In June, Fordham theologian Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ, responded [.pdf] to the USCCB Committee on Doctrine’s critique [.pdf] of her book Quest for the Living God. (Read our coverage of the controversy here.) Today the committee has released its reply [.pdf] to Johnson. It follows a familiar tune.
In its original statement about Quest, the Committee on Doctrine accused Johnson of failing to “take the faith of the church as its starting point.” Instead, the committee claimed, Johnson uses “standards from outside the faith to criticize and to revise in a radical fashion the conception of God revealed in Scripture and taught by the magisterium.” In her response, Johnson pointed out how badly the committee had misread her. And the latest response from the Committee on Doctrine finally affirms what anyone who had taken the time to read Johnson’s book carefully would have already known:
The Committee on Doctrine acknowledges that in the Observations Sr. Elizabeth Johnson agrees that theological investigation should begin and end with the faith of the Church. The Committee commends Sr. Elizabeth Johnson for her stated intention to help the Church progress in her understanding of divine realities as described by the Second Vatican Council in Dei Verbum, no. 8.
The locution is odd–acknowledging her “stated intention” and that “in the Observations” Johnson agrees that theology begins and ends with the faith of the church–because the committee goes on to say that its members still think Quest fails to “sufficiently ground itself in the Catholic theological tradition as its starting point.” I suppose one shouldn’t be surprised by the committee’s refusal to accept Johnson’s rebuttal. After all, these are the same bishops who, in their first pass at critiquing Quest, claimed that the book lacked “any sense of the essential centrality of divine relation as the basis of Christian theology” [emphasis mine]. Never mind Johnson’s repeated citations of Scripture as the basis for any number of avenues she pursues in the book. Read the rest of this entry »