Lonergan's Method in Theology
A Summary by the Author
Method is not a set of rules to be followed meticulously by a dolt. It is a framework for collaborative creativity. It would outline the various clusters of operations to be performed by theologians when they go about their various tasks. A contemporary method would conceive those tasks in the context of modern science, modern scholarship, modern philosophy, of historicity, collective practicality and coresponsibility.
In such a contemporary theology we envisage eight distinct tasks: research, interpretation, history, dialectic, foundations, doctrines, systematics, and communications. How each of these tasks is to be performed, is treated now in greater and now in less detail in the nine chapters that form the second part of this work. In the first part are treated more general topics that have to be presupposed in the second part. Such are method, the human good, meaning, religion, and functional specialties. Of these, the last, functional specialties, explains how we arrived at our list of eight distinct tasks.
In general, what we shall have to say, is to be taken as a model. By a model is not meant something to be copied or imitated. By a model is not meant a description of reality or a hypothesis about reality. It is simply an intelligible, interlocking set of terms and relations that it may be well to have about when it comes to describing reality or to forming hypotheses. As the proverb, so the model is something worth keeping in mind when one confronts a situation or tackles a job.
However, I do not think I am offering merely models. On the contrary, I hope readers will find more than mere models in what I shall say. But it is up to them to find it. For the first chapter on method sets forth what they can discover in themselves as the dynamic structure of their own cognitional and moral being. In so far as they find that, they also will find something that is not open to radical revision. For that dynamic structure is the condition of the possibility of any revision.
Bernard Lonergan, Method in Theology: Lonergan Studies, 2nd ed. (Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press, 2017), pp. 3–4.