102 Chapter 8
PLENTY TO DO
itself founded on
a doctrine which of necessity can't "develop," because
otherwise its own truth wouldn't be certain?
Of course, the doctrine of the "development of doctrine" only
becomes a theological 'problem' if 'truth' can only really live in a time-
here Doctrine is, in the time-less place where it is
safe, because it never changes.
but here is Doctrine also, over here, in
As has been illustrated in this book, it is very difficult to get the
genie back in the bottle, once the flight to the time-less has been made.
Within Catholic theology that founds itself intellectually on some
dehistoricized cosmology, elaborate 'explanations' of the "development
of doctrine" become inevitable, which are all rendered moot by
pointing out this simple fact: the Risen Lord himself bears the marks of
If the Risen Lord doesn't exist, of course, then doctrine --
'developing' or not -- doesn't exist either. So, within the vocabulary
provided by Covenantal Theology, the "development of doctrine" is a
statement that the Risen Lord's immanence in history, his union with
his Bride, the Church, is a free Event, not a time-less structure. Thus, it
is possible to restate the "development of doctrine" in far more
inclusive and radical terms:
The Eucharistic Event, the New Covenant, gives the
sacramental 'order' within which Catholic Doctrine does
whatever it wants to.
The New Covenant is immanent in history as a free Event, which
as free is not bound, conditioned, or necessitated in any way. The New
Covenant does not depend on some time-less explanation of the
cosmos prior to itself. It is up to us to get our theories to correspond to
the free reality given in and through the Christ -- not the other way
around. Any other course makes the Risen Lord himself subject to our
fine little theories. Catholic theology does not have the option of
making the New Covenant subject in any way, even to some purported
'logical' necessity. As Fr. Keefe says, the object of Catholic theology is
the New Covenant, a free Event -- and he does mean, "free."
1. Within the Eucharist order of history, an act is
both free, and irrevocable -- like a marriage vow.
Only within dehistoricized cosmology does being
genuinely free mean being irresponsible. Once the
Lord has taken an historical act, he absolutely
takes it seriously. He absolutely takes
responsibility for it. Yet his historical acts are
free, not bound or even conditioned by any
necessity. No 'theory' or 'account' gives their
meaning or establishes their coherence. The New
Covenant, founded in his historical One Sacrifice,
is both living, and irrevocable.
Alone among 'flesh,' the Church, "conceived
without sin" and 'One Flesh' with her Lord, is able
to take the 'time-fullness' of his historical acts
completely seriously, while, in and through her
free liturgical mediation of her faith, her history
may be created in and through his history. This is
the 'development of doctrine.'
N.B. This is an html-ized copy of a page from the pdf file, The Knucklehead's Guide to Covenantal Theology.