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Matthew Ogilvie

The Functional Specialty, "Systematics," in Bernard Lonergan's Method in Theology

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A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy School of Studies in Religion, Faculty of Arts, University of Sydney February, 1996.


How can doctrines be made intelligible within the context of our modern world? This thesis intends to investigate, and to throw new light upon, Lonergan's response to this challenge in his presentation of the functional specialty, systematics, within his Method in Theology. This thesis primarily aims to present a thorough understanding of systematics' function. We intend to investigate systematics' specific function as a promotion of understanding, of the mysteries of faith. We shall also examine the need for, and grounds of, this functional specialty and we shall place systematics in relation to the other functional specialties within Lonergan's Method in Theology. Of special concern to this thesis will be an investigation of what Lonergan could have meant by explaining systematics' function by reference to the statement of the First Vatican Council, that human reason can attain an understanding of the mysteries both by analogy with what human reason naturally knows and by the interconnection of the mysteries with each other and with humanity's last end. We shall bolster our understanding of systematics by placing it within the context of Lonergan's theological method. To make systematics' function more intelligible, we shall investigate the conditions prevailing in Catholic theology that prompted Lonergan to develop his theological method, we shall assess the value and place of systematics, and we shall also evaluate Lonergan's presentation of systematics in relation to the goals he set himself in developing a theological method. This thesis shall contribute to scholarship: by presenting new research on Lonergan, by explicating an instrument by which one can make doctrines intelligible and by showing how a significant philosopher-theologian has effectively responded to the challenges of the modern world.

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