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Though the rigid outline and impersonal style are not appealing, this liberal Catholic survey of the much-controverted issue of revelation combines a rare breadth of knowledge with fine critical discernment. Indeed, reading Dulles, a distinguished Jesuit prof. of theology at Catholic U., is like taking a meaty graduate course in contemporary Christian thought. His five models of revelation, which often straddle denominational boundaries, are: revelation as doctrine (God communicates with humanity through ""clear propositional statements"" found in the Bible and--for some believers--church tradition); as history (Goal reveals himself through his great deeds, as witnessed to by the Bible); as inner experience (God speaks through a ""privileged interior experience of grace or communion""); as dialectical presence (rejecting the first two types as too objective and the third as too subjective, Barth and others locate revelation in the encounter between man and a radically transcendent God, whose word is both darkness and light); as new awareness (the most recent school, maintaining that God may not be approached directly as an experiential object but is ""mysteriously present as the transcendent dimension of human engagement in creative tasks""). Dulles explains these models, explores their merits and flaws, and plays them off one another with considerable virtuosity. In the end he proposes an eclectic synthesis of all rive, labeling his position ""symbolic realism"" (i.e., a kind of sacramentalism that acknowledges the mythic element in Christianity without reducing it to just another cultural artifact). This allows him, for example, to give Christian faith pride of place while conceding the presence of valid revelation in non-Christian religions. A carefully reasoned case for a late-20th-century via media.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1983
ISBN: 0883448424
Publisher: Doubleday