Praxis-Oriented Theology and Spirituality in the Sermons of Edward Schillebeeckx

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The first book to argue that spirituality and practical theology can be integrated by using Catholic theologian Edward Schillebeeckx’s understanding of the role played by human experience in the methodologies of both spirituality and practical theology. His sermons, considered as enactments of practical theology, explore various dimensions of this spirituality/praxis-oriented theology, and how he uses the category of human experience therein.


“Schillebeeckx’s nuanced view of experience provides a helpful arena for bringing contemporary discussion about both spirituality and practical theology into dialogue…this Dominican theologian remains a potent force in many areas of theology, not least in current discussion involving the relation of spirituality and practical theology.”
-Bernard McGinn,
Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor Emeritus
Divinity School, University of Chicago

“This is the first book that I am aware of which draws on Schillebeeckx’s published sermons as a primary source for research…Dolphin’s work surveys another major theological field which is often misunderstood – spirituality- and clarifies the distinction and interrelationship of the fields of spirituality and practical theology. Dolphin herself is an experienced practitioner in both fields and the depth of her experience shines through the text. This project can serve as a resource to communities of faith as they struggle to articulate their identity as communities rooted in the lived experience of faith and their practical mission in and for the world.”
-Professor Mary Catherine Hilkert,
University of Notre Dame,

“Dolphin has given us more than yet another study of an important twentieth-century theologian. She has advanced scholarship not only on Schillebeeckx, but has also helped move forward the work of two emerging disciplines in theology, namely spirituality and practical theology…The study of spirituality, especially by Roman Catholic scholars, has received extensive attention in recent years, especially by North American scholars. Dolphin’s book is the first to focus on this aspect of his thought.”
-Professor Robert J. Schreiter,
Vatican Council II Professor of Theology
Catholic Theological Union, Chicago

Table of Contents

Author Preface
Foreword by Bernard McGinn
Chapter One: Spirituality and Practical Theology:
Introduction to the Conversation
Purpose of this study
Chapter Two: Spirituality and Practical Theology:
Experience as starting point
Purpose of Chapter Two
Definition of terms
Practical theology
Theory and praxis in spirituality
Spirituality in practical theology
Experience as starting point
Chapter Three: Spirituality and the Appeal to Experience
Purpose of Chapter Three
Selection of sources
The incarnational dimension
The relational dimension
The transformational dimension
Chapter Four: Political Holiness and Practical Theology
“Contrast experiences”
Definition of “contrast experience” Significance of the notion of “Contrast experience”
Methodology: the starting point
Schillebeecks’s theological starting point
Schillebeeckx’s description of the task of theology
Schillebeeckx’s integration of theory and praxis
Sermons as “enactments” of practical theology
Praxis as pivotal in the integration process
Chapter Five: Schillebeeckx and North American Philosophy: Donald Gelpi
The triadic structure of human experience
Gelpi’s critique of Schillebeeckx
Schillebeeckx’s theology of grace
Schillebeeckx and practical theology as public discourse: McCann and Strain
Practical theology as public discourse: McCann and Stain’s approach
Bringing the McCann/Strain questions to Schillebeeckx
Beyond the clerical paradigm
Beyond cultural estrangement
Beyond politicization and privatization
Schillebeeckx and fundamental practical theology: Don Browning Schillebeeckx as Catholic
Narrative and practical moral reasoning in Browning’s model of practical theology
Mysticism, ethics and politics in Schillebeeckx’s Spirituality
Chapter Six: Schillebeeckx as Resource For Faith Communities
Purpose of Chapter Six
The communal dimension
“Alternative critical communities”
Description of a particular critical community
Schillebeeckx’s position: a summary
Index: Proper Names
Selected Topics

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