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THEOLOGY, PRAXIS, AND ETHICS IN THE THOUGHT OF JUAN LUIS SEGUNDO, S.J. JOEL ZIMBELMAN California State University, Chico Chico, California I. Introduction JESUS OF NAZARETH Yesterday and Today is Juan Luis Segundo's most recent contribution in an on-going effort to forge a distinctive post-conciliar catholic theology.1· This five-volume work establishes Segundo as one of the most prolific, methodologically sophisticated, and constructive Catholic theologians of this century. In these volumes he moves beyond the task of reframing fundamental theology in political and social terms that he began in earlier works and undertakes a full elaboration of the theological method that he introduced in The Liberation of Theology.2 Better than any previous work, the recent effort witnesses to the author's range of interests and strengths, 1 Originally published in the Spanish as El hombre de hoy ante Jesus de Nazaret (Madrid: Ediciones Christiandad, 1982): Vol. I. Fe e ideologia; Vol. II/1 and 2 Historia y actualidad: Sinopticos y Pablo; Vol. II/3 El Cristo de los ejercicios espirituales; Vol. II/4 Lineas actuates de interpretacion de Jesus de Nazaret. English translation Jesus of Nazareth Yesterday and Today, tr. John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books) : vol. 1 Faith and Ideologies (1984); vol. 2 The Historical Jesus of the Synoptics (1985); vol. 3 The Humanist Christology of Paul (1986) ; vol. 4 The Christ of the Ignatian Exercises (1987); vol. 5 An Evolutionary Approach to Jesus of Nazareth (1988). 2 The Liberation of Theology, tr. John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1976). For earlier efforts at political and social theology, see A Theology for Artisans of A New Humanity, tr. John Drury (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books): vol. 1 The Community Called Church (1973); vol. 2 Grace and the Human Condition (1973) ; vol. 3 Our Idea of God (1973) ; vol. 4 The Sacraments Today (1974); vol. 5 Evolution and Guilt (1974). 233 234 JOEL ZIMBELMAN including theology and philosophy, hermeneutics and critical social theory, linguistic theory, and biblical studies. Continuing analysis and assessment of liberation theory, and Segundo's recent effort in particular, is warranted for at least three reasons. First, Jesus of Nazareth and particularly its first volume, Faith and Ideologies, clarifies Segundo's constructive project. The volume reasserts much that is already familiar to Segundo's past readers : a deconstructive hermeneutic; the elaboration of the concepts of faith and ideology; and an interpretation of the relationship of faith to praxis, efficacy, and liberation. But it also breaks new and creative ground as it begins to construct the foundations of a moral epistemology and teleology, a more fully developed theory of value appropriation, and an anthropology grounded in transcendental-existentialist and process categories. One can only appreciate the scope and implications of Segundo's thought in a critical analysis of this recent work. Second, Segundo's ·effort calls for further discussion because of its inevitable influence on the development of other constructive and critical Christian theologies. The visions of " geotheology ,'' "world Catholicism," and a "liberating theology" advanced by Latin and North American Catholics are no longer the preoccupations of a peripheral minority but reflect the aspirations of conservative, moderate, and progressive voices in the Christian church. As part of this constructive task, a growing number of contemporary thinkers are addressing concerns or appropriating categories and constructs developed or elaborated by Segundo.8 His theological breadth and sophistication means 8 For discussions of this shift, see Alfred Hennelly, "Today's New Task: Geotheology,'' America 18 (January 1975): 27-29; and Penny Lernoux, People of God: The Struggle for World Catholicism (New York: Viking/ Penguin, 1989). Those either indebted to or engaged in substantial conversation with Segundo include Matthew Lamb, Solidarity With Victims: Toward a Theology of Social Transformation (New York: Crossroads, 1982) ; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, " Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation," Origins: N. C. Documentary Service 15 (17 April 1986): 713-27; Rebecca Chopp, The Praxis of Suffering: An Interpretation of Liberation and Political Theologies (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1986) ; Alfred Hennelly, Theology for a Liberating Church: The New Praxis of Freedom (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1989). TltOUGB:T OF JUAN LUlS SEGUNbO, S.J. 235 that...


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