The Method of Theology 7:2
Archival Number: CDmp3 314
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 314, second half of seventh lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Rev. Conrad Dietz. The case of Gutwenger exemplifies thematization in theology: the process from the world of common sense, community, faith, to the dogmatico-theological context. But now a leap must be taken from that single instance to the summation and integration of many instances. The dogmatico-theological context is a matter of summing up, putting together, all the little transitions that have occurred for the last 1900 and some years. That gradual building up of the dogmatico-theological context is the development of dogma and of theology. The dogmatico-theological context at any time is the point where you are summing up the area up to now. It is increasing, and it will continue to increase. And that development is a summation, a continual addition of little points, each one of which is a transition from the world of faith to the world of theory. Next, the best way to understand the development of the dogmatico-theological context is to study questions at the time at which they were new, the time at which the new element was added. Studying the time at which the transition was made from the world of faith to the world of theory is also the best way to understand what exactly the world of theory is, what precisely it contains, what the exact content of the dogma is, and what the problems were that are left over for later theologians to solve. There has always been a context from which theologians proceeded back to scripture, in which they formulated their questions, and in the light of which they sought answers from the scriptures. And that context itself is developing. In what mode does the thematizing occur? The dogmatic theologian thematizes scripture as the expression of a truth. There are many other legitimate ways of studying and thematizing scripture, but the dogmatic-theological thematizing is concerned with truth. The dogmatic concern is with scripture as the word of God and, indeed, as the word of God which cannot be contradicted, as something that is true. Now the process of thematizing may or may not itself be thematized. And when one thematizes scripture as true, one is determining what can be transferred from one context to another, since truth is an unconditioned. Such a thematizing is contrasted with the procedure of Romantic hermeneutics, where there is an attempt to eliminate differences of context. And it is something entirely different to take a text as a datum and thematize that and to take a text as an expression of truth and thematize that truth. When one begins from a text as a datum, there occurs between the datum and some knowledge of truth a process of understanding, and such processes of understanding in general yield probable results that probably will be improved upon by another scholar coming along and taking advantage of previous work and going a little further. But when a text is taken as a truth, thematized qua verum, then one has truth right from the start. One's only concern is to assimilate that truth, to understand what precisely it is. Insofar as one's understanding is really an understanding of that truth, one is not bringing truth into existence for the first time, as occurs when you begin from data and then understand and then judge. One way of expressing these differences is to say that the dogmatic theologian uses scripture not experientially but experimentally. And again, the use of scripture by the dogmatic theologian makes use of heuristic definitions.
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Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon
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