Church History Becomes Merely Profane History

Christian culture as a whole came to lose touch with reality more and more; and at the same time, paradoxical as it may seem, its history became more and more identical with profane history. This is because it could not help but be profane history insofar as it ceased to be sacred history.

The process of secularization began as far back as the eleventh or twelfth century after Christ, in the dispute over investiture. It gradually gave rise to written history that was profane in nature and that had little to do with the history of the Ghurch. Ecclesial problems were gradually left out of written Church history so that it ceased to be sacred history. By the end of the nineteenth century, the only kind of history to be found was profane history. Whether they realized what they were doing or not, those who chose to keep writing Church history actually ended up writing a secular depiction of that history. They narrated the history of the "institutional Church" as one would narrate the history of any institution. They treated such questions as these: Did Saint Paul get to Spain? If he did, in what year did he arrive? Did Boyl have a certain papal bull when he reached the court of Isabella or not? Did he try to work against Christopher Columbus or not? In short, their histories are merely secular recountings and descriptions of events; yet they pretend to be Church history. The few histories of the Church in Latin America which are in print are almost entirely of this cast.

That should not be the case, because history is the concrete locale, the horizon and locus, the ubi and source, of theology .Without history there is no theology; history is the starting point and end point for the abstract conceptualizing of theology .This history must of course be something more than merely anecdotal. It must be sacred history, liberation history. The past, from the time of Abraham to today, must have meaning in the present so that it can provide an eschatological thrust towards the future. It is history understood in this sense which is the real and preeminent locus of theology.

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