Title: Frans Jozef van Beeck and the “admirabile commercium"
Authors: Cooper, Patrick
Issue Date: 23-Oct-2013
Conference: LEST (Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology) edition:IX location:Leuven, Belgium date:23-26 October 2013
Abstract: The following proposes to substantially engage with the theological anthropology of the late Dutch Jesuit systematic theologian, Frans Jozef van Beeck (†2011), who, I will argue, is a pivotal, constructive interlocutor for the ongoing development of mystical and liturgical theology today. Primary attention will focus on how van Beeck’s integrated, Christian humanism informs his understanding of systematic theology’s continual task of seeking renewed unity between religious faith and contemporary culture, practiced both with theological cultural openness, while firmly situated within the committed identity of the “Great Tradition”. Insisting upon the critical inseparability of dogmatic and fundamental theology, contra Tracy, van Beeck’s theological synthesis is rooted in an “anthropological infrastructure” that seeks to portray anew immanent human integrity by way of its decentered, ecstatic, “native attunement to God”. This includes a rich, theological aesthetics and participative hermeneutical engagement with various liturgical and mystical theological sources, most notably bl. Jan van Ruusbroec (†1381) wherein, van Beeck argues, human integrity “turns out to be union with God, and this union turns out to be reunion”. Depicted otherwise as the “admirable exchange” [admirabile commercium], a reference to the antiphon for the Christmas octave Marian feast, Mother of God , the leitmotif of van Beeck’s six-volume series, God Encountered.

This exposition extends from an ongoing retrieval of the doctor admirabilis himself, the Brabantine contemplative theologian, Jan van Ruusbroec and his understanding of love, or minne, within contemporary discussions over love in theological and philosophy of religion quarters. The legitimacy of such a constructive retrieval, I have argued, hinges more upon the plausibility of his relational, theological anthropology of “mutual indwelling” than the very modern question of “mystical experience” and its (im)possibility as the primary mode of hermeneutical engagement. In this regard, van Beeck’s work offers a compelling support for my argument, treating such sources away from an overly individualized, de-contextualized, Jamesian approach, and instead, resituates them as mystical theological sources explicitly within an overall, liturgical, mystagogical context. Hence, van Beeck offers a systematic theology that reinterprets the order of teaching, life and worship (Dei Verbum 8) by the “fundamental conviction that worship is fundamental to doctrine”, thereby insisting that “liturgical and mystical theology must be integral parts of dogmatic and systematic theology.”
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Research Unit Systematic Theology - miscellaneous

Files in This Item:
File Description Status SizeFormat
LEST IX Presentation Frans Jozef van Beeck and the.docx Accepted 53KbMicrosoft WordView/Open


All items in Lirias are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved.