Archival Number: A570
Author: Lonergan, B.
4 handwritten pp. Dogmatic and theological development, anachronism and archaism, controversies. Dated May 14. From spring 1963 course De Methodo Theologiae.
57000D0L060 May 14
I. The possibility of the development of dogmas and of theology. (1) Vincent of Lerins, ‘quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus’; increase of understanding, knowledge, wisdom tam singulorum quam omnium, tam unius hominis quam totius ecclesiae, aetatum et saeculorum gradibus, idem sensus, idem dogma, eadem sententia. (2) What is first is more easily understood: Christ, the apostles, the church successively preach the same truth. (3) What is more easily understood is what alone is understood by many. (4) Whence anachronism: if it is taught today by the church or by theology, it was always taught, if not explicitly, then implicitly. What is this ‘implicitly’? What is required and sufficient that something be always taught but in such a way that it is easily understood? From this we get a systematic misinterpretation of the sources.
(5) Or archaism: what is not contained in the sources is a later corruption, or at least a superfluous addition. The dogmas developed later, and only the history of the origin is clearly and distinctly easier, and so the dogmas are not in the sources. Theology presupposes not only faith but also doctrine, which is a Greek or medieval add-on; and so theological pronouncements are to be rejected or at least not paid any attention.
From this there follows a threefold effect, clearly expounded by Newman: ignorance, since what is omitted is not known; mutilation of the whole, and knowledge is of the whole not in an additive sense but in a comprehensive sense; and a distortion of the remaining parts: a vacuum cannot be retained; the other parts assume for themselves what once pertained to the omitted part; it’s like the partition of Poland. If matters whose explanation is juridical or religious or systematic are not going to be acknowledged as ‘juridical,’ ‘religious,’ or ‘systematic,’ then they will receive some other explanation. E.g,, if philosophy and systematic theology are omitted, recourse is had to historical speculation.
(6) Controversies: Anachronists give a systematic misinterpretation or inexact interpretation of the sources (scripture, the Fathers, St Thomas). Archaists ignore a part, mutilate the whole, and distort the remainder. There is an abundance of material for controversy from these two sources.
(7) Ecumenism: Christians in a laicized or secularized culture, precepts of charity and prayer for unity, diminution of the dogmatic spirit. Some understanding of development: I would not say exact, and I would deny it is needed by all.
A non-understanding of dogmatic theology
Modern science attends to the data very well, effectively promotes understanding, is most certain in its negations, and is incapable of positive certitude.
Ideas are divided into opportune and surpassed, rather than into true and false.
The dogmatic theologian in modern culture is a stumbling block.
(8) One who wants a method of theology wants theology as a science in which there is a dogmatic element of judgment, of true or false, that accrues to the understanding of the data without removing the understanding of the data. Such a one wants not only comparative, synthetic, and genetic study, but also dialectic. He/she is not pleased, on the one hand, with what neglects data and understanding, and on the other with what does not consider judgment. Glauben und Verstahen, Exsistentialismus. One can believe he knows all there is to be known about method, yet not know what is intended in a course ‘De methodo theologiae.’
(9) A problem: is what precisely does dogmatic and theological development consist?