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Library: Metaphysics and Dogmatics
Title:      Metaphysics and Dogmatics
Categories:      Metaphysics
BookID:      25
Authors:      Kevin Wall, O.P.
ISBN-10(13):      0000000025
Publisher:      Western Dominican Province
Publication date:      June 16, 2018
Number of pages:      125
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Essay on the crisis in metaphysics and its consequences for the future of dogmatic theology. 


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Title: Metaphysics and Dogmatics Author: Kevin Wall, O.P. Published online: July 2018 Previously unpublished Rights: Copyrighted 2018. Rights are owned by Western Dominican Province. Copyright Holder has given Institution permission to provide access to the digitized work online. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owner. In addition, the reproduction of some materials may be restricted by terms of gift or purchase agreements, donor restrictions, privacy and publicity rights, licensing and trademarks. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owner. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user. MOO IMINI TIlF CRISIS .,. /e~a p y c_5 A t~ J 1 GaµIcue. Ccs (0 1 Ac f' ~k 1 L o l C. c. 74 C. tur There is no theology without philosophy, if by theology one means speculative theology, that is, a reflection on the experience of faith. Theology needs philosophy in as much the history of philosophy, that is, human inquiry, is not without significance for understanding the Word of God. ,., On one hand, the Word of God can not to he identified purely and simply with Scripture: it, is the Bible actualized by the Holy- Spirit for people of our time. On the other hand, an understanding of the Word of God is conditioned by the historical and thereby relative understanding that man has of himself and of the world. For twenty centuries, Christian theology has attempted to actualize the identic Word of God in its relation to a given culture. The nature itself of theological language is to transgress the language-source of Scripture, using the new signifiers coming out of a particular historical state of a culture. What is philosophy except the reflective inquiry of an epoch, the effort by which human questions become conscious? The "moderyiness" of a t.heol ogy is not t.i ed to the new trends 'N of a culture, but there is no living theology without a constant dialogue with philosophy. This could be demonstrated in relation to the various functions that theology fulfills. Whether theology be seen as a purification of faith, as understanding of faith or as inquiry, theology needs to "philosophize". Otherwise it 2 Poi Pm stands in danger of falling into i ci srn, hi storicism or a dogmatic positivism. Here T will consider theology as "faith seeking understanding": fidei (cf. the anselmian definition of theology aS fides quaerens intellectum). Until. now, I have insisted on the historicity- of theological language in close relation to the historicity of revelation and of the believer. There is a history of intellectus fidei just as there is an 'epochal history of truth in philosophy. I would like in this presentation to try to IIMI chafai51 ri P ..the change of the intellectus fidei in modern Ps times. I will begin with the clossi_cal model of Western theology represented by the theological science of St. Thomas. I will then proceed to show how this model has been profoundly challenged by the crisis of metaphysical reason in modern times. We will then he able to pinpoint the changes which can he observed within dogmatic theology today. I. Faith as science in Thomas Aquinas The classical model of speculative theology - consisted in the transposition of science arcorrTing to Aristotle into IMI theological discourse about. God.. '1'h i s model has conditioned op I Western Christian thought unt..i. l i he present day. St. Thomas' theology crould have been unthinkable without Aristotle's corning into Christendom, which illustrates quite well the radical historical cond'itinning of all theology as MIN MIk MIN MIN NMI an encounter between the Christian message and a given moment of human culture. 1. The option of St. Thomas a) For the predecessors of St. Thomas, faithful. to Augustine, theology was subordinate to and directed toward charity. St. Thomas' originality consisted in making theology principally into a speculative knowledge (cf. Question 1, article 4 on Doctri na sacra) . 'I'h i s form of charity , which is the holiness of intelligence, is at the service of objective knowledge of di vine things, the elaboration of a sacred science which has its own epistemological character. Paradoxically however, by incorporating the aristotelian logos into philosophy and by turning the understanding of the faith into a science (in state scientiae), St. Thomas in fact. accomplished Augustine's initial_ project of theology as intellectus fidei. h) St. Thomas' second resolute option concerned the subject of theology. it, was a deliberately t.heocentric choice. While for his predecessors, the suhjeat, of theology was the _ historical development of salvation history, St.. Thomas' risky wager consisted in leaving the historical domain to seek the intelligibility of revelation from God himself. The outline of the Summa aannnt he understood outside of this desire for the "resolution" of all the troths of faith 3 starting from this ultimate "reason" which is the mystery of God himself. In its departure from a historical and concrete theology, St. Thomas' theology remains a paradigm for all speculative theology. It attempted an impossible process: to come as close as possible to the absolute knowledge which is God and to see all things as God sees them. In this respect St. Thomas remains the representative par excellence of the Theologia gloriae, this same theology which Luther denounced in the name of a Theologia cruci,. 2. St. Thomas' philosophical presuppositions a) In St. Thomas' application of the concept of science to theology, one must understand "science" in the Aristotelian sense. That is to say, the most perfect degree of human knowledge, which understands the essence of a thing as the explanatory principle of this thing and of all that is proper to human experience. "Scientific" demonstration happens when, starting from a definition of essence, I can demonstrate the necessary appropriateness of a given attribute to the subject considered. From this flows the importance of the argument of "appropriateness" in theology. Due to the theory of the subalternation of sciences, St. Thomas succeeded in demonstrating how theology can verify the criterion of aristotelian science without, becoming an autonomous science outside of the obedience of faith. Theology as human understanding is to the science of God and of the saints. it, is therefore the 4 MIMI in the self-revelation of his name to Moses 1:. am who I am" MIS scientific quality of theology which structurally demands the mystical presence of faith. (cf. Chenu: "that which renders theology scientific also makes it mystical"). (1) b) analogical knowledge of God If it is impossible to know God in his intimate mystery, we can still reach a certain analogical concept of God. This becomes an explicatory principle which explains the pertinence of a certain number of predicates that Revelation assigns to God or that even reason can itself discover. St. Thomas believed to have found this quasi-definition of God MIR OBI (Exodus 3:14). In the absence of a proper definition of God, the concept of subsistent Being (Ipsum Esse subsistens) becomes the explanatory principle in the imperfect science of theology. God, defined as absolute Being, becomes the •• hermeneutical criteria used to discern those qualities proper to God among the various Scriptural affirmations about Him. The distinction between proper and metaphorical names attributed to God is based on the possibility of discerning analogical reasons transmutable with being and shared to a certain degree by God and created beings. According to St. Thomas, when God is identified with MIR absolute Being, it is possible to understand the historical interventions of God. Finally the concrete order of salvation history finds its ultimate of resolution in the very mystery of God. c) The intellectus fidei identified with. speculative reason The i_nt.ellectus fidei, that, is theological reason, is identified with speculative reason in the aristotelian sense of the term. Theology's object is none other than the object of faith, or God conceived as primary Truth. However St. Thomas distinguished clearly between the habitus of faith, which is infused and the habitus of theology, which is acquired. Faith can be compared to the habitus of the first principles and theology to the perfect act of knowledge which is the habitus of science, in other words the act of knowledge which takes into consideration the attribution of such and such a predicate to the subject of science. Strictly speaking, the formal object of theology is the conclusions that can be deduced from revealed truths. In any case, theological reason, just as metaphysical reason, functions according to the subject-object pattern. Truth in theology is identified with "truth-adequation" in the aristotelian sense. That means that truth belongs to judgment and that the basis of the correspondence between idea and reality is God as first Truth. II. The crisis of metaphysical reason and its consequences for theology Theology defined. as rational elucidation of faith is not tied to any one form of philosophy. St. Thomas' theology borrowed elements from aristotelian and. neo-platonic philsophy, but these elements were transmuted by faith and constituted a new figure in a radically heterogeneous 6 IMO OW OW IIW OW Oa OW OM semantic field. Nevertheless, ihnmisi ir 1110,11 y, r;hi.clt represents the classical age of IIr-'crlor?,~, is closcIv dependent on a metaphysics of being and on a metaphysical way of thinking. We are now en enteriws a new n c of t heol ogy in the sense that, theology cannot remain untouched by the modern crisis of metaphysics and the cirlesprr,td rsaI I ing into question of speeul at i ve knowledge. It is not my intention to deal with the t•,•r: . cl,tr-'nl_ly treated. theme of the "crisis of metaphysics". t am only se I eet . 1llg certain remarkable aspects or this crisis and am trying t o evaluate their implications for the present r'lt,'tnge in the concept of truth. t. The critique of onto-theology We know that wi t.h Kant, metaphysical t h i nk i 00 ahnrtt. God received a mortal. blow. The way of pure reason cannot. lead to God; it is denounced as a transcendental illusion. God is accessible only as a postulate o f practical. reason. This important event remained concealed in I :a t m l i c thinking until the Second Vatican t'onn'• i I . ThIs wasdue to the renewal of thomistic thought through the Intl nence of Gilson and Maritain and to the more or less successful efforts to reconcile thomistic real ism and kantian idea l i sm. (cf. J Marechal in France and K. Rahner in Germany). Protestant, theology had already faced this crisis of speculative knowledge of cod soma t i inn ago, I r•t' i ng to develop a post.-Kant-inn way of speaking: of (7or1. This is the 8 only way to explain Barth and Bult.mann's criticism of knowing God as object. For Heidegger, the cultural death of God conceived of as an object was already inscribed in the very destiny of metaphysics ever since its beginning. Since the time of Plato, it is this same metaphysical movement which makes God the absolute basis of beings and which at the same time destroys him. From the beginning, metaphysics cannot call into question the being in totality without immediately tie positing a supreme Existent as'`-bearer of being. This desire to find a basis for going beyond the given being manifests rational man's desire for representation. The hidden essence of western metaphysics is onto-theology, that is the IL expression of 'being (ens) by its being (esse) and of being by a supreme Being. Greek metaphysics did not then become onto-theology because it was transformed into Christian theology, it was onto-theology from the beginning. In modern times, the fact that man has replaced God as a foundation is included in the very movement of metaphysics as the desire to explain the totality of the real by transcending it from a foundation. For_-Hegel`'-s---spirit tends to become Absolute Spirit. For Nietzsche, we arrive at the death of God by the auto-foundation of the will to Pm power. This reversal was possible because ever since the beginning, God was conceived of as a Being which man could dominate by representing him. OM ON OM 011 AIM 'the cri.tique of onto-theology invites ns h. a ritiral reading of traditional theology as nteIaph; ifaI theology. MO One could lament the crisis of the metaphysical foundations MIA or speculative theology. But. one r nn l d also as 1c i I' I.h i s metaphysical crisis in the heideggorinn sense does not inaugurate a. new era of Christian theology, a I era where it is no longer possible to confuse the "theological" which comes from God. and. the "t henIogic;al" uhir•H is purely ontological. Christian theology - i_s called t_n her-nme more and. more itself and. to reflect on that r-h h it Inns been given through Revelation. f know quite well that one (Man a I ua vs nh,j ' 't that. t. hom as Aquinas escapes the Cato of met a phys i r' ; as nn t o-- t hoe And it is true the St. 'Thomas dor =; not. sarri t'i or' the God. of revelation to the foundation-God of metaphysics. it is in effect true that; there is in him, as U. hrelte sa.l ,!, "the beginning of the possibility to go hoyond metaphysic's", that ea is, a very live perception or the conceptual "beyond-ness" of the divine Tpsnm esse. It seems, nevertheless, diffieu,It. to Merry that fbonIr y--t^l-r,w science of St. 'Thomas',-is part or t hc> onto--theologica 1. project of metaphysics. I t. is al',n vr ,lyii l f i nl t, t.n deny that t.heologir_al reason for him Inn r't i ots as th'. desire to explain and as representative Iiiinking. (tn one hand, theology explains the truth of hr'ines in light of the f it•st. truth of their principle: ahsolnte n ing. ttt+ the other hand, theology - seeIcs to • :pIain reir`•alerl instor ies starting from a concept nt' 1;nd ns camrse and Tornt'Int i on of all 1.hat, MO I mg Sal 10 is. As I said earlier, the 1Lsum Esse subsistens becomes the hermeneutical principle of all theology. We observe, for example, a rigorous reduction of the biblical attributes of God, especially when they are expressed in verbal forms to the particular actuality of Being. This leads to some very formidable consequences, especially when one wants to speak of the historical interventions of God: creation, incarnation, gift of grace and divinisation. The risk of a metaphysical theology based on the analogy of being and the rigorous distinction bet.ween divine proper names and metaphorical names is to not comprehend the particular intelligibility of the important biblical symbols. Thomistic theology remains an exemplary case of the encounter of Christianity and hellenism. But his audacious attempt had immense consequences. One could ask if it does not reduce the particular originality nf___Gnd_and_of._._Jesus Christ to a prior idea of God inherited from a philosophical tradition. For example, St. Thomas seeks to explain God's free acts starting from the essential properties of God conceived as absolute Being. This is fine. But he does not sufficiently demonstrate the new understanding of God's transcendence as love which is obtained through salvation history. One could always seek to demonstrate that St. Thomas' metaphysics of being escapes the onto-theological critique of Heidegger. But from the perspective of his way of thinking, it is indisputable that St. Thomas' theology falls - into the logic of metaphysical thinking , as the desire to explain revealed truths from a prior foundation, be it God conceived as absolute Being, be it man in his self- understanding. What we need in theology is a way of thinking which appropriates revealed truth on the basis of its own starting point. In this perspective, following some theologians, we can reflect on the difference that heidegger established between the way of thinking characterized by "ErklArung" (explanation) and what heidegger called "Ercrterung" (intelligence from a given place) which targets a spoken word and which is appropriated in a given place. Just as there is a particular place where the truth ink of being is revealed, so there is a particlar place where MN the truth originating in God can be appropriated. (2) Instead of starting from man as a knowing subject opposed to r a God cone ved of as an object, one must begin with man defined as receiving and open. Then God h.i_msel.f is defined less as substance than as a coming-event of the Word. 2. The critique of metaphysi_cal thinking as representational thought Metaphysics as representational thought; confirms the platonic dualism between sensible and intelligible, between visible and invisible, between figurative meaning and proper IMO meaning. In his "deconstruction" of metaphysics, Jacques Derrida attempts to show that both metaphor and concept arise from the same philosophical act, that, of a ~.. metaphysical representation which aims at intelligibility through that which is sensory. But the entire argument of MI • r n • I 13 difference between Being and beings, metaphysics tends to understand the being as a drama for a spectator, as an object, for a subject. The spectator is no Longer a being among others, he becomes pure regard. This pure beholding (regard) is what, modern philosophy, from Descartes to Husserl has called the "subject.". The etymology of the word "object" is particularly significant.. is that which is thrown forward, exposed to a regard. The German word, Gegenstand, i.s even stronger, it the idea of insurrection of the object before the subject.. In this perspective, the problem for the subject i.s to master the object, to examine it from the standpoint, of reason. Here we find the origin of modern science's idea of objectivity. Objectivity is first of all separation of the subject and the object, a distancing of the object, from subjective meanings and from all that makes the subject something other than pure regard. In philosophy, the metaphysics of representation becomes with Kant a radical break between the transcendental and the empirical. (5) The new ontology, as understood by Heidegger, desires to leave the ontic (being) rediscovering the ontological 6r:. 4 (else), there where it lives, and to ahandon the vorstelien (representation) where I speak before and in its place, in order to listen to the Darst.elIen (the presentation of the thing by itself already there) and to allow it, to speak Being speaks by itself and instead of representing it with a concept that replaces it, we come to listen to its original annunciation. • 14 OM We can surmise the consequences for theology of this deconstruction of classical metaphysics as a metaphysics of representation. It is not a question of forgoing the demands of speculative theology in order to hide behind a purely biblical or kerygmatic theology. It is rather a question of learning to think about. God in a different way, beyond atheism and philosophical theism, which ended up with the conceptual death of God. I will only briefly mention here several recent theological currents that reveal the new destiny of western theology at this time of the deconstruction of metaphysics. There is first of all ever since Bultmann the current of exist/ential theology that calls into question objectifying ways of thinking about God. It is the most subjective knowledge which best respects the mystery of God, because I cannot know God without being changed by him. But one could ask if this theological trend, which refuses to speak of God as an object and which understands faith as an authentic decision, is not tied to an secret ant.hropocentrism which finally makes it similar to a metaphysics of representation. Secondly, there is a hermeneutical orientation; some would- say the hermeneutical inflation of contemporary theology. I will speak to this later. That, which seems important to me in relation to the history of the intel.lectus fidei, is the substitution of the heideggerian "historical understanding" in place of speculative thinking which moves in the subject- object pattern. Oft Oft 0.1 r Oft On Finally, many recent theological efforts take. into consideration the decline of metaphysics and attempt to let God be God rather than to reconstruct him conceptually. Instead of thinking about God. In terms of representation, this theology seeks to think about. God using the category of event (ereignis). If one thinks that in the word "God" there is more than in the word "Being", it is not a question of giving up "Being", but to make it occur otherwise. It is a matter of meditating the coming of a God. who manifests himself more in otherness than in sameness, in distance, in gratuitousness and excess more than in the immediateness of his presence. I am thinking more here of the growing influence of Levinas than of the extreme position of Jean- Luc Marion who wants to completely dissociate God and Being. - One needs to inlude among the theologians And.rē Dumas, Christian Duquoc and especially Eherhard Jiinge.l. (6) 3. The present change of the concept of truth One could mention here the analytical theories of logical neo-positivism which deal with the problem of the statement and its foundation. But it i..s even more interesting for theology to refer to the hermeneutic.n.l understanding of i truth in the same direction as Heidegger and to the idea of an epochal history of truth. Just as there is a history of the forgetting of ontol-ogica.l difference, there is a history of the forgetting of truth. 15 16 In any case, we are now witnessing a challenge of truth as r. adaequatio re et int.ellectus which is continually presupposed by classical dogmatic theology. And even if Heidegger was unaware of the originality of biblical truth, it is he who the theologians cite in order to better demonstrate the difference between the original experience of Christian truth and the Greek experience of truth- adequation. According to the classical theory, truth was conceived according to the subject-object pattern as the formal adequation of reality and intelligence. Judgment is the exclusive place of truth. Going beyond Aristotle, one must rediscover the original essence of truth (aletheia), that is the property of that, which does not remain hidden. Truth, in its essence, points to that which is not hidden; and the history of truth is the history of its own forgetting, that which has rightly determined the destiny of western thought since Plato. if truth must be extracted from its own forgetting, the unveiling of truth is always accompanied by a simultaneous veiling. One may guess the consequences for a theology conscious of its own historicity, instead 'of functioning, as a certain dogmatic theology, in the heaven of eternal truths. v ~~ Without a doubt, truth in the biblical sense points to a way of thinking othertl4n than that of helienism. The original sense of the word "emeth" in Hebrew evokes the idea of solidity, confirmation and accomplishment. Biblical truth is essentially historical: that which is accomplished in ON Mr AIN mia Oft — i On 17 r the word and verified in history is true. But in the Johannine conception of truth, nne can detect a new encounter between. the Hebrew sense and the Greek sense of the word truth, in other words, between the idea of firmness and. the_____Jdea..of manifestation. At the same time we find an element of knowledge and an ethical and eNistential. element: "he who does what is true comes to the .light" (3:21). Above all, the manifestive dimension of truth is never dissociated from its o ological and eschatological dimensions. The truth. has 'come in Chri st, but still remains a way which points t.o a future: "The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth" (16:3) . '"" In any case, it can he said that modern theology seeks to distance itself from the metaphysical conception of truth belonging to classical dogmatic theol oy as well as from the concept of truth presupposed by historicism. What both of these concepts, which are both finally an inheritance of the rationalism of the Enlightenment, have in common, is the idea of correspondence, aderluat i on hotwe,eir a subject and an OM object on the basis of an immerlinte relation t.o the origin, whether this be identified with the I'rzllness of being as in metaphysical thinking, or with a past, historical fact, as in the case of historicism. (7) This return to a truth more fundemen to I than objective truth, thought according to the It,?ic or contradictory propositions, means at least two things for theology. On one hand, all theological statements point to the ever greater mystery of God. In other words, their clarifying function for a believer's understanding today are always accompanied by a correlative veiling in relation to the fulness of truth which is identified with God. On the other hand, theological truth is a permanent historical coming which, in response to questions posed by the evolution of the world and of the church, remains open to a new uncharted future. Thus, the permanent coming of fundamental truth which was unveiled in the coming of Jesus Christ never ceases to be accomplished in the historical figures of the tradition of the church. (8) III. Present changes in theology I would like to summarize my essential points by developing them around the idea of change. And in order to sensitize you to the present concerns in theological work, I think it is best to speak of my own experience as a theologian and my own evolution over the last twenty years. 1. My own change as a theologian I recognize a certain changelin the sense that I am speaking less as a member of a particular Institution and more from my own experience as a believer as part of both a community of believers and a society molded by modern times. Let's just say that I request the right to speak in the first person. 18 I do not wish the dialogue between a theology rooted in the trnd i t. i on of the Church and culture to remain formal and AEI exterior, but rather that the dialogue be an echo of my faith and the questions of contemporary culture. This is what I call the tension between a. confessional theology and a critical theology. My theology becomes a critical questioning before God in solidarity with mankind.. I do not conceive of my function as a theologian only as an•preter of the teaching of the Church for the community of believers. T think that the theologian is also one who brings to the word. the unformrclaI0(1 e':pr'rience of the people of God. One must go even further--he is the one who lives mankind's most radical questions before God. He testifies ,., that the Bible is not only the history of God's responses to man's questions, but also the hist.or:•y of man's questions to a God. 2. The change from a dogmatic model of writing theology to a hermeneutical model. (9). Catholic theology has been dominated by the dogmatic model since the Council of Trent. The starting point was always the teaching of the magisteri_um, and criptur•e and Tradition were basically employed as proofs. F'r:•om this perspective, theology is a reflection of the inst.Itutional church and serves to legitimise the affirmations of the rnagist.erium, with the danger of falling into an i,!coI or3,v which serves the hierarchical Power. 19 In the hermeneutical model, the starting point is always a text--Scripture and the rereading of the Scripture by Tradition. This hermeneutical theology stands at a distance from historicity. It is true that one begins with a historical founding event, but one goes on to a theological reading of the event. The starting point of theology is always the fundamental experience of salvation offered by God in Jesus Christ. The task of critical theology is to restore this fundamental experience by disassociating it from representations and interpretations belonging to a world of experience that is past. This work of interpretation is only possible by beginning with our historical situation and our present am experience of human existence. In other words there is no dogmatic theology at a critical level without using a "hermeneutical operation" which starts with a critical analysis of our world of experience today, which seeks to rediscover the constant structure of fundamental experience of which the New Testament and prior Christian Tradition testify, and which establishes a "critical correlation" between fundamental Christian experience and our experiences of today. To underscore the hermeneutical requirements of dogmatic theology is to say that theology is from beginning to end historical and that one cannot disassociate the present act of interpreting Christianity from that act which expresses the meaning of the origins of Christianity. In other words, 20 Os PO alb one must restore the geneological rnpport between the past and the present, and must trust, the permanence of the gift of the Holy Spirit in the Church. Theology is necessarily anamnesis and, therefore, an incessant interpretation of former writings. It is, at the same time, the kerygma of what is, in the present time of the Church, a prefiguration of the future. The theologian attempts to formulate what the church is actually living at a certain given time, a time when Christ ahsent is yet made present by His Spirit. Tn this sense, the theologian may he more than a Teacher. fie can also fulfill a prophetic function in the Church. 3. The change in the articulation of these two sources of theology -- Scripture and Dogma Scripture and dogma are the two preeminent sources for all Catholic theology. They are both partial testimonies in respect to the fulness of the Word of (god which is on an eschatological order. One must not, reduce the tension which exists between the two. It is a fact that. Catholic dogmatic theology has, until recently, favored the interpretation of Scripture- by -,prior. dogmatic explanations. Today, one senses the need to also reinterpret the dogmatic definitions from our critical reading of iloly Scripture and in terms of our present human expert(-once. Since Vatican II, we reaffirm that. Scripture must he the ' principle" for all theology. Concretely, this means that theological hypotheses, even the most venernhle, must he submitted to the indisputnhle conclusions of s"ient.i f'ir' exegesis. This 21 22 Oh does not imply that. "dogmatics" is completely dependent on historical-critical exegesis. It is not the Jesus reconstructed by historical science who is the source and norm of Christian faith. Lt is rather the living Jesus of history confessed as Christ by the first Christian Oh community. But more precisely, dogmatic theology must take into consideration the fact that historical-critical research is today capable of showing us the identity between the Christ confessed in faith and the man Jesus of Nazareth. This reinterpretation in terms of our critical reading of Scripture does not lead us to assert that the dogmatic truths, which were true yesterday, have become false today. But it •calls us to a new actualization of their meaning in accord with our new modes of understanding and in accord with the present faith of the Church. It also calls us -- even though the errors that they oppose no longer have the same actuality--to reinstate these dogmatic truths in a different way within. the totality of the datum of faith, in accordance with the principle of "the hierarchy of truths" put forward by Vatican II. It is possible, moreover, that a simple reinterpretation will not suffice when the original definition transparent to its contemporaries has become obscure for the believers of today. The theologian knows, however, that in the area of formulation, nothing is irreversible and that the Mystery of Christ goes beyond all the pronouncements that the Church may make concerning it. AMIk EMI i AMA 4. The change in t-ka licux of theology The traditional lieu of theology, that is, Scriture and Tradition, do not change. Philosophy and history remain as "tats additional indispensable licu;c. Yet one must take into consideration new sources of intelligibility which directly modify the theological task. For the theologian there is no "holy ground". He can take what is good every time that it is a question of a significant lieu that renews his understanding of the world and of man. I will only enumerate three iieux which modify the theologian' task: a) the results and procedures of human sciences Philosophy is not the only privileged interlocutor of theology. In speaking of the possible conflictual dialogue with the human sciences, it is necessary to understand that traditional theological reasoning is put into question by the new rationality of human sciences. b) non-western cultures As we approach the year 2000, the Church has the urgent task of actualizing the Christian message in non-western culture as well. Yet Christianity will not be inculturated into the non-western world without the ressources of these other cultural worlds reacting on our understanding of Christianity and giving birth to new theologies. To the degree that theology removes itself from its Greek roots, it will be more "understanding of faith" than "knowledge of 23 MN MIN faith" with the inherent, temptation of becoming a. supreme, universal knowledge. c) historical praxis of men conditioned culturally, socially, and politically This appearance of new places has led to an insurmountable pluralism. It, is due to the fact that human experience is too diversified to be able to be sythesized into one unique system of philosophical thinking. It is also due to the diversity of Christian experiences linked to different—local churches. True pluralism, however, is not contradictory to unanimity in faith. It is a requirement of the catholicity of the faith. 5. The change in the rule of faith It will always be necessary to have a social regulation of the language of faith. For us as Catholics, the magisterium is the authentic interpreter of the faith of the Church. However, the magisterial regulation of faith must be carried out in a dynamic articulation with the community of theologians and with the whole people of God. The dogmatic theologian functions as a "mediator" between the magisterium and the community of believers, and there are two aspects to this task. On the one hand, the theologian explains and thoroughly examines the official teaching of the Church for the body of believers. On the other hand, he gives theological expression to the life experience of the believers, and in this way, he helps the 24 magisterium to be sensitive to the changes in the faith and the mentalities in the Church. It is true that the magisterium has the final authority when faith finds iyitself in the midst of conflicting interpretations. He must, however, act in the name of apostolic "faith, and not in the name of a particular school of theology, not even that of the Roman theologians. Therefore, he must continue to listen to the Word of God in Scripture, to the sensus fidei of the whole Church, and also to the critical questioning of theologians. In the final analysis, given our state of theological pluralism, one must seriously ask the question whether the only way the magisterium can determine faith is to formulate infallible propositions. These are, in fact, necessarily conditioned by the conceptualization of a theology rooted in a particular culture. C (; ii "'`it o 1 1- 25 ION NMI INN .r FOOTNOTES 1. Concerning the notion of science-theology in the writings-of Saint Thomas, one may refer to the classical work of M.D. CHENU, La theologie comme science au XLIIeme si.ēcle, Paris, Vrin, 1957. One may also consult my introduction to question 1. of the Summa in the first volume of the new French translation of the Summa published by Cerf in 1984. 2. I have explained this analogy in more detail in my study "Le probleme de l'objecti.vite de Dieu" in the collective work Proces de l'ohjectivite de Dieu, Paris, Cerf, 1969, pp. 241-263; cf. also my book A New Age for Theology, Paulist Press, 1975. 3. J. LADRIERE, L'action comme discours de l'effectuation in Centre d'Archi.ves Maurice Bondel. Textes des Interventions, Louvain, Ed. de I'Lnstitut Superieur de Philosophie, 1974, p. 26. Cited by J. Fr. Malherbe, Le Langage Theologique ā l'age de la science, Cerf, 1985, p. 124. 4. J. F. MALHERBE, op.cit., pp. 124-125. 5. cf. J. LADR.IERE, L'articulation du sens. II. Les Langages de la foi, Cerf, 1984, p. 202 ff. 6. E. JUNGEL, Dieu mystere du monde, I and II, Paris, Cerf, 1983. In this work,the author opposes the metaphysical tradition of theology where God is thought of as a limit beyond which one cannot go-- as a God that is'above us, and Christian tradition where God is present in the language event which is Jesus. There is inversion of thinking and what is spoken: God can only he thought about because He is spoken. Thus it is a question of "God among us". 7. Here I take up one of the central theses of P. GISEL in his book, Verite et histoire. La theologie dans la modernite. Ernst lisemann, Paris, Beauchesne, 1977. 8. I make reference to the post-face of "La question de la verit.ē dans la. thēologie contemporaine" which I wrote for the collective work of CERIT in Strasbourg, La theologie ā l'epreuve de .la verite, Paris, Cerf, 1984. 9. cf. Cl. GEFFR1', The Risk of Interpretation, New York, Paulist Press, 1987, chapter 3. r eta.






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