09 March 2012

New Document from the ITC

The International Theological Commission has issued a new document titled, "Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles, and Criteria."  

Here are a few excepts from the Introduction and the first chapter:

2. To some extent, the Church clearly needs a common discourse if it is to communicate the one message of Christ to the world, both theologically and pastorally. It is therefore legitimate to speak of the need for a certain unity of theology. However, unity here needs to be carefully understood, so as not to be confused with uniformity or a single style. The unity of theology, like that of the Church, as professed in the Creed, must be closely correlated with the idea of catholicity, and also with those of holiness and apostolicity.

3. . .The present text accordingly consists of three chapters, setting out the following themes: in the rich plurality of its expressions, protagonists, ideas and contexts, theology is Catholic, and therefore fundamentally one, [1] if it arises from an attentive listening to the Word of God; [2] if it situates itself consciously and faithfully in the communion of the Church; [3] and if it is orientated to the service of God in the world, offering divine truth to the men and women of today in an intelligible form. 

5. Theology is scientific reflection on the divine revelation which the Church accepts by faith as universal saving truth. The sheer fulness and richness of that revelation is too great to be grasped by any one theology, and in fact gives rise to multiple theologies as it is received in diverse ways by human beings. In its diversity, nevertheless, theology is united in its service of the one truth of God. The unity of theology, therefore does not require uniformity, but rather a single focus on God’s Word and an explication of its innumerable riches by theologies able to dialogue and communicate with one another. Likewise, the plurality of theologies should not imply fragmentation or discord, but rather the exploration in myriad ways of God’s one saving truth. 

18. The intellectus fidei takes various forms in the life of the Church and in the community of believers in accordance with the different gifts of the faithful (lectio divina, meditation, preaching, theology as a science, etc.). It becomes theology in the strict sense when the believer undertakes to present the content of the Christian mystery in a rational and scientific way. Theology is therefore scientia Dei in as much as it is a rational participation in the knowledge that God has of himself and of all things. 

19. A criterion of Catholic theology is that, precisely as the science of faith, ‘faith seeking understanding [fides quaerens intellectum],  it has a rational dimension. Theology strives to understand what the Church believes, why it believes, and what can be known sub specie Dei. As scientia Dei, theology aims to understand in a rational and systematic manner the saving truth of God.

Grab a BIG mug of coffee and read the whole thing!

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  1. I'm about to go read a big chunk of this note. In response to #5, above, I agree there is a sense in which it is true that "one theology" isn't big enough to grasp the whole of revelation (we need Augustine, Aquinas, and Bonaventure, e.g.) But, if the "multiple theologies" approach disguises, as it has in the recent past, biased and inadequate philosophical starting points or methods (e.g. "process theology," "eco-theology," etc.), then I vehemently disagree. I'm not holding my breath that this document will address that point.

  2. Anonymous11:55 AM

    I'm still reading and taking my time! I am glad there is a balance of what is normal, tension, and what is not - dissent. Those so called faithful dissenters will not be happy. I hope you talk about it more.

  3. Kate on the Australia Incognita blog has some food for thought re the document.