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Fr. Chenu: Revelation occurs through the course of History


In a homily delivered during a Congress of Concilium magazine, Fr. Marie-Dominique Chenu criticizes the fixed and immutable nature of the truths of the Faith. He adopts various modernist-progressivist premises such as God's revelation takes place in the course of History.

At right, the cover of L'Avvenire della Chiesa (The Future of the Church), a collection that includes the homily of Fr. Chenu. Below, we present our translation from Italian of the text highlighted in yellow.


"Evangelical truth will be, therefore, different from metaphysical truth ... The very word 'truth' that the exegetes have masterfully analyzed in biblical language, is steeped in an original density: truth and fidelity, justice, certainty, peace, rectitude. 'Practice the truth,' commands St. John (Jn 3:21. 1 Jn 1:6). This expression is unintelligible to a certain intellectualism.

"It [the truth] does not derive, therefore, from propositions fixed outside of time, which we manipulate with a formal logic in a kind of sacred metaphysics under the tutelage of an authority. Rather, it proceeds from a history that God guides in the events of salvation where he reveals himself.

"Revelation is the act by which God revealed himself through the course of history, and through which he continues to reveal himself more and more with the passing of centuries until the total realization is achieved in Christ in the plenitude of time. God speaks today in the Christian community on the basis of this 'Christological concentration' that the spirit ... distributes and reveals by multiple signs, which announce future things, that is, the new order of things born from Christ's death and resurrection.

"Time enters the fabric of revelation. The theology that derives from this thus exists in a tension between two poles - the external truth of its object and the contingent situation in time. It must fulfill two fundamental conditions: to provide a [new] expression to the truth of the Christian message and to adapt this expression to all situations.

"'Situation' includes the totality of the creative consciousness that man has of himself at a given moment, the synthesis of scientific, artistic, economic, political, social or moral forms in which the conscience of the generation finds the satification of its hope - with its own expression.

"From this standpoint, in the new civilization 'secularization' as an awareness of the promotion and autonomy of man ... offers the theologian a propitious occasion for his comprehension. In final analysis, the language itself ... must be a product of the community in a state of effervescence and expression of the Spirit. By its nature, then, theology is in a continuous state of inquiry."
("Omelia tenuta nel corso della celebrazione eucaristica," in L'avvenire della chiesa, Brussels: Editrice Queriniana, 1970, pp. 62-63)

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