Can you be the “Imago Dei” on Your Own?

February 6, 2012

On January 26, 2012, the Thomistic Institute at the Pontifical Faculty of the Immaculate Conception was pleased to welcome Dr. Russell Hittinger, the William K. Warren Professor of Catholic Studies at the University of Tulsa, to offer a lecture entitled, β€œCan You Be the Imago Dei on Your Own?” The lecture hall was packed to the point of overflowing when the lecture began, and the talk did not disappoint. Dr. Hittinger argued that an adequate solution to this question – which has been the subject of some debate between certain schools in contemporary Catholic theology – demands a deep appreciation of the Thomistic distinction between substance and accident. Moreover, the solution demands the rehabilitation of the latter as a true perfection. In short, the human being is substantially the image of God on his or her own, but this image is perfected in the (accidental) social relationships that are part of what it means to be fully human. In this way, Dr. Hittinger offered a compelling summary of recent magisterial and papal teaching in the light of the Church’s philosophical and theological tradition. An engaging period of Q&A followed the lecture.

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