Natural Knowledge Of God And The Function Of Systematics

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4. Natural Knowledge of God in Method in Theology Lonergan’s treatment of natural knowledge of God in Method in Theology, published in 1972, mainly unfolds in the sections entitled “The Question of God” and “The Function of Systematics.” The section, “The Question of God” rests in “Religion,” chapter four of Method in Theology. In this section, Lonergan seeks only to defend this claim: “The question of God … lies within man’s horizon.” Consequently, his approach resembles the first half of the chapter “General Transcendent Knowledge” in Insight and the first half of “Natural Knowledge of God”—the halves where Lonergan is defending the viability of the God question, not supplying answers. Lonergan explains the emergence of the question…show more content…
Discussing the constitution’s declaration on understanding the mysteries of faith, Lonergan writes, “Out of the Augustinian, Anselmian, Thomist tradition, despite an intervening heavy overlay of conceptualism, the first Vatican council retrieved the notion of understanding.” Lonergan affixes a footnote to the word conceptualism; it reads, “The key issue is whether concepts result from understanding or understanding results from concepts.” Lonergan’s reference to conceptualism is intriguing for two reasons. First, Joseph Kleutgen, a chief author of the constitution, is the recipient of the charge of conceptualism in the writings of some philosophers, such as Étienne Gilson. It is noteworthy, then, that Lonergan does not find conceptualism to be operative in at least one of the constitution’s key declarations: the possibility of some understanding of the mysteries of faith. Second, although Lonergan’s emphasis here is on the overlay of conceptualism preceding the council, I must note that in other texts he speaks of its prevalence following the council. Lonergan’s explicit discussion of the constitution’s declaration on natural knowledge of God arises within his argument for “an integration of natural with systematic theology.” A necessary condition of this integration is the abandonment of the view that objectivity results from escaping subjectivity. In congruence with his emphasis on the quaestio
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