Skip to main content
Popular Press
Review of The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System (Avery Dulles, SJ)
The Thomist (1994)
  • Peter J. Casarella, DePaul University

An excerpt from the review:

The catholicity of Avery Dulles's method in The Craft of Theology is best demonstrated by the broad compass of his self-chosen label, "post-critical theology." Post-critical theology, he states, puts no unfair demands on the reader to conform to the spirit of the age nor does it imply that previous approaches (precritical, critical, paracritical) are obsolete. Postcritical theology seeks to make the ecclesial character of theology more recognizable than has most Catholic theology since the Second Vatican Council (viii). Postcritical theology takes its cues from a variety of sources: Polanyi's attention to the tacit dimensions of knowing, Lonergan's understanding of the dynamics of conversion, the "sense of the faithful" in Johann Adam Mohler, the recovery of the tradition in John Henry Newman and Maurice Blondel, and the postliberal theology of Albert Outler and George Lindbeck. Alongside these more traditionally oriented sources, The Craft of Theology also explores the social and symbolic dimension of the divine self-communication (22). To this end, Dulles employs Ricoeur's theory of the symbol in order to extract " the latent meaning of the classical doctrine of the hypostatic union and Habermas's notion of an ideal speech situation in his anthropological analysis of the symbolism of sin as "anti-communicative" (27, 33).

  • Avery Dulles,
  • Catholic,
  • Catholicism,
  • catholicity,
  • theology,
  • post-critical theology,
  • Polyani,
  • Lonergan,
  • dynamics of conversion,
  • Johann Adam Mohler,
  • "sense of the faithful,
  • " John Henry Newman,
  • Maurice Blondel,
  • tradition,
  • postliberal theology,
  • Albert Outler,
  • George Lindbeck,
  • divine self-communication,
  • Ricoeur,
  • theory of the symbol
Publication Date
Summer July, 1994
Citation Information
Peter J. Casarella. "Review of The Craft of Theology: From Symbol to System (Avery Dulles, SJ)" The Thomist Vol. 58 (1994)
Available at: