11:22 AM

Theologian Jon Kirwan’s New Book Sheds Light on an Important Debate in Modern Theology

Accomplished theologian, Dr. Jon Kirwan, a University of St. Thomas-Houston associate professor of Theology, served as co-editor and translator with Dr. Matthew Minerd of a book written by Raymond-Leopold Bruckberger and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange titled, “The Thomistic Response to the Nouvelle Théologie: Concerning the Truth of Dogma and the Nature of Theology.” Published by Catholic University of America Press in April 2023, the book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Kirwan, who directs the revitalized M.A. in Theology Program and the redesigned Ed.D program, has a significant publishing, teaching, and research record. Well-versed in both historical and systematic theology, Kirwan has taught patristic, medieval, as well as modern theology with a monograph from Oxford University Press. This new book from Catholic University of America Press demonstrates a lively research program and serious academic engagement.

Read the Abstract

“The Thomistic Response to the Nouvelle Théologie: Concerning the Truth of Dogma and the Nature of Theology” retrieves the most important and largely forgotten exchanges in the mid-20th-century debate surrounding ressourcement thinkers. It makes available new translations of works by the leading Thomists in the exchange: Dominican Fathers Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Michel Labourdette, Marie-Joseph Nicolas, and Raymond Bruckberger. In addition to a lengthy historical and theological introduction, the volume contains 16 articles, 13 of which have never appeared in English.

All the major critical responses of the Dominican Thomists to the nouvelle théologie are here presented chronologically according to the primary debates carried on, respectively, in the journals Revue Thomiste and Angelicum. A lengthy introduction describes the unfolding of the entire debate, article by article, and explains and references the ressourcement interventions.”

Kirwan continues, “Unfortunately, the history of this important debate is largely surrounded by polemics, half-truths, caricatures, and journalistic soundbites. In the articles gathered in this volume, along with the accompanying introduction, the Toulouse and Roman Dominicans speak in their own voice. The central theses that define the two sides of the debate are sympathetically set forth. However, the texts gathered here show the immense lengths to which the Thomists went to initiate an authentic and fraternal theological dialogue with the nouveaux théologiens. Frs. Labourdette and Nicolas repeatedly argued for the importance of ressourcement work: they applauded its historical efforts, and they were generally sympathetic and complementary (although always pointed and persistent in gently expressing their concerns). Even Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange―whose infamous intervention is remembered as being a theological "atomic bomb"―is revealed as being no more guilty of escalation than the Dominicans' interlocutors in their own responses to him and Fr. Labourdette.

This volume will greatly aid in the task of theological and historical reconstruction and will, undoubtedly, assist in a certain rapprochement between the two sides, as the essential texts, concerns, and theological arguments are made available in their entirety to professional and lay English-language readers,” Kirwan said.

According to reviewer Romanus Cessario, OP, Adam Cardinal Maida Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University, “Jon Kirwan and Matthew Minerd have rendered the Catholic theological community a great service. The Dominican response to La nouvelle théologie has long been buried under the copious amounts of ressourcement discoveries and the subsequent rethinking of how to do Catholic theology that they generated.”

Matthew K. Minerd is professor of philosophy and moral theology, Byzantine Catholic Seminary of Ss. Cyril and Methodius, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Kirwan notes that some of the book’s chapters will be used in courses in the M.A. in Theology program.

Dr. Jon Kirwan Kirwan’s Work at UST and Beyond

Kirwan came to UST in 2019 as assistant professor of Theology and director of the M.A. in Theology Program.  In 2022, he was promoted to associate professor and also became the director of the Ed.D Program, which has now been revamped to align with the mission of the University and the principles of virtue leadership. The program, designed as an interdisciplinary leadership degree grounded on the principles of virtue leadership offers five concentrations to suit many professions: 

·         Educational Leadership

·         Higher Educational Leadership

·         Strategic Leadership

·         Human Resource Leadership

·         Law, Society and Criminal Justice Leadership                                                                                                                                                                       

Before coming to UST, Kirwan was a theology professor at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California (one of the Catholic seminaries for the dioceses on the West Coast).  Kirwan earned his Ph.D in Theology from University of Oxford, an M.A. in Theology from Loyola Marymount University, and a B.A. in History and Biblical Studies from Gordon College.

His first book, “An Avant-garde Theological Generation: The Nouvelle Théologie and the French Crisis of Modernity,” was published by Oxford University Press in 2018.