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Document Details :
Title: Foundational Theology as Political and Sacramental Public Theology
Author(s): SCHÜSSLER FIORENZA, Francis
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 39 Issue: 2 Date: 2015-2016
In this article, the author raises the question of how one needs to understand the rationality of public discourse and action. Should one understand it in a way that is open to the multidimensionality of rationality, the intersubjectivity of communication, and the historicity of discourse? He seeks the answer in an understanding of public discourse that takes into account its historical, intersubjective, and communal character and at the same time acknowledges that such discourse entails practical, symbolic, and sacramental dimensions. First, some well-known aspects of the development of modern fundamental theology are addressed, articulating some similarities between the developments in modern Catholic fundamental theology and those in modern Catholic Social Teaching. The apologetic and justificatory discourse of fundamental theology finds its parallel in the advocacy and justificatory discourse of much classic modern Catholic Social Teaching that deals with diversity within pluralistic societies. Second, a certain ambiguity is shown in some of the receptions and interpretations of the Enlightenment in contemporary examples of public theology. An overly critical reception prevents the development of a more complex and nuanced understanding of public discourse. Third, to the extent that religious and communal history entails historical events and experience, fundamental theology should explore the significance of the category of testimony both in its particularity and in its disclosive power as central to the historical self-understanding of Christian communities. Any discussion of public discourse has to take into account the particularity of historical testimony and its ability to serve as a basis of communicative action and discourse. Fourthly and finally, a symbolic sacramental communicative practice within public theology is presented in two ways. One way points to the existence of practices that testify and are communicative. Another way takes up the issue of discourse ethics instead of a natural law ethics as a means of engaging in public discourse.