06 October 2011

Lonergan and Gutierrez

My attempts at using Lonergan's method to approach liberation theology, as submitted to my professors a few days ago:

Scripture, tradition and contemporary experience must operate in an inductive/deductive model. Artificially attempting to balance these elements or reflecting upon them linearly (A to B to C) consigns one’s argument to inadequacy. Additionally, the most appropriate theological departure point does not seem to be any one particular element, but the place at which all of these elements intersect: the lived life of the Christian community itself (Faithful Witness, Haight, 191). By inductive/deductive, I mean that one should examine a particular situation, weigh evidence from the three elements mentioned above, and reach a tentative conclusion (Sytematic Theology,Fiorenza, 48-49). This particular conclusion will then offer insight to other theological issues; to complete a new judgment or even maintain the veracity of the old, more reflection is always necessary.

Gustavo Gutiérrez highlights the always-extant tension between elements of scripture, tradition and contemporary experience as he elucidates his theology of liberation and reflections on right praxis (Theology of Liberation, Gutiérrez, 11). Gutiérrez notes the pleas of Gramsci for a sort of ‘organic intellectual’ (13). Thus, Gutiérrez suggests a heavier emphasis on contemporary experience not rooted in the didactic approach of the magisterium, which he considers inadequate (6, 11).

Gutiérrez names contemporary experience as the starting point for a theology of liberation. Yet, a fully mature theology can only be reached if one exposes this experience to both scripture and tradition. The claims made by Gutiérrez can only be strengthened when passed through the prism of scripture and tradition. This will also, of course, result in new tensions and incongruities. Such realities then allow a reexamination of both the conclusions drawn from contemporary experience and the hermeneutical methods used to interpret tradition and scripture. By such an inductive/deductive process, the original theological reflection gains in strength and new, possibly insightful reflections upon scripture and tradition are reached as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am just curious about a few things:

1. You say, "Scripture, tradition and contemporary experience must operate in an inductive/deductive model." I know you're writing to an academically-oriented audience and responding to/using Lonergan's method in approaching liberation theology, but I ask YOU this: Where in scripture do you find evidence of this? Do you believe that God, via scripture, is asking us to use this inductive/deductive reasoning to come closer to Him? How do you connect this to faith? At what point must one veer away from the inductive/deductive model to give way to faith? Or, do you not think them dialectically opposed? It seems that at a certain point, human knowledge/man's thinking falls short of coming to understand God and His will for us. At a certain point, it seems we have to let that go. Or do you disagree?

2. I appreciate your critique (as I see it) of Gutierrez's naming of contemporary experience as the starting point for a theology of liberation. You state that Gutierrez's claims can only be strengthened, "when passed through the prism of scripture and tradition." A good point but the issue with putting scripture together with tradition is that you're putting something eternal and true with something man-made and ephemeral. While scripture is not static and must be interpreted and re-interpreted in the context of the present, God's truth is not compromised when applied with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But tradition...well, tradition is an ever-evolving entity that tries it's best to uphold God's truth, but oftentimes compromises itself and it's identity for the sake of conforming to this world, instead of God's vision for the Church. Tradition(s) come and go but this does not discount their importance. But, ultimately, is your quest in emphasizing the intersection of contemporary experience, tradition and sctipture to reach new insight? (and what kind of insight, again? theological insight? what does that even mean? Can you help me out with that because I feel like I still don't understand what that means or how that applies to applying God's truth in the world.)

3. Is liberation theology your primary mode of approaching your tradition/how you understand your faith? I am still overwhelmed with theology today and am still uncertain what theology is attempting to do or how it is actually making a practical impact in the world.