Figures and Forms of Ultimacy: Manifestation and Proclamation as Paradigms of the Sacred

By Donald L. Wallenfang.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The sacramental phenomenon may be construed in radically diametrical forms depending on its parochial context. Catholic and Orthodox communities emphasize the numinous character of the sacrament through highly concentrated rituals that perpetuate the mystery of Incarnation, whereas Evangelical communities place emphasis on the power and efficacy of the divine word that can raise the dead to life. The former promotes the sacramental form of manifestation, while the latter promotes the sacramental form of proclamation. This oppositional pairing of manifestation/ proclamation has been identified by Paul Ricoeur and David Tracy as a crucial pas de deux at the core of the religious phenomenon. Each party has the tendency of overriding the other: manifestation brings the word to silence before its speechless mysterium fascinans et tremendum, while proclamation has a desacralizing affect according to its iconoclastic potency. In this paper, I will argue: (1) that the totalizing tendencies of manifestation and proclamation, in the end, result in violence, and (2) that the possibility remains for there to be a living, mutually promoting, dialectic between manifestation and proclamation within the sacramental phenomenon. This dual thesis will contribute to the task of unmasking the irenic façade of the sacrament (both in terms of its showing and its preaching), as well as to the task of interdenominational dialogues. By proposing the possibility of an abiding manifestation-proclamation dialectic, a way of dialogue will be opened that will foster the nonviolent conflicts of conversation that aim at mutual understanding and respect. A transformative sacramental vision that encompasses the strengths of both manifestation and proclamation in a fecund dialectical relationship will be proposed.

Keywords: Religious Phenomenon, Sacrament, Manifestation, Proclamation, Dialectic, Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, Postmodernity

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.109-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 709.100KB).

Dr. Donald L. Wallenfang

Teaching and Research Assistant, Theology, Walsh University, Benton Harbor, OH, USA

Donald Wallenfang is Assistant Professor of Theology at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. Wallenfang specializes in phenomenology, hermeneutics and Catholic theology. His research focuses on the work of Edith Stein, Emmanuel Levinas, Paul Ricoeur and Jean-Luc Marion. Wallenfang’s work has sought to explicate a critical account of the sacrament by employing phenomenology as the primary method for analysis. Wallenfang is a member of the Edith Stein Circle, The Society for Ricoeur Studies, and The North American Levinas Society.