01 November 2011

Amen, Brother Charles.

Advice to Theology Students

Here's how it goes in one of your courses: You are assigned a textbook or two and a bunch of articles to read. If you're lucky, you are also made to read some primary sources. Then you hear some lectures and participate in some discussions, with might nor might not be illuminating.

Then you have to write papers or even give a presentation. But here's the thing, if the papers you write or the presentations you give only serve to reproduce the lines of argument and theological assertions of the textbooks and articles you were assigned, or the lectures you heard, you are not receiving an education. You are only allowing yourself to be socialized.

The textbooks you are assigned often do a marvelous job of summarizing and serving up centuries of theological reflection on divine revelation and reasoned reflection of God's action in the world. But in doing so they all have embedded in them very certain choices of theological opinion. This is even more the case with articles. Even the primary sources you are assigned have been selected from various possibilities.

This isn't about the tedious old divisions of liberal and conservative, progressive and traditional, etc. Being socialized into learning to utter the slogans and pet concerns associated with any of these labels is boring and beneath your intellectual dignity when you can have a real theological education instead.

So, do your homework. Read the things assigned to you. But when it comes to a chance to reflect upon theological questions yourself, go further and deeper. First, pick up your Bible. What do the Scriptures say about the question or topic at hand? Second, read your Catechism. Or better, read your Catechism alongside your Denzinger. Don't have one of those? Click here and order one. Not later, now.

Don't settle for being socialized into the 'theological imagination' of your school or the 'correct' opinions of the authorities in your life, whatever camp these fall into among the factions of this tired world. Stay close to the Scriptures, stay close to the living tradition of the Church's teaching. Be empowered, and be educated.


Anonymous said...


Brother Charles said...

Thanks for the encouragement!

PJA said...

Can you explain more about "Denzinger," about who he is, what he did and about the link you provided to a certain text...either here or in another post?


Dave said...

Thanks. I run a Spanish Seminary or Seminario. So this article was really helpful for me. Thanks!

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