GREGORY BAUM'S HUMANISTIC THEOLOGY: AN ECUMENICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH (SOCIAL JUSTICE)

FREDERICK WILLIAM KECK, Fordham University

Abstract

As part of the effort to bring order to the pluralistic situation of theology since Vatican II, the purpose of this dissertation is to explicate and assess the theological method of the contemporary Roman Catholic theologian Gregory Baum through an analysis of his works.^ The source of Baum's methodological development is traced to his appropriation, from the ecumenical movement, of dialogue as a way of seeking truth. From the Second Vatican Council's universalist perspective on redemption and revelation, Baum developed an interpretation of faith as the transformation of consciousness that occurs when a person, whether Christian or not, is open to the self-communication of God. On this basis, in dialogue with the experience of contemporary Christians and with the social sciences, Baum elaborated a reinterpretation of the major doctrines of the Catholic Church as explicit formulations of what God does in a hidden way in all of human life.^ As Baum continued to dialogue with the social sciences, he gradually narrowed his interest to sociology. His methodological emphasis became that of identifying selected humanistic notions of the classical sociologists as implicitly Christian. The study of ideology, in particular, led Baum to extend his method to a critical investigation of the social and political impact of Catholic doctrine and practice and to propose aspects of a theology more in harmony with the social message of the Gospel.^ There follows a summary of Baum's major theological positions. A detailed discussion of his reinterpretation of ecclesiology, the doctrine of God, and eschatology and of his theology of social sin, social salvation, and heaven-as-revealed-utopia brings out the implications of Baum's method and provides a basis for its evaluation.^ The dissertation concludes with a critical assessment of Baum's methodology, first, by evaluating his theology and, second, by criticizing his method directly. It is found that Baum's method does not succeed in establishing divine transcendence and, therefore, cannot be regarded as a complete method for articulating the Catholic faith. On the other hand, the method does illuminate the meaning of Catholic doctrine for concrete human experience. As partial, Baum's theological method is novel and suggestive. ^

Subject Area

Theology

Recommended Citation

KECK, FREDERICK WILLIAM, "GREGORY BAUM'S HUMANISTIC THEOLOGY: AN ECUMENICAL AND SOCIOLOGICAL APPROACH (SOCIAL JUSTICE)" (1984). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8506338.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8506338

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