Theologians in Public Christology Dispute

By Allen, John L., Jr. | National Catholic Reporter, December 25, 2009 | Go to article overview

Theologians in Public Christology Dispute


Allen, John L., Jr., National Catholic Reporter


Christology, meaning the church's teaching about Jesus Christ, has been the most contentious area of Catholic theology for at least the last two decades. Debates over who Christ was (and is) and how he relates to non-Christians have generated an ocean of literature, not to mention some high-profile crackdowns from both the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.

A lively recent exchange over the doctrine of the Incarnation between a leading American theologian and the top doctrinal advisor for the U.S. bishops--although not part of any official investigation or process by church authorities--illustrates that these tensions are very much alive.

The key players are Terrence Tilley, past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and the newly appointed Avery Dulles Professor of Catholic Theology at New York's Fordham University, and Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, executive director of the Secretariat for Doctrine at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Weinandy's critique of Tilley carried a note that it reflects his views, "not necessarily any position of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops." Speaking on background, sources told NCR that the bishops have no plans to take any action on the matter.

The core issue between the two men appears to be whether fidelity to church teaching on Christ requires being wedded to traditional language and concepts, or whether changing times require new modes of expression.

For Tilley, today's theological efforts to rethink Christology in light of religious pluralism, or solidarity with the poor, represent a 21st-century version of how early church councils and fathers tried to express the Gospel in the context of ancient Greek and Roman cultures. For Weinandy, however, such efforts can flirt with "theological relativism," in which "there is no objective standard of orthodoxy, no authentic rule of faith, by which theological opinion can be judged to be true or false, clear or ambiguous."

In that sense, the back-and-forth between Tilley and Weinandy crystallizes a broader tension between creativity and fidelity that runs through many of today's frontline debates in Catholic theology.

The point of departure for the exchange was Tilley's presidential address to the Catholic Theological Society of America last June, devoted to analyzing theological debates over the Incarnation. In that speech, Tilley sketched three apparent "impasses": how to articulate the faith today, while using language and concepts shaped by cultures that no longer exist; how to account for God's desire to save people outside the church; and how to express the relationship between Christ's divinity and humanity. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Theologians in Public Christology Dispute
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.