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SOTERIOLOGY IN THE NUCLEAR AGE IT IS AN ESPECIAL PLEASURE to contribute to a collection of essays honoring Yves Congar. In the course of a long and varied, consistently courageous and immensely fruitful theological career, Pere Congar has certainly done more than any other writer to raise the consciousness of the laity concerning their calling to an active role in the Church. He has done this not only in the work entitled The Laity in the Church but throughout his writings, concerned with the authentic appropriation of tradition, with a deeper understanding of Church,. with a critical assessment of theology and its methods throughout history, a real love of the liturgy, with the bitter issues of poverty and power in the Church, with ecumenism and with the issues of the redemption in the world at large. In all of this, the awakening sense of responsibility of lay Christians has led inexorably to larger questions than have traditionally been discussed under the rubric of dogmatic (or even, latterly, systematic) theology. An awakening sense of vocation among the laity has of course raised many and sometimes painful questions within the Church, but what seems to be even more significant is the degree to which it has turned the eyes of Christians outwards to the world at large. We have begun to ask questions about salvation in terms of liberationrescue and freedom from all that is experienced as divisive, frightening, dehumanizing, cruel, unjust, oppressive, destructive of hope and destructive of the future. We have begun to ask questions that look for the links between redemption and creation, between revelation and the discernment of sin, between the tasks of the Church and the possibilities of the world. The inspiration of Pere Congar's impressive and lonely early work in ecumenism has swept us on into ever wider fields 634 SOTERIOLOGY IN 'fHE NUCLEAR AGE 635 of ecumenism beyond the boundaries of the Christian Churches into a quest for conversation with other faiths and even with Marxist humanists. The focus of all of this has really come to the question of our understanding both of the goal and of the process of redemption /salvation.1 There is a strong logic in the development; once we begin to think of Church in less ritual, institutional terms and in more existential, all-embracing community terms, questions that were not being asked much before, now begin to be not only important but urgent. While ritual assures me of grace, and grace which is outside my experience assures me of salvation which is beyond death and outside history and therefore also outside experience, there is more reason to ask how one may be sure the ritual is really working to produce grace than to ask what we can know about the nature of grace and salvation themselves in our lives and societies. As soon as we look into history to try to understand how the Church came to have its present structures and assumptions, and as soon as we try to move into an authentic dialogue with outsiders, ritual and institutional structures move from the center of the stage and become relative to the enterprise. At this stage the questions about the essential nature of the enterprise become extremely urgent. This seems to be what has in fact happened. Since those post-World War II days in which Pere Cougar became so involved in the role of the laity in Church and redemption, the development of technology has ruthlessly challenged our assumptions about human life and history in the northern hemisphere, and the increasing concentration and polarization of political and economic power in the world has challenged the understanding of the mystery of redemption in the southern hemisphere. Psychology and the human sciences have combined with the philosophies of existentialism and of phenomenology to make all of us ask some hard questions and come to 1 This is evident in all the socio-critical theologies, but most noticeably so in those that identify themselves as liberation theologies. 636 MONIKA K. HELLWIG the realization that our more convention,


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