The Structure of Theological Revolutions: How the Fight Over Birth Control Transformed American Catholicism

ISBN : 9780190851408

Mark S. Massa, S. J.
232 ページ
156 x 235 mm

On July 29, 1968, Pope Paul VI ended years of discussion and study by Catholic theologians and bishops by issuing an encyclical on human sexuality and birth control entitled Humanae Vitae: "On Human Life." That document, which declared that "each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life," lead to widespread dissent and division within the Church, particularly in the United States. The divide that Humanae Vitae opened up is still with us today.
Mark Massa argues that American Catholics did not simply ignore and dissent from the encyclical's teachings on birth control, but that they also began to question the entire system of natural law theology that had undergirded Catholic thought since the days of Aquinas. Natural law is central to Catholic theology, as some of its most important teachings on issues such as birth control, marriage, and abortion rest on natural law arguments. Drawing inspiration from Thomas Kuhn's classic work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Massa argues that Humanae Vitae caused a paradigm shift in American Catholic thought, one that has had far-reaching repercussions.
How can theology-the study of God, whose nature is imagined to be eternal and unchanging- change over time? This is the essential question that The Structure of Theological Revolutions sets out to answer. Massa makes the controversial claim that Roman Catholic teaching on a range of important issues is considerably more provisional and arbitrary than many Catholics think.


Introduction: On How and Why Theology Changes
Part I: 1968
Chapter One: The End of the Catholic 19th Century in 1968
Part II: Paradigm Revolutions, 1960 to 1966
Chapter Two: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Chapter Three: A Period of Crisis
Part III: Other Voices, Other Paradigms
Chapter Four: Charles Curran and Loyal Dissent
Chapter Five: Germain Grisez and the New Natural Law
Chapter Six: Jean Porter and the Historical Project of Robust Realism
Chapter Seven: Lisa Sowle Cahill and the Middle Way
Part IV: So Now What?
Chapter Eight: In the Beginning Was the Grab Bag


Mark S. Massa, S.J. is Professor of Church History and Director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. His most recent book is The American Catholic Revolution: How the Sixties Changed the Church Forever (OUP, 2010).