The Method of Theology Discussion 6
Archival Number: CD/mp3 329
Author: Lonergan, B.
CD/mp3 329, sixth discussion in the 1962 Institute 'The Method of Theology.' Sponsored by Regis College Jesuit Community, Toronto. Four questions were placed. (1) What today would be the modern counterpart to the question, Is theology a speculative or a practical science? (2) Please discuss the statement, Verum et falsum sunt in mente, bonum et malum in re, in relation to the assertions about the independent, absolute, and unconditioned verum to be found in the texts of scripture. (3) What of the suggestion that the scripture scholar teach the biblical argument in a thesis, the student of the councils the argumentum ex documentis, and the dogmatic theologian the speculative part? (4) What kind of unity is there in theology: is it one science, and if so what sort of unity is there in the composite of exegesis, biblical theology, positive, systematic theology, and practical theology? Lonergan started from and concentrated on (3) and (4). Not every text needs an exegesis. There are cases in which the meaning is plain from the start. But there are blocks to understanding texts. There are problems of communication due to mutual misunderstanding at a given time, and similar problems in going back to another age. History is neither positive nor speculative theology, but positive theology uses this work from a viewpoint that does not belong to the specialist in that field, picking out the things that are certain. The specialist study aims at the complete explanation of all data on a given writer. The aim of a theologian, whether positive or systematic, is to communicate and perhaps to develop the existing dogmatico-theological context. It is fundamental to grasp the difference of viewpoints. The proposal regarding different people teaching different things has problems based in not acknowledging these differences. A further question on the same matter led to Lonergan's distinguishing hermeneutics and history. Regarding the question of the unity, theology is concerned with God. God may be known in three ways: beatific vision, natural theology, and through the Word of God transmitted in the Body of Christ. In the last, there is relevant to theology the historical development of doctrine. The process of transmission is the process of this development. And so the history of theology is a part of the teaching of theology. This is not true of physics or of mathematics, but the development of dogma and theology, since they are part of the medium of the science, pertains in an internal way to the science. But that is not end, but means. The end is God, and all things in their relations to God. Systematic theology more closely approaches this end. Its concern is some understanding of the mysteries. The unity of theology comes from this end. The unity of practical theology with what has been said: insofar as one reaches truths, one goes on to judgments of value, and then one is in the practical order. The transition is simple. What we hold to be true, we either live it or we suffer an inner contradiction. If we can't bear the contradiction, either we convert back or we dim the light. Regarding the truth in scripture, this is what set the problems of exegesis. Knowing the meaning of a text is not done easily. But the dogmatic theologian is concerned to find the truths the church says are certainly contained in the sources of revelation.
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