How Gelpi’s Inculturated North American Theology “Graced” my encounter with Eastern Orthodoxy

My old acquaintance (45 years) & fellow yat (New Orleanian), the late Jesuit, Don Gelpi, articulated a normative theology of conversion.

His account integrated

  • Edwards’ aesthetic object (i.e. Christology),
  • Royce’s ethical dynamism &
  • Peirce’s logical semiotic, while reframing
  • Lonergan’s conversions in terms of experience.

Palamas’ energies, Stăniloae’s affirmation of direct contemplative experience & Bulgakov’s created Sophia seemed to me to fit just such a view & so did von Balthasar’s outlook.

This all squares with an account of faith that’s neither arational nor rationalistic, but defensibly & coherently trans-rational.

Many others are running with Gelpi’s account in other fruitful directions. For example, see Mark Grave’s “Gracing Neuroscientific Tendencies of the Embodied Soul,”
__Philosophy and Theology 26 (1):97-129 (2014) __, wherein he models the brain’s biology using the dispositional tendencies of nature—characterized by Jonathan Edwards, C. S. Peirce & the Jesuit philosophical theologian Donald Gelpi.

Also, see my own project, a tehomic pan-semio-entheism, which affirms a creatio ex profundis within mostly classical theistic contours:

7 thoughts on “How Gelpi’s Inculturated North American Theology “Graced” my encounter with Eastern Orthodoxy

    1. I first met Gelpi at LoyolaNO at prayer meetings during the dawn of the Charismatic Renewal, circa 1969-70. Amazing homilist. It’s thru him I met Amos Yong. Mark Graves had some relationship with the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, where Gelpi taught. I donated my Gelpi library of almost 20 books to Friends of LSU Library with the rest of my books. My home was overtaken by my library. It’s just me and my phone. Don’t own a computer either. Everything I compose is done with my right thumb 🙂

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