What is “theological method”? Can there be more than one method? If so, how do you choose between them? How does method relate to experience?
Would experience affect your choice of method and method affect experience?
Abdul-Masih offers a three-part proposition. The first is that theological method is influenced by theological reasoning. That is, beliefs about the doctrines of revelation and God’s activity will shape one’s attitude toward experience. Your convictions provide a broad definition of “experience,” and determine how it is to be used.
Her second proposition is that one’s attitude toward experience and its use will, in turn, shape subsequent theology. In other words, the relationship between theological method and subsequent theological discourse is circular—or, more accurately, a spiral.
Her third proposition is that “experience” is itself contextual, and therefore there is no right or wrong choice but rather a plurality of methods.
To expand upon and illustrate her claim, Abdul-Masih analyzes, throughout her book, the methods of Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei, who represent the tension in contemporary theology surrounding the issue of experience.
Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Frei: A Conversation on Method and Christology is a book that will challenge and enlighten those who wish to expand their understanding of theological methodology.
About the author
Marguerite Abdul-Masih is a theologian who teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
''Apart from offering a thorough comparison of the role of experience in the work of Hans Frei and Edward Schillebeeckx, this work is also an exemplary exercise in the necessity of deeply exploring the presuppositions of any given theological method.''
Toronto Journal of Theology, Vol XXII, no 1, 2006