Friday, June 15, 2007

Johnson and Tushnet Debate Is as Much About Revelation as It Is Homosexuality

A number of people have contacted me about this exchange in Commonweal between Bible scholar and author Luke Timothy Johnson and journalist and blogger Eve Tushnet. Both writers offer their views on homosexuality and the Church – and, in doing so, present two very different perspectives on what can be considered authoritative sources of divine revelation and thus the process or nature of such revelation.

For Luke Timothy Johnson, it’s clear that revelation is ongoing. “Implicit in an appeal to experience [as an authoritative source of revelation],” he writes, “is an appeal to the living God whose creative work never ceases, who continues to shape humans in his image every day, in ways that can surprise and even shock us.”

A static view of revelation, on the other hand, is presented by Eve Tushnet, who is a proponent of John Paul II’s “theology of the body” and thus, presumably, the Courage apostolate. Tushnet views personal experience as a source of revelation with suspicion as the answers have already been given via the teachings of the Church. Our task is not to challenge Church teaching or seek to expand, reform, or negate it but to make it “believable by becoming more Catholic.” Such a perspective reflects what historian Gary Macy has described as the “Big Book of Doctrine” school of theology.

At some future time I may write more about Johnson and Tushnet’s differing perspectives on homosexuality and thus the underlying issues of revelation and authority. Then again, I’ve probably said as much as I want to on such matters in previous posts – in particular the three-part The Many Forms of Courage and Thoughts on Authority and Fidelity.

Recommended Off-site Link:
Quaestio Disputata: Luke T. Johnson on Homosexuality by Joseph S. O'Leary.

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