This book studies the nature, growth and prospects of Roman Catholic culture, viewed as capable of appropriating all that is noble both from internal and external sources. John Rist tests his argument via a number of avenues: man's creation in the image of God and historical difficulties about incorporating women into that vision; the relationship between God's mercy and justice; the possibility of Christian aesthetics; the early development of the see of Rome as the source of an indispensable doctrinal unity for Christian culture; the search for the proper role of the Church in politics. He also argues that such an understanding of Catholic culture is necessary if contemporary assumptions about inalienable rights and the value of the human person are to be defended. The alternatives are a value-free, individualist universe on the one hand, and a fundamentalist denial of human nature and of history on the other.
John M. Rist is Emeritus Professor of Classics and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, where he taught from 1959 to 1980 and again, following three years as Regius Professor of Classics at the University of Aberdeen, from 1983 to 1996. Since 1998 he has been part-time Visiting Professor at the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum in Rome. In 1976 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1991 he was elected a life member of Clare Hall, Cambridge. In 1995 he was the Lady Davis Visiting Professor in Philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is the author of over one hundred scholarly articles and numerous books including Augustine: Ancient Thought Baptized (1994) and Real Ethics (2001).
Introduction: partial and universal truth; 1. The human race: or, how could women be created in the image and likeness of God?; 2. Divine justice and man's 'genetic' flaw; 3. Divine beauty: nature, art and humanity; 4. The origin and early development of episcopacy at Rome; 5. Caesaropapism, theocracy or neo-Augustinian politics?; 6. The Catholic Church in 'modern' and 'post-modern' culture; 7. Looking at hopes and fears in the rear mirror.