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Language of Dissent

The Language of Dissent

Edward Schillebeeckx on the Crisis of Authority in the Catholic Church

Daniel Speed Thompson
Foreword by Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P.

Written in the context of a decades-long struggle between progressive theologians and the magisterium–a struggle symptomatic of the current and wider crisis in the Roman Catholic Church–The Language of Dissent uses the theology of Edward Schillebeeckx as it has evolved and developed to analyze fundamental questions of authority and dissent in the church. Daniel Speed Thompson’s approach to the issue of authority is unique in that he reflects not only on the character of the church but also on the very nature of salvation, revelation, and theological language.

After briefly describing the current crisis of authority in the Catholic Church, Thompson describes the conceptual framework that shapes Schillebeeckx’s understanding of knowledge, language, action, and authority. In particular, Thompson demonstrates the complex interrelationship between experience, praxis, and language in Schillebeeckx’s three models of epistemology.

With these foundations in place, Thompson offers a synthesis of Schillebeeckx’s writings on ecclesiology and the apostolicity of the church. Thompson argues that Schillebeeckx’s writings in these areas, as well as in epistemology and fundamental theology, not only allow for theological dissent, but actually demand their existence within a healthy church. Thompson concludes by suggesting that the consistent application of Schillebeeckx’s principles argue for a democratization of the Roman Catholic Church. Incorporating previously untranslated and new material, as well as a preface, by Schillebeeckx, The Language of Dissent makes a substantial contribution to contemporary Catholic theology.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03358-3
256 pages
Publication Year: 2003

Daniel Speed Thompson is assistant professor of theology and associate department chair at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus.

“Schillebeeckx has been constantly under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and yet never condemned. This excellent book helps one to understand why.” — Times Literary Supplement

“. . . a book with passion, coherence, and eloquence.” — CatholicBooksReview.org

“An eminently accessible exposition of the principles behind Schillebeeckx’s affirmation that a healthy church requires dissent.” — Conscience

“Thompson wrote this excellent book before the current sexual abuse crisis, but it offers ideas that can serve as resources in the present situation. Thompson presents Dutch theologian Edward Schillenbeeckx’s theology of the church, which well deserves this systematic and balanced treatment. . . . [Thompson] attends carefully to the historical development of Schillebeeckx’s thought and appreciates the significance of the studies of epistemology and hermeneutics that undergird much of his thinking about experience. Highly recommended.” — Choice

“. . . superb. . . .” — Catholic Library World

“. . . valuable. . . . Recommended for undergraduate, graduate, and divinity school libraries.” — Religious Studies Review

“. . . a scholarly presentation of Edward Schillebeeckx’s epistemology, his theology of revelation, and his view of the church’s apostolicity. The Language of Dissent ranks among the best expositions of Schillebeeck, who graciously provides a foreword. Thompson’s study is thorough, focused, and balanced. Readers looking for a lucid and succinct explanation of the Dominican’s theological method and ecclesiology will not be disappointed.” — Mission Studies

“Thompson’s careful investigation of Schillebeeckx’s ecclesiology provides a basis for a new vision of being Church while providing a systematic framework for addressing the increasingly polarized debates about church governance and the proper roles of ordained and lay members. It is a welcome voice in the midst of the many 40th-anniversary reevaluations of Vatican II and the repercussions from the sexual abuse scandal. Respectful yet passionate, T.’s work offers a rich framework for future productive explorations of dissent.” — Theological Studies

“With questions about dissent in the Catholic Church surfacing from parishioners, media personnel, and theologians alike, Daniel Speed Thompson performs a great service to each of these constituencies by his thorough exploration of the language of dissent, in the vast theological corpus of Edward Schillebeeckx…. …a comprehensive study…. …Thompson sheds a penetrating light on the present day crisis in the Catholic Church. The Language of Dissent by Daniel Speed Thompson is a scholarly, accessible synthesis of Schillebeeckx’s cumulative work on a critical topic. The book orients theologians, concerned Catholic faithful, and bishops alike to the creative and challenging responsibility each shares in their differnetiated but inseparable roles as partners, cooperating with the Spirit in the constant interplay of all the elements of the church’s life.” — The Jurist

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The Language of Dissent

Edward Schillebeeckx on the Crisis of Authority in the Catholic Church

Daniel Speed Thompson
Foreword by Edward Schillebeeckx, O.P.

The Language of Dissent: Edward Schillebeeckx on the Crisis of Authority in the Catholic Church
Cloth Edition
Paper Edition

Written in the context of a decades-long struggle between progressive theologians and the magisterium–a struggle symptomatic of the current and wider crisis in the Roman Catholic Church–The Language of Dissent uses the theology of Edward Schillebeeckx as it has evolved and developed to analyze fundamental questions of authority and dissent in the church. Daniel Speed Thompson’s approach to the issue of authority is unique in that he reflects not only on the character of the church but also on the very nature of salvation, revelation, and theological language.

After briefly describing the current crisis of authority in the Catholic Church, Thompson describes the conceptual framework that shapes Schillebeeckx’s understanding of knowledge, language, action, and authority. In particular, Thompson demonstrates the complex interrelationship between experience, praxis, and language in Schillebeeckx’s three models of epistemology.

With these foundations in place, Thompson offers a synthesis of Schillebeeckx’s writings on ecclesiology and the apostolicity of the church. Thompson argues that Schillebeeckx’s writings in these areas, as well as in epistemology and fundamental theology, not only allow for theological dissent, but actually demand their existence within a healthy church. Thompson concludes by suggesting that the consistent application of Schillebeeckx’s principles argue for a democratization of the Roman Catholic Church. Incorporating previously untranslated and new material, as well as a preface, by Schillebeeckx, The Language of Dissent makes a substantial contribution to contemporary Catholic theology.

ISBN: 978-0-268-03358-3

256 pages

“Schillebeeckx has been constantly under investigation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and yet never condemned. This excellent book helps one to understand why.” — Times Literary Supplement

“. . . a book with passion, coherence, and eloquence.” — CatholicBooksReview.org

“An eminently accessible exposition of the principles behind Schillebeeckx’s affirmation that a healthy church requires dissent.” — Conscience

“Thompson wrote this excellent book before the current sexual abuse crisis, but it offers ideas that can serve as resources in the present situation. Thompson presents Dutch theologian Edward Schillenbeeckx’s theology of the church, which well deserves this systematic and balanced treatment. . . . [Thompson] attends carefully to the historical development of Schillebeeckx’s thought and appreciates the significance of the studies of epistemology and hermeneutics that undergird much of his thinking about experience. Highly recommended.” — Choice

“. . . superb. . . .” — Catholic Library World

“. . . valuable. . . . Recommended for undergraduate, graduate, and divinity school libraries.” — Religious Studies Review

“. . . a scholarly presentation of Edward Schillebeeckx’s epistemology, his theology of revelation, and his view of the church’s apostolicity. The Language of Dissent ranks among the best expositions of Schillebeeck, who graciously provides a foreword. Thompson’s study is thorough, focused, and balanced. Readers looking for a lucid and succinct explanation of the Dominican’s theological method and ecclesiology will not be disappointed.” — Mission Studies

“Thompson’s careful investigation of Schillebeeckx’s ecclesiology provides a basis for a new vision of being Church while providing a systematic framework for addressing the increasingly polarized debates about church governance and the proper roles of ordained and lay members. It is a welcome voice in the midst of the many 40th-anniversary reevaluations of Vatican II and the repercussions from the sexual abuse scandal. Respectful yet passionate, T.’s work offers a rich framework for future productive explorations of dissent.” — Theological Studies

“With questions about dissent in the Catholic Church surfacing from parishioners, media personnel, and theologians alike, Daniel Speed Thompson performs a great service to each of these constituencies by his thorough exploration of the language of dissent, in the vast theological corpus of Edward Schillebeeckx…. …a comprehensive study…. …Thompson sheds a penetrating light on the present day crisis in the Catholic Church. The Language of Dissent by Daniel Speed Thompson is a scholarly, accessible synthesis of Schillebeeckx’s cumulative work on a critical topic. The book orients theologians, concerned Catholic faithful, and bishops alike to the creative and challenging responsibility each shares in their differnetiated but inseparable roles as partners, cooperating with the Spirit in the constant interplay of all the elements of the church’s life.” — The Jurist