg has insisted, that the question of God has its source.
[8] It is here too that Newman's Grammar of Assent is invaluable; for it shows how one modality of reason, the most familiar in everyday life, works by sifting like and unlike fragments of evidence until in and through them it seizes a conclusion larger then they are. How else, Newman will ask, "does the mind fulfill its function of supreme direction and control, in matters of duty, social intercourse and taste?" [9] And in the pause that follows on his rhetorical question, he tells us:

It is natural, then, to ask the question why ratiocination should be an exception to a general law which attaches to the intellectual exercises of the mind; why it is held to be commensurate with logical science; and why logic is made an instrumental art sufficient for determining every sort of truth, while no one would dream of making any one formula, however generalised, a working rule at once for poetry, the art of medicine, and political warfare. [10]

If the mind is thus possessed of an architectonic power to form the materials of awareness into a single and unified judgment that transcends them, it is possible to suppose that what we do with impressions of half-a-dozen types when we finally judge our next-door neighbor to be an honest man may have an analogue in a wider realm. Perhaps the equally varied aspects of human experience that strike us as signals, as somehow pointing beyond themselves, may also be gathered into a pattern. In such a case, the pattern would be there, woven into the cloth of the world, but its presence would be detected by a kind of reasoning closer to skill or art than to strict formal inference. In forming a context for experience as a whole, in raising the question of transcendence, it may be that "the practised and experienced mind is able to make a sure divination that a conclusion is inevitable, of which his lines of reasoning do not actually put him in possession." [11] In this "one complex act both of inference and of assent" Newman awarded a high place to symbol and image. They enabled us, he thought, to apprehend in a fashion he termed real, contrasting this with notional, what is being proposed to us in the language of religion. Thus of conscience, for him the principal quarry for theistic evidence, he could write: "Conscience, too, teaches not only that God is, but what he is; it provides for the mind a real image of him, as a medium of worship." [12] And again of Jesus of Nazareth, whose life is seen as the central revelation-bearing moment in Christianity, when he departed this world he was

found, through his preachers, to have imprinted the Image or idea of himself in the minds of his subjects individually; and that Image, apprehended and worshipped in individual minds, becomes a principle of association, and a real bond of those subjects one with another, who are thus united to the body by being united to that Image; and moreover that Image, which is their moral life when they have been already converted, is also the original instrument of their conversion. [13]

In other words, Newman sees reason and imagination as working in tandem in engagement of the mind with the real.

We have here an account of what it is to be intelligently responsive to experience that, according to Keith Ward,

allows an approach to reality which, though cognitive, yet depends essentially upon imaginative symbolism and creative personal response to what is apprehended. The very nature of such an approach would rule out the possibility of a detached experimental concern, which would be necessarily manipulative rather than responsive and interactive. . . . So, as one holds oneself prepared to discern a non-material source of values one may find that certain events or experiences do convey to one an apprehension of such a source, which may give a clue to the significance of one's life Concepts which spring from situations in which some transcendent reality is mediated become images which one can use to evoke specific reactive attitudes and emotions, and which may be in some sense confirmed and amplified by personal experience.'[14]

But the distinctive note of Newman's approach, echoed throughout this book, is the need to let such "apprehensions" or interpretations of experience rub off one on another. "I prefer to rely," he wrote, "on (the argument of) the accumulation of various probabilities." [15] As G. K. Chesterton wrote, one elephant having a trunk may be an accident; all elephants having trunks must be a conspiracy. In chapter 1, I shall offer a fuller account of Newman's essay, crucial to all that follows since that will presuppose the correctness of Newman's remarks on the form that argument to God's existence should take. It is, or should be, a matter of convergent probabilities, where various aspects of our experience take on a depth and coherence and yield themselves to an intelligible account of their being as they are only when we refer them to God as to their ground and goal. This concern with form is not to be set aside impatiently as formalist: a recent writer has gone so far as to say that, "basically, the inadequacy of traditional natural theology lies not in the areas of experience chosen as theistically evidential but in the elucidation of the way in which they count as evidence."[16] This is, perhaps, overstated, for those "areas of experience" are further flung than is often suggested, as chapters 2 to 11 of this book will show. For the argumentative form (perhaps better, persuasive form) adopted will be filled here with a very different content from that Newman gave it. In practice, Newman concentrated almost exclusively on the evidence of our moral experience as the sign par excellence in our world of a divine reality. I propose that Newman's form may be filled with a much richer, more generous, human experiential content than he gave it. I suggest that various figures in the history of reflection on God have pointed to diverse areas of experience and practice and reflection, all of which must be taken into account in exploring the foundations of theism. The history of Christian thought (for it is with that theism which has developed within the Christian religion that I am best acquainted) can itself be seen as constituting cumulative and convergent evidence for the reasonableness of belief in God. In this sense it is not so much one individual's personal assent to God which is our problem and model, but the consent of a variety of persons. Of course, in the end we have to decide to add our voice to that consent. But in so doing, the consent itself plays a vital role in extending our awareness of the range and variety of possible signals of the transcendent in our experience.


The inflection of these various voices is diverse. The different approaches suggested occupy different points in the spectrum of formal and informal logic. Some have a "
hard" logical form, other a "soft." Some aspects of our experience yield to a more rigorous representation in reflection; others can only be expressed and illumined by some kind of persuasive discourse. It is living that is prior to thinking, although living is, for human beings, already saturated with intelligibility: there is no brute experience. But because living is prior to thinking, it is only right that each aspect of experience should itself prompt the style of reflection we adopt in its regard. It is in this sense that I would take the protest of the Newman scholar John Coulson: "Plato's distinction between responsible and irresponsible philosophising is particularly necessary nowadays; and I suggest the philosophising is irresponsibly conducted when it is divorced from the claims of our experience and is reduced to the level of a puzzle which we contemplate in the unmoved manner of a fish in an aquarium." [17] Similarly, while pointing out that religion is larger than religious experience, Gabriel Daly, O.S.A., in his study of Catholic modernism and its aftermath, has chronicled the lamentable effects of the virtual outlawing of an appeal to "experience as a factor in religon, theology, and spirituality."

The victory of integralism resulted in the virtual exclusion of the term "experience" from the Roman Catholic theological vocabulary. . . . As several of the modernists had pointed out, lack of an immanent dimension in theology and spirituality inevitably produces a coarsening of religious outlook. It is only when we have appreciated the implications of this spiritual malnutrition that we are in a position to evaluate much that is happening by way of reaction in the Roman Catholic Church of today.[18]

The recovery of some more satisfactory integration of reason and feeling in theology later this century must be set to the everlasting credit of the Church in France. In a representative product of that theological renewal, Régis Jolivet, then dean of the Institut Catholique in Paris, wrote that argument for the existence of God, if it is to do justice to its subject, must be forever trembling into awareness of the presence of God; God is first a problem and then a mystery for our knowledge; in reality he is first of all mystery, and it is we who are the problem. By being separated through excessive abstraction from the living experience that they imply, the proofs of God's existence can only seem cold and dry, a conceptual game. Their roots must be kept intact if they are to flourish, and the soil into which these roots go down is "the presence of God in everything that exists and especially in the spiritual and moral life"; and he goes on to say that the question is more a matter of "uncovering" God than of "proving" God:

We only "prove" what is absent; the present which at first is veiled or disguised, is uncovered. . . . Our knowledge of God presupposes that at first he is hidden and mysterious, and when achieved it realises that it is never finished, and that the discovery of God is never-ending. [19]

And he remarks, in words that Newman would have rejoiced to hear,

The fact must not be disguised that all these arguments in connexion with the existence and nature of God remain inadequate to translating and rendering explicit in conceptual terms (as they try to do) our deep human experience. They have no chance of convincing us except insofar as they awaken or re-awaken in us the sense of a creative and vivifying presence. [20]

So far, the writers alluded to have at least in common the Christian faith. In this book, the choice of philosophical figures from within the Christian tradition (as distinct from another theistic community, such as Jewry, where another gallery could have been brought together in such people as Moses Maimonides, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Lévinas) is deliberate. But the implications of that choice could easily be overrated as well as underrated. I am not implying that Christian revelation is the necessary key to a sound theism at this most elementary (if fundamental) level. For a Catholic writer, that position is, arguably, ruled out of court by the definitions of an ecumenical council, the First Vatican Council of 1870:

The same Holy Mother Church holds and teaches that God, the beginning and end of all things, may be certainly known by the natural light of human reason, by means of created things, "for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Romans l:20). [21]

It is surely clear enough that there are other theistic traditions than the Christian, notably the Jewish, the Islamic, and certain varieties of the Hindu, not to mention segments of the religions formerly known as primitive and now more usually referred to as "traditional." To these may be added the personal syntheses of individuals. On the other hand, I do not think that Christian revelation is wholly irrelevant to the philosophy of religion. In a well-known passage in his Memorial, Pascal opposes the "God of the philosophers and scholars" to the God of Christian revelation, "the God of Jesus Christ." Surely this will not do either. No direct appeal can be made to faith in a purely rational enquiry: so much may be conceded, and to that extent Pascal's schism in the conceptualizing of God is justified. When the Christians of the second century called Christianity "our philosophy" they did not mean that their religion was itself a form of philosophical exploration. They used the phrase with a certain irony intended to convey that in an age when philosophy, as the search for beatitude through wisdom, was seen as an all-embracing way of life their ultimate commitment was to the person of Christ as himself incarnate Wisdom. But the mainstream Christian tradition has found that there is a distinctively Christian way of exercising reason, a "Christian philosophy," just as the mainstream philosophical tradition in the West has found that its discussions have been usefully extended and enriched by the intellectual initiatives of believers, so that Christianity may be said to have opened up new philosophical perspectives for culture at large. Insofar as believers base their affirmations on revealed religion they remain purely and simply believers. Should they find that some at any rate of their beliefs are capable of being laid out in rational terms they become philosophers also. And if they find that some insight, which can be shown to be genuinely philosophical, to stand up on its own legs, so to speak, is owed by them to their Christian faith, there is really no contradiction (pace Pascal) in calling them Christian philosophers. It seems likely, for example, that the notion of personhood is the fruit of Christian philosophy. And as we shall see, Pascal himself, despite his outburst in the Memorial, is not the last impressive example of the species. Maurice Blondel, a modern disciple of Pascal, answered his master when he wrote that "the philosopher does not find in the thought of a living and transcendent Truth, which possesses itself and gives itself, a theory incapable of standing up to criticism; he can reconcile the God of Abraham and of the Gospel with the most stringent demands of reason." [22] The mood of the sentence is odd (Blondel says the philosopher "does not" where we should expect "need not" and "can" where we should suppose "may," but the sentiments are unexceptionable. The primary relation of Christianity to philosophy, or of revelation to reason, that is presupposed in this book, then, is that Christianity (revelation) can open up for philosophy (reason) perspectives on the way things are that may then be claimed (one hopes gratefully) by the recipient in its own right.[23]

No apology will be made for the choice of various thinkers from the
past of the Christian tradition as the starting-points for the various avenues of approach here displayed. Thus Jaroslav Pelikan concludes his study, Historical Theology: "The historical process needs to be seen by Christians as a medium of growth, not as a source of embarrassment." [24] More strongly, Karl Barth has this to say:

There is no past in the Church, so there is no past in theology. "In him they all live." Only the heretic, indeed only the arch-heretic, the one who is totally lost even for God's invisible Church, could really belong to the past and have nothing more to say to us. And we are in no position to identify such arch-heresy. . . . The theology of any period must be strong and free enough to give a calm, attentive and open hearing not only to the voices of the Church Fathers, not only to favourite voices, but to all the voices of the past. . . . We cannot anticipate which of our fellow-workers from the past are welcome in our work and which are not. It may always be that we have especial need of quite unsuspected (and among these of quite unwelcome) voices in one sense or another. So history, the history of the Church, of doctrine and of theology enters the theological workshop and becomes a theological task. [25]

Contact with tradition is vital to every human generation because of the need for keeping open all possible imaginative options. We must not allow ourselves to get imprisoned within the terms of reference of contemporary presentations of what is, and is not, real. This is not just a matter of noticing that certain arguments have been worked out by our predecessors (the customary and, so far as it goes, wholly adequate defense of the study of the history of philosophy). It is also a question of openness to cues for fresh ways of interpreting the business of being human. At the present time, orthodox believers belong to what the sociologists call a cognitive minority. Their worldview does not receive much in the way of sustenance and support from society at large. This lack of confirmatory signals from others can certainly undermine religious faith, unless a person is especially strong willed. We should not imagine that aggiornamento and "coming out of the ghetto" are processes in which no milk is spilt: what is spilt may even, from time to time, be cream. In itself the fact that a proposition is entertained as true, or false, by a majority of one's contemporaries is not a reason for holding it to be true, or false. Nevertheless, the pressure to conform leads ineluctably towards reductionism and finally apostasy if nothing is done to resist it by suitable strategies. Playing something of the same role here that Peter Berger has ascribed to the sociology of knowledge as a discipline, awareness of tradition can free us from the tyranny of the present and relativize the relativizers. So often there is a kind of pernicious double standard at work in the way people evaluate the belief systems of the past. The past, from which tradition comes, is relativized in terms of this or that sociohistorical analysis, yet the present is graciously endowed with a curious immunity to such relativization: "Truths can be discovered or rediscovered. Truths can also be lost or forgotten again. History is not the night in which all cats are grey, but neither is it a giant escalator ascending to the point at which we happen to stand." [26]

In the course of his fascinating essay,
A Rumour of Angels, Berger points out that while such appeal to tradition may help us to render more supple our sense of "cognitive fit" as we size up the world around us, this is not really enough by itself to undermine reductionism and relativism. Ludwig Feuerbach prophesied correctly in the nineteenth century that in the modern period men and women would come to see the sense of God as one gigantic projection of humankind's own sense of itself: humankind writ large. Sociology, psychology, and various other disciplines all have their own pet version of this "religion-is-nothing-but. . . "approach to things. However, so Berger goes on, what appears as a human projection in one frame of reference may appear as a reflection of divine realities in another. And he concludes with a suggestion that suits perfectly the temper of this book:

It would seem that any theological method worthy of the name should be based on this possibility. This most emphatically does not mean a search for religious phenomena that will somehow manifest themselves as different from human projection. Nothing is immune to the relativisation of socio-historical analysis. Whatever else these phenomena may be, they will also be human projections, products of human history, social constructions undertaken by human beings. The meta-empirical cannot be conceived of as a kind of enclave within the empirical world. . . . The theological decision will have to be that "in, with and under" the immense array of human projections, there are indicators of a reality that is truly "other" and that the religious imagination of man ultimately reflects. [27]


I would like to finish this introduction by putting forth two plausible objections to the approach of this book. Frst of all, it may be said that a grammar of consent is an impossible plum pudding of a confection. The reader is being offered a quite bewildering variety of different philosophical voices - divergent philosophical approaches laid end to end without any real attempt to cope with their intrinsic lack
of fit. Can we make use of a variety of metaphysical systems simultaneously without suffering from chronic pains in the head? Shall we not end up with a sort of theologian's nonsense verse, a work where each word may be meaningful but not in the way the author has arranged them? To this there are two replies.

First, I am not suggesting that the reader should attempt to adopt simultaneously all the metaphysical systems espoused by the various figures described in this book. To do so would indeed be intellectual suicide and perhaps a very good way to send oneself to Bedlam. All I am proposing is that we should attend as carefully as possible to what they have to say about particular aspects of human experience that for them were crucial in the approach to God. Their illumination of these is partially, though not perhaps wholly, distinguishable from their wider speculative systems (where they had such). Thus, for instance, one may accept Kant's account of moral obligation while preserving a prudent reticence about his theory of knowledge. But further, the objection in some cases may be based on the supposition that there is a final and perennially true metaphysical system in a quite straightforward sense - if only we could find it. Frederick Copleston, S. J., in his book
Religion and Philosophy, remarks that in one sense there must be such an animal, but in another sense there could never be. He points out that some propositions must be true if we are to speak of a world of finite things at all. They express what he calls "the logical scaffolding of the world." [28] If a coherent arrangement of such propositions could reasonably be described as a metaphysical system, that a perfectly true metaphysical system exists is indeed a possibility. But the statements of such a system would scarcely be intellectually exhilarating. There remains another, and complementary, view of what a metaphysical system might be. A philosophical vision may well be founded on the assumption that some feature or features of the world - which could conceivably be absent or other than they are - provide a key or keys to the nature of reality as a whole. In this sense the request for a final metaphysical system is hopeless and counterproductive. For it is always possible to focus attention on other features of the world and so to construct a rather different worldview. Such worldviews are persuasive invitations, invitations to see the world in ways in which it cannot be taken for granted that we do in fact see it. (Notice here that it is not assumed that these worldviews are mere bliks, perspectives adopted without explicit reference to their rational resources.) In the clash or dialectic of various attempts to gain conceptual mastery of the transcendent - the Ground and Goal of our experience, we have a witness, Copleston thinks, to the divine transcendence itself as well as to the limitations of the human mind. Deus sem per maior. Copleston concludes by suggesting that the dialectic of systems also bears witness to the fact that human effort alone cannot draw back the veil that hides the transcendent. It will be removed only where God discloses himself to humankind through his own initiative in revelation. The mind's own exploration of existence, which leads in theism to the apprehension of the transcendent God, should be seen as propaedeutic to revelation, a preparing of the ground, and not as an alternative to revelation. The natural relationship to God that we explore in philosophy turns out to carry a summons to a more personal, intersubjective kind of relationship, the relationship of grace which we explore in theology. [29] The God who allows himself to be known in our exploration of the general structures of existence then positively discloses himself to us through the particularities of his living images in persons and events in history. The God of the philosophers is indeed the same God as the Father of Jesus Christ, but he is known in two different fashions. In the Letter to the Romans Paul affirms that "ever since God created the world his everlasting power and deity - however invisible - have been there for the mind to see in the things he has made" (Romans 1:20). Yet Paul also affirms in the same letter that this is finally poor stuff when compared with the full vision of the glory of God disclosed in the mercy and faithfulness of Jesus Christ, "the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).

A second objection might run as follows. The claim of this book is that theistic philosophy has a greater coordinating and synthesizing power for our experience than has any atheistic or nontheistic worldview. Theistic philosophy can bring into mutually illuminating relationships a wide variety of forms of human experience. In the now - hackneyed phrase of the later Wittgenstein, it unites a whole series of "
language games." Very well; but in seeking so many different routes of assent to God, does not this approach fail to ensure that what is being assented to is really the same object? Is the grammar of consent not in fact a cacophony, because the conversation it contains is proceeding at cross-purposes? E. L. Mascall has warned against the sophistry of implicitly assuming "a minimal definition of God in arguing for his existence and a much more ample definition in discussing his nature." [30] In these pages there will be no formal discussion of the divine attributes; but in the course of tracing the movement of thought that carried each of the authors described here to the conclusion that God exists, a view of God's nature will be progressively constructed for those who can read between the lines. As Ward has written: "The various strands of the concept of God elucidate the various areas of experience within which an attitude of response to a transcendent ground of experience seems to find some objective correlate." [31] But this may also be seen from the other end of the telescope: reflection on various areas of experience indicates the strands that must be woven into our concept of God. How may we rule out a polytheism that would see in each of these evidential areas the manifestation of one divinity among others? At least one of the key areas we shall be looking at, that mapped by Immanuel Kant, indicates the centrality of the concept of an absolute moral value and purpose, such as only a unitary image of the divine could sustain (see chapter 8). There is a confluence here between what has come to be a "given" of philosophical rationality, namely that the Source and Goal of all things must itself be one (else we should need to posit a Source and Goal for the divinities that participate in transcendent being) and the religious tradition of Judaeo-Christianity which, at least in modern times, first presented the philosophers with its own unification of the images of transcendence around the central notion of an absolute moral demand and enabling power. [32]


1. J. H. Newman, An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (London,
1870); 2d ed. (London, 1895); critical ed., edited by Ian T. Ker (Oxford,
1985). Page references are to the 2d ed. (1895).

2. D. Nicholl, Recent Thought in Focus (London, 1952), pp. 66-67.

3. K. Ward, The Concept of God (Oxford, 1974); 2d ed. (London, 1977), p. 54.

4. Ibid. Cf. H. Kung, Does God Exist? English trans. (London, 1980), pp.
124- 125.

5. On Dilthey's concept of experience, see H.-G. Gadamer, Truth and Method, English trans. (London, 1975), pp. 56-61; W. Pannenberg, Basic Question in Theology, vol. 1, English trans. (London, 1970), p. 107.

6. L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Oxford, 1953); one may note the citation from Augustine at the head of this work.

7. T. S. Eliot, "The Dry Salvages," in
Four Quartets (London, 1944); 2d ed. (London, 1959), p. 39.

8. W. Pannenberg, Basic Questions in Theology, vol. 2, English trans. (London, 1971), pp. 222-223.

9. Newman, Grammar of Assent, p. 353.

10. Ibid., p. 359.

11. Ibid., p. 321.

12. Ibid., p. 390.

13. Ibid., p. 464.

14. Ward, Concept of God, pp. 48-49.

15. Newman, Grammar of Assent, p. 411.

16. J. J. Shepherd, Experience, Inference, and God (London, 1975), p. 163. Cf. p. 32, where Shepherd affirms that emphasis must be placed both on experience and argument and writes that (in the specific context of cosmology, but the implications are broader than this): "if emphasis is laid on the apprehension of an effect implying a cause, or a transcendent cause . . . , then there exists the possibility of rationally assessing the nature and strength of the implication and of developing it in the form of an argument without begging the question." For a lucid analysis of the sense in which experience may, in these matters, furnish argument, see C. Franks Davies, Evidential Force of Religious Experience (Oxford, 1989).

17. J. Coulson, "Philosopher's English: A Protest," Downside Review 74.237 (Summer, 1956), p. 213. The reference to Plato is to Republic 539.

18. G. Daly, O.S.A., Transcendence and Immanence: A Study in Catholic Modernism and Integralism (Oxford, 1980), p. 216. A sustained case for a view of theistically relevant experience as something wider than "religious experience" tout court is offered in N. Lash, Easter in Ordinary: Reflections on Human Experience and the Knowledge of God (London, 1988; Notre Dame, Ind., 1990).

19. R. Jolivet, The God of Reason, English trans. (London, 1958), pp.

20. Ibid., p. 113.

21. H. Denzinger and A. Schonmetzer, eds., Enchiridion Symbolorum Definitionum et Declarationem de Rebus Fidei et Morum (Freiburg, 1965), n. 3004. An English translation may be found in K. Rahner, ed., The Teaching of the Catholic Church, English trans. (Cork, 1966), pp 31-32.

22. M. Blondel in Bulletin de la Société francaise de philosophie for 1928, p. 55, as cited in Jolivet, God of Reason, p. 9. The article was written in response to a lecture by E. Bréhier that sparked a three-year debate in France. This debate, which led, inter alia, to the writing of E. Gilson's Gifford Lectures, The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy (New York, 1940), is described in A. Renard, La Querelle sur la possibilité de la philosophie chrétienne (Paris, 1941), itself usefully summarized in M. Nedoncelle, Is There a Christian Philosophy ? English trans. (New York, 1960).

23. For a statement of the case that revelation actually postulates philosophy as grace does nature, see A. Leonard, Pensees des hommes et foi en Jesus Christ (Paris, 1980), pp. 23-31. Philosophy is here taken to be the autonomous self-reflection of the human subject as one capable of welcoming revelation.

24. J. Pelikan, Historical Theology: Continuity and Change in Christian Doctrine (London, 1971), p. 157.

25. K. Barth, Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century: Its Background and History, English trans. (London, 1972), p. 17.

26. P. Berger, A Rumour of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural (Harmondsworth, 1970), p. 94.

27. Ibid., p. 65.

28. F. C. Copleston, S.J., Religion and Philosophy (Dublin, 1974), p. 42.

29. Cf. I. Trethowan, O.S.B., The Basis of Belief (London, 1961), p. 112; and the same author, more fully, Absolute Value (London, 1970), pp. 124-128.

30. E. L. Mascall, The Openness of Being: Natural Theology Today (London,
1971), p. 36.

31. Ward, Concept of God, p. 81.

32. Cf. H. Kung, On Being a Christian, English trans. (London, 1977), for a cognate account of how reason should be used in affirming the existence of God: "a meditative reflection, accompanying, opening up, elucidating the concrete experience of reality" (p. 69). One might compare also A. N. Whitehead's suggestion that the philosopher should begin with an "imaginative generalisation" insinuated by one area of experience and seek to apply it in all areas in order to test its adequacy as an interpretation of reality as a whole (Process and Reality [Cambridge, 1929], pp. 5-8). On the whole issue, see further R. La Senne, Obstacle et valeur (Paris, 1934), chapter 1, "Expérience et philosophie."


Charlesworth, M. J.
Philosophy of Religion: The Historical Approaches. London, 1972.

Copleston, F. C., S. J.
A History of Philosophy. 9 vols. London, 1946-1975. Religion and Philosophy. Dublin, 1974.

Davies, B., O. P.
An Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion. Oxford, 1982. Thinking about God. London, 1985.

Davies, C. F.
The Evidential Force of Religious Experience. Oxford, 1989.

Gilson, E.
God and Philosophy. New Haven, 1941.

Lewis, H. D.
Philosophy of Religion. London, 1965.

Nédoncelle, M.
Is There a Christian Philosophy? English trans. New York, 1960.

O'Donoghue, N. D.
Heaven in Ordinarie. Edinburgh, 1979.

Roberts, D. E.
Existentialism and Religious Belief. Oxford and New York, 1957. 2d ed. Oxford and New York, 1960.

Swinburne, R.
The Existence of God. Oxford, 1979.

Thomas, O. F.
Religious Philosophies of the West. New York, 1965.

Copyright © T & T Clark, 1991


A GRAMMAR OF CONSENT: The Existence of God in Christian Tradition

by Aidan Nichols O.P.

A new approach to the question of the existence of God drawing upon the richness of human experience as it has been recognised and reflected upon for two millenia of Christian philosophy.

This edition published under licence from University of Notre Dame Press by T & T Clark, Edinburgh, Scotland.

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