The Method of Theology 4:1
Sku: 30700A0E060
Archival Number: CD/m[3 307
Author: Lonergan, B.
Language(s): English,
Decade: 1960

CD/mp3 307, first part of fourth lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Rev. Conrad Dietz. After indicating the principal problems faced by theology at the present time, Lonergan goes on to specify elements that can be determined as theology attempts to deal with the problems. Two of these are dealt with in this lecture: first, whether there is a theoretic element in theology, and second, the issue of the relation between Aristotelian and modern ideals of science as that relation bears upon the theological ideal. The first of these is the question whether there is a theoretic element in theology. To argue an affirmative answer does not mean one is in favor of perpetually disputed questions; in fact, good theory would bring many such questions to an end. Nor does it entail affirming a theology that is timeless, abstract, necessary, and universal. It does not mean a theology that is exclusively theoretic, solely systematic, that can not find any room for personalist, existentialist, phenomenological trends or for the positive theology that has been developing over the century and that has flowered and fructified in biblical and patristic and other departments of theology. Nor does the systematic view mean an integration of everything from every point of view. Integration is the ability of the subject to move smoothly from one world to another. And it does not mean the Aristotelian idea of science. In fact the church is committed to a theoretic element. The First Vatican Council gave a permanent validity to the theoretic element when it spoke of theological understanding of the mysteries of faith. But that validity rests upon a centuries-long movement towards theoretical conception and definition of the contents of revelation. Systematic and positive theology go hand in hand. To account for development as a movement towards theory, a Wendung zur Idee, is to acknowledge as a term the existence of a systematic theology. One tendency towards the elimination of the theoretical element is found in phenomenology, which, despite its obvious advantages, lacks the crucial element of the movement to reflective understanding and judgment. With regard to the first question, then, while we have to acknowledge the value of new fields and developments in theology, still all development is a matter of differentiation and integration, where one combines the new with the old, and then progresses. A second question has to do with the relation of Aristotelian and modern ideals of science. Lonergan claims that we have to admit science of the modern type as more congruent with the Catholic dogmatic-theological context than Aristotelian science, and still we have to acknowledge modern science as a coherent prolongation of the ancient type. The analysis of the relations between the two ideals is possibly a more complete presentation than one will find elsewhere in Lonergan's work.

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Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon


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