The Method of Theology 8:1
Archival Number: CD/mp3 315
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 315, first part of eighth lecture in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Rev. Conrad Dietz. Lonergan moves now to the relation between positive and systematic theology, in order to set up a discussion of meaning, hermeneutics, and history. Positive theology is concerned with the relation between the contemporary dogmatico-theological context and the sources of revelation. It has two aspects: justification and development. Justification shows how the dogmatico-theological context as it is today is contained in the sources. Development turns to the sources to move that context forward. The question for the first aspect is, How is the theologian to go about the task of justifying, of reducing to the sources, the contemporary dogmatico-theological context? We have seen that the first rule is to concentrate on the turning points. By understanding Nicea's consubstantiality, for example, one is in a position to understand all the prior and subsequent attempts to speak about the same issue. Understanding the history of a doctrine is intimately related to understanding the doctrine itself. One has to be able really to read texts, and that is a rare achievement. We must not interpret a text in terms of what we think is implicit in it. What we find to be implicit is really a hypothetical thematization of the text, and if the author did not carry out that thematization, then it is not in the text. Studying the history of a doctrine is studying what is explicit in the texts. Only then can comparative method reveal differences within the process. Comparative method becomes genetic when it not only reveals differences but also accounts for them. Moreover, such differences do not occur in an isolated fashion. There is a whole series of fronts on which develoment takes place. Comparative and genetic method are not enough, however. Dialectic is also required. The dialectical element enters in, first, insofar as developments which are equivalent are not seen to be equivalent because of horizon, because of unauthenticity, because of a lack of conversion, and second, when one development is correct and another is not. Insofar as one side can be reduced to a lack of conversion, one has in the history itself a norm of true development, and so the transition to doctrine. And this possibility of a transition from understanding history to determining what is the correct doctrine is the fundamental tool in positive theology. One can show how the defined doctrine is contained in the original sources if the study of history reveals its own immanent norms, and if the dialectical element, the element of opposition, can be traced to some type of aberration. It is as positive theology relates the contemporary context to its origins either in a process of justification of the contemporary context or by filling out the present context that positive theology also makes a contribution to the further development of theology. And as positive theology relates the context to its origins, systematic theology relates the contemporary context, the developments that have occurred, to their end. There is development because reason illumined by faith can arrive at some understanding, and that a most fruitful understanding, of the mysteries. The lecture ends with some comments on the systematic task and the analogies that it employs.
Database and descriptions © Copyright 2017 by Robert M. Doran
Audio restoration by Greg Lauzon
No transcription available.