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Lex Crucis

Lex Crucis: Soteriology and the Stages of Meaning

William P. Loewe
Copyright Date: 2016
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    Lex Crucis
    Book Description:

    What is the true story of God and humankind, and how does that story become a saving story? These are pivotal questions that constitute the narratives Christians tell about themselves, their values, and how the Christian life is to be lived. In shaping those stories into a coherent, intelligible framework that provides comprehensive meaning, soteriology—the doctrine of redemption—developed as a keystone to Christian consciousness. This study investigates that development of the soteriological tradition. Employing Bernard Lonergan’s notion of the stages of meaning as a hermeneutic, the volume traces the origins of soteriology in the early Christian tradition represented by Irenaeus to its establishment as a systematic theory in Anselm, Aquinas, and subsequent developments in the Protestant tradition of Luther and Schleiermacher. The author concludes with a constructive exploration of Lonergan’s own work on the question of soteriology that overcomes the modernist distortions that hinder Schleiermacher’s account and offers an articulation of the dynamics of Christian conversion that opens onto the social, cultural, and political mediations of redemption necessary for the contemporary age.

    eISBN: 978-1-5064-1016-6
    Subjects: Religion
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction (pp. 1-14)

    After almost nine decades, the typology of soteriologies, introduced by the Swedish Lutheran Gustaf Aulén in hisChristus Victor,¹ continues to orient students of the topic.² Aulén proposed that the history of soteriology exhibits three main types. The patristic motif from which he drew his title dominated the first millennium of Christian thought, while objective theories came on the scene in the eleventh century with Anselm of Canterbury. Subjective theories, adumbrated in counter-point to Anselm by Peter Abelard, found their champions among modern Protestant liberals. For Aulén, the types stand in competition with one another. His own intent was to...

  5. 1 Irenaeus of Lyons The Story of Salvation (pp. 15-70)

    The year 177 AD saw a wave of persecution break over the Christian churches at Vienne and Lyons in southeastern France. Someone at the time wrote a letter describing the trials of these communities to their sister churches in Asia Minor; the fourth-century historian Eusebius of Caesarea has preserved a large part of this letter for us.¹ It depicts in vivid detail the mob fury that fell upon Christians old and young, women and men alike, as well as the imprisonment, torture, and executions which followed. Among those to perish was the ninety-year-old bishop of Lyons, Pothinus.

    One member of...

  6. 2 Anselm and the Turn to Theory Why This Story as the Story of Salvation? (pp. 71-102)

    The gnostic movement that, in Irenaeus’s day, threatened to engulf Christianity subsided gradually into an underground current that would rise to the surface but sporadically in subsequent Christian history. Meanwhile, the Christian church soon advanced from being a persecuted minority to become the state religion of the Roman Empire, and eventually, in many ways, its successor. Once the age of martyrs gave way to Christendom, the sacralized political order on which Christendom rested would create tensions of its own and these, nine centuries after Irenaeus, provide the setting for the next work to claim our attention, Anselm of Canterbury’sCur...

  7. 3 Thomas Aquinas and the Ordo Disciplinae Completing the Turn to Theory (pp. 103-156)

    A spring day in the year 1256 found a contingent of royal archers standing protective guard at the Dominican convent of Saint Jacques in Paris. Outside, unruly demonstrators blocked the way for those who sought entry. Inside, Friar Thomas Aquinas was presenting his inaugural lecture as a regent master of theology.¹ Thirty-one years old, he required a special dispensation to assume the post because he fell short of the stipulated age, which was also the case when, four years earlier, he began lecturing as a bachelor of theSentencesat the recommendation of his mentor and fellow Dominican, Albert the...

  8. 4 Martin Luther Existential Soteriology—A Window on Interiority (pp. 157-202)

    On July 17, 1505, twenty-one-year-old Martin Luther presented himself at the monastery of the Augustinian Hermits in the Saxon town of Erfurt for admission to the order. Until two weeks previously, the young man envisioned a quite different career for himself.¹ Son of a father of peasant stock who married into the bourgeoisie and made his way in the mining industry, Luther benefited from an education that led from grammar school in Mansfeld, which he recalled as a thoroughly miserable experience, to a year with the Brethren of the Common Life at the cathedral school in Magdeburg, and then, four...

  9. 5 Friedrich Schleiermacher Redemption as Transformation of Consciousness (pp. 203-282)

    At mid-morning on November 21, 1797, the group of friends gathered outside the studious young hospital chaplain’s door. Bade to enter, they swarmed in, bearing with them food and gifts to fete their host’s birthday. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher was turning twenty-nine. Almost thirty, they teasingly chided him, and he had not yet published a book. Within a year, Schleiermacher set about to meet their challenge. The upshot,On Religion: Speeches To Its Cultured Despisers,¹ made an immediate splash, launching Schleiermacher into the public spotlight in the Prussian capital. In the long term, it initiated a new epoch in Western...

  10. 6 Bernard Lonergan Lex Crucis and the Dialectics of History (pp. 283-368)

    The Jesuit residence at Regis College in Toronto was a dingy place when Bernard Lonergan joined the faculty of theology there in 1947. Purchased in 1930 from an order of nuns who had transformed a once fashionable private home into a convent,

    it was surrounded on three sides by factories and at the rear by the main rail yard of Union Station. Freight trains spent the night shunting to build up their cargo for their journey the next day. The house . . . was constantly showered with soot and grime from the coal fires of the steam engines. In...

  11. Bibliography (pp. 369-381)
  12. Back Matter (pp. 382-382)