Friday, March 9, 2012

The scriptures, the faithful, and the living God

I've only skimmed through the ITC document published yesterday -- Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria.  Worth noting are a few paragraphs that discuss the core identity of theology and seem, to me, intended to avoid a reduction of theology to one object or task.  Each chapter of the document might be said to re-describe the essential task of theology.

In paras. 21 and 23, there is discussion of sacred scripture as the "soul of theology," and from Verbum Domini it is reaffirmed that: ‘where theology is not essentially the interpretation of the Church’s Scripture, such a theology no longer has a foundation.’  Theologians are here characterized as primarily commentators on Scripture.

In para. 35 the characterization of theology becomes more familiar to Protestants following Schleiermacher, who will tend to characterize theology as a sort of second-order critical reflection upon the doctrines of the faith: "Theologians help to clarify and articulate the content of the sensus fidelium, recognising and demonstrating that issues relating to the truth of faith can be complex, and that investigation of them must be precise."  Do note, though, that such an understanding of theology does not mean that arguments for the necessity of personal faith in the theologian are no longer available: "It is clear, therefore, that theologians themselves must participate in the life of the Church to be truly aware of it." (I have argued something like this elsewhere, although in a somewhat weaker form)

In para. 93, the characterization of theology is akin to Barth's thought, and more like what one usually sees argued by theologians these days: "The object of theology is the living God, and the life of the theologian cannot fail to be affected by the sustained effort to know the living God. The theologian cannot exclude his or her own life from the endeavour to understand all of reality with regard to God"

No comments:

Post a Comment