Spring 2004

On “Rephilosophizing” Theology

Adrian J. Walker

“Precisely in order to think with the ‘mind’ of Christ, the theologian has to assume the guardianship of human wonder—to enter into it, remain in it, and cultivate it.”

1. Introduction


William L. Portier’s “Here Come the Evangelical Catholics”1 offers a “preliminary account” of a younger generation of American Catholics who do not fit into the “Left-Right” polarity that has framed conventional accounts of the last forty years of American Catholic history. Portier dubs these younger Catholics “evangelical”: for them, Catholicism is not a burdensome relic, but is as novel and as fresh as the Gospel itself. For them, indeed, it is the Gospel, in its inseparable ecclesial incarnation.

Portier acknowledges that the “evangelical mode” has its perils in a voluntaristic religious culture. Nevertheless, the impulse animating Portier’s evangelical Catholics is best understood, not as a collapse into an Evangelical Protestant ethos (although the risk of such a collapse is there), but as an incipient desire for the sort of ressourcement—retrieval of the living core of ecclesial Tradition beyond “Left” and “Right,” indeed, beyond all superficial dichotomies—to which Henri de Lubac, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and the other founders of this journal devoted their lives. In my opinion, such ressourcement represents the deepest intention of the Second Vatican Council, an intention that the conventional “Right- Left” dichotomy of the immediate post-conciliar years only tended to obscure.


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1. William L. Portier, “Here Come the Evangelical Catholics,” Communio 31, no. 1 (Spring 2004).