A journal of academic theology

Volume 80 Number 2

From the Editor’s Desk – June 2019

The church is much on our minds these days, and many are asking how we arrived at this place in our history. Some blame the Second Vatican Council. Despite firm papal leadership, beginning with Pope Paul VI himself, it seems that for some in the church, the council was a mistake that needs to be

Theology before the Reformation: Renaissance Humanism and Vatican II

Histories of theology move seamlessly from late-medieval Scholasticism to the Reformation and bypass the important theological contribution of Renaissance humanists such as Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus. The article will explain the reasons for this oblivion, provide a sketch of the theological achievements of the humanists, and, most important, show how strikingly that achievement anticipated Vatican II.

Jacques Dupuis and Chalcedon

This article reexamines Jacques Dupuis’s distinction between the action of the
Word as such and the action of the Word incarnate. Against recent critics, I argue
that Dupuis’s Christology is compatible with Chalcedon as interpreted by Leo the
Great. I suggest ways in which this Leonine christological approach needs corrective
amplification, particularly regarding the unity of Christ and the action of Christ in his
risen humanity.

The Nature and Operation of Structural Sin: Additional Insights from Theology and Moral Psychology

Recent work has improved the understanding of social structures in theological
discourse, but ambiguity persists with respect to structures of sin. Here, a revised
definition of structural sin reconnects this concept with its theological roots, adding
clarity to the nature of structural sin and strengthening the moral weight of the
term. Parallels with fMRI research in the field of moral psychology then refine the
existing account of the operation of structural sin. Together, these insights aid in the
identification of structures of sin and improve efforts to combat their influence.

An Alternative to Gender Complementarity: The Body as Existential Category in the Catholic Tradition

This article connects the work of M. Shawn Copeland to a dialogue between Bernard
Lonergan and Emmanuel Levinas. Exploring these authors’ insights on intersubjectivity,
alterity, dialectic, and embodiment, the article develops a framework for engaging
and overcoming contemporary crises of relationality. These resources are then used
to reframe questions of otherness in terms of the imitation of Christ, advocating
encounter grounded in open, prayerful engagement with the marginalized.

Statistically Ordered: Gender, Sexual Identity, and the Metaphysics of “Normal”

The recent call by Pope Francis for the church to develop a “theology of women” raises
more fundamental and prior questions about the very nature of gender and sexual
identity. Drawing on the metaphysics developed in Lonergan’s Insight and his heuristic
structure of a scale of values found in Method in Theology, this article explores these
prior questions in a way that avoids the extremes of either gender essentialism or of
complete gender fluidity. It proposes a form of heteronormativity that is statistically
structured allowing for a greater flexibility than suggested by gender essentialism,
while still constraining the social and cultural construction of gender within certain
biological realities. The authors also present Lonergan’s scale of values as a further
heuristic for anticipating the force of this constraint in a differentiated way.

Stepping toward a Synodal Church

In his address commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the institution of the Synod
of Bishops, Pope Francis expressed hope for a more synodal church. Consulting
recent theological literature aids the discovery of potential—if only partial—steps
towards a synodal church in three areas: spiritualities and structures of discernment;
theological methodologies; and ecumenical gifts of synodality.

From Magisterium to Magisteria: Recent Theologies of the Learning and Teaching Functions of the Church

In the aftermath of Vatican II, questions have been raised about the exercise
of magisterium in the church. This study first examines the teaching authority of
the episcopal conference, the doctrinal committee of episcopal conference, the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the Synod of Bishops. Next it examines
the primary and secondary objects of episcopal magisterium, with special attention to
the non-defined dogma and the “definitive doctrine” taught by the ordinary universal
magisterium. Lastly it suggests ways forward in the understanding and exercise of
the teaching function of the church, especially the priority of learning as the sine qua
non condition for effective teaching, the shift from magisterium (in the singular) to
magisteria (in the plural), and new modes of teaching appropriate for our digital age.

Church as Sacrament of Yin-yang Harmony: Toward a More Incisive Participation of Laity and Women in the Church

The author proposes a development of the Federation of Asian Bishops Conference’s
theology of church as a sacrament of harmony, drawing in particular from the East
Asian concept of yin-yang unity and integration. In Daoist beliefs, yin and yang are
the generative forces of the cosmos whose blending and balancing result in harmony
or the unimpeded flow of Qi-Ch’i. Yin and yang are opposite, complementary, nondualistic, and fluid qualities of beings/things relative to particular contexts. The yinyang symbolism can be fruitful for reimagining man–woman, cleric–lay, and other
dualities in the church as fluid polarities.

Relationality and Intersubjectivity within a Socially Oriented Metaphysics: A Note on Ecclesiology

Given increased attention to the themes of relationality and intersubjectivity in
contemporary Christian systematic theology, the author argues that these terms
are best understood within the context of a new socially ordered metaphysics in
which human beings enjoy a richer life through active participation in various forms
of community life. He then applies this analysis to the life of the church.

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