Theology-ology

The post is small but the issue massive.

Theology ought to be study of GOD.

However, very often, it ends up being the study of … the study of God. That is, it is simply the study of Augustine’s thought or Aquinas’s thought or Newman’s thought or Balthasar’s thought or O’Collins’s thought or Rahner’s thought, etc.

Now, it is important to study the work of great theologians. In fact, we can’t get off the ground by ourselves, unless one is of some rare species I have not seen.

But this fact SHOULD mean that we must study TRADITION above all. And not with an eye to the ‘opinion of the great theologian qua his / her opinion’. Rather, with an eye to contact with the RES, REALITY. Namely, with an eye to right thought about Uncreated Being and Created beings.

At the hands of modernists, however, we reflect on this or that theology qua the opinion of this or that person. Hence, we foreground the historical context. Then, we highlight the differences among the various approaches. Now we are looking at pupils, at the eyes of theologians and not at what they looked at. In fact, we show ourselves rebels against them. We are betraying them. For they looked at the real. And we are looking at them.

But see what next happens. The differences are pondered with great and serious worry. Worry so deep that we begin to wonder whether there is any truth. Is there any truth out there? Or is it just me and my looking at another’s looking? O the depth of my own blindness, the unsearchable uncertainty of my own mind, unstable and wayward. Nothing is true, no not one thing. All err. Their vision is blindness.

After the confusion sets in, students are ready for the next step. It may be offered by the professor or by the culture at large. “Life is short, death is certain; eat, drink and be merry.”

If there is no point or end, then certainly sex cannot have a point or end. Ergo, sex for sex’s sake. Musing for musing’s sake. Discussing for discussing’s sake. In short, the death of the mind followed by the banality of endlessness.

All this from a theology course? Of course not. Still, this foregrounding of perspective – this perspectivism – is indeed one strongly nailed iron affixing the lid of your coffin to the walls of your death.

2 thoughts on “Theology-ology

  1. I’m not involved in academia, but when I have had the opportunity to read academic theology papers as an amateur, it has struck me that they routinely aim at novelty and not explication or development. That is, they don’t defer to tradition or logically build on it, but instead put forward some new interpretation of some text, and further try to show that it has been wrongly understood until now. (That is if they bother to look at the tradition to begin with.) This may be in part simply the desire to justify one’s existence: why publish if you aren’t saying anything new? But the result is nevertheless a double undermining: first by focusing on a text-as-opinion rather than the truth of the matter, and second by throwing doubt over the tradition of understanding them. Theology becomes a series of untrustworthy opinions interpreting other opinions — the blind leading the blind.

    1. EXACTLY. This is what happened to me at Notre Dame, my alma mater, twenty some years ago. (It has improved somewhat since.)

      In the middle of a class that wooed us towards modernism, my good friend said, “But all we are doing is reading opinions.” To which the professor effectively responded, “That’s all there is in theology.”

      This is a great tragedy. In fact, modernism has taken many and sundry forms of late, but hatred of tradition is one common thread.

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