The Postmodern “Christian” Theology of William Thompson-Uberuaga

HomeArticlesThe Postmodern “Christian” Theology of William Thompson-Uberuaga

History has an ineradicable place in Christian theology.[1] In the Judeo-Christian tradition, history is the “place” where God’s revelation and offer of salvation is made to human beings. History is the “place” where human beings are also free to choose to respond to this graceful gesture by an expression of faith, living a moral life and reliving and celebrating the event in ritual. These kairotic events create history by breaking the naturally interminable cyclical flow of chronological time or battling the eternal return of the same. These interruptions of the “novel” are special and need to be committed to memory. The event of the Incarnation and the Pascal Mystery deepens the requirement for anamnesis because God is believed to have actually entered and embraced history in Jesus Christ. The infinite God has deigned to be personally united to finite creation. Time really begins with the commencing of revelation. Human existence is calibrated to a remembered past, a celebrated and wait-filled present and a hoped for eschatological realization in the future. History, then, is a source for understanding how the divine presence is “mediated” through word and action.

This article will argue that the Roman Catholic theological project of the American-Basque, William Thompson-Uberuaga offers an excellent model for how one can meet these challenges and strike the necessary delicate balance between historiography and transcendence. His nearly forty-year career has been focused on Christology, pneumatology, the saints, spirituality and the philosophy of Eric Voegelin, but with a generous ecumenical and cross-cultural openness.[2] This rich constellation of sources and perspectives leads to a “spiritually-informed” method that situates the theological enterprise in a “participatory experience” of the foundational events of revelation as they are trustingly received in prayer, tradition, history, society and the world religions, with cognizance of the threats of disorder from evil, sin and ignorance.

The article has four sections: First, there is an overview of the “theology of the event” in John Caputo to situate the postmodern conversation about history; Second, Thompson-Uberuaga’s understanding of participation in the mysteries of the faith and the quarternarian structure of experience will be surveyed; Third, Thompson-Uberuaga’s understanding of the struggle for the theological order of history will be explored; Fourth, an analysis of Thompson-Uberguaga’s theological project will be carried out in terms of postmodern philosophy and theology. A argument will be made that Thompson-Uberuaga provides a credible case for how to think about God as truly engaging/interacting with history while eschewing the fashionable postmodern limiting of the divine to silence, trace and anonymous call.

Postmodern History: New Historicism and the Theology of the Event[3]

“New” historicism, a postmodern reading of history, is the playful debunking of the academic discourse of history by pronouncing it as an intellectually arbitrary act that is under-theorized. More theory means bringing to the surface the implicit philosophy of history at work in the writing of all historians.[4] Philosopher John Caputo adds his voice to this new type of revisionist understanding of history with his “theology of the event” and “weak God” that calls for justice but never intervenes in history.[5] His analysis begins with the proposal that the “name of God” harbors an event.[6] God is radically re-imagined in Caputo’s quasi-phenomenological reduction from the name of God to the call. The central event is the unconditional divine call or covenant, from below being to beyond being, for people to be their best and to love unconditionally.[7] This call is for the protection of the weak and vulnerable and it issues from a “weak God” who suffers with creation and who is the victim of the recalcitrant elements of matter. Caputo is cross-wiring themes from the Genesis, St. Paul, the Gospels and Jacques Derrida to reflect on God as an unconditional, but not sovereign power. The key to this reading across texts is the concept of “différance,” which subverts order and stable natures. The point is how all things eventually unravel and inevitably change. Deconstruction is the process whereby the event harbored by the name of God is released. Within the name is an un-deconstructable event that can be limitlessly translated as justice, the gift, forgiveness and hospitality.[8]

This is not the traditional God of Western metaphysics, nor the intervening God of the Exodus and Resurrection, but a God known through a “theo-poetics” of the event, that Caputo argues rings more true to the Bible and life experience than dogmatic theology.[9] Poetics is a non-literalizing description of the event that depicts its dynamics and style while avoiding closure, literalizing and ontologization. The name of God is unstable and exposes us to whatever is transpiring in the name.[10] This directly challenges what he calls the God of “strong theology” or confessional monotheistic faith. Strong theology speaks of God in the most mystically exalted terms as super-eminent and beyond being, as omnipotent being creating ex nihilo and providentially guiding history and cosmos, and ultimately as the ground of being that sustains the world in existence. In classical theology, God is a timeless being and immutable presence or the true, the good and beautiful. Following Greek philosophy, Western theology believes the divine is ultimately to be found in the highest and most beautiful realm of perfect being.[11]

However, for Caputo, God is not omniscient, omnipresent, eternal, super-sensuous or transcendent.[12] The God of magical resuscitations or supernatural interventions is jettisoned along with the metaphysics of onto-theology which categorizes God as pure-act.  Rather, God is seen as an anarchic/subversive event and ghost-like quasi-being or very holy spirit.[13] God is not a being or being- itself. God is a weak force that acts through luring, calling, attracting and drawing people to the good that is beyond being, below being or without being. According to Caputo, the event sheltered in the name of God does not belong to the order of power and presence. It withdraws from the world and is set in prophetic opposition to what the world mistakenly prizes: power, wealth, commerce, vengeance, and exclusivity.[14]  God interrupts, disrupts, confounds, contradicts, and confronts these hierarchical and alienating social values.

God is still influential, but the power is a powerlessness in which God is limited by love and is not preserved from suffering with the weak.[15] Caputo boldly asserts that “the very core of the mistake made by onto-theology derives from conceiving of God on the horizon of being, power, and causality.”[16] The transcendence of God is reconfigured to mean identifying with everything the world casts out. Christianity is particularly insightful for Caputo. The innocent death and humiliation of Christ is seen as the divine protest against unjust suffering and functions as a “dangerous memory.” The suffering of the Son of God along with innocent human suffering is the central symbol of Christianity.[17] Christ revealed that the divine response to evil is forgiveness. God’s transcendence is best conceived as an “insistence” in the world that protests and contradicts.[18] Caputo claims that it is never about magical divine power that settles accounts with evil doers through miracles, apocalyptic reckoning or eternal punishment. Nor is there any heavenly reward to morally balance history. He starkly states that the dead are irredeemably lost and the past is irremissibly over.[19]

Caputo also poetically re-interprets the Genesis accounts of creation. From a close reading of the first two chapters and with the help of the Jewish Talmud, he claims that there was “something already there” before God begins creating. There was a barren earth, a lifeless sea and a swirling wind. They are co-eternal with God. These primeval elements have barren being or brute existence, but they are mute and lifeless until God calls them to life. Creation is the movement from being to “beyond” being; it is not a movement from non-being to being. According to Caputo, God did not create these elements. Instead, God bestowed life on them through conferring meaning, signification, interpretation, valuation and differentiation[20]. The primeval elements are the “nobodies” in the creation story, and yet they are essential to life. This mutable stuff is unstable and in flux, which brings radical uncertainty, chance, and unforeseeability to creation. The khoral or différance is glimpsed in these narratives: an element of irreducible indeterminacy. But this potential for breakdown or riskiness also means the transformational potential for things to be recreated, reformed and reinvented. God is only a master artist or sculptor in this poetic reading.[21] Creation then is an event; life takes a form and is open to many subsequent and unforeseeable creative and destructive outcomes. Caputo explains that the elements place a limit on God’s power and call for God’s patience.[22] God can only do so much with matter.[23] It was the seriously misguided metaphysical zeal of the second century C.E. that over-extended the biblical concept of “God’s power” to include omnipotence and creation ex nihilo.[24] These fantasies logically end in a pantheism that erases any real difference from God and generates a type of sycophantic religion that praises a powerful and transcendent God.[25] Caputo prefers to ask whether something amorous must not have loved the world instead of whether an intelligent being designed it.[26] Therein power and being is replaced by goodness and life in this rendering of the event of creation.

This post-metaphysical presentation of divine activity is refashioned as the unconditional call of the event and the human response. This event is distinguished from a mere occurrence because of its polyvalent, complex and undecidable nature. The name of God itself is conditioned and finite according to definitional boundaries, whereas the event is unconditional, infinite and capable of endless productive assimilations.[27] Names reference, but they cannot contain the uncontainable event harbored within. Names do help to make things happen, but events are what “is” happening. An event is an irruption or interruption, an excess, which tears open the closed circles of economics and is also the experience of the “impossible” as a horizon of expectation is breached. Caputo says it is a wondrous surprise from some “unknown something.”[28] But events are soft and gentle can be easily overlooked, since they do not take on historical power or worldly prestige. The disturbing effect of the event challenges the status quo and makes being restless. The event is really more a matter of kairological time than chronological time. Events are not present realities, but what is coming in an unforeseeable future.[29] The weak theology of the event is neither a type of theological realism nor anti-realism, but rather of “hyper-realism,” which is an excess of the promise that calls us beyond ourselves to reach for the “not-yet-real.”[30] The New Testament captures this with Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom of God which reverses the order of things, so that the “last will be first, and the first will be last” in some future ideal time. The interruptive turmoil in being from the event is caused by the good and fosters patience, peace, forgiveness and love of enemies in an otherwise cruel world.[31]

According to Caputo, the truth of the event of the Kingdom of God is not to be judged according to the standards of historical accuracy.

The truth of the event is a deed, something to do, to translate into the flesh of existence. To be in the truth means to be transformed by a call, to have been turned around, to have been given a new heart. The truth of the kingdom, the truth of these biblical narratives, is a truth that we are called upon to make come true, to realize, facere veritatem, not the truth of a record or a journey kept, by eyewitnesses of magical events transpiring in the world, in being, in re. The narratives of the New Testament are more true, not less true, because their truth is beyond the truth of correspondence. Truth is not a correspondence with being but its parabolic intensification beyond being’s achievements.[32]

History is open-ended in terms of an unknown future and immemorial past.[33] There is no divine providential plan for history or nature because God doesn’t have complete control. Consequently, there is no point to theodicy. The empirical record of history shows that the cry of the victims is met more often than not with crushing defeat than with compassion or salvation. Caputo believes these concrete evil experiences argue against any belief in an omnipotent deity. The fact of conceptual unfalsifiability for divine intervention just exacerbates the situation (If relief comes, it is thanks to God. If no help comes, then God is testing).[34] Theological history has already wasted too much time on these metaphysical dead-ends. Instead, Caputo’s follows Walter Benjamin messianic view of history: the important and unavoidable claim made by the weak.[35] The task is to redeem the dead and change the past through remembering.[36] This theo-poetics affirms that space and time are God’s domain and radically permeable to grace.  Events have a unique discontinuity that cannot be planned. These divine disturbances are set off by what Caputo calls an “epi-ousiological intervention” of the good beyond/outside being upon the natural operation of the spatio-temporal being (ousiology).[37] This means that the New Testament is neither to be reduced to fantasy nor literalized. Instead, it is better to be seen as a meditation on the kergyma of the call and a savoring of hyper-real possibilities. The Kingdom is where God rules and nothing is impossible for God. We are within the Kingdom and Kingdom is within us. Yet, it plays out not on the plane of being and physical transformation, but on the existential plane and transformability of lives through conversion.[38]

William Thompson-Uberuaga and “Participation” in Reality

Thompson-Uberuaga adopts what could be called a “soft” version of postmodernism in his analysis of history and theological method. He accepts the acute sense of “historicity” at the core of postmodernism: cultural conditioning and multicultural challenges.[39] He also eschews with postmodernism any reference to an Archimedean point beyond history from which to think and contemplate. Gone is the foundationalist dream that modernity would uncover universal truth and transcend radical historicity. His participative approach situates theological reflection in the midst of society and history. Participation emerges from within the “middle” of reality and the flow of history. The middle is the experience of the “metaxy” or the experience of being in the space between the infinite and the finite, the beginning and end, absence and presence, knowledge and ignorance, being and becoming.  But there is no succumbing to the historical relativism and the radical nihilism of “hard” versions of postmodernism.  Thompson-Uberuaga states that “if truth be forthcoming, it will be in and through our participation within society and history.” Knowledge will come from the quality of participation within existence. Participation challenges one to submit to history.[40]  This “practical” or “empirical” approach to theology engages the full range of human possibilities. Since embodied human nature is necessarily interconnected with the physical, social and historical planes of existence, then participation can be considered a matrix that connects thought, affection and action and where those planes can challenge each other.[41] Participation brings knowledge, refines affections and stimulates willing and doing.

The philosopher Eric Voegelin is a major influence on Thompson-Uberuaga.[42] Following Eric Voegelin, Thompson-Uberuaga would hold that the drama of participation takes place within a “quarternarian structure.” At its most general level, the primordial community of being is God and human beings, nature and society. Existence is the deep and intimate experience of this partnership and the mutual “indwelling” of the four, though, with the divine ground being primary and unsurpassed. In the “space” of participation, there is no valid separation between “being” and “knowing” or “knower” and “known” or “metaphysics” and “epistemology.”[43] Therefore, the analogy of the soul of the human being is the site of conscious participation in the divine ground and it is through this divine ground that a site is established whereby a conscious connection is made with all other humans and creatures.[44] There are no onto-theological claims for universal, totalizing and objective truth. Instead, what this intellectually and spiritually yields is only perspectival or situated content. The experience of the divine ground comes with degrees of noetic and pneumatic differentiation that are not on the same level of penetration for everyone in their reflection and meditation on the “stuff of life.” Yet, while this modest enterprise of participatory or in-between situated metaphysics is rooted in the social and historical community of being, it does yield truth and guidance that are sufficient and adequate for the human pilgrimage.[45]

A guiding axiom for Thompson-Uberuaga is that reality seems trustworthy and inspires a general fidelity and hope. And that it is the “Logos” that brings intelligibility and draws human beings into communion, sharing and mutual regard.[46] Faith is understood as the humble trusting in reality’s mysterious attraction and the corresponding beckoning to experience “luminosity” through disciplined reason, contemplation and moral action. Following the inspiration of the event of the Incarnation, the infinite’s intersection with the finite, Thompson-Uberuaga wagers that the historical context is not only the somewhere of “problems” but also the somewhere of the “solutions.”[47] The capacity and quality of participation is shaped by history and several significant social fields: family, friendships, ethnic groups, cultural, economic and political institutions, national and civilizational allegiances and church affiliations, etc. In short, “human beings are their circumstances” and consequently pluralism is a condition of reflection in any participatory knowing. There is no totalistic perspective beyond context. The only thing that can be done is to chart a path among differing perspectives and seize the best “clues” arising from participation from “within” concrete existence.[48] According to Thompson-Uberuaga, it is openness to the transcendent divine ground that will enabled contextual thinking to avoid the fall into rationalistic hubris and premature closure. Participation is never purely a singular endeavor; it is about “relationships.”[49] The perennial quest for truth and meaning bodes poly-dialogue partners that can challenge, inform and inspire as they negotiate the “horizontal” differences of history, society and language and the “vertical” divine Other that makes all these horizontal differences possible. For theology, along with personal encounters, world religions, cultural studies and traditional wisdom, participation could include such specializations as philosophical theology, philosophy of religion, Jesus studies and Christological beliefs.

The overall theological project of Thompson-Uberuaga is to reunite theology and spirituality, biblical studies and systematic theology. He wants to overcome what he believes to be the deforming effects of a purely academic and “rationalistic” style of thinking that is cut off from the theological nature of Scripture, Church-oriented scholarship and the engendering experiences and symbols of revelation. To this end, he returns to the participatory experience of faith. The notion of participation is an ancient idea in the Judeo-Christian tradition. All Scriptural expressions of human participation in the divine life are developments from the covenant theme in the Hebrew Bible. The story of Moses and the Burning Bush is the paradigmatic text. This theophanic event shows the interplay between “familiarity” and “strangeness” that marks these divine-human “personal” encounters and displays how the otherness of God and human self-identity can both emerge and be deepened by relationship.[50] While Thompson-Uberuaga’s description of experience draws from the entirety of Holy Writ, he is fundamentally shaped by the New Testament and further turns for inspiration and guidance to the foundational beliefs of Trinity, Jesus, grace and Church as they are mediated through ecclesial tradition.[51]

The reality of “participation” in revelation is one of the great themes of the Bible.[52] There are numerous New Testament texts in which some version of “mutual communion” between God and the People of God is presented. For example, there is being a participant (koinōnoi) in the divine nature (2 Pet 1:4); the partnership or fellowship that enables a share in grace (Phil 1:7); the loving participation that intensifies depths of interiority, such as, the Johnannine “indwelling” of God in human beings and human beings in God and the Pauline formula of being “in Christ” and “Christ in us;” the Agapic table-fellowship “shared” between Jesus and his disciples at the Eucharist and the parables characterizing the “Reign of God” as a powerful in-breaking of divine activity in history.[53]  These kinds of texts are the basis for Christian spirituality and require “meditation” for participation. The New Testament presents spiritual life as living as fully as possible in the “Spirit of Christ” through grace and faith (Rom. 8:1-17)[54] The practice of the theological virtues, cardinal virtues, the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit, and especially obedience, gratitude and adoration are important ways of “active” participation in the life of grace. The holy life culminates with the doctrine of deification (Theosis) in which the nature of the believer is transparent to divinity.

Scripture is paradigmatic for theology and Thompson-Uberuaga wants a biblically-soaked style, that is, a theology that stays close to the originary forms of the engendering experiences of Jesus and the apostles. The centrality of Jesus Christ as the nonpareil and definitive revelation of the Triune God is mediated through the narrative forms of the New Testament. The Incarnation of the Word is the hermeneutical key for interpreting the divine ground of history. Thompson-Uberuaga intriguingly describes the Incarnation as analogous to the “ground” in a painting. The background to the scene is the Trinity and the foreground is the church, society and the cosmos.  The Incarnation of the God-man is the revealed and historical connection through whom the Trinity is encountered in the Church for the salvation of the world. He states that the Incarnate Word is the revealed, nonpareil paradigm of divine revelation. Therefore, Scripture is the subordinate yet appropriate way to participate in the paradigm.[55] The Christ-revealed prototype is of a universal God that is personal, intimate and loving. Therefore, all truly Christian knowing and thinking is the product of the Spirit’s invitation to participate in the Christological and Trinitarian ground as well as the ecclesial, social and cosmic frames of reference. Christian reflection will always be formed by all the partners in the community of being.[56] But the divine ground is featured as the supporting matrix of the other mutual, but not equal partners. Within the Christian sphere, then, the divine ground (Father/Mother) is a self-communicating reality (Word/Logos) that is intrinsically participative and inclusivistic reality (Spirit).[57] And it is the agency of the Spirit that saves theological reflection from sterile rationalism and enables transcendent revelation to be mediated through historical witnesses and keeps all conversations open for the inclusion of new experiences and intuitions.[58]

This close attention to the linguistic or verbal dimensions of revelation has established an important place for hermeneutics in Thompson-Uberuaga theological enterprise. His basic hermeneutical rule is that the originary engendering experiences of revelation and language symbols are intrinsically co-generated. By “originary” he means experiences and genres that preserve the participative, dramatic, practical in-between nature and personal and conversational elements of the divine manifestation. Doctrine and other forms of conceptualization can never substitute for this fuller “polyvalent” reality and can actually only make cognitive and spiritual sense when they are set against the fullness of reality.[59] The narratives of Scripture are filled with the drama, tension and struggle that emerges from wrestling with reality. They mirror the lived quality of human life. Therefore, the symbols are the indispensible media through which imaginative and analogous co-participation of those (personal) experiences is possible. These symbols of the experience of the transcendent Ground can never be literalized, even as they are respected as indispensible means of participation. Additionally, language symbols sometimes have dimensions of historical and cultural conditioning that can distort meaning, so the symbols will need to be critically retrieved with a second naiveté.[60]

Moreover, there needs to be openness to the religious subject matter and a desire to stay in the “metaxy” when doing participative biblical hermeneutics. Thompson-Uberuaga’s approach is not to pursue some reality “behind” the text but instead counsels that the participant be receptive to the subject matter “in” the text.[61] It is a conversation between partners. To participate well in the possible luminous experience is more of an “art” than an exact science.[62] But the pathways are there to be followed because Christian revelation possesses a specific and organic form. An important point made by Thompson-Uberuaga is that there can be no separation of “form and content” in Christian revelation. God has reached out to humanity through the appropriate media available in human history to reveal the divine Word. This verbal character of revelation requires a careful analysis of the components that impinge upon content: symbols, images, genres and historical dimensions, as well as the didactic and cognitive aspects with philosophical underpinnings.[63] His fascinating claim is that revelation seems to attract to itself the forms appropriate to its content.[64] This symbiotic relationship between “form and content” can be seen most especially in the case of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament as they are interpreted in the tradition of the Church.

Thompson-Uberuaga is a practitioner of what he calls the “non-invasive approach to Scripture.” He wants to think holistically along the dramatic plot lines of the Gospels and does not want to rupture the integrity of the text as in strict historical-criticism. That kind of violence breaks up the narrative flow into historical, literary and didactic fragments and isolated atomic units and in the process unmoors them from their theological docking. Beneath the seemingly different and diverse texts of the New Testament, he perceives an underlying Trinitarian and Christological unity.[65] Church tradition has always tried to read the Scriptures in the spirit in which they were intended and Thompson-Uberuaga wants to continue in that vein by a “committed reading.” The Gospels have never been seen as obstacles to knowing the “real Jesus” in Christianity. To the contrary, they have always been honored as “audible sacraments” that provide a privileged mode of contact with him. He points out that loving-faith produced the Gospels and so the Gospel as a genre and loving-faith as an intention co-implicate each other.[66] While scrutiny will need to be made of both the textual dimensions (plot or story) and the historical revelation (historical-didactic) in the non-invasive method, Thompson-Uberuaga says revelation must be primary. The Gospel would be incoherent fragments in the minds of readers if not enough attention was also paid to the story qualities of the plot: beginning, middle and end. Therefore, form and content must be kept together if the reader is to be attuned to the “energy” inherent in the Gospel dramas of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. According to Eric Voegelin, the Gospel is a symbol engendered in the Metaxy (in-between) of existence as the disciple responds to the drama of the Son of God. The Gospels are an event in the historical drama of revelation.[67] Hence, for Thompson-Uberuaga, the Gospels are neither a type of writing that is strictly non-historical fiction (subjectivism) nor strictly history-only stenography (historicism). As the events of the Incarnation and redemption theologically express, the Gospels are actually a unique genre caught up in a movement between “participation and distance” as the definitive intersection between history and transcendence, faith and history, humanity and divinity.[68]

William Thompson-Uberuaga and the Transcendent in History

Hermeneutics of suspicion is an important part of some deconstructive methods used in contemporary New Testament interpretation. The aggressive critical spirit is antithetical to pre-modern and modern approaches that present Being as disclosed to reason by the universal logos. Nonetheless, Thompson-Uberuaga thinks he glimpses some affinities between his old participatory method and the postmodern search for a “deeper sense” beyond the literal surface meaning. Postmoderns search for the imperceptible or deeper meaning of things too when they look into the recesses of the unconscious and the often imperceptible political and social forces of manipulation. Additionally, he too sees a place for “suspicion” because much of history and tradition needs to be received critically with a second naiveté, such as, feminist, political and liberation theologians have shown in myriad ways. However, for Thompson-Uberuaga, this is a secondary moment in the process of interpretation. His fundamental approach begins with a general “hermeneutics of trust” in the truthfulness of reality and then within that orientation he situates a place for historical-critical pauses to address specific issues. While his approach is “logocentric” to a certain extent, he does continually maintain that one can only know the logos “within” the messiness of the event of participation. Again, there is no outside of history, society and nature in which to formulate a totalizing perspective, fashion universal truth (hypostatization) or adopt a naïve presence-ism. All such onto-theological aspirations are jettisoned in “metaxic” thinking. One must always remain cognizant of the ambiguity of history; it is not a place for the injudicious.[69] The search for meaning and order requires sustained effort and disciplined reason to negotiation uncertainty. This is what it means to be experienced. Thompson-Uberuaga explains that this situation is compounded by the fact that history is neither uni-linear nor progressive. While history does attest to “advances” in differentiation, consciousness and symbolization, there are many lines of existential meaning and scholarly inquiry can that run concurrently and in multiple directions. There is always the threat of regression from differentiation to compactness, from order to disorder, from luminosity to distortion as much as there is the possibility of going in the opposite direction and even sideways.[70] In other words, there are many different shifting levels of insight and intelligibility according to time and place that can emerge through participation and sometimes at the same time and in the same place: pluri-linearity. The acceptance of the legitimacy of pluralism means admitting that formulations of truth are always revisable in these shifting circumstances. This holds true for all writers, readers and communities as they participate in society. The world of truth is nothing other than the community of being coming to luminosity in the event of interpretation.”[71] The site of the event is the historical subject. In true postmodern fashion, he adds that the subject is never autonomous since being and knowing or reality and intelligibility are never separated.[72] Historical experience is the real source of truth.[73]

Thompson-Uberuaga characterizes much of contemporary historical scholarship as an analysis of the surface facts of chronology, location and the details of events, actions and people.[74] This type of historicism is a case of reductionism. Since historical consciousness has usually included not just the search for objective historical knowledge, but the process of “becoming” whereby facts become events (which creates history from the viewpoint of the subject) and “meaning” in history as the balance between the fragmentariness of events and a universal sense of the whole. This moves thinking beyond individual limitations by an extension to the personal, social and transcendent.[75] Paradoxically, one could say that it is the transhistorical that makes the historical possible. But it is this appeal to the transcendent in general and the openness to the extraordinary in particular that is most often rejected by modern and postmodern historians.

However, Thompson-Uberuaga follows the epic work of Eric Voegelin and proposes that historical awareness should additionally include the “humane and transcendental dimensions” of history since this is how historical study actually began in Western Civilization. The Jewish prophets’ personal “encounter” of Yahweh, particularly Moses, Jeremiah and Isaiah revealed a transcendent reality that concomitantly gave rise to the emergence of a transcendent human soul.[76] Plato and Aristotle had followed a similar general trajectory in pursuit of the Nous and the formation of the polis. And Christianity further differentiated the experience of the transcendent with the incarnate Logos (being: being in relationship) and creation of the Mystical body of the church. These revelations brought order to society through sharing in the transcendent through reason, faith and virtue. This generated a type of “like-mindedness” (homonoia) between the individuals comprising the community. The Judeo-Christian tradition particularly showed that true “historical form” focuses on the “dignity” of the human person that comes with Israel’s experience of a loving and personal God: human rights, social forms of togetherness fostered by those rights, legitimate and illegitimate forms of freedom, the nature of the common good, the virtues requisite for social togetherness, and the relationship between society and government. This is a more personal form of a society or community made up of partners in relationship instead of pre-personal, collectivist types of legality of conduct based on institutions.[77] Community life means living the “covenant of the heart” with Yahweh in love, humility, righteousness, awareness of sin and guilt, and with the awareness that redemption comes from a divine source beyond history and nature.[78] The common Ruah/Pneuma, then, would be the deepest basis of community and social transformation. The development of a post-collectivist, personal like-mindedness is the basis for a new form of community existence under God.[79] The existential change made real “differences” in being possible and the nexus of past, present and future possible for the first time.

This was a great “leap in being” in human history because it was a fundamental break with the cosmological worldview that had emphasized the consubstantial link between world and civilization or macrocosm and microcosm. This was a “charmed community” where animals and plants could become humans or gods and humans could be gods and gods could become humans.[80] This primary experience of the cosmos includes the holistic sense of heaven and earth and close attention to the celestial bodies and their movements, seasonal and lunar changes, fertility rhythms in plant and animals, human life, birth and death and a world densely populated with gods.[81] The polytheistic divine reality was known in myth, intra-cosmically and atemporally. Yet the pneumatic break in Israel liberated their thinking from complete dependence on cosmic cycles and the territorial and ethnic restrictions of their natured-based neighbors. The transcendent power and presence of the monotheistic God who creates the world, acts in history to establish justice and saves the weak and needy emboldened their thinking to be more global and less circumscribed by space and nature.[82] While it is certainly true that ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians and Greeks had “practical” or pragmatic histories that kept records of political, military and economic events, they did not have the fully developed “consciousness” of history that took place in Israel. Israel had glimpsed the “inner form” of history, encapsulated in the mutual dynamic of the divine pursuit of humanity and the human quest for God, which created the differentiated understanding of the “present” under God: the notion of paradigmatic history, the spiritual-depth of consciousness and the theological dimension of truth.[83]

Eric Voegelin’s guiding principle when studying history: “the order of history emerges from the history of order.”[84] The struggle for order is really the struggle for the truth of the partners in the community of being. The actual meaning and articulation of the ordering process is uncovered in the quality of participation achieved when freedom and necessity are balanced. Every society creates an order that will endow the fact of existence with meaning in divine and human ends.[85] But contemporary historiography seems content to follow the “sausage view of history” in which more and more detailed data is accumulated but with no attempt at theoretical penetration of history’s essence.[86] The absence of theoretical analysis on large swaths of history means the absence of balanced social and historical order and an inherently relativistic sense of things. However, the wider and deeper “participative view” includes such analysis and adds the eschatological direction of history as an “open” thrust into the future. There is no climaxing of the historical process in the present.[87] History discloses the participation in being through experiences of faith and hope and the willingness of at least some people to form groups and submit to the authority of the experiences of prophets, sages and philosophers.[88] The fuller meaning or paradigmatic meaning of the revelatory experiences and teachings can only emerge through the later tradition process that arises in the wake of the person/event and that radiates its form over a past that was not consciously historical in its own present.[89]

Particularly with the rise of Near Eastern archaeology, there has been a long-standing debate between rival camps about how to best interpret “biblical history:” biblical fundamentalist, historicist or theological/participative approaches. Archaeological findings sometimes do not corroborate biblical narratives, for example, the excavations at Jericho, where the evidence of a cataclysmic destruction of the city dates to centuries before the usual dating of the conquest of Canaan. But Thompson-Uberuaga would argue that this should not lead immediately to a rejection of the Old Testament narrative of events. The “paradigmatic” meaning is not directly imposed by a historian on events but grows through stages experienced by the participants.[90] This requires working on the pragmatic level of history and the paradigmatic, though, the original context may not be capable of reconstruction. While the fundamentalist would try to use archaeology to prove the literal details to confirm the biblical account and would have a deficient appreciation of the paradigmatic dimensions of the text.  The historicist would probably ignore the paradigmatic and conclude the text is not historically accurate.[91] However, the participative/theological approach would try to establish a mediate position between these two extremes. The “objectivity of faith” would have to be maintained to avoid importing arbitrary ideological theorizing into the interpretation. The operative epistemological perspective behind this is that what is most “objective” is unveiled in the most radically “subjective” act. Personal relationships eloquently testify to this fact. At the same time, the subjective act knows itself to be empowered by the objective facts.[92] The situation is analogous to the artist’s impressionistic rendering of the subjects’ personality and character: somewhere between stark fact (objectivism/historicism) and pure feeling (subjectivism/mythology).  Additionally, what is “earliest” is not what is always what is most profound in history. Personal and participative knowledge develop and deepen over time and through prolonged experience.[93] This is how “real history” works: meditative savoring, intensifying and amplifying themes at deeper levels.[94] One cannot ignore the people who received the revelation and who explicated the meaning of events through symbols. The very symbols that have cast an objective ray of truth over the field of history flowing from the event.[95] In other words, for the participative/theological approach, the “historical substance” is extracted when one ascertains the characteristics and motivations of the linguistic form (arising from the engendering experience) and then endeavors to reconstruct the essence of the situations that gave rise to the symbolization. The historical substance has been formed by the biblical narrative and is usually for the direct purpose of emphasizing the essential paradigmatic meaning.[96]

This hermeneutics can be applied to the divinely revealed truths of the Christian Bible as well. Jesus needs to be seen in relationship to his apostles and disciples since he was influenced by them as they were informed by him. And the secular history and ecclesial tradition of participation over two millennia have given rise to deepening insights about the Incarnate Logos and his relationship to the cosmos and divine ground.[97] The “history of effects” could include many possible sources: the Church Fathers, Church councils, papal encyclicals, charisms of religious orders, the writings of saints, mystics and various theologians, as well as popular religious expressions by the laity. This basic attention to effects would require abandoning the common scholarly distinction/separation of the “Jesus of history” and “Christ of faith.” The participative approach forges a tighter connection between Christ and his contemporary followers (historical reference) and the ongoing search for meaning (theological reference) by the Christian community.  One still needs to take stock of “surface” history so as to avoid falling prey to anti-historical Gnosticism and idiosyncrasy.[98] In addition to the postmodern material discussed above, Thompson-Uberuaga does this with his turn to historical criticism and psycho-social criticism. He wants to have an appropriate and intelligent understanding of the social, political and historical dynamics and the real existential problems expressed in the biblical text and context. Yet he wants to add the philosophical and experiential mediations with contemporary experience that seems demanded by the (post)modern horizon of understanding. His “personal mediation” on the New Testament, logically grounded in participation and following Paul Ricoeur, moves the audience’s attention in important ways from the “sense of the text”  to the references opened up to the reader in “front of the text.”[99]

Thompson-Uberuaga, Postmodernism and Neo-Historicism

Jesus and the Gospel Movement: Not Afraid to be Partners is Thompson-Uberuaga’s recent book and is based on a commitment to history and historical consciousness. We have already seen the myriad ways he has gone about taking history, becoming, temporality, plurality and linguisticality seriously within the community of being. But his commitment to history is probably best encapsulated in his rejection of Voegelin’s notion of “historiogenesis.” Historiogenesis is the unilinear construction of history that places events on a irreversible timeline in such a way that the thinker’s present perspective is the everlasting end point of a movement that commenced with the origin of the cosmos.[100] Instead, his approach acknowledges a plurality of understandings of historical meaning and an eschatology of the “already and not yet.” In the face of divine absence and divine presence as one negotiates (religious) pluralism, he suggests living with paradoxes and aporias. Tolerance is called for as one listens to “others.”[101] All the while he notes the cloaking effects of sin, suffering and evil that come from blinded minds, hardened hearts and crippled wills.[102] One must take stock of the catastrophic moments of injustice in history, such as, the Gulag, Holocaust and American slavery. And even the individual struggles, disappoints, regrets and tragedies in personal life history. There is a dialectic between identity with the divine ground and the destabilizing effects of inhumanity, the limitations of finitude and the temptations to doubt. These incomprehensible occurrences have a humbling effect on theology’s claims about divine providence and function as loci theologici. Following political and liberation theology, this is to approach God from the disquieting and deeply disturbing experiences of nonidentity that are found in history.[103] Additionally, he also says that to some extent pluralism is a real blessing and is to be expected in a theology which values the uniquely personal and the mysterious nature of the divine ground.

Yet there are limits as to how far theology can follow the postmodern trajectory, especially, the highly interruptive “theology of the event” outlined in Caputo when thinking about history. Not to mention his agnosticism and rejection of the possibility of God’s presence, religious experience and divine revelation in history. In the end, Thompson-Uberuaga says postmodernism is Gnostic. There is loss of belief in the self/soul, loss of belief in the reality of the logos and alienation from the community.[104] The faith in the divine ground is replaced by the visionary who knows the “absolute truth: there is no truth.” The postmodern seer is beyond self and non-self, good and evil. This he says is a pretense to transcendence or a substitute for the divine ground within postmodernism. It is difficult to see how any community could endure for very long on the meager sustenance of just a murmur emanating from an untraceable source that is supremely indifferent.[105] Instead of traces, Christian theology would think instead of an infinite fullness of being—personal, loving divine mystery—as the ultimate source of truth, freedom and history’s order. Moreover, the language of being indicates a continuity between past, present and future. The divine ground seems to be the only hope that the interruptions are penultimate and not ultimate. According to Thompson-Uberuaga, though, resurrection faith should prevent the Christian succumbing to fatalism.[106] As long as one lives within history, one remains a creature of faith. The universal, in the strict sense, does not concretely appear anywhere in history, for it embraces all humans, past, present and future.[107] As philosopher Glenn Hughes explains:

Any convincing account of the universal human drama, of course, must have the character of a metanarrative, because it must represent all humans of all times as a single community, participating in a reality that, transcending all specific places and times, binds the meaning of each to the meaning of all. Any such account presupposes some dimension of shared human experience. . .  Only human participation in a dimension of meaning that is nonparticular and nonfinite—a realm of transcendent meaning—justifies any metanarrative about humanity.[108]

However, in the postmoderm context, this would need to be a “transcendence-oriented pluralism.”[109]

Thompson-Uberuaga’s thinking is surrounded by a Mystery that interrupts rationalism of both the modern and postmodern types. Human questioning, aspiration and discovery testify to the innate human awareness of participation in an uncontrollable reality beyond space and time and a desire for ultimate meaning. Fundamental to Thompson-Uberuaga’s theological-philosophical approach to truth is his explanation of the difference between “It-reality” (expressed in symbolization) and “Thing-reality” (expressed in conceptualization).  It-reality is the quarternarian community of being and is the primordial experience of the whole of reality. Thing-reality is the everyday experience of the subject knowing and intending objects. It-reality is the more comprehensive experience, while thing-reality is the subordinate differentiation of aspects of the It-reality. Both aspects are needed.[110] The It-reality out comprehends human thinking and human thinking can never out comprehend or control the It-reality. This leads Thompson-Uberuaga to argue for “doctrinal minimalization” and “maximum contemplative participation” when it comes to thinking about Jesus and his movement. This opens onto prayer and liturgy and puts doctrine in a larger context.[111] Therefore, there is unfathomable depth and mystery that is brought to all the partners in the community of being and thwarts any claims of comprehensive and final claims about truth. There is a dialectical relationship between historical revelation and metaphysics: the relationship would be one of neither simple identity nor domination by either partner. The Christian revelatory experiences and symbolism occur within history, but history would seem to manifest a certain sameness throughout time or a form of structured continuity in the midst of much interruptive discontinuity.[112] The commitment to history is a commitment to becoming and change and to continuity and discontinuity. Being and becoming characterizes human existence and so it should be universally recognize it.[113] Attentively following the pull of this divine ground in truth and virtue brings order to personal life, society and history.

Thompson-Uberuaga applies these insights to theology and says that there is a primordial union in revelation of the divine Word and Spirit and by extensions created “word” and “spirit.” Revelation has an implicit metaphysics in which there is an intersection between the hermeneutical and the transcendental.[114] The hermeneutical refers to the truth of reality and oneself that emerges indirectly through the “other” of phantasms, objects, form, history, tradition, culture, society and community. Since reality is always mediated through “otherness,” and its significance is not always immediately apparent, some form of interpretation is always required. Conversely, the transcendental refers to the view that the truth of reality can manifest itself to the knowing subject through subjectivity. The truth of reality is the subject’s self-presence and is a kind of immediacy between the knower and the known.[115] Additionally, the universal is encountered through the particular, the one is encountered through the many, and the Spirit with the Word. In other words, revelation of the divine Word and Spirit keeps bringing thinking back to the mediation of history and the historical form: the place for the human acceptance or rejection to live in truth, justice and community.

The participative approach of Thompson-Uberuaga takes history very seriously as “event” and as tradition of interpretation. This follows the postmodern Gadamer in seeing prejudgments and prejudices not as obstacle to knowing but as an essential part of the process of achieving a present differentiated understanding of the community of being, which Thompson-Uberuaga does through a continual “critical” return to the engendering experiences of Israel, Jesus and the apostles and the history of effects. This is something of a restatement of Heidegger’s hermeneutical circle. For his part, Thompson-Uberuaga would also agree with the basic tenets that New Testament historian B.H. McLean outlines in his proposal for the renewal of the practice of “historical inquiry:” the particulars of historical difference, context and text as extra-lingual reference, history’s inherent polycentrism, recovering the past in connection with social justice and personal self-creation, and the importance of the social and ethical dimensions in historical analysis.[116] Historical positivism is no longer the normative paradigm in the twenty-first century. However, Heidegger showed long ago that the primordial experience of time is grounded in the ontological structure of temporality. Dasein is historicizing being that unfolds in the time between birth and death, like a miniature history. The narrative structure of Dasein’s own becoming is its historicality. Since history is grounded in Dasein’s own historicality, the historical past is not an object of disinterested study to authentic Dasein. The selection of possible choices for historiography is always an existential choice that is dependent upon Dasein’s own future-oriented being.[117] The truth of a text can only be uncovered from within the horizons of meaning of a specific tradition, community, and social location. Therefore, Dasein is a phenomenological space of meaning not a totalizing foundation for truth.[118] Though contexts and the intentions of historical authors do not determine the significance of biblical texts, they do represent an “extra-lingual reference” to material contexts, which must not be eraser. Erasure would lead to present(ism).[119] The world, for Heidegger, is always interwoven into the very structure of human existence. It is not “out there.”[120] He also notes a quadrate of earth and sky, divinities and mortals, even when one turns inward.[121]

Intriguingly, then, Thompson-Uberuaga’s classic and seemingly old-fashioned views about the most objective knowledge is the most “personal,” the narrative nature of existence and history, and the importance of the “community of being,” for thinking and living, turns out to be some of the most promising ways to proceed in the contemporary formulation of a philosophically-informed interpretation of history for theology.


This article has been a study of the ineradicable place of history in theology and the challenges and opportunities that are presented to it from postmodernism and neo-historicism. William Thompson-Uberuaga was offered as an excellent example of how to do theology in dialogue with such difficult concepts while still remaining grounded in Christian revelation and a chastened metaphysics that contextualizes/particularizes any universal claims about the divine. In addition to a vibrant spirituality, tutored by John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Thérèse of Lisieux and Cardinal Bèrulle, his work is a philosophically sophisticated interweaving of Thomas Aquinas, Eric Voegelin, Karl Rahner, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur. In the particular spirit of Rahner, though, Thompson-Uberuaga is reflecting for the twenty-first century what it means to be a “spirit in the world” that can only be a hearer of the word by being in time and history. The hearing will happen only through balanced participation in the quarternarian structure of reality. And, if there is salvation, it will be found in the world whereby history and salvation history, while differentiated, are ultimately coextensive. The journey of the self-transcending spirit in knowledge and freedom is grounded and guided by a “Holy Mystery” that is an ineffable, infinite, and indefinable plentitude of love and truth. The mystery is present and absent. It is already and not yet. It is known and unknown.



[1] An earlier version of this article was presented at Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology VIII: Tradition and the Normativity of History in the “History and Modern Theology” section on October 28, 2011. The Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium.

[2] The major authored works: Christ and Consciousness: Exploring Christ’s Contribution to Human Consciousness (New York: Paulist, 1977); Jesus, Lord and Savior: A Theopatic Christology and Soteriology (New York: Paulist, 1980); The Jesus Debate: A Survey and Synthesis (New York: Paulist Press, 1985); Fire and Light: The Saints and Theology (New York: Paulist, 1987); Christology and Spirituality (New York: Crossroad, 1991); The Struggle for Theology’s Soul: Contesting Scripture in Christology (New York: Crossroad, 1996); Jesus and the Gospel Movement: Not Afraid to be Partners (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006). The major edited works: Voegelin and the Theologian: Ten Studies in Interpretation (New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1983); Bérulle and the French School (New York: Paulist, 1989); Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: An Interdisciplinary Debate and Anthology (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2000).  It should be noted that Thompson-Uberuaga recently converted to Episcoplianism, so his thinking might better be charcetrized as Anglo-Catholic from this point forward.

[3] John Caputo was selected as a good example of postmodern readings of history or the event. He is influenced by literary theory and/or philosophy. However, many others could have been selected, for example: Paul Ricoeur, Time and Narrative, vols 1, 2, 3 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984, 1985, 1988); Michel Foucault, The Archaeology of Knowledge (London: Travistock, 1972); Hayden V. White, Metahistory: Historical Imagination in Nineteenth Century Europe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973); Francis Fukuyama, The End of History and the Last Man. Reissue.  (New York: Free Press, 2006); Jean-Luc Marion, In Excess: Studies in Saturated Phenomena (New York: Fordham University Press, 2002); Catherine Gallagher and Stephen Greenblatt, Practicing New Historicism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Gianni Vattimo, Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy (Stanford: Stanford University press, 1997)

[4] The “new” histories are histories from “below,” for example, social history, micro-history, psycho-history, and economic history and approached from different standpoints (Weberian, Marxist, structural linguistics, feminist, queer, etc.) that challenge the traditional objective approaches or history from “above” or elite history. They challenge three main ideas: that facts speak for themselves, that any historian could engage in a value-free investigation, and that the objectivist’s ideal of history as a one-to-one correspondence of “one” true interpretation with the way things really were. See Terrence W. Tilley, History, Faith & History: Dissolving the Modern Problematic,” (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), 106-111.

[5] As a phenomenologist of religion, Caputo is not restricted by methodological naturalism, that is, the type of historiography that must proceed atheistically or agnostically. One must engage the process as an atheist, even if one is not an atheist. The historian can never claim that an event is the result of a supernatural cause. See Tilley, History, Theology and Faith, 45-47. Caputo has much faith in “the call” for justice and the impossible event that the “name of God” evokes in history. And yet, he passes for an atheist and labels belief in miracles as thaumaturgy. From his perspective on phenomenology, one must be agnostic about whether there even is a God behind the call: as an entitative cause or hyper-entity. See John D. Caputo, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006), 10, 96-97.

[6] Caputo, The Weakness of God, 2.

[7] Ibid., 36.

[8] Ibid., 29.

[9] Ibid. 74.

[10] Ibid., 6.

[11] Ibid., 47.

[12] Ibid., 73.

[13] Ibid., 9.

[14] Ibid., 33.

[15] Ibid., 34.

[16] Ibid., 40.

[17] Ibid., 43.

[18] Ibid., 45.

[19] Ibid., 79.

[20] Ibid., 58-59.

[21] Ibid., 62.

[22] Ibid., 72.

[23] Ibid., 87.

[24] Ibid., 75.

[25] Ibid., 86.

[26] Ibid., 14.

[27] Ibid., 3.

[28] Ibid., 4.

[29] Ibid., 6.

[30] Ibid., 11-12.

[31] Ibid., 15.

[32] Ibid., 16.

[33] Ibid., 57.

[34] Ibid., 77-78.

[35] Ibid., 94.

[36] Ibid., 96.

[37] Ibid., 204-205.

[38] Ibid., 206.

[39] William Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement: Not Afraid to be Partners (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2006) 31.

[40] Ibid., 32-33.

[41] Ibid., 34-35.

[42] Eric Voegelin (1901-1985) was a German-American philosopher of jurisprudence and political science who sought to reappropriate the maximal experiences of differentiation through which humanity gained an understanding of itself and its limits.   He broke new ground in 1956 with his first volume of Order and History: Israel and Revelation in which he maintained that the experiences originating in Judaism and Christianity were a first, sine qua non, in an effort to reappropriate that balanced consciousness which might help restore order to modernity. .

[43] William M. Thompson, “Philosophy and Meditation: Notes on Voegelin’s View” in The Politics of the Soul: Eric Voegelin on Religious Experience ed. Glenn Hughes (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) 116-117.

[44] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 145.

[45] Ibid., 232.

[46] Ibid., 15.

[47] Ibid., 40.

[48] Ibid., 27-28.

[49] Ibid., 2.

[50] Ibid., 6-9.

[51] William M. Thompson, Christology and Spirituality (New York: Crossroad, 1991) 7.

[52] William M. Thompson, The Struggle for Theology’s Soul: Contesting Scripture in Christology (New York: Crossroad, 1996) 16.

[53] Ibid., 16-17.

[54] Thompson, Christology and Spirituality, 4.

[55] Thompson, The Struggle for Theology’s Soul, 5.

[56] Ibid., 25.

[57] Thompson, Christology and Spirituality, 33.

[58] Thompson, The Struggle for Theology’s Soul, 27.

[59] Thompson, Christology and Spirituality, 42.

[60] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 195.

[61] Thompson, Christology and Spirituality, 25.

[62] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 56.

[63] Thompson, The Struggle for Theology’s Soul, 26-27.

[64] Ibid., 31.

[65] Ibid., 67.

[66] Ibid., 64-65.

[67] Ibid., 268.

[68] Ibid., 92-93.

[69] Thompson, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 72.

[70] William M. Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft: A Postlude,” in Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: An Interdisciplinary debate and Anthology eds. William M. Thompson and David L. Morse (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2000) 255.

[71] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 215.

[72] Thompson, “Philosophy and Meditation,” 117.

[73] William M. Thompson, Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: The Reception and Challenge in America, Occasional Papers XXVII (München: Eric-Voegelin—Archiv, Ludwig Maximilians—Universität, 2001) 30.

[74] Thompson, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 51.

[75] Rino Fisichella, “Historical Consciousness,” in Dictionary of Fundamental Theology eds. Renè Latourelle and Rino Fischella (New York: Crossroad, 1995) 434.

[76] William M. Thompson, “Christ and Christianity in Israel and Revelation,” 219.

[77] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 265.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Thompson, Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: The Reception and Challenge in America, 59.

[80] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 249.

[81] Ibid., 258.

[82] Thompson, “Christ and Christianity in Israel and Revelation,” 216-217.

[83] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 250.

[84] Thompson, “Philosophy and Meditation,” 116.

[85] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 255.

[86] Ibid., 252.

[87] Ibid., 255.

[88] Ibid., 245.

[89] Thompson, Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: The Reception and Challenge in America, 33.

[90] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 272.

[91] Ibid.

[92] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 50.

[93] Ibid., 57.

[94] Ibid., 88.

[95] Thompson, “Exodus and Statecraft,” 272-273.

[96] Ibid., 273.

[97] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 3.

[98] Ibid., 75.

[99] William M. Thompson, The Jesus Debate: A Survey and Synthesis (New York: Paulist Press, 1985), 147-296, at 147-150.

[100] Thompson, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 230-231.

[101] Ibid., 226.

[102] Ibid., 227-228.

[103] Gaspar Martinez, Confronting the Mystery of God: Political, Liberation and Public Theologies (New York: Continuum, 2001) 216-217.

[104] Thompson, Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: The Reception and Challenge in America, 71.

[105] Ibid., 72-73.

[106] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 232-233.

[107] Thompson, Voegelin’s Israel and Revelation: The Reception and Challenge in America, 57.

[108] Glenn Hughes, Transcendence and History: The Search for Ultimacy from Ancient Societies to Postmodernity (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003) 14-15.

[109] Ibid., 37.

[110] William Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement Supplement to chapter IV (IV/For Further Study).

[111] Thompson-Uberuaga, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 119.

[112] Ibid., 231.

[113] Ibid., 233.

[114] William M. Thompson, “Word and Spirit, Hermeneutics and Transcendental Method: Exploring their Connections in Karl Rahner,” Philosophy and Theology 7 (1992) 185-187.

[115] Ibid., 187.

[116]B.H.  McLean, “The Crisis of Historicism: And the Problem of Historical Meaning in New Testament Studies,” The Heythrop Journal 53 (2012) 217.

[117] Ibid., 222.

[118] Ibid., 230.

[119] Ibid., 235.

[120] Ibid., 237.

[121] Thompson, Jesus and the Gospel Movement, 172.


Also available is William Thompson-Uberuaga’s “Interview,” “Mapping Different Approaches,” Participation and Interpretation Theory,” “Eschatology, Geography, and the Advancing Jesus Movement,” “Being, Becoming and Metaphysics,” “History and Place, Historiogenesis and Geogenesis,” and Eugene Webb’s review of “Your Kin-dom Come.”

Craig Baron

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Craig A. Baron is an Associate Professor of Theology and Chair of the Humanities Department at St. John’s University in New York. He received his Ph.D. in Theology from Duquesne University. His research is in the areas of fundamental theology, the continental philosophy of religion, and religion and culture.