Avery Dulles's theological career has spanned one of the most creative and confusing periods in the history of the church. With the goal of integrating new information from philosophy and the sciences into a deeper understanding of the world and society, the many theological schools pursued independent agendas, with the net effect of a loss of coherence. It is Fr. Dulles's contention that theological schools have drifted so far apart that what seems false and dangerous to one school seems almost self-evident to another. Theologians lack a common language, common goals, and common norms.
Exploring the possibilities for greater consensus, The Craft of Theology illustrates how a "post-critical" theology can draw on the riches of Scripture and tradition as it reflects on the faith of the church in new contexts. Fr. Dulles discusses the freedom of theology within the university and sets forth principles for a fresh dialogue with philosophy, the sciences, and other Christian churches.
|Publisher:||Crossroad Publishing Company|
|Edition description:||New edition|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.87(d)|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Theology, especially Roman Catholic theology is an established intellectual discipline with its own professional ethos, traditions and methods. Throughout the 19th Century and until the Second Vatican Council (1962 - 1965) Catholic theology was dominated by one method for thinking, teaching and publishing; Scholasticism. This medieval development from Aristotle and medieval university classrooms posed a question, gave its historical background, presented a thesis in syllogistic form, answered objections to thesis and syllogism and then proved it. Q. E. D. ***
Anyone who reads the documents coming out of Vatican II, on such topics as freedom of conscience, salvation for non-Catholics, relations with Jews and others senses as once that the Scholastic way is suddenly, without explanation, passe. ***
Some theologians seem to say, with Henry Ford, "History is bunk!" They write from their hearts as if preaching sermons, reciting lyric poems or telling yarns. Others go back to ways of doing theology that predate Scholasticism and its Golden Age which culminated in Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225 -1274). Some do theology in the spirit of the Apostolic Fathers, some like to sound like Saint Augustine (354 -430). Others are more modern and eclectic, taking a bit from Hegel, more from Heidegger, French nouvelle theologie and on and on. In CRAFT OF THEOLOGY: FROM SYMBOL TO SYSTEM -- NEW EXPANDED EDITION (1995), Cardinal Avery Dulles (1918 - ) gives non-specialists a feeling for the welter of innovation pouring out of Catholic theologians. He also tries to rein in its excesses, suggesting and defending his personally preferred "communications" dimension of theology. ***
Communications theology begins by thinking of creation as a coded message from God to Man. Christianity teaches us to have faith that truth is in both in creation and scripture waiting for us to find. If we look at earlier theological thinkers, we find that they love metaphors, "root" metaphors, holistic, functioning as conceptual frameworks, explaining a lot but far from everything. Scholastics would have been prone to lock on one metaphor to the exclusion of all others. Dulles says: keep all good models in your imagination at once. Let each throw light on the others. ***
The book probes the relation of theologians (clerical and lay) and their bishops, academic freedom within Catholic universities and other professional issues and challenges. As time went on Avery Dulles, S. J. became a larger and larger presence in ecumenical discussions, most notably Lutheran - Catholic dialog. A strong statement begins Chapter XII:
"As late as a few decades ago, Catholics frequently spoke as though faith did not exist beyond the confines of their own Church, but today they generally recognize that divine and salvific faith exists among members of other Christian communities, among adherents of non-Christian religions, and even among people who are not formally religious" (p. 179). ***
Elsewhere Dulles argues that a 1500 year old dogma about no salvation outside the Catholic Church simply began disappearing without explanation in the early 19th century. He does not, alas, lay out the mechanics of the change. What 29 Doctors of the church once taught is taught no more. I for one wish Dulles had done a better job of explaining why. -OOO-