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Theology 141, Sections B, C, CC and DD, Second Semester 2015-2016
Handout No. 2
1. The Nature of Theology
1.1 A definition of theology: Theology is critical
reflection on human experience in the light of
Christian faith commitment.
a. critical reflection: use of human reason,
involving systematic and rigorous study
b. on human experience:
> contemporary human situation (in
particular historical and cultural context)
> individual and communal life experience
(particularly those that confront us with
questions of life meaning and direction)
c. in the light of Christian faith commitment:
> = in the light of faithfulness to the saving
Word of God in Jesus Christ preserved,
transmitted and actualized in the life of the
** reality of transcendent, personal God who
reaches out to us and reveals Self to us,
calling us to personal relationship and the
promise of fullness of life, calling us to a
response and commitment of faith
** reality of Gods decisive and definitive SelfRevelation in the person of Jesus Christ
** preserved: implies faithfulness to what
has been received
transmitted: communicated, shared,
passed on
actualized: lived and made present

1.2 The two poles of theology as method of


pole of JudaeoChristian Faith


(history of Revelation-Faith
experience centered on
Gods decisive and definitive
Self-Revelation in Christ)

pole of
human situation

(human experience
in particular historical
and cultural context)

* two criteria for authentic theology: (1) faithfulness to Tradition (to Christian message as it
appears in its sources); (2) adequacy/
meaningfulness to contemporary human

2. The Origin of the Pastoral Cycle: The Methodology

of Liberation Theology
2.1 Liberation theology vis-a-vis traditional theology
Traditional Theology
Liberation Theology
(Neo-scholastic and
transcendental theology)
> church as institution
and hierarchy
> orthodoxy
(correct doctrine)
> personal morality
> otherworldly

> church as community

and servant
> orthopraxis
(correct practice)
> social morality
> thisworldly

2.2 Particular characteristics of liberation theology

a. Starting point: the life situation and experience
of the poor and marginalizedthe non-persons
of society
b. Methodology: critical reflection on historical
praxis in the light of Christian faith

> Theology as second act (the first act being

commitment and action on behalf of the
poor and marginalized as a Christian moral
imperative and the second act being
reflection on experience as a result of the
first act)

c. Goal: liberating Christian praxis, deepening of

Christian faith life and spirituality in the context of
conscientization and action towards the
transformation of dehumanizing social structures
that perpetuate poverty and inequality
> widening participation in the goodness of Gods
gift of human life meant for all

> Seven-step methodology (as explained in

the article of Fr. Gorospe and Balchand)
1. prior and basic faith commitment to God in
the person of Jesus Christ: personal
relationship with Christ, participation in the
sacramental/ liturgical life of the Church,
grounding in personal prayer life
2. fundamental choice for liberation and a
preferential option for the poor: solidarity
with the poor and marginalized, insertion into
their life situation, dialogue of life, personal
3. social analysis: critical appreciation of the
structural and historical dimensions of the life
situation of the poor and marginalized and
our participation in it (use of the resources
of the social sciences to gain a deeper
understanding and a more comprehensive
view of the broader dynamics of society and
its development)
4. theological reflection: critical reflection on
the life situation of the poor and marginalized
in the light of Christian faith commitment
(How does God speak to us in the midst of
their life situation in the context of our
solidarity with them? What is the response
of faith to which we are called to as a
community of disciples in Christ?)
> listening to the saving Word of God
present in the life of the Church (listening
in particular to the Word of God in
Scripture and Church teaching)
5. purification, reinterpretation and
revitalization of Christian life (doctrine, moral,
worship) including critique of Church beliefs
and practices that contribute to the
perpetuation of poverty and marginalization
> renewal of Church beliefs and practices in
faithfulness to the Judaeo-Christian Faith
Tradition and in accord with the liberating
message and spirit of the Gospel
particularly on behalf of the non-persons
of society
6. discernment and formulation of Christian
moral imperatives for action in the context of
our particular personal, professional and
institutional life situations
7. orthopraxis: living out of Christian moral
imperatives, action for justice, Christian
service and witnessing in solidarity with the
poor and margina

3. The Four Moments of the Pastoral Cycle as

Circle of Praxis

4. On the Move to Praxis in Theology

4.1 Praxis = creative action, inspired by critical
reflection, that gives rise to both change and insight
a. for Aristotle: praxis = concerned with the personal
participation of the individual in the life of the polis
and the right ordering of human behavior in the
socio-political world
b. for Marx: praxis = human activities which are
capable of transforming reality and society and
thus of making the world more human
c. for Gutierrez: Christian praxis = human activities
oriented towards the promise of Gods gift of
fullness of life in the Kingdom (provisionally