Divine Pedagogy (Update)
Though overshadowed liturgically by the celebration of the Lord’s Day, the Church celebrates today one of its earliest and greatest theologians: Irenaeus of Lyons. As is well-known, Irenaeus came from Asia Minor, studied in Rome, and became bishop of Lyons. Thus he is a compelling witness to the tradition of Greek and Latin Christianity, the still undivided Church.
One of the most memorable courses I have ever taken was with the noted Patristics scholar Antonio Orbe, S.J., on the Theology of Irenaeus. Unlike the Gnostics, whom he wrote against, Irenaeus had a deep appreciation of the material universe and of the human, molded from the clay of the earth. In this, of course, he was faithful to the biblical vision and the inseparable unity of the two Testaments.
One of Father Orbe’s favorite phrases from Irenaeus was that humankind was “nuper factus,” only recently created, and thus childlike and in need of education. God’s patient pedagogy was to persuade, not coerce, his creature toward maturity.
Could it be merely coincidence that I happened just yesterday to hear an interview on the splendid National Public Radio Program, “Speaking of Faith?” It was with the geophysicist, Xavier Le Pichon, who also has lived and been part of a L’Arche community.
Le Pichon spoke of the human capacity to identify with the suffering other. But this capacity must be educated. And the litmus test of any society’s humanity is its treatment of the most fragile of its members: the very young and the elderly: those who serve no utilitarian function, but can teach us true humanity by our care and concern for them.
The interview in pdf format is available here.
The pedagogy may be divine, but to err is human:
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading your recent post to dotCommweal, “Divine Pedagogy.” I also deeply appreciate your link to Speaking of Faith’s “Fragility and the Evolution of our Humanity” program.
The post refers to Speaking of Faith as a National Public Radio program. While it does broadcast on local public radio stations nationwide, it is produced and distributed by American Public Media and is not a production of NPR. American Public Media is the nation’s second-largest producer and distributor of public radio programs.
Would it be possible to make this correction?”
National Public Relations Manager
American Public Media