Is Lonergan’s Method Theological?

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Dr. Peter John McGregor

Abstract

Both Rahner and Nichols have criticised Lonergan’s theological method on the grounds that it fails to adequately take into account the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. Lonergan’s response would be that it is his concept of religious conversion which makes his method genuinely theological. This article begins with an analysis of Lonergan’s concept of religious conversion. It then examines the understanding of repentance, conversion, and the heart presented in the New Testament, with particular attention being paid to Romans 5:5. It will be shown that this understanding and Lonergan’s are radically different. Lonergan’s takes a “proof-texting” approach to the New Testament on conversion. He also takes the same kind of approach to Pascal, Rudolf Otto, and St. Ignatius of Loyola. It will then be argued that Lonergan goes wrong in four specific ways – in focusing on the question of God rather than the problem of evil, in defining faith generically rather than specifically, in an erroneous attempt to avoid a conflation of revelation and salvation, and in falling into a “soft” Pelagianism which does not take the reality of sin seriously enough. The article concludes that the fundamental flaw in Lonergan’s method is that it is “theistic” rather than “Christic.”

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Author Biography

Dr. Peter John McGregor, Catholic Institute of Sydney

Lecturer in Theology and Spirituality
Catholic Institute of Sydney
Australia