Lawrence S. CunninghamMay 31, 2010 - 10:04am0 comments
Philosophy and Catholic Theology A Primer Philip A. Egan Glazier/Liturgical Press, $21.95, 192 pp.
From the time of Leo XIII through the 1950s, the predominant theological method in the Catholic Church was a form of Thomism, as refracted through baroque scholasticism. Within this single stream, there were various currents. Some, attempting to engage with Western philosophy’s Kantian “turn to the subject,” developed a transcendental Thomism, while others, more historically minded, focused on the context and ancestry of Thomas’s system. Finally, there were the “strict,” unreconstructed Thomists, known familiarly as the Neo-Thomists.
This tradition is still very much alive in Catholic theology, but today other philosophical traditions have become influential among contemporary Catholic thinkers. The late John Paul II blended the Thomism he learned in Rome with an interest in phenomenology. Hans Urs von Balthasar, a favorite of John Paul, was less interested in Thomism than were most theologians of the twentieth century, while the current pontiff’s theology owes less to Thomism than to the Augustinian tradition, especially as it reappeared in the works of St. Bonaventure. Marxist social theory had a (sometimes exaggerated) impact on the first generation of liberation theologians, and even a transcendental Thomist like the late Karl Rahner was not immune to the influence of Heidegger.