properly locating impasses in theological stances

A suggestion for properly locating impasses in theological stances, e.g. trinitological disputes:

It makes sense to me to associate Lonergan’s secular conversions

  • 1) intellectual,
  • 2) social,
  • 3) affective &
  • 4) moral –

w/his imperatives & functional specialties, respectively,

  • 1) experiential awareness & research,
  • 2) intelligent understanding & interpretation,
  • 3) reasonable judging – deciding & history and
  • 4) responsible acting & dialectics.

This anthropological account thus cycles thru

  • 1) descriptive
  • 2) interpretive
  • 3) evaluative &
  • 4) normative

value-pursuits to realize human authenticity.

Religious conversion would then proceed in a reverse succession thru the normative, evaluative, interpretive & descriptive functional specialties to realize a sustained authenticity via self-transcendence (being in love):

  • 1) normative – foundations (exegetical, liturgical, historical & philosophical)
  • 2) evaluative – doctrines (creedal)
  • 3) interpretive – systematics (theopoetic & metaphysical idioms)
  • 4) descriptive -communications (pastoral, homiletics, missiology).

I set this forth to suggest that, for example, scholarly trinitological impasses can thus be variously located in differences regarding:

  • 1) anthropology
  • 2) foundations
  • 3) doctrines
  • 4) systematics and/or
  • 5) communications.

This is to suggest that if two theologians disagree regarding a more fundamental level, e.g. anthropological or exegetical, then, it will derivatively produce doctrinal disputes.

And it makes little sense to engage in systematic polemics, e.g. trinitarian syllogistics, with those whose who disagree with us at a more fundamental level, e.g. doctrinally or foundationally, much less anthropologically.

Some impasses between classical & analytical approaches, in fact, result from conclusions embedded – not only in one’s axioms, premises or logic, but – in the very definitions of one’s terms (e.g. philosophically: what is God? or anthropologically, what’s a person?).

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: