Tradition, as Josef Pieper describes it, is something handed down from an original divine encounter. This is tradition in the primary sense—all other uses of the word are analogical. The sense of tradition that is first to us includes human traditions, and most of all traditions that pass on knowledge. These senses are all to be found in a new project recently announced, The Sacra Doctrina Project. More can be read about this initiative here. I count myself lucky to now be an affiliate member, and I encourage those interested to apply.
The Sacra Doctrina Project’s aims are clearly stated, and include above all “the study of theology as a scientia which is properly speculative and sapiential in nature.” That is, it aims to contribute to the Church’s longstanding tradition of seeking a knowledge through causes that is certain and evident about the source of our salvation that is still, at its height, a speculative form of knowledge, a knowledge that “aims both at the clarity needed to properly evaluate theological claims and at the fulfillment of the natural desire to know intimately that which one loves.” Furthermore, this tradition is sapiential insofar as sacred theology stands as wisdom to all other forms of knowledge. It governs them, uses their fruits, and defends them against error insofar as the subsidiarity of the disciplines of knowledge permits. We should note the role of philosophy as sapiential aid to theology in this regard:
We recognize the metaphysical, ontological, and epistemological foundations of the philosophical realism upon which theology builds, acknowledging that human reason has apprehended principles which theology cannot ignore or modify but can only integrate into her understanding of God’s revelation. Philosophy and theology can and ought to inform each other on account of their reflecting a unified reality under two distinct but interwoven modes of knowledge. As such, philosophy acts both as that which enables theology to “assume the nature, form, and character of a true science” and that which “tends to smooth and fortify the road to true faith” (Aeterni patris, §§4, 6). As queen of the sciences, the scientia of sacred theology is ably supported in its discourse about God by philosophy, as by a handmaid (cf. Prov. 9:3).
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