Sunday, January 17, 2010

Edward Schillebeeckx, 1914-2009

1/17/2010—Read Peter Steinfels' obituary of Edward Schillebeeckx today in the New York Times. Since he died on December 23, it is not clear why it appeared today, but read it anyway.

Schillebeeckx was one of the new breed of theologians who thought and wrote after WWII. He was very influential for the Dutch bishops during the second Vatican Council that so reformed the Catholic Church. Later he was investigated for heresy, but nothing came of it.

Schillebeeckx is perhaps best known for his emphasis on the experiences of the followers of Jesus, rather than on dogma about the events of Jesus’ life and death. For example, rather than write about the resurrection, he wrote about the conversion experience of Jesus’ followers. This emphasis caused his critics to ask whether he was denying that Jesus actually rose from the dead.

The importance of Schillebeeckx for us is that he is a direction that makes Christianity, or at least a form of Christianity, possible for people otherwise cut off from the tradition. Many of us cannot believe in miracles like the resurrection. But all of us have known of conversion experiences. The transcendent is miraculous but it is not supernatural.

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