Empiricism by A. Boyce Gibson (SCM 50s.) This book discusses the impasse which appears to exist d you block the avenues of human venture with iron curtains of "experience"; in other words, beyond what we know with our senses we know nothing. How then can one even propose such a concept as God?
Traditionally, men have journeyed in a whole realm of thought beyond the experiential—they make maps of it called "metaphysics" God transcends both physical and metaphysical worlds. Had he not made Himself very much felt by stepping into so much OT history, and -become incarnate in the New, he would have remained, quite literally, beyond words.
The mediaeval theologian worked out certain so-called proofs designed to help a man, apart from the data of rev elation, to agree that relatively simple reflections on observable phenomena focused eventually on attributes appropriate to God. Modern demands of strict empiricism invalidate the notion of metaphysic and throw out the famous five proofs.
Professor Gibson re-examines the traditional standpoints to see whether they really are so incompatible with plain experience. He indeed faults the old philosophical proofs: they make us see God "not as a presence, but as a cause." In his estimation, experience leads us on till effect overlaps with cause. From the Godward side he calls this a prolongation, and from our side, grasping for fringes.
The Later Christian Fathers edited and translated by Henry Bettenson (OUP 30s.) A convent superior told me she had been assured that if her sisters read the Fathers they
would be less troubled by some of the current ferment in theelogical ideas. Where did one read the Fathers? At the time I could not think of anything so clearly meeting her need as Mr. Betenson's book does now.
Passages are culled from thirteen post-Nicene Fathers on roughly the same number of subjects, subjects evolving naturally fmiin the Nicene definitions about the Trinity and about Christ. Those most dealt with are •the Person and Work of Christ, the Trinity and especially the Third Person, the Holy Eucharist, and Man—his fall, incorporation in Christ etc. The introduction is a fine essay in itself by a writer gifted with clarity of thought and expression.
In retrospect I think Sister Superior's point was sound. The cogency and attractiveness with which the Catholic mind unfolded (contrary maybe to the fractious story that history, retails) persuades a reader that biased in favour of -bad news, the patristic Church really ran on rails, though in passing you note the points where subsequent deviation may turn off.