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Abstract

This essay contends that René Girard is not a philosopher or a scientist whose ideas are open to theological appropriation. Instead, contrary to his assertions otherwise, the Girard corpus ought to be read as if it were articulating a form of theology whose primary intellectual home can ultimately be found on a theological map. As the field of Girardian theology grows, it becomes more evident that we need some theological lenses for examining the theology already lying waiting—sometimes inchoately, sometimes not—in Girard's texts, and also for examining how theologians use and misuse his texts. If we can see that he is already doing theology then a theological critique becomes plausible and valid in principle, and indeed becomes an internal critique. Applying good interpretive lenses will provide some rigorous criteria for analyzing the degree to which Girardian theologians are following the internal logic of Girard's thought in their appropriations of it. The interpretive lenses I propose using on Girard are first the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar (d. 1988) and then the theology of John Cassian (d. circa 435). These two theologians provide us with lenses that help us see that Girard is fundamentally a Catholic theologian involved in resisting the speculative re-writing of Christianity by proponents of “false gnosis” and that he belongs within the category of theologians who advocate spiritual transformation and “true gnosis.”