from the archives of religion-online

Liberation Theology and Social Justice

by Matthew L. Lamb

Matthew L. Lamb is Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Boston College. The following article appeared in Process Studies, pp. 102-122, Vol. 14, Number 2, Summer, 1985. Process Studies is published quarterly by the Center for Process Studies, 1325 N. College Ave., Claremont, CA 91711. Used by permission. This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted and Winnie Brock.  

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In inviting me to participate, Professor Joseph Bracken asked that I present some of the foundational elements in contemporary Christian liberation theologies relative to the issues of social justice. In this lecture I shall first outline the major social justice issues to which various forms of liberation theology are responding. Then I shall sketch, in an historical retrospect, the dead-ends of classical sacralism and of modern secularism. This is important, I believe, in order to contextualize the real import of liberation theology as calling for a new realization of social justice in dialectical contradiction to conservatism and liberalism. Such a context is also relevant, I believe, to understanding the different emphases of process theologies and liberation theologies. Third, the lecture will deal with a few of the methodological issues in the advocacy scholarship of liberation theologies and how this scholarship corresponds with the turn to dialectics and praxis in contemporary philosophical reflections on science. Finally, I shall offer some reflections on liberation theology and social justice beyond sacralism and secularism.

Central Social Justice Issues and Liberation Theology

What are the social justice issues to which this conference is addressing itself? Justice, Thomas Aquinas remarks, is of its very nature social since it is defined by egalitarian relations towards others.[1] Briefly, I would list the major social justice issues as fivefold, corresponding to the five major areas in which egalitarian relations towards others are repressed or denied. The fivefold differentiation also delineates the major forms of liberation theology.

There is the unjust distribution of goods and services whereby a relative minority of wealthy groups and ruling classes use their power and influence to perpetuate macroeconomic and political structures which exploit the labor and lives of the vast majority of the planet’s populations. The issue of social justice here is the eradication of exploitive and oppressive structures of class oppression (classism). Liberation theologies in Third and Fourth World countries, as well as political theology in First and Second World countries, are addressing these systemic class injustices by intellectually and religiously supporting and fostering egalitarian communities committed to more just economic and political orders (CBCC, CLT, LT, FSUW).

There is the deep and widespread oppression of women, along with the elderly and children dependent upon women, in all patriarchical societies around the globe whereby women and their dependents are dehumanized and depersonalized by the androcentric fears and aggressions of males (sexism). Feminist liberation theologies are addressing these systemic sexist injustices by intellectually and religiously supporting and fostering genuinely egalitarian feminist communities of women and men committed to the dismantling of patriarchal and androcentric injustices (LT).

There is the repression of millions of humans belonging to races and ethnic groups other than those races or ethnic groups dominant in societies (racism, ethnocentrism, antisemitism directed against Jews and/or Arabs). Black, Native American, Latino-American, and other liberation theologies are addressing these systemic racial and ethnic injustices by intellectually and religiously supporting and nurturing egalitarian racial and ethnic communities (CLT, PD).

There is the unjust exploitation of physical, chemical, biological, and zoological nature, the ecology in which human nature is embedded, by industrial and technocratic production processes of "megamachines" (L. Mumford) polluting and destroying environment after environment. Technocentrism will be used here to designate this injustice rather than the too generic designations of "anthropocentrism" or "homocentrism." These are too generic since technocentrism is the ecological form of androcentrism (LT 115ff.). Process and other ecological liberation theologies are addressing these systemic technocentric injustices by intellectually and religiously supporting and fostering egalitarian ecological communities (LL).

Finally, there is the injustice of an ever-expanding and necrophilic militarism as violent uses of power and force whereby nonegalitarian relationships are defended, whether internally through various forms of police and surveillance force, or externally through massive military and espionage forces. Since World War II, when War Departments all over the globe became Defense Departments, this militarism has reached its apotheosis in the nuclear arms race. A recent comparative study of worldwide military and social spending indicated how at present 1.3 million dollars per minute on average are spent for military purposes; during the same minute 30 children die for lack of food or simple vaccines (PASSÉ). Concretely, during the next hour, an average of 78 millions will be spent for military purposes while some 1,800 children will die for lack of food or elementary vaccinations. Various nuclear-pacifist and pacifist liberation theologies are addressing the systemic injustices of militarism by intellectually and religiously supporting egalitarian communities committed to halting the arms race and developing nonviolent forms of legitimate defense.

In a very schematic way, I believe these are central social justice issues which any theology must address if it is to mediate responsibly the significance and value of its religious tradition to the social and cultural matrices of our contemporary world. A common basic element in all five of these forms of social injustice is domination by which egalitarian relations towards others are denied and oppressed.

Christian theologies have sometimes been highly introspective examinations of debates going on "intramurally" among and within various ecclesial and theological traditions. A conceptualistic narcissism has not been absent from such intramural debates about who has the better concepts of God, Christ, Salvation, Sacraments, etc. Liberation theologies as a movement -- and I should emphasize that these theologies are aspects of a movement, not some closed conceptualistic system -- have tended to avoid such intramural debates. Instead, liberation theologies have arisen as intellectual and religious responses to very concrete struggles for justice and love on the part of those committed to overcoming the dehumanizations and depersonalizations resulting from classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. As intellectual and religious responses to such massive human failures, liberation theologies have continuously challenged concepts of God, Christ, Salvation, Sacraments, etc. which are judged inadequate or false relative to the values of liberating us from the systemic injustices destroying so many billions of human lives and the very environment in which we live. But where some other forms of theology might consider their task accomplished when new concepts are forged, liberation theologies insist that only a liberative and transformative praxis actually converting or changing our contemporary world (and churches within that world) provides criteria for whatever adequacy and truth theological concepts may have.

An Historical Retrospect: The Dead-Ends of Classical Sacralism and Modern Secularism

Philosophically, liberation theologies are sometimes portrayed as more or less naive popular movements drawing upon now outdated 19th century notions of divergent vintages: Marxist (Third World), social gospel (First World), suffragette (Feminist), black nationalism (Black), agrarian pastoralism (Environmentalist), or romantic pacifism (Nuclear Pacifist). These portrayals cast liberation theologies in the guise of populist discontents futilely raging against the progressive organizational developments of modern, 20th century industrialized societies. Theologically, liberation theologies are sometimes portrayed as neoconservative reactions to the advances of theological liberalism, as though liberation theologies were ducking the stringent critiques liberal theologies posed to traditional doctrinal symbol systems.

I would suggest another interpretive framework. Liberation theologies are the theological counterpart of a widespread recognition that we must collaborate concretely to transform the world. In solidarity with the many victims of both premodern classical sacralist cultures and modern secularist cultures, liberation theologies are collaborating with others in an epochal transformation of contemporary cultures into a new world order (PPH 213). Since the first centuries of our Common Era when Christian theologians were forging the categories of a new religion in an old world, and since the Reformations of the 16th and 17th centuries when Christian theologians were dismantling the religious legitimations of a decadent Christendom, liberation theologians are not arriving, a little breathless and a little late, at deep cultural transformations which have already occurred. Instead they are collaborating in the elaboration of a vast new cultural transformation which is calling us to collaborate towards a new future -- provided, of course, that the weapons of modernity do not blast our planet into oblivion.

Elsewhere I have analyzed some of the major elements of these three cultural epochs -- classical, modern, and contemporary (SV 107-15, LW 257-307, compare with SAL 3-20). Here I shall summarize that analysis as it contextualizes the contemporary cultural significance of liberation theologies. Taking a first cue from Whitehead and others, these three cultural epochs can be defined with reference to the notions of science which underpin the cultural achievements, as well as reflecting the social conflicts, characterizing the three epochs (SMW 1-24, 258-60, AI). A second cue is taken from Bernard Lonergan’s understanding of a dialectic between communal experience and communal expression. This dialectic provides categories, within our contemporary context, for discerning how communal expressions, when they are cut off from transformative communal experiences, become "objective" and "institutionalized" in ways which dichotomize subjects and objects, experiences and expressions. Insofar as this occurs, community as the dynamic of active intersubjective agents is difficult, if not impossible. Human beings are reduced to more or less passive, manipulated objects. Subjects and experience become "privatized," and social integration is reduced to forms of hierarchic and/or bureaucratic institutionalization. The dynamics of nature and of history, contrary to all forms of domination, can be understood as the massive movements from intersubjective to interpersonal communities; or, adapting Whitehead’s categories, from spontaneous origination through solidarity to ever more perfect actuality (CTSA 134-36, PR 532, AI 177ff., LL).

Nevertheless, as Johann B. Metz emphasizes, the dialectic of worldwide solidarity "interrupts" the unilinear dominance of progressivist modernity. This should caution us against reading "dialectics" into natural, nonhuman, dynamics (CCC 149-60, 204-11, PTPT 111-34, M 60-73). The dialectic of communal experience and expression is foundational to all forms of liberation theology. Hence, the importance I gave to the communal contexts in outlining the quests for social justice, to the "movement" character of liberations, and to how liberation theologies are organically related to these movements as their religious and intellectual coworkers. To understand why and how we must collaborate for a new cultural and world era, it is important to contrast our contemporary situation with both the classical and modern periods.

Classical cultural contexts are defined in terms of the notion of science as classical theoria: the ideal of certain knowledge of necessary causes (SC 1-9, 43-67, 193-208). This ideal of epistemic science originated in the classical experience of reason associated with Socrates and his disciples, especially those who gathered about Plato and Aristotle. Eric Voegelin and others have called attention to the classical experience of reason -- the transformative perigoge or "conversio" -- expressed in the ideal of theoria.[2] The expression, however, was ambiguous at best (as Heidegger realized) and dangerously imperialistic at worst (as Alvin Gouldner and Enrique Dussel realized).[3]

The classical experience of reason, as the dynamic of questioning, was politically subversive, calling into question the dominant myths legitimating governance by untransformed rulers (witness the death of Socrates). Yet politically and culturally this seed of a transformative experience of reason fell on very stony ground. Expressed in theoria as a quest for certain knowledge through necessary causes, the cosmological myths were not so much overcome as they were "scientized" into a philosophical cosmology of necessary and certain orders of the universe, which "projections" were then androcentrically "injected" to legitimate dominative "natural and necessary orders of patriarchal societies and "natural and necessary" orderings of faculties in the soul. Cut off from the classical experience of reason, the classical expression severed Theoria from Bios. Just as androcentric competition in the polis had the dark underside of classist, racist, and sexist repressions of women-slaves-children, so Greco-Roman cultures and politics came to renounce even their limited democratic ideals and practices in the pursuit of the certainties and necessities of militaristic imperialism. An egalitarian noetic transformation was systemically blocked. Metaphysics and ethics, rather than questioning authority, became authoritarian and legitimative of dominative power.

The trajectory of these deformations is well illustrated in the centuries between Socrates and Plutarch, who, in his Fortune and Virtue of Alexander, describes how the imperial ruler is "above" the philosopher since the ruler realizes in dominative power-actions what the philosopher only dreams and lectures about. In this deformed classical context, the theoria of the philosopher is a conceptual legitimation of imperial domination by the ruling elites and the historical victors. As Karl Marx pointed out, the Greeks and Romans soon repressed the insights of Aristotle into the destructive class oppressions by the rich of the poor in antiquity (CSAGW 23-111, 300-26, 518-37).

Judaism and Christianity greatly intensified the dialectic of communal experience and communal expression with their revelations of the Divine Mystery’s covenanted choice and partiality with the poor, the enslaved, the outcast victims of history (BL). Briefly, the communal Passover experience recalled the Divine election as Exodus from slavery, sealing Israel’s identity in fidelity to Torah and messianic expectation. The prophets recalled this time and again when Israel tried to mimic the monarchical ambition of surrounding polities, failing to keep alive the transformative Passover experience of liberative election. As a reform movement within Judaism, the communal praxis of inclusive wholeness and the Basileia vision of Jesus both transformed apocalyptic messianism and led those he converted into a paschal-metanoetic egalitarian discipleship wherein faith in his resurrection would open the Covenant of God to the "lowly" of all nations. This is what inspired the early Christian missionary movements, fostering faith-communities whose knowledge was born of the Spirit of Love (Agape), rather than a certain knowledge of necessary causes, or an elitist knowledge engendered by fear of competition and oppression (IMH, BFM).

Regarding classical cultures as a dialectic of Christian theology and theoria, much work remains to be done in recovering the egalitarian and anti-imperialistic communities of reform-minded Christians, how their orthopraxis in communal experiences of repentance and inclusive wholeness envisaged an orthodoxy expressive of solidarity with the poor and outcast. Martyrdom, and then monasticism, carried forward a communal solidarity in conflict with Roman Imperialism and the domination of imperial cities over the peasant countryside (CSAGW 9-19, 120-32,208-26, 267-69, 425-52, 474-503; nowhere does CSACW treat of monasticism as a solidarity movement, cf. OECT). Theologians divided. An Athanasius, inspired by a genuinely Christian monasticism, not only had a more (comparative to his times) wholesome understanding of human sexuality and marriage, as well as women's ministerial roles in the church, but also struggled (to the point of being expelled from his diocese five times by those supporting the imperium) for an orthodoxy which would confess the God revealed in Christ as a community of consubstantial Persons. The Trinitarian and Christological Councils doctrinally broke with the authoritarian metaphysical ideology of the Imperium, with its syncretic amalgam of monist monarchy (One Supreme God, One Emperor, One Ecumene) and dualist anarchy (subordinate polytheistic cults, rival regional imperial representatives, tolerance of indigenous cultures if they did not threaten monist monarchy) (MPP, CSAGW 278-408, ERW, AB).

But the emperors had their court theologians, like Eusebius of Caesarea and his disciples, who would promote an ecclesial history of the victors and a sacralist ideology wherein Christian symbols were used to legitimate imperialistic political domination (CE).

The breakthroughs of communal paschal-metanoetic Christian experience, and the reformations they engendered, were increasingly outnumbered by the deformative breakdowns into sacralism. Over centuries Christianity became Christendom, the Roman Empire became a feudal "Holy" Roman Empire. Monastic missionaries, both women and men, would live among and educate the so-called "barbarians," only later to give in to the tactics of a Charlemagne pressing the monasteries into strategies of Western empire-building, which, in turn, evoked ongoing reforms as wealth dulled and darkened a genuine Christian discipleship (CSP 1-43).

The thirteenth century beggar or mendicant reforms initiated by Dominic Francis of Assisi, and Clare revitalized a Christian spirituality of egalitarian communities and solidarity with the poor. It was in this context that Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas fulfilled their intellectual apostolates within the newly emergent, and democratic, universities. They recovered the classical experience of reason as the potential infinity of human questions, showing how this dynamic "ratio" as a desire for understanding is healed and transformed by the paschal-metanoetic experience of faith in the Sophia-Cod of compassion and love.[4] Aquinas, for example, understood God as "intimately present within everything that exists since God is existence" and that Cod’s omnipotence -- Aquinas wrote very little about it -- regards not actualities but possibilities, and is best manifested in forgiveness and compassionate mercy.[5]

By the next century, however, the dialectic of classical theoria was evident in the scholastic conceptualism which put concepts and logic before understanding, so that knowledge was misunderstood as an intuition of nexi between concepts. As subsequent Dominican and Franciscan theologians joined the inquisition, so their theologies became sacralist legitimations of papal and monarchist power politics to shore up a decadent Christendom, portraying God as the all powerful monarch of the universe.

The Protestant reformers sought to recover the egalitarian and communal biblical faith experience as a reforming antidote to this poisonous sacralism (CSP 159-222). Luther, for instance, rightly railed against the deadening conceptualism of the decadent speculative theologies of his day. But the reformers had their efforts so often coopted by the dominative power politics of the emerging nation-states. In short, the classical contexts of Christian theologies and theoria historically witnessed the recurrent betrayals of the Cross by the sword, Christianity by Christendom, as colonizations brought new peoples and lands into the orbit of the dehumanizing power games of Europe’s so-called Christian cultures and nations. By the seventeenth century the West began to have its fill of the pogroms, crusades, inquisitions, wars of religion, and all the other excesses and repressions of Christian sacralisms.

Modern Western cultures emerged as an Enlightenment. Small groups of philosophers, scientists, scholars, and men of letters were increasingly convinced that the rising merchant and bourgeois class were destined by "the laws of nature and history" to replace the aristocrats of the old feudal order. This class solidarity was linked to a fundamental belief in the newly emerging science and technology to assure progress. The historical fatalism of the Renaissance was broken (ESF 6-10, 45-51, 123-25, 163-66). This conjunction of socioeconomic restructuring and the modern scientific revolution "outshines everything since the rise of Christianity and reduces the Renaissance and Reformation to the rank of mere episodes, mere internal displacements, within the system of medieval Christendom" (OMS vii, SMW 1-4).

Auguste Comte would later draw parallels between the early communal groups of Christians and the small communities of intellectual elites, in solidarity with the emergent bourgeoisie, making scientific breakthroughs in the 17th and 18th centuries. As the Christian household churches eventually were institutionalized in early Catholicism, so, mused Comte, it was time in the 19th century to institutionalize modern science in a rationally secularist alliance between science, state, and industry which would wed universities, governments ,and business enterprises in the campaign for unlimited technological progress. If, for David Hume, "reason or science is nothing but the comparing of ideas and the discovery of their relations" (THN 10-15, 466), for Comte it was clear that the "ideas" were no longer theological, nor metaphysical, but the positive ideas of empirically discovering the mechanical laws of nature and society by the scientific and industrial elites. Politicians were assigned the task of promulgating these laws to the masses (CPP, CP).

The point about Comte’s views on modernity is how unexceptional they were. Although his prescriptions were regarded as odd, his descriptions of the new age as informed with secular beliefs in progress through the rational, scientific organization of societies, for the purpose of ever increasing industrialization and ever new technologies of control, was very typical of modernity. European and Western in origin, modern science and technology were seen as universal in scope. As Whitehead put it: "More and more it is becoming evident that what the West can most readily give to the East is its science and its scientific outlook. This is transferable from country to country, and from race to race, wherever there is a rational society" (SMW 4). But what precisely is a "rational society"? Modernity underwent the dialectic of communal experience and communal expression in the form of what Peter Cay calls "the logic of enlightenment and Theodor Adorno with Max Horkheimer call "the dialectic of scientific enlightenment" (ESF 497ff., DE). Briefly stated, this logic or dialectic was the tragic transition from the notion of science as theoria (certain knowledge of necessary causes) to the notion of science as technique (verifiable knowledge of mechanistic causes). The transition is tragic because the moderns failed to understand, just as the originators of classical cultures had, how the liberative potential of reason as the human ability to raise ever further relevant questions is alienated and frustrated in authoritarian societies deeply marked by classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. Thus the transition from the system of a declining medieval Christendom to modernity was a tragic transition from sacralist hierarchic authoritarianisms to secularist bureaucratic authoritarianisms.

We have seen how the classical experience of reason was a release of the questioning dynamism of human understanding and how this dynamism was restricted and deformed by authoritarian social structures time and again. The modern experience of reason released this dynamism, orienting it in ever more sophisticated methods of empirical observation, hypothesis formation, verification or falsification, and technological applications. Yet, just as classical theoria was deformed by ideas of knowing as "seeing" or "looking at" naturally necessary causal substances (cosmology) and then "injecting" this looking at supposedly "natural and necessary" unjust social structures, so modern technique was deformed by ideas of knowing as verified in "making" or "producing" naturally mechanistic substances (mechanics, physics, chemistry) and then "injecting" this making into necessarily mechanistic reorganizations of human societies which bureaucratically maintained unjust social structures. Modern expressions of reason were deformed into either an extrinsicism (positivism) or an immanentism (idealism) in which nature and history, science and morality, fact and value, bureaucracy and community, knowing and feeling, were (1) either sundered from one another in various forms of dualism, e.g., mechanism-vitalism, scientism-emotivisrn, etc., (2) or were conflated into various forms of monism, e.g., materialism, idealism, etc. (LL 66-79, 146-53, 213-19, 245-64, 285-94, SV 1-60).

The modern scientific revolution was quickly coopted by the modern industrial 1evolution. Science became identified with techniques of control and manipulation of both the natural and social environments. Knowledge was power, and the quest for this cognitive power was fueled by fear. Fear, first of all, of the natural environment (viz., Voltaire on the Lisbon earthquake), then fear of the contingencies of physical life and death, and finally fear of other human beings and societies. Science and technology became weapons in the struggle for dominative power. Such deformations need not have occurred. As in the classical contexts, so in the modern, there were many efforts to address the increasing injustices arising from classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. But such reform movements, as efforts to recover the genuine and liberative orientations of the modern experience of reason, were either ignored by the dominant modern cultures or, when they succeeded, they did so only because they adapted the dominative power techniques of manipulation and control typical of the social orders and cultures against which they initially protested. Thus in Communism, as John McMurtry and others have shown, the unjust structures of class oppression have not been transcended, as Marx hoped, but only transmuted into party-bureaucratic class oppression (SMWV, AEE, CSCP).

Socially and politically, modern secularism has in our time ended up a ghastly reflection of the classical sacralism it initially rejected. Instead of an authoritarian Holy Roman Empire we now live in world of nuclear Superpowers which justify their divergent forms of authoritarianism by appeals to national security. The disintegration of a divided Christendom had led reformers and counter-reformers to dismantle ecclesial unity but to keep the notion of revealed religion. When these competing sacralisms spawned the wars of religion, the modern quest for "pure reason" led the rationalists to reject revealed religion and enthrone in its place first a natural religiosity and then a secularist supremacy of reason. But the dialectic of this enlightenment was that liberal, egalitarian rational discourse and decision-making could hardly be realized in societies distorted by the social injustices of classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism.

The consequence was that modern secularist liberalism eventually despaired of rational agreement, yet insisted on maintaining respect for individual conscience. Conscience, however, was so privatized that religious, moral, and economic values could not sustain the common good in the republics of representative democracies except through "pressure politics" relative to the social contract (Jean-Jacques Rousseau). Max Weber saw how the claims and counter-claims of competing private religions, private moralities, and private businesses would be at best only adjudicated by bureaucratic techniques. The underlying social Darwinism -- survival of the strongest -- seemed to assure that modern liberal republics would trace again the trajectory of Rome from a republic to an empire. For, as both Marx and Weber surmised in different ways, the demands of capitalist accumulation, industrialization, and professionalization would increasingly contradict and constrain genuine democracy (CMST 169-84). The nation-states, even those born in the desire for independence and self-determination, became engaged in aggressive empire-building and militaristic nationalisms. These mocked the dictates of private conscience in their overriding national security needs for bureaucratically organizing vast economic and military exploits (I 225-44, KP, OT, EWL).

Modernity has dead-ended in the World Wars, the Holocaust, the countless genocides, the exploitation of Third-World countries, the increasing pollution of the earth’s environment, and the terrible spectre of nuclear omnicide. "Progress through technology" sounds like the empty gong of a clanging funeral bell. Our modern and enlightened 20th century has witnessed the slaughter of more human beings by their fellows than any other. I ask you to recollect in some dark phantasm the millions upon millions of dead and broken men, women, children, animals which the wars and oppressions of the last eighty-three years have sacrificed on the altar of modern ideologies of progress. Through the shadows of such a ghastly phantasm listen to the words of Joseph Priestly, a clergyman, chemist, and liberal reformer, writing on the glories of modern technology from his vantage of the eighteenth century:

Men [sic] . . . will grow daily more happy and more able to communicate happiness to others. Thus whatever was the beginning of this modern world, the end will be glorious and paradisiacal beyond what our imagination can now conceive. (WPSP 198)

Advocacy Scholarship and Intellectual Praxis

The dead-ends of both Medieval sacralism and Modern secularism indicate, I believe, the radical contradiction which liberation theologies pose to both conservative and liberal theologies (and their many "neo" varieties). Classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism were rampant in the societies and cultures of both classical and modern societies. Modernity is still very much with us. As Nietzsche remarked, it will take time for the death of modernity to reach the awareness of those it favors. There is still a strong secularist belief in technological progress. Modern secularism seems to be flourishing to many -- just as classical sacralisms did to generations of politicians, philosophers, and theologians during the twilight of Christendom.

But the victims of modernity, and those of us in solidarity with them, contradict the hopes of those who would manage the ever increasing crises of modernity through more adroit use of the techniques of social engineering and bureaucratic professionalism. The central problem is how to bring about more just and good societies, for only such social transformation will avert the mounting probabilities of ecological and/or nuclear devastation. Whitehead saw the problem when he remarked how bureaucratic professionalism in modernity is mated with the notion of progress, so that "the world is now faced with a self-evolving system, which it cannot stop." Private conscience or individually great persons are insufficient to counteract the social injustices intensified by the technological and bureaucratic power of modernity (SMW 255, CPST 234-59).

Liberation theologies concentrate on precisely this central problem insofar as they focus, in solidarity, on those communities concretely striving to transcend classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. This concentration acknowledges the futility of either theoria or technique to transcend adequately these social injustices. Simultaneously, however, this contemporary stance is not a neoconservative antimodernity. If liberation theologians, in solidarity with the victims of modernity, have no illusions about modernity’s quest for "pure reason," we are just as disillusioned about the quest for "pure religion" in classical sacralisms. Against sacralism, liberation theologians point to the many ideological distortions of Christian faith to legitimate dominative power-complexes and value-conflicts in which that faith is used to victimize the poor, women, non-European races, the environment, and the defenseless. Against secularism, the same theologians point to the many ideological distortions of science and technology in which scientific reason is used to dominate and victimize the same groups of persons and nature. Modernity, with its enthronement of "progress through technology" is, however, the concrete economic, social, political, cultural, and ecclesial orders against which liberation theologies direct their intellectual and religious dialectics. Nor are they alone.

Intellectually, there are growing numbers of scientists, technicians, philosophers, and scholars who practice an "advocacy science and scholarship" which challenges head-on conceptions of science, technology, and scholarship as value neutral activities of pure and disinterested elites. But the challenge is not an abstract conceptual claim, as though it held that "the essences" of science, technology and scholarship are classist, sexist, racist, technocentric, and militaristic. Such abstract conceptualism misunderstands such intellectual advocacy in terms of classical theoria, as if we were claiming that we had certain knowledge of necessary causal relations between science-technology-scholarship and these social injustices. Nor do such claims seek an a priori and abstract conjunction between "liberation" and "theology," as if all "liberation" is "of its very essence" theological, or all "theology" is "of its very essence" liberative. This would be a similar misconstrual of liberation theology in terms of theoria (FF). Similarly, the advocacy of solidarity with the poor, women, nonwhite races, environments, and the defenseless is not an exclusionary technique or strategy whereby these masses are armed with a secret knowledge only they enjoy, and by which they can act to overthrow their oppressors. Such a view misconstrues advocacy scholarship in terms of modern technique, as though we claimed an exclusive knowledge verified in mechanistic causal relations between the victims of history and the "making" of history; as if history could be "made" or "produced" like an object (HMT 341-56, 422-56).

The advocacy scholarship of liberation theologies corresponds and contributes to the hermeneutical and dialectical shifts toward praxis now Occurring in what are called post-empiricist philosophies of science (BOR, TKH). Elsewhere I have attempted to spell out in greater detail these developments in contemporary philosophical reflections on the praxis of reason in sciences and scholarly disciplines, indicating how they support the intellectual performance of liberation theologians (TW 103-47). Briefly, contemporary post-empiricist philosophies of science call attention to the fundamental importance, neither of theoria nor of technique, but of the concrete praxis of performance of reason constituted by the raising of ever further relevant questions within communities of inquiry (SAFT).

This directs attention to the concrete subjects doing science or scholarship, as well as the life-worlds of everyday living and the social institutions within which those subjects do science and scholarship. Hermeneutics, with its emphasis upon tradition and narrative, is central to the philosophy of science now cognizant of the false dichotomies between objectivity and subjectivity, science and ideology, engendered by the modern Enlightenment. Just as sciences, technologies and scholarly disciplines arise out of and return to the life-worlds of everyday living and dying, so the logical and theoretical methods of argumentative discourse arise out of and return to participatory "fusions of horizon" in the "mutual agreements" of historical narrative praxis (BOR 144ff, TW 113ff). Yet the hermeneutical dimensions of rationality are insufficient to raise all the relevant questions posed within them. There is a series of sublations operative between empirical science, hermeneutics, and dialectics. Just as it is important, in order to do justice to the praxis of reason operative in the empirical sciences, to complement their observational and explanatory heuristics with hermeneutical and historical analyses, so it is important, in order to do justice to the praxis of reason operative in hermeneutics and historical reconstructions, to complement their interpretive and reconstructive heuristics with dialectics (BOR 150ff, TW 117ff.).

A dialectics without hermeneutics can be, and has been, ideologically distorted into a universalizing or totalizing of particular discoveries as though they were the answer to all further relevant questions (HU 384-97, MFL). But a hermeneutics without dialectics cannot engage in the heuristic and critical questioning of latent value-conflicts and power-complexes whereby the very raising of further relevant questions itself is socially repressed or oppressed. As the work of Paulo Freire abundantly documents, it is precisely such further relevant questions which the oppressed victims of injustice are kept from raising (P0, PP). Social justice as egalitarian relations towards others is intrinsic to the realization of reason’s truth and freedom in history. Science, technology, and scholarship are ideologically and systematically distorted to the degree that the subjects doing or practicing them, and the institutions in which the practice occurs, repress or oppose this intrinsic orientation to social justice (CPST, TKH, CIR).

Contemporary social science is also calling into question the long-standing modern dichotomies between Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft (Tönnies), along with Max Weber’s highly influential subsequent dichotomies between Zweck- and Wertrationalität, bureaucracy and charisma, which had an impact on the derivative Troeltschian distinctions between church and sect (TKH, CPST). These dichotomies tended to institutionalize or bureaucratize domination, which, as mentioned, is the common core of the social injustices of classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. Weber’s distinctions between three "pure types" of authority (rational-bureaucratic, traditional, and charismatic) are termed by Weber forms of "legitimate domination" (Herrschaft). These "pure types" give the primacy to extrinsic bureaucratic control techniques as eminently "rational" (ES 212ff.). Yet, as Giddens remarks, they have intensified, in the social sciences, the subject/object dualisms which have dogged most areas of social analysis (CPST 96-130). For all forms of social production and reproduction are constituted by the dialectics of structuration and agency whereby the active praxis or doings of subjects distance and deligitimate dominative power (CPST 131-64). Such an analysis indicates the foundational importance of liberative communities empowering subjects in their praxis of transcending social injustice. Contradictions are embedded in dominative power structures whereby it is impossible to negate fully human subjects as knowers and active agents (CPST 76-95). No matter how alienating past and present social structures were or are, countervailing transformative trends can be nurtured and, in the case of past histories, discerned.

In dialectically articulating our solidarity with the victims of injustice, liberation theologians provide the theological dimensions of a much larger contemporary n7lOvement among scientists, technologists and scholars. This movement is assembling the elements for a radical paradigm shift in science, technology, and scholarship. This paradigm shift is transforming or "converting" these activities away from modern ideological distortions which dichotomized objectivity and subjectivity, facts and values, science and morality, industry and environment, system and life-world, bureaucracy and autonomy, analysis and narrative, technology and art, truth and freedom (TW, LL, SAFT, SL).

The liberative praxis of reason stresses imaginative insight and understanding as generative of concepts of ideas, the intrinsic relational conditions constitutive of true knowledge, as well as the ongoing dynamism of raising ever further relevant questions and the need to take responsibility in freedom for the values of reason. The values of reason are not cut off from the values of life, and values are mediated imaginatively and emotively, as well as conceptually. This intellectual praxis is very different from the conceptualism which, as Habermas and others indicate, derailed both classical science as theoria and modern science as technique. For these expressions of the scientific and rational ideals do not attend to the actual performance of imaginatively understanding; instead concepts are "mysteriously" produced and understanding and/or explanation consist in intuiting the necessary and certain relations or nexi between them (classical expressions of theoria), or concepts are mechanically produced in the brain and understanding is intuiting the verifiable or falsifiable relations between them (modern expressions of technique) (KHI 301-17, SC 69-86). I believe that similar insights are conveyed by Whitehead when he argues against understanding the relationship between subject and object as only that between knower and known in a Cartesian conceptualism (Al 117ff.). A key issue in comparing process theology and liberation theology would be the fundamental import of contextualization in liberation theology. If understanding precedes and grounds conceptual expressions, then the primary concern must be to attend intelligently and responsibly to the concrete contexts in which conceptual expressions are elaborated. John Cobb’s Process Theology as Political Theology and Delwin Brown’s To Set at Liberty indicate the fruitfulness of this contextualization in the emerging dialogue between process and political or liberation theologies. I believe such a contextual attentiveness is also needed in dealing with past theological expressions, e.g., those of classical theism.

Genuine knowledge is not power to dominate, manipulate, or control what is known, making the latter fit into necessary and/or mechanistic concepts. Rather, genuine knowledge is a performative questioning of the multiple environments and ecologies of data, empowering the knower to participate creatively and responsibly in life. As Whitehead and Lonergan, among others, emphasize, our creative conscious participation in reality and life generates the concerns and emphases of our questioning.[6] The heuristics of such a participatory and empowerment notion of understanding and scientific performance correlate with an understanding of reality as an ecologically inclusive wholeness, the emergent probability of which is oriented towards ever greater freedom and justice (LL 79-109, I 115-39).

Knowledge as empowerment towards participation in the emergent probability of ecologically inclusive wholeness indicates both the importance of communal solidarity in life-worlds and the intrinsic relationship between genuine intelligence and social justice. Classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism are not only moral outrages, they are stultifying and irrational alienations from the creative praxis of reason. They are social surds having no intrinsic intelligibility and so can be adequately understood only in the dialectical efforts to transcend their destructive necromorphic alienation (I 229-32, 628-29, 689-90). This understanding of injustice as social surd is crucial for breaking through the classical and modern deformation of reason and of faith. The only intelligibility within the injustices of classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, militarism is the intelligibility of concretely striving to transcend dialectically their irrationality.

Charges of "reverse" classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism or militarism are typically modern, conceptualist distortions of the intellectual praxis of liberation. Each concept has a possible and necessary opposite, and the liberal, open-minded approach is to leave it up to the "free market" of history to see which prevails. Alasdair MacIntyre has exposed the profound failures of this modern, value-neutral conceptualism; and Gustavo Gutierrez has uncovered how such conceptualism cloaks the massive exploitation occurring on the "underside" of modern, liberal history (AV 49-102, 238-45, PPH 169-234). What such charges of "reverse bias" fail to understand is how these communal movements are seeking to transcend classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, militarism; how their liberation intrinsically involves the liberation of the oppressor groups; how freedom is not value-neutral but profoundly oriented to the values of responsibility for egalitarian relationships with others; and how human history can only be understood adequately in the contexts of such immanent struggles for transcending the moral evils which twist and torment it into histories of domination and oppression. These histories of domination and oppression cannot be determined in apriori, necessary, or mechanical manners, but only through the attentive and intelligent aposteriori praxis of reason committed to the values of justice, truth, and freedom. Theoria and technique seek to avoid the commitments of this praxis of reason. Whenever conscience is repressed from consciousness, consciousness itself constricts or atrophies. Between domination and liberation "tertium vel via media non dantur."

Liberation Theology Beyond Sacralism and Secularism

Modern agnostic and/or atheistic secularism was not the consistent consequence of a syllogism. Freud and Marx were no logicians or metaphysicians wrestling with third degree abstractions about God. They were dealing with personal pathologies and social alienations which were not infrequently related to sacralist deformation of religion, and specifically of Christianity. For them, and for modern secularism generally, the conjunction of "liberation" and "theology" would be a contradiction in terms. Sacralism, we saw, is the religious legitimation of domination; and domination is the common denominator in classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism. Modern secularism rejected this sacralism, and with it Christianity, often out of the best of intentions.

Yet, as we have seen, the performance of modernity hardly measured up to its promise. A conceptualist theoria was transmuted into an empiricist technique which put the products of its knowledge as power at the service of new masters. Only some human beings of particular classes, races, and sex have been systemically permitted to grow and be themselves. Moreover, this growth has often entailed vast industrialization and capitalist accumulation which have trapped millions of human beings in grinding cycles of poverty and exploitable cheap labor, as well as ravishing and poisoning environment after environment. The concrete social contradictions are so intense that a massive militarism is relied upon to "stabilize and pacify" spheres of domination. The liberal secularism (freedom of religion) and the Marxist secularism (freedom from religion) are techniques which overlooked the need for a dialectics which would uncover the concrete forms of domination distorting both sacralism and secularism.

The theological critiques of sacralism and secularism by liberationists are dialectical. In solidarity with the dead as well as the living victims of domination, they acknowledge how any symbol-system, idea-system, or social-system becomes ideological to the degree that those systems legitimate domination (CPST 165ff., 184-93, TWI). Neither faith systems nor science systems provide any guarantee against ideology. But, by the same token, neither faith nor science are "necessarily" ideologies of domination. The dialectical tasks of liberation theologies, therefore, make imperative critical collaboration among the various liberation theologies dealing with the diverse forms of domination in classism, sexism, racism, technocentrism, and militarism (CLT).

Imperative as well is collaboration with other religious traditions and all movements of solidarity with the victims of domination. Such an "ecumenism from below" does not mean that any of these liberationist orientations must give up their own particular concerns and values for the sake of a common lowest denominator. For the intrinsic relations between reason and justice, the praxis of reason with its priority of contextual understanding over conceptual expression, means that the universality of solidarity, or inclusive wholeness, is a universality that is mediated through the particularity of local and communal struggles to transcend injustice. It dialectically rejects the classical and modern "imperial" efforts to first elaborate a conceptualist "universality" and then impose it from the top down" on all local and communal particularities. Basic Christian communities are misunderstood if they are taken as "techniques of organizing pressure groups" to make or produce social changes "external" to the communities. These communities can only adequately be understood as a "praxis" rather than a "technique." Their good is internal to their own communal efforts at transcending social injustices (AV 171ff., CBCC, EC).

Such liberationist collaboration is already beginning to emerge among the various types of liberation theologies. Third World liberation theologies have continually striven to promote such a dialectical collaboration among the diverse regional perspectives among South American, African, and Asian contexts. There has also been an ongoing collaboration between First and Third World theologians. There could be a long recitation of how liberation and political theologians have, in their own intellectual praxis, sought to promote a dialectical collaboration among past and present scientists, scholars, philosophers, and theologians working within First, Second, and Third world contexts (FSUW). It is crucial to interrelate the manifold contexts in which people are striving to transcend concretely the injustices of classism, racism, sexism, technocentrism, and militarism.

We can scarcely overestimate the work that remains to be done. For nothing less is at stake than collaborating on the radical transformation of civilizations and history. As Cornel West points out, liberation theologies in Christianity seek "a promotion and practice of the moral core of the [dialectical] perspective against overwhelming odds for success’ (PD 137). Solidarity with the victims of history trans-values, indeed, the very notion of success. Domination has always been a short-cut to very Pyrrhic victories. If the nuclear arms race is not proof enough of that, I do not know what possibly could be! For the first time on the stage of world history, we humans can envisage the possibility -- some would say, the probability -- of a self-inflicted, abrupt, and apocalyptic nuclear end of the drama as we have lived it till now. The drama must change profoundly if it is even to continue.

For until now it has been rent by wars and conflicts in which some emerged as victors and most were destroyed or enslaved as victims. The human drama has been marked by pell-mell successions of roles, which could be designated as winners versus losers, victors versus victims, masters versus slaves, empires versus colonies, superpowers versus underdeveloped countries. The nuclear arms race discloses the lethal power of domination as death. This was known by the victims of domination, but their cries were scarcely heard over the drums of superpower rhetoric. If science and technology are ever to be liberated from tutelage to the dominative powers of history, if the drama is to be "interrupted" redemptively rather than destructively, then Christian theology, which has itself been enticed time and again to legitimate dominative power, can contribute to that future by mediating more dialectically to the present the subversive memories of God’s identification with the struggles of victims everywhere in the mystery and message of Christ Jesus.

In Process and Reality Whitehead wrote: "When the Western world accepted Christianity, Caesar conquered; and the received text of Western theology was edited by his lawyers. . . The brief Galilean vision of humility flickered throughout the ages, uncertainly. . . [T]he deep idolatry, of the fashioning of God in the image of the Egyptian, Persian, and Roman imperial rulers, was retained. The Church gave unto Cod the attributes which belonged exclusively to Caesar . . . . [I]n the Galilean origin of Christianity [is] yet another suggestion. . . It does not emphasize the ruling Caesar, or the ruthless moralist, or the unmoved mover. It dwells upon the tender elements in the world which slowly and in quietness operate by love; and it finds purpose in the present immediacy of a kingdom not of this world. Love neither rules, nor is it unmoved . . ." (PR 519f.). If sacralism, in this metaphor, is fashioning God in the image of an imperial ruler, secularism (recalling Weber’s appeals to the legal profession as paradigmatic for "legitimate domination") is turning the world over to the lawyers. The solidarity or inclusive wholeness of the Galilean discipleship of equals has only flickered through the ages uncertainly . . . and now we wonder if there will even be another age!



AB -- Margaret R. Miles. Augustine on the Body. Chico: Scholars Press, 1979.

AEE -- Rudolf Bahro. The Alternative in Eastern Europe. London: NLB Press, 1978.

AV -- Alasdair MacIntyre. After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981.

BFM -- Donald Senior and Carroll Stuhlmueller. The Biblical Foundations for Mission. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983.

BL -- Norman K. Gottwald, ed. The Bible and Liberation: Political and Social Hermeneutics. Maryknoll: Orbis Books 1983.

BOR -- Richard J. Bernstein. Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

CBCC -- Sergio Torres and John Eagleson, eds. The Challenge of Basic Christian Communities. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1981.

CE -- Timothy D. Barnes. Constantine and Eusebius. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1981.

CIR -- Marx Wartofsky. "The Critique of Impure Reason: Sin, Science, and Society." Science, Technology, and Human Values. Cambridge: The MIT Press, number 33, Fall, 1980, pp. 5-23.

CLT -- Brian Mahan and L. Dale Richesin, eds. The Challenge of Liberation Theology: A First World Response. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1981.

CMST -- Anthony Giddens. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1971.

CP -- Auguste Comte. Catéchisme positiviste. 1852. Paris: Société Positiviste Internationale edition, 1912.

CPP -- August Comte. Cours de philosophie positive. 1830-1842. Paris: Schleicher edition, 1908. 6 vols.

CPST -- Anthony Giddens. Central Problems in Social Theory: Action Structure and Contradiction in Social Analysis. Berkeley:

University of California Press, 1979.

CSAGW -- G. E. M. de Ste. Croix. The Class Struggle in the Ancient Greek World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.

CSCP -- Stanislaw Starski. Class Struggle in Classless Poland. Boston: South End Press, 1982.

CSP -- Derek Baker, ed. Church Society and Politics: Papers Read at the 13th and 14th Meetings of the Ecclesiastical History Society. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1975.

CTSA -- Matthew L. Lamb. "Power in Liberation Theology." Catholic Theological Society of America Proceedings 37 (1982), 134-36.

DE -- Theodor Adorno & Max Horkheimer. The Dialectic of Enlightenment. New York: Crossroad Publishers, 1972.

EC -- Johann B. Metz. The Emergent Church: The Future of Christianity in a Postbourgeois World. New York: Crossroad Publishers, 1981.

ERW -- Fergus Millar, The Emperor in the Roman World. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977.

ES -- Max Weber. Economy and Society. Berkeley: University of California Press edition, 1978. 2 vols.

ESF -- Peter Gay. The Enlightenment: The Science of Freedom. New York: Knopf, 1969.

EWL -- William A. Williams. Empire as a Way of Life. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

FF -- Schubert M. Ogden. Faith and Freedom: Toward a Theology of Liberation. Nashville: Abingdon, 1979.

FSUW -- Roger L. Shinn and Paul Abrecht, eds. Faith and Science in an Unjust World: Report of the World Council of Churches’ Conference on Faith, Science and the Future. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1980. 2 vols.

GGC -- Johann B. Metz. Glaube in Geschichte und Gesellschaft. Mainz: Grünewald, 1977.

HMT -- Matthew L. Lamb. History, Method and Theology. Chico: Scholars Press, 1978.

HU -- Stephen Toulmin. Human Understanding: The Collective Use and Evolution of Concepts. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

I -- Bernard Lonergan. Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. New York: Harper & Row, 1978. Eleventh Printing.

IMH -- Elizabeth Schüssler Fioreuza. In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins. New York: Crossroad Publishers, 1983.

KHI -- Jürgen Habermas. Knowledge and Human Interests. Boston: Beacon Press, 1971.

KP -- Richard Bendix. Kings or People: Power and the Mandate to Rule. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.

LL -- Charles Birch and John B. Cobb, Jr., The Liberation of Life: From the Cell to the Community. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981.

LT -- Rosemary Ruether. Liberation Theology. New York: Paulist Press, 1972.

LW -- Frederick Lawrence, ed. Lonergan Workshop. Chico: Scholars Press, 1978. Vol. 1.

M -- Mark Morelli, general editor. Method: Journal of Lonergan Studies. Loyola Marymount University. 1/1 (Spring, 1983).

MFL -- Enrique Dussel. Método para unafilosophia de la liberación. Salamanca: Sigueme, 1974.

MPP -- A. Schindler, ed. Monotheismus als politisches Problem? Gütersloh: C. Mohn, 1978.

OECT -- Charles Avila. Ownership: Early Christian Teaching. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983.

OMS -- Herbert Butterfield. The Origins of Modern Science. London: Bell & Sons, 1957.

OT -- Hanna Arendt. The Origins of Totalitarianism. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973. Reprint.

PCST -- Anthony Giddens. Profiles and Critiques in Social Theory. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982.

PD -- Cornel West. Prophesy Deliverance! An Afro-American Revolutionary Christianity. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.

PO -- Paulo Freire. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Herder & Herder, 1972.

PP -- Paulo Freire. Pedagogy in Process. New York: Seabury Press, 1978.

PPH -- Gustavo Gutierrez. The Power of the Poor in History. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1983.

PTPT -- John B. Cobb, Jr. Process Theology as Political Theology. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1982.

SAFT -- Helmut Peukert. Science, Action, and Fundamental Theology. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1984.

SAL -- Delwin Brown. To Set at Liberty: Christian Faith and Human Freedom. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1981.

SC -- Bernard Lonergan. A Second Collection. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1974.

SL -- Rita Arditti, Pat Brennan, Steven Cavrak, eds. Science and Liberation. Boston: South End Press, 1980.

SMWV -- John McMurtry. The Structure of Marx’s World-View. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978.

SV -- Matthew L. Lamb. Solidarity with Victims: Toward a Theology of Social Transformation. New York: Crossroad Publishers, 1982.

THN -- David Hume. A Treatise of Human Nature. Oxford: Clareton Press, 1973. Reprint of 1888 edition.

TKH -- Jürgen Habermas. Theorie des kommunikativen Handelns. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1981. 2 vols.

TW -- Hans Küng and David Tracy, eds. Theologie -- Wohin? Zurick: Benziger Verlag, 1984.

TWI -- Jürgen Habermas. Technik und Wissenschaft als ‘Ideologie’. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp Verlag, 1968.

WMSE -- Ruth L. Sivard. World Military and Social Expenditures 1983: An Annual Report on World Priorities. New York: World Policy Institute, 1983.

WPSP -- Joseph Priestly. Writings on Philosophy, Science, and Politics. New York: Collier Books, 1965. Passmore edition.


1  Summa Theologiae, Il-Il, 57, ic. "iustitiae proprium est inter alias virtutes ut ordinet hominem in his quae sunt ad alterum. Importat enim aequalitatem quandam, ut ipsum nomen demonstrat"; 58, Sc. "Et secundum hoc actus omnium virtutum possunt ad justitiam pertinere, secundum quod ordinat hominem ad bonum commune. There are many inadequacies in Aquinas’s analysis ofjustice, but his definition did emphsize egalitarian relations ("aequalitas") rather than mere equity ("aequitas"). Cf. Michael Walzer, Spheres of Justice (Boston: Basic Books, 1983); and Joseph O’Malley, "Karl Marx and the Thomistic Concept of Justice" as yet unpublished article.

2   Cf. E. Voegelin, "The Gospel and Culture" in D. Miller and D. Hadidan (eds.), Jesus and Man’s Hope (Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, 1971), pp. 59-101. Also Eugene Webb, Eric Voegelin: Philosopher of History (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981).

3   Cf. M. Heidegger, Unterwegs zur Sprache (Pfullingen: Verlag C. Neske, 1959), pp. 9ff.; A. Gouldner, Enter Plato: Classical Greece and the Origins of Social Theory (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965), pp. 326ff.; E. Dussel, MFL 17-31; Robert Goizueta, "Liberation and Method: Enrique Dussel’s Analectical Method," in R. Masson (ed.), Pedagogy of God’s Image (Chico: Scholars Press, 1982).

4   Cf. Bernard Lonergan, Verbum: Word and Idea in Aquinas (Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press, 1967), pp. 66-95, 201-20; also his Grace and Freedom (New York: Herder & Herder, 1971), pp. 93ff.; Elizabeth Dreyer, "Affectus" in the Theology of St. Bonaventure (Milwaukee: Ph.D. Dissertation at Marquette University, 1982, unpublished). Much work remains to be done showing how the Sophia-God of Jesus -- cf. E. Fiorenza, IMH l3Off. -- correlates with the "sapientia" so central to Bonaventure and Aquinas. There is a need for a more contextual retrieval of past theologies.

5   Cf. Aquinas Summa Theologiae, I, 8, 1; 25, 3 c. and ad 3. It seems to me that neoclassical criticisms of classical theism misunderstand the theology of Aquinas by reading him through a too conceptualist rendering of his writings common to much so-called "Thomism." Process theologians can scarcely be held accountable for this, since most so-called "Thomists have promoted such a conceptualism. The key to Aquinas, as Lonergan has shown, is a nondominative understanding of human understanding as preceding and grounding conceptualization. The analogy for Divine knowing and willing is a noncoercive "intelligere" and "velle," in which God’s eternal knowing and willing empowers human freedom. Cf. Lonergan, Grace and Freedom, pp. 93-116. Few contemporary theologians have yet understood how, for Aquinas, the simplicity of God’s eternity embraces as presence all the spatiotemporal events of past, present, and future in the transcendent, noncoercive presence of Infinite Consciousness. Hence, the temporal statement that God wills "this or that" requires for its truth that "this or that" actually occurs as the "ad extra" event in the created universe. The "relatin rationis" of God to all created events in the universe is another way of stating this noncoercive Divine Presence or Mystery grounding all cosmic and human actualities, beckoning human freedom towards noncoercive world and self understanding and acting. Cf. Lonergan, De Constitutione Christi Ontologica et Psychologica (Rome: Gregorian University Press, 1961), pp. 9-56. There is no "unilateral determination" on God’s part relative to human freedom, contrary to David Griffin’s God, Power, and Evil (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976), pp. 72-95. Hartshorne’s analysis of "Thomism" tends to read Aquinas through the logical conceptualism of Jacques Maritain. Process theology is, I believe, a coherent reaction to the mistaken identification of knowing and willing with "determination," "control," and "domination" in the "De Auxiliis" controversies from the 17th to the 20th century. But the argument should be contextualized in terms of the determinative and coercive distortions of classical theoria and modern technique by which knowing and acting were misunderstood as necessitating and dominating. Note also how within process theologies there are the debates about the relationship between God’s primordial and consequent nature. To what extent is the conception of a "dipolar God" an interim solution on the way towards a more adequate understanding of God’s creative act as noncoercive, empowering, praxis? For goodness is internal within praxis, not external as in the "making" of technique; cf., for the human analogue, AV 171ff.

6   There are many terminological, and some real, differences between Whitehead’s and Lonergan’s respective accounts of consciousness and knowledge. Note, however, Whitehead’s reliance on the Quaker notion of "concern," AI 178, as more fundamental than knowledge. The real differences might depend on the extent to which Whitehead, for all his criticisms, still depends upon Hume’s approach. To what extent is "knowledge" still left in a typically modern paradigm of technique and control, and emotive dimensions added to it as correctives?