24 December 2005

milbank on development of doctrine

While John Milbank's recent paper on sophiology (Word doc) didn't leave an entirely favorable impression, he did make a number of insightful points along the way. I thought the following quotation was thought-provoking:
...orthodoxy is an always unfinished task. This is not only because new heresies may negatively pose to the Church new questions, but also because existing doctrinal formulations may enshrine unresolved problematics, as much as they successfully resolve old ones. It is also because, as Henri de Lubac says in his essay on the development of doctrine, the narratives and symbols of the Bible and Liturgy always contain a surplus of mysterious meaning that is infinitely in excess of our achieved speculative comprehension. There always remains pre-discursive material, or even blocks of such material, not yet done justice to. And any reflection on this material will involve a renewed engagement with philosophical resources that is able not just to borrow from these resources, but also to modify them in light of the data of faith.
I thought this quotation, though brief, brought together nicely the notions of developing doctrine in response to new errors, new insights, and new philosophical resources. Much to ponder there.