Friday, December 01, 2006

Structure model

I've used Gliffy to produce this model, an heuristic metaphor that will help me envisage the structure of my thesis. What I want to do is this: as I write, I want to imagine a three-way dialogue among Torrance, Lonergan, and a "third conversation partner." That composite imaginary friend has been reading contemporary theologians (like Miroslav Volf, for example) whose approaches to "doing theology" have affinities to the "virtues & practices" model for which Alasdair MacIntyre contends.
Re: the genesis and history of the metaphor/model--I've enjoyed the work of Kevin Vanhoozer, most recently his The Drama of Doctrine, in which he reshapes (via intratextuality) the schema proposed by George Lindbeck in his The Nature of Doctrine. Lindbeck analyses (and finds wanting) what he calls cognitive-propositional and experiential-expressive theories of doctrine, putting forward instead his cultural-linguistic theory. Lindbeck makes specific reference to Lonergan--apparently, in the lecture series on which the book is based, Lonergan figured prominently, much more so than he does in the book. From the way he characterises Lonergan and from what he says about the cognitive-propositional perspective, I think I can "place" Lonergan and Torrance as I have on the diagram. I won't spend time looking at Lindbeck himself, but I want to interact with people like Vanhoozer who have recognised the importance of his critique and suggest that the insights of such scholars help to fill out some of what's lacking in both Lonergan and Torrance--particularly re: relationality. In that regard, I've found the work of F. LeRon Shults very helpful. There's one rather large hole in my diagram, of course--I haven't included an Eastern Orthodox conversation partner. I'm counting on Torrance's forays in that area, and those of my favourite recent scholars, to help fill the gap, and I'm also trying to work through David Bentley Hart's The Beauty of the Infinite. The first half is incredibly (and, I'd say, unnecessarily) difficult, but I'm enjoying the second part, where he deals with theological loci, a lot. In places, it even begins to live up to its title, becoming aesthetically pleasing to the point of being doxological. His updating of the analogia entis has recently become the focus of an interesting discussion, and I think he's on to something with his contention that the concept actually provides the required distance/difference/otherness for thinking about the relationship between God and humankind, and that in that sense is not at all an appeal to likeness as either homoousios or "some 3rd thing in common," which he rightly recognises as illegitimate.

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