In late scholasticism appeared a extrinsicistic dualism between the ultimate natural aim and the ultimate supernatural aim. The ultimate aim, which defines the nature and the theology of an entity, is one. It Being unique, it is clear that in God’s plan, the ultimate aim of mankind is the communion with the Trinity, the vision of God in its essence, as it broadly described in the New Testament. But it is also true that the ultimate aim is necessary and, if the ultimate supernatural aim is necessary, it would not be supernatural and free.
The axioms of the ultimate aim are very clear: nowadays many theologicians protest against such truth. God has created the world with an ultimate natural aim which, in his plan, is penultimate (but definitely not parallel to the ultimate supernatural aim) but, because of its own nature, it is ultimate, and it is the heart of secularity, and of human nature in its historical development. Man was not created by grace, but by the elevation of grace’s sphere.
The capax gratie refers to the creation as per the divine image, which enables man to supernatural elevation. The ultimate natural aim remains fully espoused to the ultimate supernatural aim which redeems it from the deflection of the original sin and maintains it as fullness of created humanity, and raises it to redeemed humanity.
I am now entering in the heart of the relationship grace-nature underlying the Christians’ action in the world.
During the centuries, such relationship has inspired many solutions, but it is still waiting for a synthesis different from the neofideism which is nowadays prevailing among theologians. De Lubac thought he could lead Saint Thomas to fideism, but the natural desire to see God sicuti est does not erase the ultimate natural aim, as already explicitly stated in thomist texts. The Second Vatican Council has elided the issue grace-nature, by bringing it back to a “strong” christocentrism in which Creation and Alliance are to be found in God.
There is no doubt that everything has been created according to the formal cause of the Incarnate Word, but in order to achieve redemption, it is necessary to look at the Resurrection and at new man. There is a Christ-like analogy that enables to see an absolute novelty between Creation and Alliance.
I, hereby, propose an example to explain the possibility of a new relationship between nature and grace. Accordingly to the prevailing agostinianism, the nature is like a woman who has a certain value by herself, but the meaning of her life is accomplished when she becomes wife and mother.
Many biblical passages support such hypothesis. Especially the Canticle and Ez 16, 1+. But also Saint Paul in many texts; For example, Col 1,13: 13: “For he hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath moved us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,” we are transferred into the Kingdom!
Catholics neofideists do not deny a natural consistency, a range of problems to be solved with reason, science, or politics.
Neophideist Christians are not like the first Protestantism which saw in the reason the demon’s weapon. But they deny all final purpose, any divine dynamism of creation that is not supernatural dynamism. So many end up not to mention supernatural, because it is clear to them that all transcendence is theological. In my example, however, woman has a lasting connatural purpose in marriage and in man. Supernatural elevation is new creation, it is divine surprise, as the example shows.
From the Prince’s point of view, the vision is perfectly synthetical: the woman is interested both in humanity and in the kingdom, in order to have a queen and heir. But it is also necessary to have a clear vision on the part of the woman’s nature. The prince cannot marry a man or an animal if he wants to have a heir and a queen beside him. Certainly the woman is intrinsic to the queen: it is not possible to have a queen who is not a woman. While the opposite does not apply: the “queen” is not intrinsic to the woman.
In the grace-nature relationship, extrinsicism is overcome by the act of being regenerated by the new creation, and this happens without falling into the intrinsic tract of grace and nature.
We are interested in this theme because only with the ultimate natural aim we can set up a philosophy of history that is absolutely necessary for a responsible lay Christian life. Everything is confused by original sin, and everything must be seen in the unity of divine design, but without confusing the terms, otherwise nature becomes a pure potential whose act is grace. Without the ultimate natural end, the alternative is between fedeism and secularism.