Faith Seeking Understanding: The Functional Specialty, "Systematics", in Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology

Faith Seeking Understanding: The Functional Specialty, "Systematics", in Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology

Faith Seeking Understanding: The Functional Specialty, "Systematics", in Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology

Faith Seeking Understanding: The Functional Specialty, "Systematics", in Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology

Excerpt

“For now problems are so numerous that many do not know what to believe. They are not unwilling to believe. They know what church doctrines are. But they want to know what Church doctrines could possibly mean. Their question is the question to be met by systematic theology.” Lonergan's statement (1994, 345) is most pertinent to the modern context in which Christianity finds itself. Developments in the modern world have raised new questions concerning the intelligibility of doctrines. In the face of new notions of person, one may ask how the Hypostatic Union could be. Alternatively, with new developments in philosophy, we can ask if transubstantiation still adequately explains the mystery of the Eucharist. The experience of the modern church bears out Lonergan's point that doctrines may be faithfully affirmed, but that people also need to understand how those doctrines could be in the face of new developments in their modern culture.

Within his Method in Theology, Lonergan presents the functional specialty, systematics, which sets about answering questions concerning the intelligibility of doctrines, such as those we have just mentioned. In this book, we shall argue that systematics does provide a framework for answering such questions, thus adding a valuable resource to theology. However, our primary aim in this work will be to present an original and new understanding of systematics' specific function. In particular, we shall examine what Lonergan may have meant when he affirmed that systematics intends to understand the mysteries from the analogy of what human reason naturally knows and from the mysteries' interconnections with each other and with humanity's end. This latter concern will be especially challenging. While Lonergan affirms such understandings, he does not specifically explain what he may mean by understanding attained from analogy or interconnection. We thus need to ask what Lonergan may have meant in his own teaching, on the function of systematics. In pursuing this aim, our principal reference sources will be Method in Theology and other writings of Lonergan that throw light on systematics.

We also find that systematics is unintelligible without understanding both Lonergan's theological method and his analysis of human intentionality. Accordingly, we shall investigate these with the intention of helping us attain a better understanding of systematics. Moreover, systematics is even better understood if we refer to the motivations and in-

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