of the late Florent Gaboriau did not gain a lot of attention
during his lifetime, doubtless because he always wrote with
a polemical edge. Well, almost always. And, like most of us,
he tended to write the same book over and over. His final
work, Trente Ans de Théologie Francaise is no exception.
For all that, his polemics had a positive point, and that
was to grasp what Thomas Aquinas meant by theology.
The opening question
of the Summa theologiae has puzzled most readers. Thomas
in beginning a summary of theology seems to vacillate between
talking of theology and Scripture. Chenu found the phrase
sacra doctrina ambiguous, and he was not alone. For
Gaboriau there is no ambiguity at all. Sacra doctrina =
Scripture = theology. The effort to speak of a science
of theology apart from Scripture, or to wedge Tradition into
the mix, seemed to Gaboriau to exhibit a manifest misreading.
In one sense,
Gaboriau is making an obvious point. Philosophy has as it
principles truths which are in the common domain, known to
all on the basis of natural cognitive equipment. Theology,
by contrast, takes as its principles truths revealed by God,
mysteries which, apart from revelation, would not be known.
Theological arguments must, therefore, always be reduced back
into revealed truths, into Scripture. Surely, there is nothing
problematical about that.
made his point with a vigor that sometimes calls it into question.
This can be seen in his constant reference to a remark to
be found at the end of Thomas=s
exposition of the Gospel of John. A..sola
canonica scriptura est regula fidei.@
(n. 2656) Gaboriau titled one of his books Sola Sciptura
on the basis of this text. Of course Thomas is there distinguishing
between apocryphal and canonical writings and the passage
hardly carries the weight Gaboriau would give it. Gaboriau
became, in Aristotle=s
phrase, a man in the grips of a theory.
For all that,
his basic corrective is to be embraced, as a reading of Thomas
and of Dei Verbum bears out. The arguments of theology
can only be vehicles of truth for one who accepts on faith
the principles from which they proceed, and those principles
are to be found in revelation.