Faith and Reason; Grace and Nature    

Written before 1974, all of the works listed on this page articulated Grisez’s efforts to explain and defend either his commitment to be a Christian philosopher or the community of scholars he needed to carry out that commitment. In 1978, his understanding of his commitment compelled him to become a theologian but enabled him to do so without ceasing to be a philosopher. The disintegration and/or defects in the integrity of Catholic academic institutions, including professional associations, within which Grisez worked throughout his life were in large measure compensated by the marvelous group of scholars who became his colleagues.

Many of the ideas, particularly those about grace and nature, first articulated in these early works were developed much more fully in The Way of the Lord Jesus, volume one, Christian Moral Principles. Then too, Grisez’s thought about grace and nature was of course very closely related to his gradually developing views on the ultimate end. On that topic, one may look here.


“The Four Meanings of ‘Christian Philosophy’”    

By 1961, Grisez had participated in many discussions about Christian philosophy, most of which focused on the issue: Can something be both genuine philosophy and specifically Christian, and, if so, how? He was convinced that most discussions were vitiated by conceptual confusion. In this article, he tried to overcome that confusion.

The fourth of the four meanings refers to the sort of thing Grisez at this time aspired to realize: a rationally defensible account of reality, which faith itself did not provide, but that began in and to some extent satisfied specifically Christian wonder.

The article is copyright © 1962 University of Chicago; all rights reserved.

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“The Christian Philosopher”    

Grisez was invited by the Rev. George McLean, O.M.I, to participate in a summer workshop in June 1965 on Christian philosophy and religious renewal. Proponents of various views of Christian philosophy presented and argued for their views, with the result that Grisez’s contribution differentiates his view from several widely accepted alternatives.

More than the preceding paper, this one is a manifesto articulating the undertaking to which Grisez was professionally committed insofar as he was both a philosopher and a believing Catholic. In it, he spelled out the understanding of the relationship between nature and grace that would remain, though be more fully articulated, in his later works, including The Way of the Lord Jesus. He also made clear the sort of Thomist he would be: one who would begin from Thomas but depart from him insofar as evidence and reasons required.

The contribution is copyright © 1966 The Catholic University of America Press, Inc.; all rights reserved.

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“Academic Freedom and Catholic Faith”    

In the spring of 1967, the The Catholic University of America Alumni Association planned a session in which a priest-theologian supportive of those dissenting from the Church’s moral teachings would address the alumni on academic freedom. Some alumni demanded that the program be expanded to allow for an alternative view and enlisted Grisez to present it. Thus, on 22 May 1967, he participated in a symposium at The Catholic University of America on “Catholic Faith and Academic Freedom.”

Grisez explained that the prevailing conception of academic freedom originated in the German Englightenment. It fails even to attend to, much less to call into question, the most profound and widespread limit on academic freedom, namely, the control of funding, which often favors secularism. Moreover, the quasi-official formulation of academic freedom in the United States presupposes that religious faith and academic freedom are contraries, so that institutions with a religious commitment necessarily restrict academic freedom. By contrast, Grisez articulated a notion of authentic academic freedom compatible with Catholic faith.

Russell Shaw, with whom Grisez was already collaborating, was then working for the National Catholic Educational Association. He thought Grisez’s presentation might well interest a wider audience, and arranged for its publication in that oraganization’s quarterly bulletin. The article is copyright © 1967 The National Catholic Educational Association; all rights reserved.

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“Faith, Philosophy, and Fidelity”    

Although this article was published in 1984, it is a slightly revised version of a lecture Grisez gave on 17 September 1972: “The Complementarity of Faith and Philosophy.” Having just become a Professor of Philosophy at Campion College, which is an integral part of the largely secular University of Regina, Grisez staked out, for the entire university community, his position regarding his responsibilities as simultaneously a genuine philosopher and a faithful Catholic.

This presentation is compatible with, but further develops, that in his 1965 paper on the Christian philosopher. Here Grisez makes explicit his assumption that every philosopher has some sort of worldview to which he or she is committed, so that all of them strive to explain and defend some sort of prephilosophic faith, even if that faith be the rejection of divine revelation.

The article is copyright © Ultramontane Associates, Inc. 1984; all rights reserved.

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“American Catholic Higher Education:    
The Experience Evaluated”

Msgr. George A. Kelly, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, was trained in sociology and a member of the faculty of St. John’s University. Regarding as disastrous the course that many Catholic universities and colleges had take during the preceding decade, he organized a conference to be held in the spring of 1973 on the character and prospects of Catholic institutions of higher education. Impressed by Grisez’s paper on academic freedom and Catholic faith, Kelly invited him to give a philosophical paper evaluating the trend toward secularization.

This paper includes more history than the 1967 paper, takes up a document issued by the Congress of Delegates of Catholic Universities of the World that met in Rome in November 1972, and sets out the requirements Grisez argued Catholic institutions needed to meet if they were to retain their identity and reason for existing.

The paper is copyright © 1973 St. John’s University Press New York; all rights reserved.

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