In the U.S., bishops in recent years have taken action against a number of theologians, most notably last year when the bishops' doctrine committee sharply criticized the work of a highly regarded theologian, Sister Elizabeth Johnson, saying it contained “misrepresentations, ambiguities, and errors.” Last month, Spanish bishops warned Catholics that the writings of one of the country’s best-known theologians, the Rev. Andres Torres Queiruga, were “distorting” certain “elements of the faith of the church” and should not be read.
in a fundamentalist way, with little regard for insights about the New Testament forged in the last half-century of Catholic biblical renewal," quoting the evangelists as if they all held identical views, and ascribing to them concepts only developed after centuries of theological dispute. She praised the text placing Jesus rather than the church at the center of its discussions of worship and ethics, but objected to its "truncated view of the humanity of Jesus Christ" who "walks around like God dressed up in human clothes.
Andrew Greeley has described her as a "feminist ideologue" and "one of those hard feminists who think that the use of that label [patriarchal] is enough to settle a debate."
[5 ]Andrew M. Greeley, The Catholic Revolution: New Wine, Old Wineskins, and the Second Vatican Council (University of California Press, 2004), 83, 138
She noted that she had not had a conversation with the bishops. Fordham President Joseph M. McShane issued a statement that called Johnson a "revered member of the Fordham community" and noted that she viewed the bishops' action as "an invitation to dialogue." Boston College theologian Stephen J. Pope said that "The reason is political. Certain bishops decide that they want to punish some theologians, and this is one way they do that. There's nothing particularly unusual in her book as far as theology goes. It's making an example of someone who's prominent." Terrence W. Tilley, chair of Fordham's theology department, said: "What the bishops have done is to reject 50 years of contemporary theology.... Sister Johnson has been attempting to push Catholic thinking along new paths. And the bishops have now made it clear — this is something they stand against." The board of the Catholic Theological Society of America issued a statement that said the bishops' critique showed "a very narrow understanding" of the ways theologians serve the church."
- a "revered member” of a university “community" who,
- having been sanctioned by the bishops will condescend to “dialogue” with the bishops regarding their action,
- and who represents “50 years of contemporary theology”
- and is “attempting to push Catholic thinking along new paths”
The names of God found in the Scriptures are not mere human creations that can be replaced by others that we may find more suitable.... The standard by which all theological assertions must be judged is that provided by divine revelation, not by unaided human understanding. God does use human, and thus limited, means in revealing himself to the world.
What is lacking in the whole of this discussion is any sense of the essential centrality of divine revelation as the basis of Christian theology. The names of God found in the Scriptures are not mere human creations that can be replaced by others that we may find more suitable according to our own human judgment. The standard by which all theological assertions must be judged is that provided by divine revelation, not by unaided human understanding.
The notification [from the Spanish bishops], issued on March 30, 2012, alleges that the following "elements of the faith of the Church are distorted in the writings of Professor Torres Queiruga":
* The clear distinction between the world and the Creator, and the possibility that God intervenes in history and the world beyond the laws that he himself established.
* The newness of life in the Spirit that Christ grants us, with the consequent distinction between nature and grace, between creation and salvation. As well as the necessity of supernatural grace to achieve the ultimate goal of man.
* The undeductible character of Revelation, by which God has revealed to man his salvific plan, choosing a people and sending his Son into the world.
* The uniqueness and universality of the salvific mediation of Christ and the Church.
* The realism of the resurrection of Jesus as a (miraculous) historical and transcendent event.
* The true meaning of prayers of petition, and the value of intercession and mediation of the Church in its prayers for the dead, especially in the Eucharist.
* The real distinction between the time of personal death and the Parousia, understood as the culmination and fulfillment of history and the world.
Andrés Torres Queiruga is being accused of "reducing Christian faith to the categories of the dominant culture" and of "eliminating or obscuring the novelty introduced by the Incarnation of the Son of God." Those who impute such a serious charge against him do it from a faith expressed in the categories of a venerable but obsolete culture. By acting in this way, are they not the ones who are reducing the faith to the categories of that culture? "New paradigms" are not decided by theologians, but by cultural transformations. We speak of a "new theological paradigm" when theology has to think of faith within a new cultural paradigm. It is what the Church was freely able to do in its most ancient tradition to express salvifically the Christological and Trinitarian faith within the Greek paradigm, quite different from the Semitic one. What evaluation would the Confession of Chalcedon earn from an unchanging concept of the paradigm of the gospel of Mark? This inculturation of faith is what is now being prevented, because the law of fear prevails in the theological community and many theologians are silent in order not to have to face problems that bring with them "side effects".
So, yes, Christianity did to a considerable degree become inculturated to the Hellenistic culture in which it was born. But there are two important points to be made in that regard: 1) Christianity may have been inculturated to Hellenism, but Hellenism was also transformed by Christianity, and it is a real historical question which was changed the most. There were centuries of conflict between Christianity and Hellenism, and when a more or less stable new cultural paradigm came into being, the dominant Hellenistic culture had been fundamentally transformed, even as the Church, too, in its outward expression, had also changed. 2) It would be foolish to assume that the inculturation of the early Church was an unalloyed good, even at the time in question. To the contrary, we have emphasized continually that the absorption of the Platonic tradition of thought led to serious and persistent deformations of Christian thought, with consequences that continue to the present day.