Fall 1971

Page 60

Method in Theology: From Apologetics to Hermeneutic

Joseph A. Bracken, S.J.

The theologian is the conscience of the Church as the prophet was the conscience of Israel.

Theology ¡has always been an instrument in the service of the Church. The needs of the Church, however, have not always been the same. In the primitive Church, for example, there was need for apologists like Jus tin Martyr, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Origin, etc., to expose the faith in a rational, coherent manner to the pagan unbeliever and to defend the faith against the false doctrines of heretics. In the high middle ages, on the other hand when the awakening Western civilization was exclusively Christian, there developed a need for a broad rational synthesis of theology with philosophy and the natural science of the day. In a loose sense of the word, theology remained even then apologetic, since the aim of Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure and the other great medieval theologians was to demonstrate the compatibility of faith and reason to all men of good will. This latter goal has, moreover, remained the ideal of speculative theology up to the present generation. 285

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