On the other hand, we have the positivism of the empirical method: what is positively given in nature, we must discover by the methods of induction and abstraction — now the gap of which I spoke has become visible. In Thomas it was closed; in Duns Scotus it is opened up, and never has been closed again. And it is still our problem, as it was the problem of the people of the 13th century. While in Bonaventura God is known immediately, He is present before anything else is present in us while in Thomas He can be proved by demonstrations, but authority must help, because it is not completely certain in this way; in Duns Scotus neither immediacy nor demonstrations is left, so only revelation and authority accepted in faith can help. – Now if you have understood this, then you are really in the center of any important philosophy of religion. This is the real problem.
Now the gap opened up by Duns Scotus becomes a very large gap a century later in Occam, the real father of nominalism. God cannot be approached at all in terms of atonomous knowledge. He is out of reach. Everything could be the opposite of what is. Therefore He can only be reached by our subjection to the Biblical and ecclesiastical authorities. And we can subject ourselves to them only if we have the habit of grace, only if grace is working in us and makes It possible for us to receive the authority of the Church. Cultural knowledge the knowledge of science, is completely free and autonomous, and religious knowledge is completely heteronomous. So when I come back now to the characterization of the early Franciscan-Augustinian situation, I can say: the original theonomy – God always the prius of every knowing – has been disrupted into complete scientific autonomy on the one side, and complete ecclesiastical heteronomy on the other side. That is the situation at the end of the Middle Ages. And since the Middle Ages are based on a system of mediation, the Middle Ages came practically to an end in the moment in which these mediations broke down.
When I bring this down to the traditional question of reason and revelation, I can express it thus: In Bonaventura reason is in itself revelatory, insofar as in its own depths the principles of truth are given. This of course doesn’t refer to the historical revelation in Christ, but refers to our knowledge of God. In Thomas reason is able to express revelation. In Duns Scotus reason is unable to express revelation. In Occam revelation stands beside and in opposition to reason. At the end of the Middle Ages the religious and the secular realm are separated, but they are not separated in the way in which they are today – as a consequence of this separation in the Middle Ages – but the Middle Ages still wanted for centuries its traditional unity. Therefore the Church now developed its radical heteronomous claim to rule all realms and to control them, but now from outside. And now the desperate fight between autonomous secularism and heteronomous religious developed. Don’t confuse the late Middle Ages with the earlier Middle Ages. As long as the tradition was in power, the Middle Ages were not heteronomous; they were theonomous, which is something quite different. But at the end an independent secular realm was established, and the question was: Is the Church able to control this independent realm? And the ways in which the Church was deprived of this power are the ways of Renaissance and Reformation.
One of the ways I wanted to mention, and which appears already at that time, was the way of the double truth, which is very illuminating for the situation. Some people seriously – not only diplomatically, in order to hide themselves – believed, in reality, that a statement about the same matter can be contradictory and nevertheless true theologically though wrong philosophically, and vice versa, so that people asserted the whole heteronomous system which the Church as long as it was in power still could maintain, and on the other hand, they developed autonomous thought. And if the proposition came into conf lict, then they took refuge in the so- called ‘double truth. Of course for many this was a way of hiding, but it was more than this: it was the belief that these realms are so separated that you can say in one realm the opposite of what you say in the other.