Newman Theological College Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Theological Method of Bernard Lonergan Matthew G. Hysell, M.A., M.Th. (Cand.)

Submitted to Prof Dr Gwen Miller MTH-: Research and Method in Theology

Fall Semester 2008 Revised 25 February 2011

Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Introduction:

‘Dogmatics’ versus ‘Systematics’ What difference is there, if any, between „systematic theology‟ and „dogmatic theology‟? One might venture to guess that the more „conservative‟ or „Roman‟ seminaries such as St Joseph‟s Seminary at Dunwoodie (Archdiocese of New York) would employ the description „dogmatic theology‟1 whereas the more „moderate‟ faculties such as St Patrick‟s Seminary and University in Menlo Park would instead employ “systematic theology.”2 Yet the category of characteristically „conservative‟ or „Roman‟ seminaries such as St Charles Borromeo Seminary3 (Archdiocese of Philadelphia), Mount St Mary‟s Seminary4 (Archdiocese of Baltimore) all use the “systematic theology.” In fact, it appears that St Joseph‟s Seminary at Dunwoodie is the only Catholic theological faculty to use “dogmatic theology” to describe its theological curriculum. Significantly, however, the description “dogmatic theology” finds wider usage among Orthodox theological faculties such as Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology5 (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America) and Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary6 in Jordanville (Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia). Yet there is some irregularity in the usage of „systematic‟ versus „dogmatic‟ because whereas St Vladimir‟s Orthodox Theological Seminary
1 As evidenced by the titles of professors, e.g. professor of “Dogmatic Theology.” See Archdiocese of New York, “Faculty”, on the Web at http://www.archny.org/seminary/st-josephs-seminary-dunwoodie/administration/, retrieved 24 January 2009. 2 On the Web at http://www.stpatricksseminary.org/Prog%20Academic%20MA.aspx, retrieved 24 January 2009. In a private correspondence with Revd Frederick Cwiekowski SS, chair of the Department of Systematic Theology at St Patrick‟s Seminary and University, “…SD refers to Systematic (theology) Dogma; SL, systematic (theology) liturgy; SH history. This reflects our practice here of putting liturgy and history under systematic… We use D to distinguish the title [i.e. “dogma”] from History or Liturgy or Moral. While we recognize the dogmatic basis of what we teach, we, as with many others, use systematic to recall that the topic being studied relates to others, has gone [through] development over the years, etc.” 18 January 2009. 3 St Charles Borromeo Seminary, Course Catalogue 2006-2008 (Wynnewood, PA), 65, 83-84, on the Web at http://scs.edu/offices/semcat2006-2008.pdf/, retrieved 24 January 2009. 4 Mount St Mary‟s Seminary, Seminary Catalogue (Emmitsburg, MD: Archdiocese of Baltimore, 2008), 28, 43-45, on the Web at www.msmary.edu/seminary.Catalogue/Seminary Catalogue/ 0709 highres.pdf/, retrieved 24 January 2009. 5 Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology Course Catalogue 20082009 (Boston, MA: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America), 41. On the Web at http://passthrough.fwnotify.net/download/379576/http://holycross.hchc.edu/assets/files/Catalogues/SOTCourseCatalog.pdf, retrieved 26 January 2009. 6 On the Web at http://www.hts.edu/seminary/front/en/academics.html, retrieved 26 January 2009.

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

in Crestwood describes a faculty of “systematic theology and ethics”, St Tikhon‟s Orthodox Theological Seminary in South Canaan has a faculty of “dogmatic theology”,7 even though both academies are operated by the same jurisdiction. Indeed, there is a certain amount of inconsistency in the usage of either “dogmatic” or “systematic” theology. Significantly, however, whereas “systematic theology” would include theological ethics/moral theology, liturgical and sacramental theology, and spirituality, “dogmatic theology” would not, instead focusing on the various domains of theological reflection in the economy of salvation: Triadology, Christology, Pneumatology, and so forth. In this essay, we will look at not only the normative distinctions between the descriptions <dogmatics> and <systematics>, but we will also seek a prescriptive distinction, first following some suggestions by Fr Bernard Lonergan‟s De Deo Trino, and then by offering a number of personal reflections on distinguishing the two types of theological methods based upon Magnus Lohrer‟s theory of “kerygma and dogma.” We begin with the fairly straightforward term <theology>, which derives from the Greek noun theologia, „discourse about God‟, or more colloquially, „God-talk.‟ According to the Christian faith, theology is divided into two broad categories, the so-called „preamble of faith‟ which corresponds more or less to what has been called „natural theology‟, and „sacred theology‟, which corresponds to the careful attention and reflection given to Divine Revelation. As the late +John Paul II wrote, “A Faculty of Sacred Theology has the aim of profoundly studying and systematically explaining according to the scientific method proper to it, Catholic doctrine, derived with the greatest care from divine revelation.”8

On the Web at http://www.stots.edu/master_of_divinity.html, retrieved 24 January 2009. JOHN PAUL II, Apostolic Constitution « Sapientia Christiana » (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1979), art. 66. On the Web at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_jpii_apc_15041979_sapientia-christiana_en.html, retrieved 26 January 2009.
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History of <Dogma> We begin with a philological analysis of the term „dogma‟. The noun „dogma‟ is derived from the Koine Greek dogma (pl. dogmatos), having the primary meaning of “a formal statement concerning rules or regulations that are to be observed” (BDAG, 254). In the Lukan infancy narrative, for instance, the “decree” of Caesar Augustus to take a census of his subjects in the Roman Empire was called a “dogma”: “In those days a decree [Gk. dogma] went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled” (2:1). Significantly, the mitzvoth of the Mosaic Law were called dogmata (cf. Col 1:14, 2:20; Eph 2:15). Perhaps the most relevant instances of dogma, -atos to Christian faith is to be found in the so-called „Jerusalem Conference‟ of Acts 15:1-35. In Acts 16:4, St Luke the Evangelist calls the decisions of the Jerusalem Conference a „dogma‟: As they [Sts Paul and Barnabas] went from town to town, they delivered to them for observance the decisions [Gk. dogmata] that had been reached by the apostles and elders where were in Jerusalem” (cf. 15:22, 25, 28). A secondary meaning to dogma, -ata is given by BDAG as “something that is taught as an established tenet or staement of belief, doctrine, dogma” (254). In this case, dogma, -ata is related to the infinitive verb dokein: “to consider as probable, think, believe, suppose, consider”; “to appear to one‟s understanding, seem, be recognized as” (254-255). The notion of „dogma‟ as a distinctly Christian enterprise emerges early in the New Testament. St Paul the Apostle, in expressing the paramount importance of faith, insists that the act of believing entails „profession‟ or „confession‟: “But what does it say? „The Word is near you, on your lips and in your heart‟ (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:8-9). In the liturgical hymns of deutero-Paul, there are already fixed, creedal expressions of faith, especially the Christ-Hymn of Phil 2:5-11 and the act of faith in the Resurrection in 1 Cor 15:1-3. There is already a normatively fixed homologia or homologein--those early „Rules of Faith‟ such as “Jesus is Lord!” and “Jesus is the Son of God” (cf. Rom 10:9; 1 Tim 6:12; Heb 4:14; 1 Jn 4:15). Complementary to the above normative homologia/homologein are the prescriptive injunctions to maintain “sound doctrine” (Ti 1:9, 2:1; cf. 2 Tim 1:14, 2:25, 3:7).9 It would appear that the injunction to hold fast to “sound doctrine” represents an early instance of the Church‟s juridical munius (i.e., the „royal‟ or „kingly‟ office of Christ being exercised in the community of the faithful). Those homologia/homologein, on the other hand, I would suggest, represents a patently pneumalogical aspect of the profession of faith. However, the faith of the Church is not only „dogmatic.‟ It is also „kerygmatic.‟ In fact, kerygma, the Church‟s proclamation of faith, is prior to dogma, the latter being a may of pithily summarizing an article of faith found in the kerygma. Thus we cannot speak of dogma alone, but must always paired with kerygma. The above-mentioned homologia represents a „crystallization‟ (not a stasis) of the kerygma which reaches „completion‟ in an official pronouncement. Taking the „Jerusalem Conference‟ as an example, the “dogma” which outlined basic moral imperatives emerged from the experiences of the preaching “kerygma” of Sts Peter and Paul (Acts 15:7-9, 12) that mere faith, rather than the observances of the Mosaic Law, brings the believer into a graced fellowship with God (cf. v. 9b). Richard Dillon and Joseph Fitzmyer point out that the verdict issued by St James of Jerusalem (= “the Brother of the Lord”, Adelphotheos
See G. F. MANSINI, “Dogma”, in R. LATOURELLE and R. FISICHELLA, ed., Dictionary of Fundamental Theology (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1994), 241-242.
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in the Eastern tradition) employs the verb krinō, which “can possibly mean, „I decree‟…” and that “the „decree‟ seems to emanate from the assembly and the „whole church‟.” With James saying, based upon the testimonies (= kerygma) of both St Peter and Sts Paul and Barnabas, “Therefore my judgment [dio egō krinō]” and the decree itself reading “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and us…” we can conclude that, at least by the composition of Acts or at most by ca. A.D. 49, the Lukan (or Pauline?) churches attached a juridical prerogative to the Jerusalem leadership for issuing statements (= „dogma‟) regarding faith-related practices. Although the term „dogma‟ can be easily defined, the history of its use is by no means simple. It was not until approximately the eighteenth century that “dogmatics” or “dogmatic theology” came into vogue. To drive this home Gerald O‟Collins once asked: “[…] Has dogma a future? In this concluding chapter I answer: It did not have a past.”10 Remarking on the use of titles including Dogmengeschichte, he accuses the authors of “writing history backwards”.11 In a similar vein, Alister McGrath, an Oxford theologian in the Reformed tradition (though he is a confessional Anglican), writes:
It is therefore important to make the historical observation that the modern Roman [sic] Catholic use of the term „dogma‟ dates from the late eighteenth century, apparently being used in the sense for the tfirst time in the polemical writing Regula fidei catholicae (1792) of the Franciscan controversialist P. N. Chrisman. Chrisman used the term to designate formal ecclesiastical doctrine, as opposed to theological opinion. 12

So to speak of a “history of dogma” covering the first Seven Ecumenical Councils and subsequent synods may be anachronistic. But what seems to be lost upon O‟Collins, and to a lesser extent McGrath, is that the employment of a term to describe a series of actions after they

G. O‟COLLINS, Has Dogma a Future? (London, UK: Darton, Longman, and Todd) 1975), 97. O‟Collins‟ thesis, which we shall not get into here in any great depth, is that the term „dogma‟ has been applied retroactively to the Church‟s solemn definitions. In my opinion, O‟Collins falls into an unfortunate Roman tendency to frame dogma in juridical terms, rather than to see an activity of the Holy Spirit to lead the Church “into all truth” (Jn 16:13b), i.e., in pneumatological terms. 11 Ibidem, 88. 12 A. E. MCGRATH, The Genesis of Doctrine (Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1990), 8; cf. 8-10.

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have taken place is not necessarily fallacious.13 To argue, for instance, that Augustine‟s method in his Confessions was not psychology because the discipline of psychology was not systematized until the career William James is irrelevant. Or, to use a more scientific example, to say that Newton or Leibniz invented calculus and gave it its name does not mean that the “Goleniščev Mathematical Papyrus” (ca. 1800 B.C.) does not exhibit an example of integral calculus! Analogously, when the Fathers declared that the Son is “homoousios tō Patri” in 325 or that the two natures of the Incarnate Word remains “inconfused, unchangeable, indivisible, inseparable” in 451, it does not follow that it would be anachronistic to call these pronouncements „dogma.‟ It is not anachronism, but hindsight: by observing the modes of actions by which such pronouncements were made (and by observing that they were decreed, which is the definition of „dogma‟!) one can determine what is dogma and what is not. Moving past the fact that „dogmatics‟ is an eighteenth century science, we now turn to perhaps the most authoritative figure on this question, Karl Rahner. He defines “dogmatics” (= “dogmatic theology”) as the “systematic reflection undertaken on methodological principles appropriate to dogma and aiming at as a comprehensive grasp of it as possible.” Among such dogmas, the late Avery Dulles enumerates:
…the declaration of Nicaea that the Son is consubstantial (hommousion) with the Father; the definition of the First Council of Constantinople that the Holy Spirit is worthy of divine adoration; the affirmation of the Council of Chalcedon that jesus Christ has two complete natures, divine andhuman; the listing of the seven sacraments by the Council of Trent; papal infallibility as defined by Vatican I; and two Marian dogmas of 1854 and 1950—the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. This is not a complete list, or even a selection of the most important, but a mere sampling to indicate the kind of thing we are talking about when we speak of dogmas.14

The question, naturally, becomes: Where is dogma to be found? It would be too simple to assert that one need only turn to Enchirdion symbolorum of Henrici Denzinger or The
Moreover, O‟Collins seems to be confusing a key distinction: „dogma‟ as a note of theological certitude (as opposed to a definitive doctrine or prudential admonition) and „dogma‟ as general description of a Church pronouncement (= „decree‟) passing judgment on a certain article of faith, whether it be a „dogmatic definition‟ or a „definitive doctrine.‟ 14 A. DULLES, The Survival of Dogma (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1971), 153.
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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Catholic Church by Jacques Neuner and Jacques Dupuis, or even the Pedalion of the Orthodox Church. Even though these volumes contain „official‟ Church pronouncements, by no means to all such pronouncements bear the same weight of authority. The next question obviously would be the task of gauging the various „notes of theological certitude‟ which exist among the various dogmas of the Church. What about systematics? In what way does the above description of dogma differ from systematic theology? Perhaps the example of St Paul‟s literary and missionary career with respect to the „Apostolic Decree‟ of Acts 15:23b-29. When the dogma was issued by the apostles and presbyters at the Jerusalem Conference, Sts Paul and Barnabas, accompanied by Judas Barsabbas and Silas, went to Syrian Antioch, which then became the first layover in the Second Missionary Journey. According to the Evangelist Luke, the dogma was received by the Antiochene Christians with rejoicing (Acts 15:30), with the delegation from the Jerusalem Church offering encouragement and strength. Later, especially in St Paul‟s Epistle to the Galatians and Epistle to the Romans—without explicitly mentioning the dogmatic decree itself—the Apostle offers a systematic reflection on the meaning of liberty from the Torah, grace, and justification. The dogmatic decree of Acts 15:23b-29 yielded a systematic theology found in St Paul‟s two greatest letters. The Apostle‟s method of „verification‟ of what is inherent in the dogma—by way of his systematic reflections—are to be found in the kerygma, especially the Israelite antecedents in the Ancient Testament. Dogmatic theology, then, would seem to be necessarily prior to systematic theology, and that kerygmatic theology would be the primordial „data‟—being Divine Revelation by way of

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

salvation-history and, ultimately, the Incarnation of the Word—for both. We might chart the progression from kerygma to dogma to systematics as follows:15
Salvation-history; Incarnate Word and Paschal Mystery; liturgical hymns: „Apostolic Decree‟; Nicene definition; Chalcedonian definition; Immaculate Conception; etc.: Summa theologiae (Thomas Aquinas); Breviloquium (Bonaventure); Theological Investigations (Rahner)

Kerygma

Dogma

Systematics

In the present writer‟s experience, only Bernard Lonergan has offered the most articulate description on the difference between dogmatics and systematics. ‘Doctrines’ and ‘Systematics’ within the Eight Functional Specialties of Bernard Lonergan How do the „dogmatic‟ method and the „systematic‟ method differ in its approach to the theological task in the mind of Bernard Lonergan.16 In fact, he considers both the “dogmatic way” and the “systematic way” to be the “Twofold Movement toward the Goal”, positing a complementarity of both methods. Perhaps we should begin by charting Longergan‟s conceptualization of the dogmatic and systematic ways: The Dogmatic Way analysis resolution discovery certitude temporal The Systematic Way synthesis composition teaching and learning probability logical simultaneity

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

(1) (2) (3) (4) (5)

Since theology is a science, Lonergan argues, it is therefore possible to grasp theology analogously. “How these two movements are related to each other can be clarified from the very notion of science. Science is the certain knowledge of things through their causes; but before

15 It is not entirely unreasonable for one to develop a systematic theology that bypasses dogma. An example of this, perhaps, would be in areas of moral theology (social justice, biomedical ethics) in which a systematic theology is developed from the primordial data of Divine Revelation. 16 BERNARD LONERGAN, The Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 12: The Triune God: Systematics (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2007), 59-77. Hereafter Lonergan, Triune God.

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things are know through their causes, the causes have to be discovered; and so long as the causes have not been discovered we rely on the ordinary prescientific knowledge by which we apprehend things and describe them even before knowing their causes.”17 Accordingly, the different ways of apprehending causes corresponds with either the dogmatic way or the systematic way. As for the dogmatic way, “[…] the first movement toward acquiring science begins from an ordinary prescientific description of things and ends in the knowledge of their causes.”18 As for the systematic way, “[t]he other movement starts from the causes that have been discovered and ends by understanding things in their causes.”19 Applying this distinction to Triadology, the systematic way, which “starts from the causes that have been discovered and ends by understanding things in their causes,” we would grasp the missions of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, sent from the Father, thus beginning with the „economic Trinity.‟ From the missions, we would arrive at the understanding of each one sent, be it the Son or the Holy Spirit, from the Father. The dogmatic way, on the other hand, “begins from an ordinary prescientific description of things and ends in the knowledge of their causes”, would thus allow us to look at the titles of „Father‟ and „Son‟, and like St Augustine, lead us to conclude that „paternity‟ and „filiation‟ imply different causes—the Father „begets‟ and the Son is „begotten‟—thus concluding two distinct causes („ingenerate‟ and „generated‟) and concluding a distinction of persons. Therefore whereas the dogmatic way begins with observation and concludes „backwards‟ to the causes, the systematic way begins with the causes and concludes „forwards‟ in an understanding of the things caused, namely the divine persons. For Lonergan, however, the dogmatic way and the systematic way would seem to be situated within the Eight Functional Specialties, of which „doctrines‟ constitute the sixth
17 18

LONERGAN, Triune God, 59, 61, emphasis added. LONERGAN, Triune God, 61, emphasis added. 19 LONERGAN, Triune God, 61.

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Functional Specialty, and „systematics‟ as the seventh Functional Specialty. But we must be careful not to equivocate „doctrines‟ and „dogma‟, as Lonergan understood „dogma‟ to be a range within the domain of „doctrine.‟20 As he wrote, “Doctrines express judgments of facts and judgments of value. They are concerned, then, with the affirmations and negations not only of dogmatic theology but also of moral, ascetical, mystical, pastoral, and any similar branch.”21 Here, Lonergan does not necessarily speak of those articles of faith which bear the theological note of dogmatic certainty, but rather those theological treatises such as de Christologia, de Deo Uno et Trino, and de Liturgia et Sacramentis.22 As for the seventh Functional Specialty, “The facts and values affirmed in doctrines give rise to further questions. For doctrinal expression may be figurative or symbolic. It may be descriptive and based ultimately on the meaning of words rather than on the understanding of realities. It may, if pressed, quickly become vague and indefinite. It may seem, when examined, to be involved in inconsistency or fallacy.” So an impasse might be reached when the theologian passes through the sixth Functional Specialty. An example would be the Cappadocian doctrine of the one ousia in three hypostaseis on one hand, and the Chalcedonian doctrine of the Hypostatic Union on the other: at once we affirm that there is but one nature in God, but there are two natures in the God-Man, which poses an immense problem for divine immutability. With this impasse, the theologian moves into the next Functional Specialty. “The functional
Unfortunately, in the glossary to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, „dogma‟ and „doctrine‟ are defined as being coterminous, which is of course incorrect. 21 BERNARD LONERGAN, Method in Theology (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1971), 132. Hereafter, LONERGAN, Method in Theology. 22 On the other hand, given the canons of the First Seven Ecumenical Councils, of the Council of Trent, et al., there is a certain coextension of both these treatises and the dogmatic certitude which they bear. Curiously, Lonergan distinguishes between “church doctrines” and “theological doctrines”—the first being those which “have their antecedents both in the New Testament confessions of faith and in the decision of assembled Christians in Acts 15, 28. However secure it may have seemed to urge with Pope Stephen “…nihil innovetur nisi quod traditum est…” (DS 110), it remained that new questions did arise and that satisfactory answers were not forthcoming as long s one was content to just sand pat. …But one has only to peruse such a collection of conciliar and pontifical pronouncements as Denzinger‟s Enchiridion Symbolorum to observe that each is a product of its place and time and that each meets the questions of the day for the people of the day.” Theological doctrines, on the other hand, it refers to “…specific questions that currently were being ventilated”, i.e., the meaning of hommousios tō patri in St Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers, etc. (Lonergan, Method in Theology, 296).
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specialty, systematic, attempts to meet these issues. It is concerned to work out appropriate systems of conceptualization, to remove apparent inconsistencies, to move towards some grasp of spiritual matters both from their own inner coherence and from the analogies offered by more familiar human experience.”23 At the end, perhaps, would be von Balthasar‟s own suggestion regarding the divine immutability24, which comes to head at the eighth and last Functional Specialty, communication, which can be found in his collection of writings on the subject. The Eight Functional Specialties serve as a diptych, as it where, in which the first four serve as the mediating phase—research, interpretation, history, and dialectic—which seeks to confront and appropriate the past. The last four—foundations, doctrines, systematic, and communication—seeks to confront the future, i.e., to propose solutions to problems. It follows, then, that doctrines (and especially dogma) and systematics are forward-looking: they attempt to mediate an encountered problem or issue in the theological enterprise. We might chart the doctrinal (with its dogmatic part) and systematic Functional Specialties as follows25:
Mediating Phase 1. Research 2. Interpretation 3. History 4. Dialectic Mediated Phase 5. Foundations 6. Doctrines (with „church doctrines‟ = dogma) 7. Systematics 8. Communication

THE FUTURE

CONFRONTS

ENCOUNTERS

Now that we have seen where „doctrines‟ (with „dogma‟) and „systematics‟ are situated within the Eight Functional Specialties, it would be helpful to chart Lonergan‟s description of how the dogmatic way and the systematic way differ in its treatment of the subject. Precising Definitions: <Dogmatics> and <Systematics>
LONERGAN, Method in Theology, 132. See, for example, GERALD O‟HANLAN, The Immutability of God in the Theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 25 Based on Prof Faye E. Schott, on the Web at http://www.lsps.edu/professors/schott/Lonergan.htm, retrieved 28 January 2009.
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THE PAST

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Within chapter twelve of Lonergan‟s Method in Theoogy, he presents a section on “The Permanence of Dogmas” by way of an extended discussion on the dogmatic constitution of the First Vatican Council, De Filius26 in which he posits five conditions which constitute the range of „dogma‟: (1) “…there is affirmed a permanence of meaning…”; (2) “…the permanent meaning is the meaning declared by the church…”; (3) “…this permanent meaning is the meaning of dogmas. …It would seem that the dogmas of DS 302027 and DS 304328 refers to the church‟s declarations of revealed mysteries”; (4) “…the meaning of the dogma is not apart from a verbal formulation, for it is a meaning declared by the church. However, the permanence attaches to the meaning and not to the formula”; (5) “…it seems better to speak of the permanence of the meaning of dogmas than of its immutability.”29 Systematics is necessarily subsequent to doctrines and, more narrowly, dogmatics. “The seventh functional specialty, systematics, is concerned with promoting an understanding of the realities affirmed in the previous specialty, doctrines.”30 It follows doctrines as judgment because systematics deals with understanding. Mere repetition of dogmas cannot pass for authentic assent. In delineating systematics from doctrines, Lonergan appeals to the example of St Thomas Aquinas in his missionary handbook Summa contra Gentiles IV, in which he presents the dogmatic aspect and then a systematic discourse following. For instance, the treatise on God the Son takes up chapters two through fourteen; but whereas two through nine deal with the
LONERGAN, Method in Theology, 322-326. DS 3020 = ND 136: “For the doctrine of faith which God has revealed has not been proposed like a philosophical system to be perfected by human ingenuity, but has been committed to the spouse of Christ as a divine trust to be faithfully kept and infallibly declared. Hence also that meaning of sacred dogmas is perpetually to be retained which our Holy Mother Church has once declared, and there must never be a deviation from that meaning on the specious ground and title of a more profound understanding. „Therefore, let there be growth and abundant progress in understanding, knowledge and wisdom, in each and all, in individuals and the whole Church, at all times and in the succession of the ages, but only in its proper kind, i.e., in the same dogma, the same meaning, the same understanding‟ [St Vincent of Lerins, Commonitorium primum, 23].” 28 DS 3043 = ND 139: “If anyone says that, as science progresses, at times a sense is to be given to dogmas proposed by the Church, different than the one which the Church has understood and understands, anathema sit.” 29 LONERGAN, Method in Theology, 322-323. 30 LONERGAN, Method in Theology, 335. At the risk of mistaking this chart for plagiarism, I did in fact discover a similar project on the Web at http://www.lonergan.org/seminarnotes/OntheTrinity/Notes_wk5b.pdf. The interested reader is invited to review how my chart compares and contrasts with the file hosted by the website of the Lonergan Institute.
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dogmatic aspects of the treatise, ten through fourteen deal with the systematic aspect. Similarly, the treatise on the Holy Spirit takes up chapters ten through twenty-five; whereas the dogmatic aspect takes up ten through fourteen, the systematic aspect takes up nineteen through twentyfive. St Thomas follows the same method in the treatise on the Incarnation in. It was a deliberate method, according to Lonergan, and one that ought to be retrieved in contemporary theological education. “I am proposing a return to the systematic theology illustrated by Aquinas‟ Summa contral gentiles and Summa theologiae. Both are systematic expresseions of a wide-ranging understanding of the truths concerning God and man. Both are fully aware of the distinctions mentioned above. Neither countenances the separation that later was introduced.”31 I might add that this is what +Leo XIII had in mind when he wrote in Aeterni Patris that the system of St Thomas Aquinas ought to be retrieved in theological schools. He did not mean, I would argue, using the Summa theologiae as the sole textbook as some seminaries do32, but to make use of his method of first a dogmatic and then a systematic exposition of the articles of faith. In any case, building on the comparison of the dogmatic way and the systematic way, Leo Vincent Serroul33 has charted Lonergan‟s explanation of the two ways based upon his de Deo Trino:

LONERGAN, Method in Theology, 339-340. E.g. Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary in Denton, Nebraska, operated by the traditionalist Priestly Fraternity of St Peter. See Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary, “Formation,” on the Web at http://www.fsspolgs.org/formation.html. While the effort to retrieve the system of the Angelic Doctor, it commits the basic confusion of identifying the thought of St Thomas as being exactly that of the magisterium. Curiously, for all the rage that Latin is for this Ecclesia Dei community, the Enchiridion Symbolorum is not to be found in its bookstore inventory, except for a partial English adaptation in the form of The Church Teaches: Documents of the Church in English Translation, published by the suspicious Tan Books and Publishers, Inc. (Cf. on the Web at http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0895550113?ie=UTF8&seller=AHS1SBFB4B5DN&sn=OLGS%20Bookstore, retrieved 1 February 2009). Why Neuenr and Dupuis is not used by Our Lady of Guadalupe Seminary would be very enlightening to discover. 33 LEO VINCENT SERROUL, “Sapientis est ordinaire’: An Interpretation of the Pars Systematica of Bernard Lonergan’s de Deo Trino from the Viewpoint of Order (Pd.D. diss., University of Toronto, 2004), on the at http://www.lonergan.org/seminarnotes/OntheTrinity/Notes_wk5b.pdf, retrieved 28 June 2009. My edition of the chart incorporates the English translation of de Deo Trino.
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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

The Dogmatic Way

The Systematic Way

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Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

We still have to consider the movement toward the goal [i.e., theology], and since we have distinguished two goals, namely certitude and understanding, we have to distinguish as well two movements. We call one dogmatic… …and the other systematic. How these two movements are related to each other can be clarified through the very notion of science. Science is the certain knowledge of things through their causes; but before things are known through their causes, the causes have to be discovered; and so long as the causes have not been discovered we rely on the ordinary prescientific knowledge by which we apprehend things and describe them even before knowing their causes. So the first movement toward acquiring science begins from an ordinary The other movement starts from the causes that have been discovered prescientific description of things and ends in the knowledge of their ends by understanding things in their causes. This movement is called: causes. This first movement has been called: (1) analysis, because it starts from what is apprehended in a confused (1) synthesis, because fundamental reasons are employed both to sort of way and moved to a well-defined causes or reasons, define things and to deduce their properties, (2) the way of resolution, because it resolves things into their causes, (2) the way of composition, because causes are employed to produce things or constitute them, (3) the way of discovery, because previously unknown causes are (3) the way of teaching and learning, because it begins with concepts discovered, that are fundamental and especially simple, so that by adding a step at a time it may proceed in an orderly way to the understanding of an entire science, (4) the way of certitude, because the ordinary prescientific knowledge of (4) the way of probability, partly because it often attains no more than things is most obvious to us, and so the arguments we find most certain probability, but also because people frequently have no clear begin from such knowledge and go on to demonstrate matters that are discernment of just where or when they have reached certitude, and more remote and more obscure to us, and (5) the temporal way, because causes are not usually discovered (5) the way of logical simultaneity, because, once the principles have instantaneously, an more than they are discovered by just anyone or been clearly laid down, all the rest takes comparatively little time; it without a certain amount of good luck. can be accomplished in a few short deductions and applications. For examples of the two ways, compare the history of a science like physics or chemistry with the textbooks from which these sciences are taught. History reveals that these sciences worked out their various demonstrations starting from the most obvious sensible data. But when one goes to a textbook, one finds a the beginning of the book, in chemistry, only the periodic table of elements from which three hundred thousand compounds are derived, or, in physics, Newton‟s laws, Riemannian geometry, or those remarkable quantum operators. The reason for this difference is, of course, that inquiring, investigating, and demonstrating begin with what is obvious, while teaching begins from those concepts that can be understood without understanding the other elements. Now since theology is analogously a science, …its dogmatic part is not completely different from the way of analysis, …nor is its systematic part completely different from the way of synthesis. Just as in the natural order we begin from ordinary prescientific knowledge, so also in theology we begin from what God has revealed in particular historical circumstances. Just as in the natural order we proceed to the discovery of causes, so theology states universally in the same meaning the same truth that was once biblically revealed. Just as in the natural order the discovery of causes leads to the knowledge of things through the causes, so in theology once the divine mysteries have been decalred or defined universally, they can be imperfectly and obscurely but still most fruitfully understood. It follows, that the dogmatic way can be conceived as similar to the In like manner and for like reasons the systematic part of theology can analytic way. It is a way of certitude in that it expresses the same truth be conceived as similar to the way of synthesis. For it is the way in with the same meaning as what was revealed by God. which teachers teach and students learn, at least if it is true that for something truly to be learned it must beunderstood and that the only way to reach understanding is to start with that whose understandind does not require the understanding of anything else. Second, it is a way of discovery in that it finds an expression appropriate It is, moreover, a way of synthesis in that, starting from one principle or to the needs of a universal church that is to endure till the end of time. another, it lays out all th rest in an orderly fasion. Third, it is a way of analysis in that it moves from historical Hebraic Third, it is a way of composition in that it composes the whole of a particularity to generally known and well-defined reasons. divine mystery fro a series of aspects and a multiplicity of reasons. Fourth, it is a way of resolution in that it discerns the divine mysteries in Fourth, it is a way of probability because, rather than deducing the multiplicity of what has been revealed, and gives expression to those certainties from what has been revealed, it derives what has been mysteries. revealed from some prior hypothetical supposition. Finally, it is a temporal way because a universal expression of the Finally, it is a way of logical simultaneity in that, once in one‟s wisdom mysteries is attained only in the course of time. one discovers the order of the questions, and once in one‟s understanding one grasps in principle, then the conclusions and the applications follow of their own accord. […]

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Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Lonergan goes on “to state in greater detail how they are compared to each other. And for the concrete examples, we will draw on the brief basic outlines of [T]rinitarian theology.”34
The DOGMATIC Way: Tractatus « de Deo Trino » (1) ANALYSIS “[…] the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit as narrated in the New Testament.” (2) RESOLUTION “[…] the [T]rinitarian dogma, which affirms, simultaneously, against the Sabellians three who are really distinct and against the subordinationists one sole God…” (3) DISCOVERY “[…] the consubstantiality of the three…” (4) CERTITUDE “[…] the real personal properties, which were worked out by the Cappadocians.” (5) TEMPORAL […] the recognition that these properties are relative and that the relations are relations of origin.” (6) PROOFS? “[…] an understanding of these relations of origin are sought, and in particular an appeal is made to a psychological analogy.” The SYSTEMATIC Way Tractatus « de Deo Trino » (1) SYNTHESIS “[…] consideration of the one God.”

(2)

COMPOSITION “[…] in the one God, who understands, knows, and loves, there are posited intellectual emanations.”

(3)

TEACHING AND LEARNING “[…] the emanations are based on the relations.” (4) PROBABILITY “[…] supposing the emanations and the relations, they are considered all together.” (5) LOGICAL SIMULTANEITY “[…] the persons are considered individually.”

(6)

(7)

THEOLOGICAL NOTES/CENSURES [Canons of Nicaea I, Constantinople I; Letter of Pope Dionysius, etc.] (8) OPINIONS OF ADVERSARIES “[…]all doubts are to be removed and where perfect certitude is sought, the opinions of one‟s opponents have to be set forth in their full historical background.”

PROOFS? “[…] the persons are related to each of the items considered before the persons were discussed: namely, to the divine essence, to the relations or properties, and to the notional acts of the emanations.” (7) CONDITIONS OF UNDERSTANDING [None given]

(8)

OPINIONS OF ADVERSARIES “[…] we should pay attention not so much to adversaries as to the roots of errors.”

The above example from the treatise de Deo Trino comes from Lonergan himself. As Lonergan says after comparing the dogmatic way and the systematic way with respect to the treatise de Deo Trino, “These distinctions belong to the general art of pedagogy and have long been employed by good teachers.”35

34 35

LONERGAN, Triune God, 67, 69. LONERGAN, Triune God, 73.

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Thought-Experiment: the Dogmatic and Systematic Ways On the Question of the Sacramental Validity of the Eucharistic Form In Sign Language At this point, I would like to bring Lonergan‟s careful distinction to bear on my thesis project, which is to investigate whether the proclamation of the Eucharistic form would be sacramentally efficacious and valid for the transmutation of the Gifts into the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Christ. It would seem logical to divide the thesis into two parts, “Part I: The Dogmatic Way” and “Part II: The Systematic Way.” As for the dogmatic way, which as Lonergan said was “…the process of analysis, of resolution, of discovery, of certitude, and of a temporal way,” we would begin with a careful analysis and investigation of the Last Supper narratives as well as the Bread of Life discourse, since these represent the data of Divine Revelation. Moreover, we must distinguish—as people often fail to do—between „Eucharist‟ and „Blessed Sacrament‟ and especially between the action that is the Eucharist and the moment that is transubstantiation. The question of resolution would require some trudging through various official documents of the Church—some of which represent an act of the supreme magisterium such as Council of Rome (1061, 1079), the Council of Trent (Session XIII, 1551; Sessions XXI and XXII, 1562), the dogmatic constitution Sacrosanctum concilium of the Second Vatican Council, and especially the Eleventh Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, “The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church” (2-23 October 2005). More significantly, since some argue that the Eucharistic Form in sign language „is as good as‟ no Eucharistic Form at all, we would respond with the most remarkable act of the supreme magisterium in recent times: the approval of the Anaphora of Addai and Mari, which in fact contains no Eucharistic Form at all. Therein are discovered the

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The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

cause of the sacramental form‟s validity, which is absolutely pivotal to our thesis: is it the audible/vocal quality of the Eucharistic Form that is efficacious, or is it the fact that it is proclaimed by way of language? In other words, what is the locus of the sacramental causality deriving from the words “This is my Body”, “This is my Blood”? In terms of certitude, it is necessary to attend to what has been defined by the magisterium and what remains an open question, namely: if the Church certainly believes and teaches in the efficacy of the Eucharistic Form, does it follow that the Form can be exercised only in a verbal or audible way? In the analysis of the efficacy of the Eucharistic Form, from where is the sacramental power derived? Finally in terms of temporality, the history of the dogmatic development of Eucharistic theology must be outlined, especially how the controversy between Berengarius of Tours and St Paschasiud Radbertus paved the way for often asking the wrong questions about the Eucharistic mystery. The systematic way, on the other hand, is “…the process of synthesis, of composition, of teaching and learning, of probability, and of logical simultaneity…”36 Therefore, in terms of systematics, we take a different direction. Rather than seeing the Eucharist in isolation, it must be understood in its synthetic context, not only within the sacramental economy in particular but also the sacred liturgy in general, as it situates the Eucharistic Form within the broader context of the Eucharistic Prayer (which introduces more problems, e.g., the efficacy of the epiklesis). In terms of composition, what constitutes the Eucharist? Here the Scholastic answer is found to be reductionist and unsatisfactory, as there is the power drawn from the whole Paschal Mystery, indeed, the economy of the Incarnation, both compose the Eucharistic miracle. Moreover, of what is the Eucharistic Form composed? Is it of phonetic patterns or is it of language? It would

36

LONERGAN, Triune God, 65.

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appear that the former tends to be rather superstitious or even „magical‟, whereas the latter falls in line with the Church‟s kerygmatic task, proclamation. In terms of probability, one must ask whether the omniscience of God would fail to understand sign language when the Eucharistic Form is in fact signed! Finally, in terms of logical simultaneity, all of the above factors are ordered in a geometric fashion to demonstrate that there is nothing to preclude the efficacy of the Eucharistic Form in sign language because, ultimately, it is the wrong question to ask. One should ask, rather: is the locus of efficacy in the Eucharistic Form qua form or in the act of faith it proposes?37 In approaching my thesis, “The Sacramental Validity of the Eucharistic Form in Sign Langauge,” it would be necessary to make use of both the dogmatic way and the systematic way for, as Lonergan said, “Those who choose but one part and neglect the other not only lose the whole but also spoil even the part that they have chosen.”38 Dogmatic Theology and Systematic Theology: An Imperative Application Perhaps we can make use of „form criticism‟ to locate the source of the student‟s error in challenging the possibility of American Sign Language as a valid liturgical language for proclaiming the Eucharistic Form. Two things are already obvious: dogmatically, he betrayed a profound ignorance to the body of the Church‟s teaching on the Eucharistic Form, since One can hardly dispute Lonergan‟s complaint, which gives the impression that he is speaking about many of today‟s students of theology: “Those who choose but one part [i.e., either dogmatics or systematics] and neglect the other not only lose the whole but also spoil even the part that they have chosen. Those who neglect the dogmatic part in order to cultivate the systematic more profoundly are in fact neglecting what they are seeking to understand.” So it is
37 38

ST THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa theologiae, IIIa, q. 60, art. 7, ad 1. LONERGAN, Triune God, 65.

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hardly a matter of either dogmatics or systematics. Both methods are complementary and symbiotic. Earlier in this essay, I raised the point that St Joseph‟s Seminary in the Archdiocese of New York has a faculty of dogmatic theology whereas most other seminaries have a faculty of systematic theology. But the parlance of canonical or ecclesiastical degrees point to a better alternative: sacred theology, one that is inclusive of both the dogmatic way and the systematic way. Part of the reason for an abandonment of the dogmatic way, I suspect, lies in the abuse of such handbooks as Enchiridion Symbolorum. We are familiar with Yves Congar‟s fierce and just critique of doing „Denzinger theology.‟ We have also moved away from the model of doing theology outlined in +Pius XII‟s Humani generis that conceives the task as simply defending and expounding the pronouncements of the Magisterium. On the other hand, candidates to Holy Orders—often forgetting or neglecting their primary task as ministers of the Word39—pass through a course on Christology or Triadology having never read the “Twelve Anathemas of St Cyril of Alexandria” or the “Tome of Pope Leo I.” More to the point: Many teachers of the faith will speak of the Immaculate Conception as that dogma which professes that the Mother of God was “conceived without original sin.” In reality, however, dogmatic definition in Ineffabilis Deus clearly speak of the Mother of God being conceived “…without stain of original sin…”— the missing term arising from a failure to read the dogmatic definition40 itself is disruptive to the act of tradition-ing the article of faith. This appears to exhibit minimal contact between those in formation to Orders and the Church‟s magisterial pronouncements.

Cf. Code of Canon Law, 528; Presbyterorum ordinis, 4; Optatam totius, 16. « Declaramus, pronuntiamus et definimus doctrinam quae tenet beatissimam Virginem Mariam in primo instanti suae conceptionis fuisse singulari Omnipotentis Dei gratia et privilegio, intuitu meritorum Christi Jesu Salvatoris humani generis, ab omni originalis culpae labe praeservatam immunem, esse a Deo revelatam, atque idcirco ab omnibus fidelibus firmiter constanterque credendam. »
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Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

This is not to say that there is a lack of appreciation for the magisterium. It says, rather, that there is a fundamental confusion as to what constitutes the magisterium. Two anecdotes will suffice. First, though the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a useful resource for catechists and religious educators, it has devolved into a kind of manual not unlike that of Ludwig Ott‟s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. The problem, however, is that the Catechism is not an act of the magisterium like Evangelium vitae or Spe salvi. Rather, the Catechism‟s authority is only inasmuch as the acts of the magisterium it refers to.41 Thus, in order to discover the antecedents of Church doctrine, it is necessary to cross-examine the various documents cited in the footnotes of the Catechism. Such basic confusion regarding the proper use of the Catechism, I suggest, lies in the inability to weigh and judge the levels of documents issuing from the Apostolic See. It represents a profound irresponsibility and ignorance on the part of seminarians and ordinandi with respect to the proper use of Church pronouncements. The second anecdote is related to the first. Prior to diaconal ordination, all candidates are required to sign the “Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity” in accordance with canon 833 and the motu proprio Ad tuendam fidem42. I have discovered, in the course of my conversations with many seminarians across North America, that there is minimal, if any, formation and preparation before signing something so grave that it calls on God‟s witness and one‟s right hand on the book of the Gospels. Does one who fulfills the norms of canon 833 in fact know how to gauge the various notes of theological certitude? What does this say about the value of the Profession

The basis of this assertion comes from none less than H.Em. Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then-Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “The individual doctrines that the Catechism affirms have no other authority thatn that which they already possess.” See Communio, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Optimision of the Redeemed,” 20:3 (1993), 479, cited in F. A. SULLIVAN, Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting the Documents of the Magisterium (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1996), 12. 42 Pope JOHN PAUL II, Motu proprio « Ad tuendam fidem » (Citta del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1998). Available on the Web at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/motu_proprio/documents/hf_jp-ii_motu-proprio_30061998_adtuendam-fidem_en.html.

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of Faith and Oath of Fidelity if one approaches it merely as a hurdle in order to acquire an ecclesiastical office? On the other hand, the systematic way appears to suffer as well, since it depends so much upon critical thinking and philosophical rigour. Our example of the student who insisted that the breath emanating from the spoken Eucharistic Form was efficacious in the transmutation of the Gifts failed to understand the implications of his position: an almost „magical‟ quality to the priestly office that lends power to the spoken formula. Moreover, his view tended to blur the distinction between sacramental form and incantation—which would reduce Christianity to the level of a pagan mystery religion. To take another example—following on the synthetic nature of the systematic way—in a particular course in “Sacramental and Liturgical Theology” at a theological faculty in the United States, the emphasis was on the „externals‟ of ritual such as vestments, ecclesiastical furniture, and meanings of colour. In response to an apparently manifest anxiety of the students, the professor promised that he would dive into the sacramental system itself—thus bypassing liturgy, the context that holds the entire sacramental economy together. The fragmentary and isolationist approach to the sacraments, apart from liturgy, shows a complete disregard for the synthesis of the sacraments that is afforded by liturgy and only liturgy. What happens when an either/or approach to the dogmatic and systematic way becomes normative? Or, what happens when there is a hodgepodge of dogmatics and systematics without a comprehensive interrelationship between the two? “Soon pseudo-problems emerge and pseudo-systems start to sprout, systems that dispute ever so subtly about everything while overlooking the understanding of the mysteries.”43

43

LONERGAN, Triune God, 65.

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Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

In the task of theology, content and method bear an equal weight of importance. I have reviewed several graduate curricula that specialize in catechetics. It is significant to see the wide range of lopsided emphasis from the content of the faith on one hand and the method of handing on the faith in the other. I would say that theological academies suffer from the same malaise. A dose of the genius of Bernard Lonergan would be a leap in the right direction.

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Matthew G. Hysell

The Dogmatic Way and the Systematic Way In the Thought of Bernard Lonergan

Bibliography Aquinas, Thomas. Summa contra Gentiles IV, trans. Anton C. Pegis. South Bend, ID: University of Notre Dame Press, 1991. Denzinger, Heinrich. Symboles et definitions de la foi catholique, 38th Ed. Paris: Editions du Cerf, 2001. Dulles, Avery. The Surivial of Dogma: Faith, Authority, and Dogma in a Changing World. Garden City, NY: Image Books, 1973. Dupuis, Jacques, and Jacques Neuner. The Christian Faith in the Doctrinal Documents of the Christian Church, 7th rev. and enlarged ed. Staten Island, NY: Alba House, 2001. Latourelle, Réné, ed. Dictionary of Fundamental Theology. New York, NY: Corssroad, 1994. Lonergan, Bernard. “The Goal, Order, and Manner of Speaking.” In Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, vol. 12: The Triune God: Systematics. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2007. __________. “Doctrine.” In Method in Theology. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1971. __________. “Systematics.” In Method in Theology. Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 1971. McGrath, Alister E. The Genesis of Doctrine. Oxford, UK: Basil Blackwell, Ltd., 1990. Rahner, Karl, ed. Sacramentum Mundi: An Enclopedia of Theology. Montreal, QC: Palm Publishers, 1968. Serroul, Leo Vincent. «Sapientis est ordinaire»: An Interpretation of the Pars Systematica of Bernard Lonergan’s de Deo Trino from the Viewpoint of Order (Pd.D. diss., University of Toronto, 2004 Sullivan, Francis. Creative Fidelity: Weighing and Interpreting the Documents of the Magisterium. Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1996.

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