Summer 1965

Page 39


fShicago Studies

theological process over the centuries . man's search for and understanding of faith culminated at a .given ·moment in. the identification of understanding with· faith. itself. In retrospect it appears a gratuitous presumption that the scholastic systematic understanding was the ultimate adequate expression of Christian reality. The whole traditional process of theology was stifled effectively by a definitively formulated philosophical structure within which, and therein alone, Christian .revelation found adequate and full expression. In effect Sacred Scripture, rather than the absolutely indispensable starting point of theology (fides quaeren.s intelleceum), in actual practice came to be ancillary to· theology. And this lamentable transition found its ultimate formulation in the manual approach to thesis theology. Passages from the Old and the New Testaments, often taken out of context, and not less infrequently simply because of -coincidence of words, were used as vehicles to "prove" truths already formulated in accord with the Church's ·magisterium, or else deduced logically from other truths •already theologically ascertained and confirmed . .This theological method dominated the academic scene for Centuries and has not been eradicated yet. Its overtones were sensed also in virtually every phase of pastoral activity, the liturgy, catechetics, etc. This, of course, is not to deny the real advantage of the valid method of speculative or systematic theology, that is, its intellectually disciplined approach to understanding and analyzing the Christian realities. Yet its undesirable alienation from its life-giving principles (of revelation, desiccated the theology of the schools, making it ultimately a practically lifeless set of abstract truths. To imply that theology may be out-dated or irrelevant, however, is not to hint at anything approaching essential relativism, but simply to point up the hard fact that the expression of truth, and, indeed, of revealed truth itself, is a never-completed task; it must ever be attempted anew. In this particular regard Schille· beeckx makes a valid point: "no particular moment or phase in history can be tom loose from its context and·set up as a supratemporal, supra-local model for the Church for all time to come.