The fundamental theology of George Tyrrell

John Raymond Lyons, Fordham University


In order to study the fundamental theology of Tyrrell contextually the author presents a perspective of theological trends in the nineteenth century. The author monitors the notions of revelation, dogma, faith and church authority as they structure the fundamental theology of Tyrrell.^ The first aspect of Tyrrell's fundamental theology examined is revelation. By means of the contemporary notion of theological models the author traces Tyrrell's movement from the orthodox view of revelation as doctrine to the modernist one of revelation as inner experience. The author then studies Tyrrell's experiential model from the point of view of its complexity, its place for the conceptual, its communication to others and its relationship to the apostolic revelation.^ The second aspect of Tyrrell's fundamental theology considered is dogma. In his orthodox period, 1886-1899, Tyrrell viewed dogmas as the spoken or written equivalent of that mental language in which Christ and his church (divinely assisted) have embodied the truths of revelation. In his liberal period, 1900-1907, dogmas were not only more clearly seen but more fully as real development required. To save dogmas from their conflict with criticism Tyrrell reinterpreted them. In his final position, 1907-1909, Tyrrell emphasized that dogmas were simply protective and reasserted revelation.^ The third aspect of Tyrrell's fundamental theology studied is faith. Tyrrell rearranged priorities in the act of faith. Against the neo-scholastic orthodoxy of his time he insisted that the appeal of faith to the intellect was "secondary and conditional, not primary and causal." The "wish to believe" is the effectual cause of faith; it intimates that the truths proposed for belief have a place in the life of the intended believer.^ The fourth aspect of Tyrrell's fundamental theology analyzed is church authority. Tyrrell framed his ecclesiology in light of the core concept of the collective mind of the church. The nature of church authority in Tyrrell's thought is spiritual rather than juridical. His liberal position claimed a wide scope for the faithful and put a limit on papal authority; it assumed a "democratic" as opposed to a "monarchic" conception of church authority.^ The author ends the study with an evaluation of Tyrrell's thought and that of leading modernists in fundamental theology. (Abstract shortened by UMI.) ^

Subject Area


Recommended Citation

Lyons, John Raymond, "The fundamental theology of George Tyrrell" (1993). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9313765.