THE DEVELOPMENT OF FR. BERNARD LONERGAN'S THOUGHT ON THE NOTION OF CONVERSION
Fr. Bernard Lonergan has proposed a contemporary method for theology and has located its foundation in the notion of conversion. However, the responses of several theologians (e.g., Karl Rahner, David Tracy, Walter Conn, and Charles Curran) to his proposal show a need for further clarification. Some theologians regard Fr. Lonergan's method as insufficiently critical; others regard it as insufficiently grounded in the faith dimension. It is my view that both types of criticism arise from a misunderstanding of the notion of conversion as a foundational principle. This interpretive investigation traces the development of Fr. Lonergan's thought on the notion of conversion. I have focused on his major works: Grace and Freedom, Verbum, Insight, and Method in Theology. The chief interpretive task was the reconstruction of the several successive contexts for each of these works. This led me to conceive of Fr. Lonergan's developing thought in terms of early, middle, and later periods. While each period clarifies the notion of conversion in its own manner; the most significant feature is the character of the movement from one period to the next. It is easiest to understand the current methodological significance of the notion of conversion by tracing it back to its early Thomist and modern critical origins. I have concluded that Fr. Lonergan's theological method is grounded in a tripartite foundation. The material component of theological foundations is provided by the past--by scripture and tradition. The formal component is provided by the dynamic structure of conscious and intentional operations--by transcendental method. The actual component is provided by the notion of conversion--by the communal and historical transformation of persons into the mystery of God. Consequently, it is conversion which is the actual and sufficient basis from which contemporary theology needs to be done.
MICHAEL LEONARD RENDE,
"THE DEVELOPMENT OF FR. BERNARD LONERGAN'S THOUGHT ON THE NOTION OF CONVERSION"
(January 1, 1983).
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