There is a readiness today for the work of philosophical theology and a renewed recognition of the mutuality and independence of the two disciplines. The aim of this series is to promote this renewal by publication of the finest works of theological reflection, fully engaged within the contemporary context.
In each age there arise opportunities for theologians to articulate Christian faith anew and to engage in constructive conversation with the best and most challenging thinking from the other sciences. Postmodernity is the context in which the most demanding work of theologians and especially of philosophers is required. However, the very process which has called into question the epistemological limits set by the Enlightenment has also renewed interest in pre-Enlightenment resources for thinking, especially the rich treasure-stores of the Christian tradition.
A number of surprising new openings for theological thinking are presenting themselves. (Some of these are given through the work of the human sciences in critical cultural theory and in gender studies, which simultaneously are taking up religious terms and ideas, and are calling for responses about their use of them.) The editors perceive the current situation of Catholic theologians in particular, working in secular institutions and close to developments in secular culture, as a fortunate opportunity for a distinctively British contribution to the renewal of Catholic scholarship in a spirit of ecumenical friendship.
This volume comprises a fresh English translation -- accompanied by the corresponding Latin text -- followed by a Commentary on, and interpretative essays about, the highly influential papal Encyclical LetterFides et Ratio (1998), which called for a renewal in the work of theology and philosophy.
The volume as a whole emphasises James McEvoy's assertion in his Commentary, that Fides et Ratio contains much more than the teaching on faith and reason that is its central message. The question of culture is central to the Letter, and is placed in relation to other important themes, such as tradition and language, religions and philosophy, revelation, faith, and the mission of the Church. As the Letter has it, the disciplines of philosophy and theology make their best contribution to wisdom when they are integrated in the mind of the Christian believer, but yet retain their special character. Neither obscures the other, neither ever replaces faith, which is beyond rational discovery, and imparted through the gift of God's self-revelation. Provided that the two disciplines are integrated (and not simply mixed), they cease to become two unrelated disciplines and two methods. They become dynamically interacting partners in the search for truth, and also in its exploration and expression. This volume is the first of a number of books in the Faith in Reason series which, in different ways, and from a variety of perspectives, will pay generous heed to the questions which Fides et Ratio has raised.