20 September 2011

Is Theology Possible?

(The below is adapted from a reflection I recently presented in a class at the STM.)

Despite the apparently ribald theological debate of recent years, touching on matters of language about and relating to God, the possibility of a Christ who liberates and subverts dangerously or even the recognition of previous methodological (and thus, theological) faults , the most pressing theological question of our time precedes these matters. Simply put, it must be asked: can theology still be done? Or, asked in another manner, is it possible in a post-modern age to speak of and study about God in a systematic and meaningful manner? Each of the above-captioned authors, along with the works of Williams and Dulles read in advance of this week’s class grapple with an appropriate method of thinking and writing theologically. One may or may not agree with the methods – and the subsequent results of these methods – but the authors focus on how theology may be done, not if it is even possible to do so. Rowan Williams appears to come closest to this issue, suggesting that the language of theology must be “surrendered” to God if one is to theologize effectively. Instead of surrender, however, one instead finds authors such as Johnson and Metz focused more on righting what they perceive to be typological mistakes. They diagnose, but do not truly examine the consequences of their diagnoses. I am reminded of de Lubac’s admonition in Medieval Exegesis, “It is the rushing tide of ‘science’ in the almost modern sense of the word that pushes aside humble spiritual commentary as belonging to inferior stages of growth”. Perhaps then, the real question toward which this response drives is different than originally stated; rather, it can be formulated thusly: in future theological conversations, how much (too much?) will our theological conversation be conditioned by post-modernism? And, at which point does this conversation descend to primarily personal renderings of one’s own theological preferences?

1 comment:

Suzanne said...

Impressed to see mention of Rowan Williams. Very Ecumenical. :) I recommend reading some of his sermons -- especially those on vocation. Peace.