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The Analogical Imagination: Christian Theology and the Culture of

Pluralism. By David Tracy. New York: Crossroad, 1981. xiv + 467 pages.


When Blessed Rage/or Order was published in 1975, itwas greeted

by a flood of reviews among which were a lengthy review and two essays
by your humble servant. I read my responses to Blessed Rage again
before reading The Analogical Imagination. A brief recount of my reac-
tions to the first book may serve as an introduction to my response to the
second. Although I thought then and still think now that Blessed Rage is
the outstanding theological work published by an American in the past
decade, and by an American Catholic on fundamental theology in any
decade, I had my little problems with it.
For example, the phenomenology of human experience is in-
adequate to support the transcendental deduction from secularity to
God. Tracy accomplishes both with an ease and certainty that took my
breath away—much as do the retortions common in transcendental
method. The definition of human experience as "fides" and the deduc-
tion are theological conversation stoppers, but they require some six or
seven hundred pages of Rahnerian phenomenology and Lonerganesque
five-finger exercises if they are to get past my early warning system. The
Analogical Imagination did not set the system off as Blessed Rage did,
but then it does not defuse the reaction that Blessed Rage caused either.
I remain confused with what Tracy had to say in Blessed Rage about
the "ultimate significance of life in this world." It was embedded in an
argument hostile to supernaturalism and seemed there to amount to a
denial of personal survival after death—though it was not quite stated
that way. I had sympathy with Avery Dulles's questions on the matter,
while I had no sympathy at all with his magisterial red-flagging of the
issue. After all, if 2,000 Roman Catholic Bishops can discuss doctrine for
four years without naming heretics, surely one Jesuit can discuss immor-
tality and resurrection in like kindly hearted fashion. The Analogical
Imagination in some places clarifies Tracy's position and should quiet
Avery Dulles' nerves.
I had serious reservations on Tracy's surprising espousement of
process theism, which, until that point, I had regarded as American
theology's science fiction. Tracy is still a process theist, although the
beast comes out of the sea in only one footnote. I am happy to read that

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Tracy's lectures on the subject will soon see print. I will read them
But these were, and remain, minor problems. On the major point,
the nature of theology, Blessed Rage changed my mind. I wrestled with
it through three readings over a year and a half, but it overthrew my
settled notions, challenged my assumptions, and pointed in new direc-
tions with an effectiveness that astounds me to this day. The only other
pieces of writing that have had such profound personal effect on me are
Lonergan's Insight and Norse mythology. The latter I read in my twelfth
year. Fundamental theology, Tracy argued, is a public discipline; its
language, criteria, warrants, methods, like the common human experi-
ence to which it appeals, are one and all public. I was dismayed. Loner-
gan's and Dewey's reflections on responsible intellectual method helped
me along on this, but I would not have understood the implications of
their reflections for theology had not Tracy made the implications un-
avoidable. I have yet to feel at ease with this understanding of theology
(and I think I know why), but I try to keep to it since it alone of all the
options makes sense to me.
A cluster of large questions have remained with me about BJessed
Rage. They are about ecclesiology, and are forced upon me by the notion
of a critical and autonomous theology. The Analogical Imagination does
not answer them for me, although it does reveal the increasing subtlety
of and modification of direction in Tracy's thought over the past six
years. I will mention them only: (a) I do not understand the cognitive
intention of believing and the cognitive status of beliefs if Tracy is
correct about theology. Do believers decide that beliefs are true, and
how? And if they do not, who does? (b) What is the relationship between
believing in God and believing that God exists? Between believing and
metaphysical arguments? Should the critical stance make a difference to
religious believing and beliefs? (c) What is the extent and grounds of the
church's authority over its own language, especially as it is exercised by
church leaders? There was little or no explicit ecclesiology in Blessed
Rage, and little drawing out of the implications of the autonomy of
theology for ecclesiology. The implications are fearsome, as a good Irish
Catholic boy from Yonkers knows.
Blessed Rage provided explicit and clear anticipations of the shape
of a revisionist systematics. Tracy predicted that the data for systematics
would remain the same as for fundamental theology; that the systematic
theologian would stand closer to the symbols and, indeed, the practice of
a particular church tradition; that there would be questions put that
fundamental theology does not put; that the same criteria and modes of
argument would bind systematic theology as well as fundamental; that
both are public disciplines and loyal to the secular community of in-
quiry. Finally, he asserted, to my upset, that no traditional symbol of

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Review Symposium 315

doctrine would escape question, critical revision, and even possible

elimination (see Blessed Rage, pp. 15, n. 8; 18, n. 35; 81; 224, n. 6, n. 9;
233, n. 94; 234, n. 102; 238-39). I assumed from the vigor of the last
prescription that Tracy meant more than the doctrine of Limbo—even,
perhaps, the divinity of Jesus or his resurrection. I guessed to myself that
systematics would be a fundamental theology anthropology focused on
a specific tradition. I could not imagine how he would test, approve or
disapprove, eliminate or reinterpret Christian doctrines. Visions of
Feuerbach danced in my head. Much to my surprise, I find that he has
approved much, eliminated little, reinterpreted less, and revised the
revisionist tests. But perhaps this is because The Analogical Imagina-
tion is not a systematic theology; it is a fundamental theology of system-
atics. Tracy is still largely dealing with method questions.
The main contention of Blessed Rage is that theology is public.
There is a politics to Tracy's work in this sense: he wants to achieve for
theology a place and function in the American university—not merely in
the church connected divinity school painted into an obscure corner of
the secular university map, but in the faculty of the humanities. But this
is no easy task. Arthur McGill made the case for academic bias with
startling directness over a decade ago:
Christian theology . . . shares the urgency which is inseparable from
the religious attitude, and whether it has the form of apologetic
theology or confessional theology or kerygmatic theology or dogmat-
ic theology, it is always informed by either uneasiness or advo-
cacy. . . . In short, the Christian theologian belongs to his religious
community both in the processes and in the fruit of his work... it is a
religious activity. [The faculty of arts and sciences, on the other side,
maintains]... that one condition is absolutely necessary for genuine
understanding, and it insists that only an intellectual enterprise
which fulfills this condition can be legitimately included within the
faculty of arts and sciences. This primary condition is that true
knowledge must arise from autonomous inquiry. Reasoning must
serve only its own demand for clear understanding . . . in indepen-
dence from all external claims.... The Christian theologian does not
submit the religious issues of life and death to the judgments of his
own autonomous, self-critical, and publically verifiable reasoning.
[P. Ramsey and J. Wilson, eds., The Study of Religion in Colleges
and Universities (Princeton, 1970, pp. 116-23.]

That bias is massive and in complete control of public educational

institutions. To the minds possessed by it, Tracy may as well be a
scientific creationist. In answer to it he has, in Blessed Rage and
more fully in The Analogical Imagination, made several simple and
liberating moves: he has redefined the relationship between theology
and the church without separating them; he has redefined the task of the

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faculty of humanities in relation to questions of truth; and, above all, he

has argued that, since no question of meaning and truth is private, art
and religion are public affairs making public claims subject to public
discussion under public criteria. This is a tall order. If Tracy can ac-
complish this liberation of both theology and the university, I will not
care very much if he never tells me whether there are warrants for my
belief in the Virgin Birth.
The essential questions of The Analogical Imagination are these:
What is the public to which theology speaks?, and, How is its speech
public? The theological argument on theology's public task is simple:
Either God is universal in relevance and so theology is a public dis-
course, or God is sheer illusion. But which public? There are three in
Tracy's view: the academy, the society, and the church. All theological
language is related to the three. Fundamental theology is most directly
related to the academy and its concern for critical analysis of cognitional
claims; systematics is related most directly to the church and its concern
with the meaning of its proclamation and tradition; and practical theol-
ogy is related largely but not exclusively to society, with its need for
transformative action. Fundamental theology argues abstract necessities
in its form of public discourse, transcendental argument and dialectic,
which it has in common with the department of philosophy; systematics
argues its interpretations of traditions by the criteria of hermeneutics,
which it has in common with the faculty of letters; and practical theol-
ogy argues its concrete possibilities by means of critical praxis criteria of
transformation which it has in common with the social theorists. They
all argue public issues on public criteria for the public good. Tracy
would have an end to the privatization of aesthetic meaning and reli-
gion, and an end to theologians working at cross purposes in a chaotic
and easy pluralism. He wants a public voice and a responsible pluralism
for theology.
If theology is to be a public discourse it must have a public text.
Tracy convincingly substantiates the public character of religion and
theology is an argument on the nature of a classic, any classic. The
classic is by nature a particular carrier of a universal meaning that
requires interpretation in a culture. Hermeneutics supplies the criteria
for responsible public interpretation of the public document named a
classic. But religions have their classics, no less in need of public
interpretation under public criteria. Christianity has its classic, most
evidently the New Testament, but basically the original apostolic wit-
ness to the event and person of Jesus Christ. The classic text and classic
witness is grounded in a classic event and person. Tracy specifies the
religious classic as an "expression of the whole in and by the power of
the whole." The religious classic is a gift rather than an achievement,
and its major meaning is the identity of the "ought" with the "is" in the

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Review Symposium 317

nature of reality. The most remarkable and original accomplishment of

Tracy's book is the analogy between the classic and the religious text
drawn out over five chapters. If the book did no more, theological
self-understanding would benefit enormously.
But of course there is more. The Christian classic is the "event and
person Jesus Christ." He hardens the Blessed flage position against a
founding significance for faith and theology of a quest for the historical
Jesus; the significance of the quest is corrective only. Here he suggests that
the theologically important Jesus is the Jesus remembered and pro-
claimed in the apostolic witness; this, according to Tracy, is the "actual
Jesus." The "event" is the present liberation of the believer and theolo-
gian, the meaning of which is mediated to them by the tradition's
Tracy sketches out as well the relative importance of historical,
literary, and social-critical methods to the practice of systematics: the
ecclesial relevance is that the methods serve to develop and correct the
tradition, its witness to and formulations of its memory of Jesus. They
supply the formal criteria and the methods of theological understand-
ing. The primary material criterion for systematics is the Jesus-kerygma
of the apostolic witness, that Jesus crucified was raised up by God, is
exalted and present now as Christ and Lord. The event of liberation now
experienced has its origin and explanation in that apostolic experience
of the classic person Jesus of Nazareth. The universal gift is given in the
concrete person.
Tracy outlines as well the search for a contemporary Christology,
and the criteria of adequacy of Christology to the original witness and to
the plurality of its forms in the New Testament. The criteria he finds to
be: the apostolic witness reconstructed by literary and historical criti-
cism; hermeneutical criteria for the interpretation of the witness and its
forms; personal response of the theologian in faith to the "realized
experience" of the classic; and the communal mediation of the event in a
trustworthy tradition. In a chapter in which Tracy swings attention from
the witness to the current cultural situation, he finds the situation
marked by the emergence of a sense of the Uncanny, a surplus of mean-
ing and threat beyond the rational control of Enlightenment reason and
technology. The masters of suspicion made it impossible to be naively
religious; but they have also made it difficult for the children of the
Enlightenment to avoid the sense of the Uncanny, and that sense drives
us still to the religious classics and makes their interpretation impera-
In the concluding two chapters Tracy reviews present systematic
theologies: manifestation theologies which necessarily include a mo-
ment of proclamatory dialectic; proclamatory theologies which cannot
escape seeking unities; and praxis theologies, with their various

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backgrounds in and uses of manifestation and proclamation motifs.

Finally, he makes his own proposal and statement of his goal: an
analogical theological method and discourse that aims at uncovering
and speaking the similarities-in-difference of God and self and world;
and which includes a dialectical method and discourse, a defamiliariz-
ing moment, where difference reaches for system and for the incorpora-
tion of the full range of Christian symbols and forms. All in all, a Catholic
I have a few brief comments and a statement of my conviction on the
value of the book.
(1) It seems to me that for Tracy the Christian belief required of the
systematic theologian is no different than that required of the fundamen-
tal theologian (in spite of chap. 9, n. 7), that is, none. Is there any
Christian doctrine which the theologian is expected to believe true—as
distinguished from "trust" or "have faith in"? Why should there be any
difference on this score between the theologian and the Pope?
(2) I think that Tracy believes that something happened to Jesus
after he died. If so, he will surely make Avery Dulles happy and Schubert
Ogden unhappy. And he will leave me confused, for I do not see how he
can believe that something happened to Jesus after he died, on the
criteria of Blessed Rage and The Analogical Imagination (see chap. 2,
n. 34; Intro, to Part II, n. 13; chap. 6, pp. 248-50; chap. 7, pp. 315-16;
chap. 7, n. 29, n. 34). Nor am I clear what difference it would make to
systematics if Jesus is dead.
(3) I fail to appreciate, nay, even understand, the distinction be-
tween the historical Jesus and the actual Jesus. For Tracy the distinction
eliminates a theoretical problem and mistake. For me, they keep merging
into one, and if they come apart in significant ways Christian belief and
systematics are in serious trouble. Perhaps this is what Tracy means. I
have read the texts carefully and must state that they have not moved me
or the theological debate much closer to the light, (see Intro, to Part II,
n. 12, n. 13, n. 20, n. 23; chap. 6, n. 97, n. 101; chap. 7, n. 29, n. 34;
pp. 425-29; chap. 10, n. 32).
(4) The preceding comments lead to the ecclesiological issue. In
distinction from Blessed Rage, there is some ecclesiology here. The
Church is a "sacrament of God" and a "community of moral and reli-
gious discourse" (see chap. 1, n. 104 and pp. 323-24). What I am in-
terested in is a clarification of the normative status for belief of the
contemporary ecclesial witness, especially that uttered by the leaders.
The difference between Lonergan and Rahner on one side and Kiing and
Tracy on the other seems sharp. While Lonergan and Rahner believe that
Ecclesia semper re/ormanda, they also think that teaching calls for
belief, even on the part of theologians; Kiing, I think, does not. It
nowhere appears that Tracy feels bound to belief by magisterial utter-
ance. And if he does, Arthur McGill will be back in the saddle again.

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Review Symposium 319

(5) Location of the grounds for trust in and belief that Jesus is the
Christ is an event of present grace and the mediation by a tradition will
not appeal to the children of the Enlightenment who fill the halls of our
universities. Although I see no other way to go except an unmitigated
theological positivism, I applaud Tracy's tentativeness in stating it and
his lacing it round with the word "risk." It will be read by Flew and his
minions as one more case of mystification; it remains open to all the
standard empiricist and rationalist objections, most of which are cogent.
Theology and philosophy of religion have done all there is to do on the
issue, it seems to me. We may have to wait for the Holy Spirit to fall on
The major contributions of Tracy's book are these, in ascending
order: (a) it provides an extraordinary conceptual map of modern and
contemporary systematic theology, cultural criticism, and hermeneuti-
cal theory; (b) it articulates a unique justification and ideal for systemat-
ics; (c) it successfully opposes the privatization of art and religious
discourse; and (d) it embodies better than any theology I know, and he
more than any theologian I know, the Platonic dream of civilized con-
versation on ultimate meanings. May he and the dream live forever.

University of South Florida WILLIAM M. SHEA


I have articulated elsewhere (Commonweal, May 22, 1981,

pp. 310-11) what I find to be the central achievement of this book—the
critical role it argues for tradition as exemplified in classics—and the
way in which that achievement is at once defended and articulated by
the three paired features which Tracy claims will be present (at least
complementary-wise) in any authentically theological discourse: man-
ifestation and proclamation, criteria of appropriateness to tradition as
well as of wider intelligibility, and analogical versus dialectical modes
of expression. The first pair, manifestation/proclamation, regard the
mode of expression, and these two are later expanded to include a third:
transforming action—an expansion which does not appear to be war-
ranted. The second pair represents a significant advance over Tracy's
earlier work, and fairly defines how the domain of systematics differs
from that of "fundamental theology" —a distinction which I shall argue
continues to confuse matters, though that confusion hardly mars this
work at all. Finally, in articulating the third pair—analogical/dialectical
discourse—Tracy offers us a masterful way of implementing an ecumen-
ical theological programme, and vindicates his own meta-argument that
theological explanation-interpretation will always be characterized by

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complementarity. For the best we can manage is relative adequacy, so

the inadequacies will ever need correction.
The result is a demanding program of continually self-correcting
interpretation and self-positioning—within one's community and
within the larger world of which we are a part. Yet the conversation must
go on. And Tracy has indicated how we may learn "how to go on," by
ever imagining the alternatives and learning how to "pass over" to other
perspectives so as to enrich our own. Herein lies the strength, indeed the
depth of this work. Informed by its author's generous spirit, it feels
impelled to take account of nearly every current exponent (with two
notable exceptions who happen to be favorites of mine, John Donne and
Sebastian Moore]; yet when it does rise to theological statement, betrays
a passion capable of concentrating the spirit.
Majorly, however, this is not a work of theology so much as it is a
work about theology. It is critical to recognize this fact, for it helps us in
our endeavor to converse with the text. When I am put off by the often
encyclopedic character of a chapter I can turn for diversion to the notes,
where I feel myself more in conversation with the author. Here, for the
most part, one senses theology actually being done. I believe that the
resulting double-decker character of the work betrays ambiguities dog-
ging the two senses of "public" which inform Tracy's discussion of the
theological task, as well as indicates his need to distance himself from
the conversations prevailing in the worlds which he frequents.
Since the two senses of "public" which he recommends (not to be
confused with a theologian's three distinct publics) reflect the am-
biguities inherent in Tracy's division between fundamental and sys-
tematic theologies, the maneuver deserves scrutiny. The first sense
corresponds to the venture of Blessed Rage for Order: a language, osten-
sibly, which anyone should understand—like "fundamental trust" or
"pure unbounded love." Doubtless inspired by Walter Lippmann's use
in The Public Philosophy, public discourse in this sense remains op-
posed not only to an impossible "private" language, but to the faith
expression of those groups which a liberal society can only call "volun-
tary associations," like "the church of your choice." Such a use of
"public" is more beholden to the ideal of autonomous reason, which is
coming in for such trenchant critique today, than commentators like
Lippmann or John Courtney Murray realized. The network of civic
virtues and discourse which they could invoke turns out to have been
rooted in the practice of believing communities. There seems to be little
language available which just anyone can understand.
It is this awareness on Tracy's part, plus (I trust!) the appreciation
that words like "trust" and "love" (in the public formulae) need to be
tied to a determinate focal meaning animated by a coherent set of prac-
tices, which impelled him to elaborate the manner in which "classics are

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Review Symposium 321

public in our second sense" (p. 141). Yet the manner is so different that it
is confusing to speak of two senses of "public," since the production of a
classic requires an intensely personal appropriation of the perspectives
and memories of a particular community—the very thing which the
liberal ideal sought to obviate. In my judgment, the term "public" is too
brittle, too much beholden to its opposite, the bourgeois sense of "pri-
vate," to be susceptible of analogous use; and clearly the two senses
cannot be species of a genus. Tracy seems to sense this when he sum-
marizes his argument:

any reader's realized experience of any classic will suggest the

singular truth theologians have too long ignored: Any person's in-
tensification of particularity via a struggle with the fundamental
questions of existence in a particular tradition, if that struggle is
somehow united to the logos of appropriate expression, will yield a
form of authentically shareable, public discourse. That discourse
will exert its claims as a candidate for classic status waiting to
complement, confront or transform all our more usual candidates for
publicness. That discourse, when focused on the religious classics,
will be named systematic theology (p. 134).

If we substitute "English" (or the appropriate mother tongue) for "the

logos of appropriate expression," I would concur, yet insist that "our
more usual candidates for publicness" (are they really?) have in fact
been transformed so that the resulting "authentically shareable" dis-
course has little to do with a language anyone can grasp. And some
theologians have been aware of that for some time.
Similarly, my complete sympathy and admiration for this way of
expounding the manner of discourse called "systematic theology"
leaves me more puzzled than ever regarding the earlier enterprise: how it
is fundamental, and even how it can be called "theology." There is
certainly no more confusing paragraph in the book than Tracy's attempt
to relate the two enterprises—his two books (198). He acknowledges that
religious expression can only find its sufficient ground in a particular
tradition as manifested through its classics. Yet he also wants a "funda-
mental theology's metaphysical reflections [to] provide a real, logically
but necessary and critical warrant for the claims to truth of religion"—or
as he puts it later, "the religious dimension to existence." A happier
expression, certainly, for we all know there is no such thing as religion.
In the most tangled sentence of all, however, he seems to say that
one recognizes the necessity of the abstract warrants of metaphysics
only through fidelity to the demands of a specific religious tradition.
This would, of course, reproduce Guy deBroglie's genial transformation
of the nineteenth-century discussion of preambula fidei, as well as do
justice to the pseudonymous mode which Kierkegaard adopts in ex-

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pounding "Religiousness A." But Tracy seems oblivious to that dialec-

tic, summarizing the relation in two parallel sentences invoking two
senses of "public grounds."
In the alternate text, the oftimes more directly theological conversa-
tion in the footnotes, he finds it necessary to link the christology de-
veloped here with that sketched earlier in the "fundamental" phase
(337, n. 34). Again, if the two senses of "public" were less continuous
than Tracy supposes—a position indirectly confirmed by the elaborate
arguments he proposes on behalf of a classic's universal appeal—then no
reason why the christologies should not be as well. If one is directed to
interpret the earlier work in the light of this one, fine. But then in which
of the many acceptable senses is it any longer fundamental ? Might not a
better description be chosen, as I have argued regarding "public" for a
classic? There are candidates, of course, more faithful to the position
developed here precisely in being less beholden to a "foundational"
model for rationality.
I have space only to mention my other two quarrels, more directly
related to theological positions which Tracy assumes, however tacitly.
The first has to do with his easy adoption of "praxis" when "practice"
will do. He argues for the substitution by needlessly derogating the quite
acceptable English word "practice," yet keeping silent about the norma-
tive freight which praxis carries after Marx (69-70). The fact that "au-
thentic" (or "revolutionary") praxis can be discerned to be so only on
the successful completion of one's endeavor, or else by bureaucratic fiat,
does not trouble doctrinaire Marxists but it should trouble anyone else.
In short, practices are neutral while praxis "has got to be good."
By overlooking this normative sleight of hand, Tracy misses a car-
dinal opportunity later to critically distance himself from rhetoric like
"we must free ourselves . . . from the privatization of our transcendental
subjectivity to the emancipatory and communicative praxis demanded
by Christian eschatological revelation" (391). Doctor Johnson would
remark that one could go on all day like that if one would but abandon
one's mind—to it; a more specific critique would note that the tacitly
normative term "praxis" allows Europeans and Americans nicely to
avoid the very conditions for authenticity on which liberation theolo-
gians insist: actual participation in base communities whose practices
need to be discerned as the situation shifts and the needs of people
Viewed in that light, liberation theology does not appear as a new
mode, but underscores a pressing contemporary condition for either
proclaiming or manifesting God's presence to us. Only those residual
Hegelians who actually believe that insistence "upon concreteness frees
them to the reality of the concrete" (393) can argue for a distinct theolog-
ical mode here. Actually engaging in a struggle for liberation involves
subtle and anguishing discernments of practical reason informed by a

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Review Symposium 323

living faith—a far more taxing form of life than "insisting on the con-
Finally, is it Tracy's avowed fascination with "process theology"
which leads him to omit two central symbols in his proposed systematic
scenario: trinity and creation? He attempts to retrieve the first in the
alternate text, it is true (443, n. 30; 444, n. 41), though I would argue with
him that a properly trinitarian understanding of divinity would release
most if not all of the motivation for needing a "process-language"—
whatever that may be—about God. More ominously, however, in his
unilateral insistence on God as "the one necessary individual" experi-
enced "as the graced reality of the whole... and in the Christian experi-
ence of the Christ event as the personlike yet transpersonal power of
pure, unbounded love, that ultimate reality which grounds and pervades
all reality" (430-31), we cannot help but feel him sidestepping the
creator. Has the symbol evaporated in a pervasive philosophical gas?
This omission is especially timely today as Christians seek to re-
cover their Jewish roots. The shabbat celebrates creation every seventh
day, and reminds us forcibly of a heritage—a God—we hold in common.
One would hate to see that bridge awash in a mere philosophical option.
Moreover, I for one am unmoved by "the whole" yet confessedly aware
of what John of the Cross dares to call "divine touches." Is the choice of
language here a mere option or is the latter more continuous with and
reminiscent of creation? Or if the two expressions be complementary,
where is creation even alluded to in Tracy's sketch?
With Sebastian Moore, I shall want to speak of the self as already
related to the "all-embracing other," and in becoming aware of that
constitutive fact, leaving oneself open to "a permanently transformed
existence" (Fire and Rose are One, 33,16). Language of this sort at once
evokes and demands the central symbols of creation and of trinity,
capitalizing on the classical model of the self-as-agent, now recovered in
a matrix of relationships. Since both Moore and John Dunne show us
how we might accomplish such an articulation without recourse to
"process-language" and do so in a language as jargon-free as one may
find today, I remained as unmoved by the proposals of "neo-classical
theism" as I am by "the whole." A useless shuffle. But then perhaps they
complement one another....

University of Notre Dame DAVID BURRELL, C.S.C.


My purpose is not to detail the reasons for praising David Tracy's

new book; these reasons should be evident to anyone who takes the
trouble to read the book carefully. Rather, I would like to suggest three or

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four areas where the book opens up new vistas for theological reflection
and suggests an agenda for both Christian theology and Christian prac-
tice. Having said this, there are three aspects of Tracy's Analogical
Imagination that I would like specifically to praise, because these help
make it one of the truly creative and important pieces of recent theologi-
cal writing.
First, Tracy's ability to synthesize the various currents of thought
development in recent history is truly remarkable: it goes beyond a
cataloguing and exposition of modern thinkers and their respective
positions, and it does not force these thinkers into false resemblances to
one another; it brings them into coherent relationship by going beyond
their differences to the underlying questions and then maintaining a
genuine respect for the variety of responses to these questions. Avoiding
both an either/or and a latitudinarian approach to truth claims, Tracy
sees our human attempts at religious insight as a dialectical process
which seeks to appreciate and appropriate a wide range of under-
Secondly, his skillful use of literary critical methods to analyze the
nature and function of a "classic" and his extension of "classic" to
include persons and events substantially enrich our understanding of
Christian tradition and of its relation to scripture. Thirdly, his descrip-
tion of the theologian's role, particularly in relation to the multidisci-
plinary area of "religious studies," should make it easier for us to
provide more precise and substantive meaning to "systematic theol-
Now for some of the items of agenda that Tracy's book proposes to
us: (1) One of the most discussed tensions in the Church (and in the lives
of many Christians) is that between emphasis on social reconstruction
and emphasis on individual religious conversion. This is not, of course,
a new phenomenon in the Church's history; in its own way it is a variant
of the classic tension between action and contemplation. Yet, it has
acquired added importance today with the Church's new posture of
identification with "the world." Tracy's clarification of the universality
intrinsic to the classic individual, amplifying Eliade's principle, "the
paradigmatic is the real," and applying it to concrete historical happen-
ing, should lead us to a new explanation of the imitatio Christi as focus
of Christian spirituality and source of Christian community, to a
deepened understanding and appreciation of the power for social rev-
olution latent in prophetic experience, to a sharpened view of how
activity and insight mesh in Christian praxis, and to a more discriminat-
ing use of story-telling as a theological technique.
(2) From early on in his book, Tracy works with the dialectical
relation between proclamation and manifestation. Keenly aware of their
interpenetration, he is careful not to separate them. Yet, the very purpose
of his book (to clarify the nature and function of systematic theology)

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Review Symposium 325

requires him to give more attention to explanation, to verbal explicita-

tion, and so to the proclamation side of the dialectic. This means that
there is need for someone (perhaps Tracy himself) to investigate more
fully the process of manifestation. Perhaps this could focus on a study of
the coincidence of proclamation and manifestation in Christian
Eucharist, follow up on Rahner's essays on word and Eucharist (1960)
and on the theology of symbol (1959), and draw from those recent
reflections on symbol and metaphor (Ricoeur, Wheelwright, etc.) which
have enriched Tracy's own thought. The Analogical Imagination does
much to help us appreciate the sacramentality involved in word; we still
need to study in greater depth the impact on our understanding of
Christianity that comes from sacrament as communication-event.
(3) Systematic theology, particularly in neo-scholastic circles, tended
until recently to utilize key doctrinal statements as a starting-point.
Post-World War II theology has moved slowly but increasingly to Chris-
tian experience as the "word" upon which theology must most basically
reflect. Schillebeeckx's recent book, Christ, is an excellent example: he
brings the earliest Christian experience of Jesus as the Christ (the experi-
ence that lies behinds the New Testament texts) into creative relation to
our present-day experience of being Christian in a late twentieth-century
world. If I do not misunderstand David Tracy, he hopes to lead us beyond
Schillebeeckx. Not only must the systematic theologian utilize the vari-
ous critical methods to discern, at least partially, the faith and under-
standing, the religious experience, that lie behind and find expression in
our Christian classics; the theologians must contend with and attempt to
explain the classic aspect, the universality that paradoxically marks
particularly significant historical individuality, and so give added in-
sight to that Christian experience today that stands "in front of" and
draws from the classic. This is the elusive logos that must provide some
coherence to the irreducible pluralism of insights that comprises the
actual history of Christianity as a believing community. Tracy suggests
the path of analogical imagination in pursuit of this logos; I am certain
Christian theologians will gain much if they follow him down this path.
(4) To nurture the honest appreciation for theological pluralism
which this book advocates and exemplifies, many of us will have to work
at the task of forming genuine intellectual community. Probably the first
step must be to encourage theologians to talk more to one another, but
this can be only a first step. Geniunely open conversation must include
theologians and scholars from many different disciplines; it must in-
clude also all those who can give some intelligent articulation to their
experience of being Christian. The purpose of such interchange is not,
obviously, some homogenization of understanding; truth is grasped by
discovery, not by consensus. Yet, to the extent that each of us can share
vicariously in others' insights and experiences we have a shared con-
sciousness of what it means to be Christian. And, as Tracy points out, our

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Christian classics play a key role in this process. Theologians have no

monopoly on such Christian community; it is their ministry to further
such in the life of the Church.

College of the Holy Cross BERNARD COOKE


With The Analogical Imagination, David Tracy has completed

two-thirds of a prodigious project in theological method. Since, as Tracy
reminds his reader, genre is not merely a classificatory device but a
device which "produces meaning" (p. 129], it is a matter of some signifi-
cance to establish from the beginning what manner of work The Analog-
ical Imagination is. Momentarily I will enlarge on what seem to me to be
important consequences of a judgment on the work as a work of theolog-
ical method. First I would like to reiterate Tracy's own elaboration of his
point about genre when he says that "the ability to employ a genre
distances the author from . . . original experience into an expression of
its meaning by way of a production of a structured whole, a work, which
allows the meaning to become shareable by provoking expectations and
questions in the reader .. ."(129). I would add that the meaning becomes
shareable to the degree to which genre operates as a control on readings
of a text, assisting the critical effort to allow some readings and to
disallow others.
If my judgment that The Analogical Imagination is part of a project
in theological method (and not itself a work in systematic theology) is
accurate, then it may be fruitfully compared with another such work so
that important differences might serve to cast some light on its contem-
porary significance. Since Tracy himself refers to Bernard Lonergan as a
methodologist of theology (448), a comparison of his project with Loner-
gan's Method in Theology seems most appropriate.
Clearly both Lonergan and Tracy are committed to theological col-
laboration. Animating both of them is a profound sense of theological
modesty and a profound respect for the life of the mind as a corporate
enterprise. While I cannot here produce a lengthy analysis of Method in
Theology, I would call attention to two points at which that work is
vulnerable to criticism by way of locating corresponding strengths in the
arrangement proposed by David Tracy.
It is generally known that underlying Lonergan's Method in Theol-
ogy is an elaboration of what he refers to as transcendental method. What
renders that method specifically theological is conversion. The first
problem some critics have with Lonergan emerges at this juncture, for it
would seem that apologetic theology in both the traditional and the
modern sense is not envisioned as theology. Tracy's way of posing the

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Review Symposium 327

question to Lonergan initially, in Lonergan's terms, was to ask whether

"foundational theology" was "dogmatically" or "critically" mediated.
For anyone who is interested in keeping the nonbeliever in the conversa-
tion, as Gerald McCool (Catholic Theology in the Nineteenth Century,
265, 292) nicely noted in placing Tracy in the unlikely company of
Joseph Kleutgen, Lonergan's effort to coordinate theological activity
will fall short of contemporary requirements.
A second point at which Method in Theology is vulnerable to
criticism is in the suggestion, in Lonergan's elaboration of the functional
specialities "systematics" and "communications," that theological il-
lumination comes from one direction, that the only important questions
to resolve in pastoral theology, for instance, are matters of technique.
Whether or not such a reading is completely accurate, a reading of the
concluding chapters of Method does not fill one with a sense of risk-
taking, with a sense that the uncanny out in the field might break
through in ways that could send tremors back to the command center.
As a work in theological method, then, Blessed Rage for Order and
The Analogical Imagination may be appreciated as presenting a timely
alternative understanding of how to coordinate ongoing theological
activity, an alternative which is strong at just those points at which
Method in Theology is vulnerable. For certainly some of the most signi-
ficant theology in our day has been marked by a willingness to keep all
channels of communication open between believers and unbelievers.
Furthermore, in this day as in earlier days, that willingness has meant a
genuine risk, a risk finally undertaken in the confidence that at the
source of and at the end of authentic inquiry there stands one who will
outlive all our conceits, all our idols. Again, one of the strengths of
Tracy's overall project is that the risk-takers are accorded a prominent
place in the theological community. The liberation theologian, for
example, is not singled out as a theological oddity in a world of theologi-
cal clones; nor is liberation theology mistaken for God's last word and
testament. Animating Tracy's willingness to acknowledge and invite the
plurality of theological orientations is not a whimsical attraction for the
sandlot, where any kid who shows up can play, but a trust that at the
heart of every authentic theology is a lord whose love—as Dante knew so
well—bursts forth in dazzlingly different ways.
Thus far I have intended to permit a recognition of The Analogical
Imagination as part of a project in theological method to inform an
understanding of its contemporary significance. I would now like to
indicate why that choice matters, why it is important not to mistake the
work as a work in systematic theology.
First it must be said that there are two reasons for anticipating the
tendency to take it as a work of systematic theology. In the first place,
BJessed Rage/or Order is, in certain respects, not only part of a project in
theological method but also a work in fundamental theology in Tracy's

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sense of the term. One might then legitimately expect The Analogical
Imagination to be similarly a performative instance of systematic theol-
ogy. Secondly, since occasionally Tracy almost in spite of himself seems
drawn into the task of systematic theology as he understands it (notably
in Chapter Seven) and, at the end, sees himself as providing an outline
for the basic form of a Christian systematics (421), there is some reason to
fear that The Analogical Imagination may be mistaken as an illustration
of systematic theology.
Why, then, do I think it is important not to mistake The Analogical
Imagination as a work in systematic theology? I say so primarily because
I agree heartily with Tracy when he remarks that each Christian
theologian—and he means at this point Christian systematic
theologian—"risks a journey of intensification into some particular
form—some verbal genre, some nonverbal symbol—of the original New
Testament diversity of expression" (313). He might well have added that
the most effective systematic theologians of our day have produced
works of imagination which draw the reader with them on that journey.
That Tracy is appreciative of the contributions of some systematic
theologians and wholly alert to those characteristics which mark them as
successful works of systematic theology is particularly evident in his
discussion (376-98).
One formal difference of masterworks of systematic theology from
Tracy's work in theological method appears when one asks how schol-
arly work is integrated into their respective works. While explicit atten-
tion to a vast range of contemporary theological works is appropriate in a
work of theological method, part of whose purpose is to suggest how
scholarly activity within the discipline might be fruitfully coordinated
and integrated, were that attention to be regarded as the hallmark of
systematic theology, the journey of intensification which Tracy rightly
calls for would die the death of a thousand qualifications. The reader,
instead of being drawn into a journey of intensification, would be drawn
into the thicket of theological opinion. Far from finding her or himself in
a clearing, in a place of authentic public speech, the reader would
experience the alienation of any reasonably intelligent person from the
conversation of specialists. So, ironically, would the search for the
authentically public run the risk of a privatization which has not even
the saving grace of personality. Hence I think it is of utmost importance
to identify The Analogical Imagination accurately as a work in theologi-
cal method.
In conclusion, I would like to add that I stand in awe of the achieve-
ment represented in Tracy's first two parts, I look forward with interest
and anticipation to the third and final part, and add my voice to those of
others urging him forward—with gratitude.

Catholic University of America WILLIAM JAMES O'BRIEN

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Review Symposium 329

I wish to express, first, my profound thanks to my four friends and
colleagues who have taken such time and care to interpret and criticize
my work. Since each of the critics raises distinct questions, I will address
them separately—in reverse order—rather than as a whole.

Response to William O'Brien

I am thankful for William O'Brien's careful and elegant review and
especially for his highlighting of the central category of "productive
genre." I agree with him that the major category for the whole first part of
the book (as well as the methodological sections of Part II) are in the
genre of theological method. Where I disagree, however, is with
O'Brien's suggestion that Part II is only occasionally an actual exercise in
systematic theology and then for Tracy only "in spite of himself." The
Analogical Imagination, in fact, has exactly the same mixed genre status
as that analyzed by O'Brien in Blessed Rage for Order. In sum, Part I is in
the genre of theological method; Part II is in the genre of systematic
I think that the problem is partly occasioned by the text itself. For
O'Brien is principally concerned with whether I follow my own descrip-
tion of classical systematic theologies as "risking" a journey of intensifi-
cation "into some particular form" of the original New Testament diver-
sity of expression.
He is right that my own systematics does not confine itself to one
particular form as do most systematic theologies. The reason for my
refusal to follow the classical examples is stated throughout the major
arguments of Part II. The basic reason is that, given (1) our present
pluralistic situation (chapter 8), (2) the pluralism of the scriptural forms
themselves (chapters 6 and 7), and (3) the even greater pluralism of the
tradition (chapters 9 and 10), a contemporary systematics must find
genres expressive of that ecumenicity and plurality in ways that classi-
cal systematics (which could confine themselves to one form) need not
have done.
For myself, the kairos of our moment is that our journey of intensifi-
cation into the particularity of Christianity can occur only by risking a
journey into ecumenicity and the radical plurality of expressions of the
ambiguous—as always-already, not-yet classic religious event of Jesus
Christ. That plurality and ambiguity is expressed in and through the many
classical expressions (generically—manifestation and proclamation
[chapter 5 and passim]); for the New Testament—narrative, proclama-
tion, symbol, reflective thought, doctrine and apocalyptic (chapter 6)
and expressed anew through the uncanny plurality of the fundamental

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questions of our post-modern situation (chapter 8). Part II of the present

book suggests, therefore, that this plurality of expressions as well as the
ambiguity (as both always-already and not-yet) of the empowering
Christ-event itself needs to find an inherently pluralistic genre to ex-
press that plurality (and that empowering ambiguity).
The genre appropriate to that kind of systematic theology, I suspect,
is more like the so-called "mixed genres" of modernist art—for example,
the genre of "encyclopedic narrative" discussed by literary critics as
operative in the works of Joyce, Proust or Pynchon. To realize the
difference of our situation from our classic predecessors is also, I believe,
to recognize the need to develop new productive genres for contempo-
rary systematic theology—perhaps even ones like the genre lurking in the
necessary plurality and ambiguity in the systematic theology of Part II of
The Analogical Imagination.

Response to Bernard Cooke

I thank Bernard Cooke for his illuminating analysis of my work. I am

especially aided by his critical analysis of how my work relates to
alternative positions.
I will comment briefly on his suggestion about the need for further
work in sacrament. I am grateful that he finds my use of the paradigm
manifestation-proclamation suggestive for the theology of sacraments. I
accept his gentle but pointed criticism that this paradigm, while sugges-
tive, still needs more reflection before it could illuminate the nature of
sacrament with anything like relative adequacy. Since my own knowl-
edge of the history of sacramental theology is woefully inadequate, I
cannot pretend to be too helpful here. Indeed, I am more than content to
leave the matter in the capable hands of Bernard Cooke and his col-
Yet I so agree with him on the centrality of sacrament for Christian
life and thought, that I will risk a few suggestions on how the category
"manifestation" might prove useful for sacramental theology. As my
book states I chose this particular category rather than alternative ones
because of its emphasis on the nonverbal. Part of my strategy, I admit,
was my conviction that all Christians need to find new ways to assure
that we not lose our theological and religious grounding in the nonver-
bal. We theologians, after all, are a largely word-oriented bunch. We
need constantly to remind ourselves of both the power and the limits of
word. Allow me to give a personal example. I discovered how word-
oriented I myself was when, in my research for The AnaJogicaJ Imagina-
tion , I started looking for the theological classics of post-medieval and
pre-Vatican II Catholic Christianity. With the usual theologian's prej-

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Review Symposium 331

udice for word, I started to read Cajetan, Suarez, Bellarmine et al as the

probable Catholic theological classics of that period. The results, for me
at least, were not promising.
It finally dawned on me that the Catholic religious and theological
classics of that long period were less likely to be found in verbal
theologies—as they were in Protestant Christianity of the same period.
Rather the Catholic classics of that period are to be found in the classic
Catholic rituals, persons, spiritualities, sacraments and art. As a result, I
began to do further research on the theology expressed in such highly
diverse classics as Raphael, Michaelangelo, Caravaggio and Bernini. I
became startled by the disclosive and transformative power of what I
now do not hesitate to name these religious and theological (not only
aesthetic) classics. I mention this here only to indicate how right Bernard
Cooke is in gently but firmly insisting that we theologians should cease
confining our attention only to verbal theological classics. Only when
theologians expand their list of theological candidates to include the
great religious and theological works of art of the traditions, only when
we realize, for example, the theological import of Catholic Christianity's
historical preference for theological expression by painting and ritual in
contrast to Protestant Christianity's preference for expression in music
and preaching will we begin to retrieve and appropriate all the theologi-
cal classics—not only the usual list of verbal candidates. At that point, as
well, we may be in a better position to rethink and retrieve the notion of
sacrament as prime symbol informing and transforming all expressions
in the classic Catholic works of art and all our theological concentrations
on word. Such at least is my own hope. I can, accordingly, only be
grateful that Bernard Cooke, with his enviable expertise in both the
historical and constructive developments in sacramental theology,
might find my first probings of the relevance of the category "manifesta-
tion" suggestive.

Response to David BurreiJ

David Burrell has expressed both his critical appreciation and his
critical distance from my positions on fundamental and systematic
theology in his stimulating observations here as well as in his review in
Common weaJ. Since his critical appreciation of the work is more exten-
sively expressed in his Commonweal review, he quite rightly uses the
occasion of this discussion to articulate his many critical differences
with my positions. But before expressing my own rather sharp differ-
ences with his interpretation of my work, I do wish to acknowledge my
sincere thanks for his critical appreciation both here and in the Com-
monweal review. I also wish publicly to acknowledge here (as I do in the
book) that Burrell's own work on the logic of analogical language has

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represented for me the major hermeneutical breakthrough on the sub-

Our differences, however, remain real and substantive. Some of the
minor differences I shall respond to briefly. But on one issue, more
discussion between us is badly needed. I can only hope to begin that
discussion here.
The major conflict between Burrell and myself revolves around the
notion of "public theology." For myself, as William Shea correctly
points out, there is no more central demand for theology than its demand
for publicness. For Burrell, the word (and presumably the reality the
word discloses) is a hopeless quest. The word "public" discloses, for
him, a purely Enlightenment position that presumes to deny the enrich-
ing reality of community and tradition. He acknowledges that I defend
both community and tradition. But he suggests that I should drop the
misleading expression "public" and join him (and some of his Notre
Dame colleagues) in emphasizing community and tradition to the exclu-
sion of this "Enlightenment" concern with "public discourse" and
"fundamental theology."
The prospective reader of this particular exchange might be temp-
ted to consider the whole debate a merely verbal one on the appropriate-
ness or inappropriateness of the word "public." But—and here I agree
fully with Burrell—our differences are not merely verbal but substan-
tive. The only hope, therefore, is not simply to restate that we have this
difference but to state the warrants for and against each position. In spite
of Burrell's suggestion, I did not import my notion of "public
philosophy" from Walter Lippmann's work. It is strange that Burrell can
make this suggestion while ignoring the actual warrants I do give—not
only in Blessed Rage for Order but, at some length, in the first two
chapters of The Analogical Imagination. To recall those warrants
briefly: philosophically, religions address certain fundamental ques-
tions on the meaning of human existence which logically are questions
open in principle to any intelligent, rational and reasonable inquirer.
Burrell changes this position into the quite different claim that I hold
that these fundamental questions are questions for "just anyone." I
nowhere speak, in his language, of "just anyone." I consistently speak of
any intelligent, rational and responsible person. This anyone is not just
anyone. The argument my work advances at length is an in principle
argument that anyone who can ask these questions and can intelligently,
rationally and responsibly reflect upon them has every right and respon-
sibility to do so. To ask these questions as technical philosophical
questions, moreover, obviously demands an ability to formulate and
judge technical logical and philosophical issues—including issues on
certain abstract and formal qualities (as readers of Burrell's own techni-
cal work can surely attest).

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Review Symposium 333

The second major warrant for publicness which my book advances

is not a philosophical argument but a strictly theological one. That
argument in my book appeals not only to scriptural and traditional
warrants but backs that tradition with the strictly theological warrant of
the nature of the divine reality. For any radically monotheistic religious
tradition the divine reality is strictly universal and necessary or sheer
illusion. As such this divine reality (as this tradition's fundamental
response to the religious questions] is also open to strictly philosophical
analysis and argument—an analysis, to repeat, which any intelligent,
rational and reasonable person has every philosophical right to enter.
These arguments, the book also argues, can provide a necessary but not a
sufficient adjudication of the theological claims of religious com-
With those philosophical and theological warrants, I try to develop
public criteria to aid the conversation in fundamental theology. The first
half of the present work is, in fact, an argument in just such fundamental
theology for systematic theology.
Here Burrell seems to think that my argument in fact works—viz.,
the arguments on the classic, the religious classic and the Christian
classic. More exactly, however, his interpretation of my position on the
classic makes a curious move: he addresses only my "thought-
experiment" on the production of the classic while ignoring the major
argument of the book which is on the reception of the classic. But this is a
strange contraction of the argument of the chapter on the classic. The
heart of that argument—as the chapter on the classic consistently
states—is on the hermeneutical reception (and thereby the public status)
of the classic and not merely on the classic's production.
It is true that I hold that classics are produced by what I call an
intensification of particularity (here Burrell agrees). But the major bur-
den of the whole analysis of the classic is quite different: viz., that
classics can be received through interpretation by the whole public, and
are not confined to those within a particular tradition. In a pluralistic
society like our own and an emerging pluralistic global culture, this is no
minor point. As such examples of the recent past as Reinhold Niebuhr,
John Courtney Murray, Abraham Heschel, Martin Luther King, Jr. or
Dorothy Day show, and as my hermeneutical argument on the reception
of the classic attempts to warrant, the publicness of the classical reli-
gious traditions is not confined to the believers in that particular tradi-
tion. These traditions live as available in principle, as disclosive of truth
and tranformative of life (and therefore, as public) to the wider public.
Only if we face the difficult question of the reception of the classic on
public grounds and not only its production through an intensification of
particularity can the classic traditions genuinely converse with one
another and not only with themselves.

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At that point, moreover, the wider public can and should be allowed
to converse again on public grounds on the relative adequacy or in-
adequacy of the disclosive and transformative (i.e., public) possibilities
of the concrete symbols of the particular witnessing communities. As a
part of that conversation, moreover, the further legitimate concerns of
fundamental theology with the abstract, formal (and, yes, the meta-
physical and metaethical) principles and presuppositions of these con-
crete traditions are entirely appropriate. There is no reason why the
latter exercise need become the "foundationalism" which Burrell fears
as long as the distinctions between "necessary and sufficient" or
"abstract and concrete" are maintained.
Surely the schema of the abstract-concrete is not unfamiliar theolog-
ically or philosophically. Recall Schleiermacher's insistence in the
Glaubenslehre that concrete Christian faith is the Christ-consciousness
of the concrete ecclesial community from which one may legitimately
abstract and discuss the phenomenon he names "a feeling of absolute
dependence"—an abstraction which I rename "fundamental trust." Re-
call Karl Rahner's distinction between the concrete Christian faith ex-
perience of the radically incomprehensible God from which one may
(and, for Rahner clearly should) abstract the transcendental conditions
of possibility for that experience. The very comprehensibility of such
abstract conditions allow even the believer to understand better the
radically mysterious and loving comprehensibility who is God. The
concrete alone is sufficient since it both originates and ends the process
of faith; but the abstract can show to our critical attempts to reflect on
faith the necessary conditions of possibility of that concrete reality and
thereby the reasonableness (not the proof) of concrete faith itself. I hold,
for the reasons cited above, that those distinctions are consistently
maintained in both my books. Therefore, BurrelPs charge of discon-
tinuity between Blessed Rage and The Analogical Imagination (as well
as his allied charge on the discontinuity in the christology—a charge
never documented textually) does not stand.
On Burrell's other less central criticisms, I will respond briefly and,
following his own example, bluntly—but in what I trust is an honest and
friendly fashion. Most of these other provocative observations I cannot
but frankly consider exercises in what might be named "a hermeneutics
of impatience." Allow me to give two examples out of several. A first
example: he engages in rhetorical overkill rather than argument on
"process theology." Clearly Burrell does not like process theology (it is
"philosophical gas"). He also seems to hold that there is no way for
process thought to account for God as creator. But until he gives some
persuasive reasons why I should share either his "argument from si-
lence" or his rhetorical dismissal of process thought, I can surely feel
free to ignore that advice. Nevertheless, it is also important to note that

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my own position on process theology (as process theologians clearly see)

is not a simple endorsement of process thought. It is true that I hold for
the relative adequacy of process conceptuaJities for God over classical
theistic conceptualities. I also hold that the inability of process theolo-
gians to understand and appropriate the fuller disclosure of truth in the
concrete classic religious symbols (e.g., The Hidden and Revealed God)
renders the conceptual forms of process theology unable to date to
incorporate the abstract-concrete schema upon which I insist for fully
adequate theological discourse.
A second example: Burrell also does not like the language of Euro-
American political theologians like Metz or Moltmann, or my own use of
their technical categories. This occasions for Burrell the strange sugges-
tion that all theological uses of the words "concrete" and "praxis" are
suspicious unless Euro-American "political theologians" abandon the
academy and join third-world liberation theologians in concrete base
communities. What to say? Since I am apparently forbidden to use any
language not approved by Dr. Johnson, I can only reply in certain
Anglo-Saxon expressions, which perhaps can earn the approval even of
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Burrell, "Calm down, relax, David—and reread the
text." There you will find that my book argues in favor of the liberation
theologians while also arguing that the Euro-American political theolo-
gians also aid the wider conversation by their developments of critical
theory—a contribution which, after, all, is clearly acknowledged by the
liberation theologians themselves. I can see no reason why they or I or
anyone else, cannot use, when appropriate, technical Hegelian language
different from but no more technical than Burrell's own Thomist and
analytical languages.
But to go on point by point here on Burrell's other difficulties ("the
whole," "religion," etc.) is probably, in his own words, a "useless
shuffle." I believe that readers of my book will readily enough find
adequate responses in the book itself. I have concentrated on the central
substantive issue between us. On that issue we are potentially com-
plementary but at present mutually contradictory. On many other issues,
of course, we stand together. I can only hope that further conversation
may show that our positions on publicness are not as far apart as they
presently seem to both of us. In the meantime, like David Burrell, I
believe that intellectual difference and even conflict need be the enemy
of neither a genuine community of inquiry nor of an enduring and
deeply rooted friendship. For both, I thank him anew.

Response to William Shea

William Shea's penetrating critical observations both in the present
paper and in his earlier reviews of Blessed flage for Order raise several
crucial issues. As I understand Shea's principal concerns they center on

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the issue of the continuity or possible discontinuity between the criteria

I developed in that earlier book on fundamental theology and the criteria
developed in my present book on systematic theology. In that sense, his
concern resembles David Burrell's but from a completely different point
of view. Unlike Burrell, Shea shares my concern with the public charac-
ter of theology. Moreover, as Shea's creative work on American
naturalism shows, our dual concern for publicness in theology is not
only a necessary contemporary demand. It is also in fundamental con-
tinuity with the North American tradition of Peirce, Dewey and
Lonergan—the tradition of public criteria for a public community of
I mention these prefatory remarks on Shea's own important project
not only to express my thanks. I state them to clarify how Shea's critical
questions on the continuity or possible discontinuity of criteria between
fundamental and systematic theology seem to me to express the heart of
the matter from within a shared concern with public theology. In my
response, therefore, I shall first state why I think basic continuity be-
tween my two books does exist. I will then address more briefly how my
response to his primary concern influences my responses to his other
questions on particular issues.
As Shea observes, The Analogical Imagination throughout Part I
argues for the public character of systematic theology from the view-
point of fundamental theology. Shea also suggests that my argument for
public discourse demands transcendental argument and dialectic
within fundamental theology and hermeneutics for systematics. It is
important to emphasize, however, perhaps more than Shea himself does,
that hermeneutics is a concern for truth and not only meaning.
In fact, the major insistence of my book is that, in continuity with the
work on the poetic function of language in Heidegger, Gadamer and
Ricoeur, the classics of art and religion involve a manifestation not of
mere "aesthetic" meaning but of truth. Truth is here understood by the
category manifestation, i.e., a letting what shows itself be, a disclosure
and concealment of the essential. The poetic function incarnates this
concept of truth as disclosure or manifestation. This category of truth as
manifestation disclosed in the concrete classics, moreover, is related to,
but not reducible to, the concepts of truth as adequation and empiricist
criteria of verification and falsification applicable to the everyday and
the scientific concepts of truth. What shows itself in the classic symbols
of both art and religion is a disclosure of a possible mode-of-being-in-
the-world, a world I too may honestly inhabit by risking a genuine
interpretation of the classics. In this sense, moreover, language in its
poetic function (and thereby its truth-as-manifestation function) can
become a classic vehicle for a religious revelation by disclosing a reli-
gious truth as a manifestation.

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Review Symposium 337

If this general argument in Part I of my book is persuasive to Shea, as

his earlier comments lead me to believe, then I am somewhat puzzled
why he would consider that my hermeneutical position of truth as
manifestation may be discontinuous with the phenomenological-
transcendental arguments of Blessed Rage. As I state throughout The
Analogical Imagination the two disciplines are related logically by the
schema concrete-abstract (not the schema of the general and the
specific). To suggest that the truth of the concrete classics is best de-
scribed by the concept of truth as manifestation in systematic theology
does not entail that transcendental analysis of the implicit, formal,
abstract conditions of possibility in that manifestation are now disal-
lowed. Only if the logical relationship of the abstract to the concrete is
misunderstood does discontinuity occur. Hence my attempt through my
present book to show how that schema obtains for relating the disci-
plines of fundamental and systematic theologies.
But rather than commenting further only on the general question of
truth in hermeneutics, let me now suggest how this position can inform
my response to some of Shea's more particular concerns.
(1) The pre-understanding of the systematic theologian, I maintain,
will ordinarily include faith in the religious tradition she/he is inter-
preting, the key word in the text is ordinarily. All the theologian neces-
sarily must possess as interpreter is an ability to pose the kind of funda-
mental religious questions to which religious traditions respond. Her-
meneutically, the interpreter of any classic will also have some response
to the claim to attention (the disclosure) provoked by that classic. This
response can occur along a whole spectrum ranging from some tentative
resonance towards or against this manifestation to a shock of recognition
into its startling truth. What hermeneutical theorists call the response of
a "shock of recognition" can be translated into the phenomenon which
Jews and Christians call faith in this manifestation as a revelation of the
divine. Any response of "faith" to any revelation-manifestation can
occur, moreover, even when some particular "belief" (i.e., some
abstracted cognitive aspect in the mainline tradition's interpretation of
this concrete symbol) is disbelieved in. This occurs, for example, in
Bultmann's theological faith in the manifestation of truth in the classic
Christian event and symbol of "resurrection" in spite of his disbelief in
the mainline tradition's interpretation of the resurrection as applicable
to Jesus himself. To state, therefore, that faith is distinct from belief and
that faith ordinarily occurs for systematic theology is simply to make a
hermeneutical observation that seems empirically accurate.
And to state further that faith ordinarily occurs for the systematic
theologian is not to hold that "faith (as that shock of recognition re-
sponse) must necessarily occur in order for interpretation to happen at
all. In sum, I continue to believe that my present hermeneutical formula-

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tion provides a more relatively adequate way of accounting for the

ordinary situation of the kind of response present for the systematic
theologian than my previous one did. At the same time, my present
formulation is not logicaJJy discontinuous with the position of Blessed
Rage on the non-necessity of faith for theology.
(2) The two other particular theological examples which Shea
raises—viz., the resurrection and the quest for the historical Jesus—seem
to me to confirm anew the import of a hermeneutical understanding of
the nature of truth as manifestation in systematic theology. Shea is
correct to suggest that as a systematic theologian, I do in fact interpret the
resurrection of Jesus as an event for Jesus and not only for believers. In
other words, as the book states, I interpret the resurrection in a manner
more like Kiing, Gilkey and Schillebeeckx (and Paul!) than like the
alternative interpretations of Bultmann, Marxsen or Ogden. The only
relevant corrective of this position from fundamental theology, I hold,
would be a philosophical argument which would render this Pauline
transformation interpretation of the resurrection unintelligible and
thereby meaningless. I am open, in principle, to all such arguments. In
fact I have not thus far found one that was persuasive (certainly not the
arguments of Flew et al. which I did not find cogent even in Blessed
Rage). Until such time as Shea or others provide the argument for
unintelligibility (he may have elsewhere), I cannot see how he can claim
that there is a discontinuity between my present position and the criteria
on intelligibility maintained in Blessed Rage.
On my negative appraisal of the use of the quest for the historical
Jesus in contemporary christology, I will be brief. Hermeneutically, the
central New Testament belief is a belief in Jesus Christ with the apostles.
This suggests that it is a serious mistake to replace this classical Chris-
tian belief with the logically distinct one of the "historical Jesus" (i.e.,
the Jesus who actually lived as reconstructed through historico-critical
methods). My major point is to disallow the usual theological use of the
"quest"—a use which confuses criteria of contemporary intelligibility
with hermeneutical criteria of appropriateness to the possible revelatory
manifestation disclosed in the classic texts and symbols of Christianity.
To replace the founding religious classics of Christianity with so fragile
a base as the modern and tentative historico-critical reconstruction of the
historical Jesus is to risk theological confusion of the first order. It is, for
me, nothing less than a choice of the wrong religious classic to interpret
when interpreting Christianity as a religion. And since the choice of the
central classics in any religious tradition is the most important her-
meneutical decision of all, I continue to hold my admittedly minority
position with some insistence.
(3) Perhaps my response on the hermeneutical pre-understanding
of the systematic theologian already indicates my basic response to

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Review Symposium 339

Shea's further question on the relationship of theologians to church

authority. The question is, of course, a complex one and I have tried to
address it more adequately elsewhere. For the moment, I must be content
to restate my position. As a theologian, the theologian, is responsible
only to the criteria of responsible theological reflection and, therefore, to
the community of other theologians. If the theologian also wishes to
address her/his proposals to a particular church community (as ordinar-
ily but not necessarily one does), then the theologian must make a
further and distinct case. In the second instance, theologians must ap-
peal not only to the general theological criteria cited above. They must
also show how their positions are also acceptable in principle on the
basis of the legitimate bearers of de jure and de facto authorities of that
particular community. In fact, the situation of the theologian is no
different from the situation of a political scientist who develops a posi-
tion in keeping with appropriate scholarly criteria and then may also
wish to show why the theory (e.g., Rawls on justice) is applicable to a
particular society (e.g., the United States). For myself, therefore, theolo-
gians have exactly the same freedoms and responsibilities in the
academy as any other scholar. Theologians also have the same kind of
freedom and responsibility in applying their theories to a particular
church community as any other scholar does in applying theories to a
particular society. Since this position, too, is one in continuity with that
of Blessed Rage I again do not see the force of Shea's questions of
possible discontinuity.
I can only end this too brief response to the critical questions of each
of my friends and colleagues by stating that they have helped me realize
again what is meant by a community of inquiry. I sincerely thank each of
them anew. I hope that the genuine conversation they have exemplified
for me may also contribute to the wider conversation which is contem-
porary theology.

University of Chicago DAVID TRACY

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