If we’re to take the traditional task of systematic theology to be, if not dead at least put strongly into question by critical philosophy and theology (notice for instance how Moltmann calls his work “contributions to systematic theology”), yet at the same time participate in a “second naivety” allowed by such thinkers as Ricoeur and Milbank, then the canonical shape of the Year can act as a doxological ‘foundation’ for irregular dogmatics. We are used to pastoral reflections, sermons and prayers for the Church Year, but it seems to me that the Year could offer more with regards to even academic theology.
The Year obviously gives room for the traditional ‘topics’ – ie. Eschatology, Incarnation, Atonement, etc… – but requires that appropriate theological speculation take the route taken by the Evangelists. That way, when talking about, say, the Incarnation, after examining the horizon of interpretation given in the opening chapters of the Gospels, from there theological reflection could move in interesting directions.
[As a post script to my last post, I forgot to mention this Eastern Orthodox catechism which does precisely as I envisioned there. I can’t wait to check it out.]