Summer 1965

Page 48

T heologr


istence as a whole-as a matter of fact this preoccupation with the wholeness of everv situation is one of the first ch11racteristics ' of this way of thought-it considers our existence as a whole in its personal authenticity, in its dialectical tension between the spiritual unity of our personal liberty and the multiplicity of our existence in .time and space" ( cf. Piet Fransen, "Three Ways of Dogmatic Thought," Heythrop ]ournal4 {1963) 16-17). The adv~ntages of this approach to reality are many because of its fundamental adaptability to our ways of thought and language. Because of its direct reference to the problem of personal re· sponsibility it is readily adaptable to the theology of the Chris· tian life and suggests the pastoral approach that must regulate the Church's action in the modern world. Since, however," it is less ·rigid .in its thought patterns and less formalistic in its approach to the objective, it becomes a difficult tool to handle and ultimately frightens the Christian into becoming extraor· dinarily responsible.

It would be a mistake to conclude that the Church, as it were, prefers existentialism or personalism to scholastic essentialism. Translating the gospel message, as she must do for all men of all time, into terms that challenge modern man, the teach· ing Church is not trying necessarily to build a "neo-philosophy," hut rather to bring men into contact with God. This she does ultimately by relying on the word of God and the liturgy. It so happens that the contemporary theologians, whose impact has been felt most forcefully, have been of the existentialist school. Their views furthermore have concorded most fully with similar views voiced by experts in the Scriptures of the Old and the New Testaments and the liturgy. It becomes graphically evident, then, that any renewal in theology cannot be unaware of the tremendous dynamism of the existential,. personalist method that has begun gradually to permeate the age-old curricular pattern of philosophical and theological studies. To ignore this method would be to hide from reality. Confrontation with its potentially vital contributions is as urgent as it is necessary.