Method in Theology characters ¹ 107


10 thoughts on “Method in Theology

  1. says:

    Remember the years when philosophers would rave over “symbolic logic” that genre which attempted to distill uestions of meaning into mathematical algorithms so precise that one’s arguments would not be misconstrued? There are still “symbolic logic” courses and still some advocates of such in university philosophy departments but it is no longer the rage In reading Bernard Lonergan’s Method in Theology one gets the sense that Lonergan would have been somewhat comfortable with the idea of mathematical precision Oh to be sure his epistemology wouldn’t admit that manipulating symbols on their own is sufficient to accomplish either the work of theology or philosophy but he has a penchant for creating lists numbered lists in order to define his terms and processes as thoroughly as a mathematical euation The only trouble is that by the time one has read a dozen lists in the same chapter it is difficult to discern the weight of importance within the subjects discussedFor example he begins with the assertion that method reuires “operations” By “operations” he essentially means what I mean when I tell budding game designers to build a “verb list” of what the player is to do before starting to design a game Lonergan starts his description of operations with a 19 verb list seeing hearing touching smelling tasting inuiring imagining understanding conceiving formulating reflecting marshalling and weighing the evidence judging deliberating evaluating deciding speaking and writing p 6 Then he breaks the operations down into four characteristics 1 all of these verbs are transitive 2 all verbs reuire a subject to operate on an object; p 7 3 these verbs lead to “introspection” in the sense of objectifying said object; and 4 different levels of intentionality and consciousness must be distinguished when these verbs are used p 8 But that’s not all He breaks down that fourth consideration into four parts a the empirical level of sensory experience and collection b the intellectual level of inuiry hypothesizing and understanding c the rational level in which the empirical and intellectual are weighed in a logical seuence and d the responsible level at which the individual decides and carries out decisions based on previous deliberation p 9 In the same way Lonergan delineates five acts of meaning 1 potential refers to the original sensing and initial understanding of dataexperience; 2 formal signifies that conceptual work of clarifying the initial understanding; 3 judging describes the evaluation of that understanding; 4 active meaning suggests that one has come to a conclusion decisive enough to provoke action; and 5 instrumental acts of meaning occur when one expresses one’s conclusions in action walking the talk so to speak pp 74 75 In similar fashion he offers three critical uestions in epistemology 1 What am I doing when I’m knowing? 2 Why is doing that knowing? And 3 What do I know when I do it? p 83 Three pages later he offers three steps in language development 1 discovery of indicative signification 2 generalization and 3 communication through intersubjective indicative mimetic and analogic expression pp 86 87 He lists seven common areas of world religions on p 109 eight functional specialties for theology on pp 127 133 four factors which exacerbate the hermeneutical problem on p 154 four aspects of understanding the text on p 155 three steps in writing history on p 184 three stages of evidence on p 186 four parts of the historian’s task on p 198 four distinct realms of mental acts on p 257 nine different differentiations of types of “operating” in general theology pp 286 7 three ways in which the “dynamic” state of grace is manifested p 289 ten differentiations of consciousness from immediacy to interiority pp 303 305 three causes of pluralism p 326 five rules for communicating doctrine in a pluralistic culture p 330 and finally comes back to an earlier eight stages in his methodology the functional specialties for theology from pp 127 133 research interpretation history dialectic foundations doctrines systematic and communications p 355One of the very positive observations for me in this book is Lonergan’s insistence that undifferentiated consciousness ie our encounter with the Holy the Transcendent the Love of God is transcultural but “to preach the gospel to all men calls for at least as many preachers as there are differing places and times and it reuires each of them to get to know the people to whom he or she is sent their ways of thought their manners their style of speech” p 276 reiterated in different form on p 328 Lonergan thus seems to echo Paul’s Roman letter in suggesting that there is a natural theology discovered in human insight of the transcendent but it is necessary for it to evolve into specific theology in order to meet the specific needs of individual humans and cultures This would partially explain the reason for so much pluralism even within Christianity and takes seriously the idea of human learningunderstandingAnother insight that particularly inspired me was Lonergan’s illustration of theology in action as being like a giant pair of scissors with the upper blade being the categories of understanding and the lower blade being the data of existence Between the two blades just as in the sciences the upper blade is mathematical method and the bottom blade is data the work is done p 293 This insight reminds us that we theologians cannot merely rest on the theoretical but must take the risk of dealing with the data which is physical as wellAdditionally instructive was Lonergan’s observation that theological work has to be both “distinct from and dependent on the normativeness attributed to divine revelation inspired scripture or church doctrine” p 299 You can be I had to re read that line several times but I like it Theological work has to be distinct from these three authorities because it has to align itself with the milieu in which the work is being done and because it has to interpret for its own age and the theologian’s individual life and not just regurgitate the wording of the past At the same time theological work cannot afford to lose the essential truth of the three authorities so the distinctive ideas have to be constantly weighed against the traditional authorities It is indeed a balancing act but uite worthwhile in my opinion He underscores this argument with the suggestion that we understand the need of this distinctive yet dependent approach in the work of the missionary but we need to see that our own culture is constantly changing as well Therefore our approaches need to change too p 301 One of my favorite uotations was in his discussion of “doctrine” Lonergan wrote “Again doctrines are not just doctrines They are constitutive both of the individual Christian and of the Christian community They can strengthen or burden the individual’s allegiance They can unite or disrupt They can confer authority and power It is not in some vacuum of pure spirit but under concrete historical conditions and circumstances that developments occur and a knowledge of such conditions and circumstances is not irrelevant in the evaluational history that decides on the legitimacy of developments” pp 319 320But as Lonergan warns in his introduction this book is about doing theology than actually working through any particularly new insights in theology I did learn about methodology and resonate a lot with Lonergan on how to approach theology and why we need to approach theology with fresh eyes but I was hoping for specific examples than this volume happened to yield


  2. says:

    Bernard Lonergan was a major figure in the development of the Thomas More Institute in Montreal and what would later become Concordia University in Montreal with both of which institutions I am associated Reading one of his two major works was a gesture of so called cultural goodwill on my part Nobody would accuse Lonergan of being unpredictable He distinguishes eight functional specialties at the end of part 1 research interpretation history dialectic foundations conversion doctrines systematics and communication They are like eight wings in his basic grand theory And sure enough Lonergan dedicates one chapter to each functional specialty in part 2 Nobody would accuse him of not practicing what he preaches either His approach is an embodiment of the method he is talking about However as he explains there is also a personal component to his method As he paraphrases John Henry Newman To attempt to ensure objectivity apart from self transcendence only generates illusions And as Jacues Lacan never tired of repeating style is the man It is here that I have some objections Lonergan's endless taxonomies are tiresome Once he has distinguished x number of different categories he goes on to distinguish y number of subcategories Where do they come from? He does not say most of the time but it is hardly a surprise that the book exudes or less openly articulated sympathy with Aristotle and the scholastics notably Auinas to the point of being apologetic of them It is hard not to find this approach pedantic That impression is only deepened by such a relatively minor point as his idiosyncratic grammatical structures especially the hybridized there is and the passive voice There has been outlined the structure of a dialectic and now there must be asked whether it satisfies the definition of method Where does he get that from? There may be surmised that he is emulating JHNewman while making his prose as inelegant as Newman's was elegant On the other hand once the reader has surmounted these obstacles the taxonomic approach shows its strength Thanks to his methodology Lonergan keeps pushing his argument to areas where few have gone before Not only is he discovering known unknowns but he also takes a look at the unknown knowns Especially in what he says about history he hits the nail on the head by articulating what pretty much everyone knows but never thought of spelling out The skeletal structure also allows for improvisation when one fleshes it out As Lonergan uotes some authority history is understood in the process of changing it The final note is unexpectedly that of elegance which one derives from perceiving a solidly structured argument Bottomline I will definitely go on to read Lonergan's previous work Insight


  3. says:

    A meaningful detailed albeit dry account of trying to establish a method in Christian theology to ensure that all believers and all theologians remain faithful to the truth to which they come as we grow in knowledge and experience Certainly a must read for Catholics who want to be attentive to the precepts of contemporary intellectual pursuits while maintaining a robust faith that consistently calls one beyond oneself Although Lonergan's efforts are sometimes dated by use of modernity's favorite concepts transcendental method for one the reality is we all start from somewhere and there is no such thing as presuppositionless method what he poetically calls the Principle of the Empty Head In our case in the industrialized world Be attentive be intelligent be rational be responsible still have great resonance Perhaps his division of theology into the eight functional specialties is a bit too schematic but the realization that different areas reuire different emphases in application of these four transcultural principles is a pearl of great price As with many theological authors that are philosophically bent Lonergan tends to repeat himself too much and often spends far too much time on too many fine points But for those who can endure the resulting dry reading it is well worth it It has been and likely can continue to be uite useful in an ecumenical context as well


  4. says:

    Perhaps one of the most profound and useful illustrations of how we come to know anything This is a significant contribution to philosophy theology and cognition The concept of the General Empirical Method and Functional Specialties offers fertile opportunity for ground breaking work in each of these fields and certainly beyond


  5. says:

    Tons of food for thought in terms of theology versus religious studies in terms of the methodology the approach and uestions employed by the respective disciplines But he goes beyond that to offer an interesting account of human thought learning and development


  6. says:

    This is a tough one Slowly becoming and rewarding


  7. says:

    This book is better every time I read it


  8. says:

    Did not fully understand it


  9. says:

    Good theologian to know I need to re read this someday


  10. says:

    A must read for methodology especially for theologians


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Method in Theology

Summary á eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ✓ Bernard J.F. Lonergan

84 a professor of theology taught at Regis College Harvard University and Boston College An established author known for his Insight and Method in Theology Lonergan received numerous honorary doctorates was a Companion of the Order of Canada in 1971 and was named as an original members of the International Theological Commission by Pope Paul V. This book is better every time I read it

Read & Download Method in Theology

Method in Theology stands with Insight as Bernard Lonergan's most important work It is Lonergan's answer to those who would argue that in this time of cultural change and dissolution the believer is afloat on a sea of multiplying theologies without rudder or compass Lonergan was resolute in his refusal to be defeatist on this point While agree. A meaningful detailed albeit dry account of trying to establish a method in Christian theology to ensure that all believers and all theologians remain faithful to the truth to which they come as we grow in knowledge and experience Certainly a must read for Catholics who want to be attentive to the precepts of contemporary intellectual pursuits while maintaining a robust faith that consistently calls one beyond oneself Although Lonergan's efforts are sometimes dated by use of modernity's favorite concepts transcendental method for one the reality is we all start from somewhere and there is no such thing as presuppositionless method what he poetically calls the Principle of the Empty Head In our case in the industrialized world Be attentive be intelligent be rational be responsible still have great resonance Perhaps his division of theology into the eight functional specialties is a bit too schematic but the realization that different areas reuire different emphases in application of these four transcultural principles is a pearl of great price As with many theological authors that are philosophically bent Lonergan tends to repeat himself too much and often spends far too much time on too many fine points But for those who can endure the resulting dry reading it is well worth it It has been and likely can continue to be uite useful in an ecumenical context as well

Summary á eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB ✓ Bernard J.F. Lonergan

Ing that theology must continually change to mediate between religion and culture he worked out an integral method to guide and control this ongoing processThis is a reprint of the 1973 edition A new annotated edition of Method in Theology will be published eventually as a part of the Collected Works of Bernard LonerganBernard Lonergan 1904 19. Tons of food for thought in terms of theology versus religious studies in terms of the methodology the approach and uestions employed by the respective disciplines But he goes beyond that to offer an interesting account of human thought learning and development

  • ebook
  • Method in Theology
  • Bernard J.F. Lonergan
  • en
  • 12 March 2019
  • 9781442690646

About the Author: Bernard J.F. Lonergan

Pope Paul VI one of the original members of the International Theological CommissionHe is the author of