Monday, September 12, 2005

Faith and Theology

Theology seeks a deeper understanding of faith; hence faith is a necessary antecedent to theological study. Without faith, the study would a best be an exercise in Religious Studies or Phenomenology.

There are two types of faith that a theologian must understand: fides quae and fides qua.

Fides quae ("faith which") is the faith which is held by the Church through revelation or sacred tradition. (Objective faith)

Fides qua ("faith by which") is the faith by which a person is moved to respond to God. This includes a person's own understanding of his or her relationship to God, their own filtered view of fides quae, and in some instances personal revelation. (Subjective faith)

It is imperative that a theologian be able to distinguish between fides quae and fides qua and to always maintain conformity in study and work with fides quae.

Only a few theologian have held a personal faith that has been enlightened enough to illuminate fides quae. These theologians are given the title "Doctor of the Church."

Doctors of the Church:

St. Gregory the Great
St. Ambrose
St. Augustine
St. Jerome
St. John Chrysostom (Eastern)
St. Basil (Eastern)
St. Gregory of Nazianzus (Eastern)
St. Thomas Aquinas
St. Bonaventure
St. Anselm
St. Isidore
St. Peter Chrysologus
St. Leo I
St. Peter Damian
St. Bernard
St. Hilary
St. Alphonsus Liguori
St. Francis de Sales
St. Cyril of Alexandria (Eastern)
St. Cyril of Jerusalem (Eastern)
St. John Damascene (Eastern)
The Venerable Bede (Easter)
St. Ephraem
St. Peter Canisius
St. John of the Cross
St. Robert Bellarmine
St. Albert the Great
St. Anthony of Padua
St. Lawrence of Brindisi
St. Teresa of Avila
St. Catherine of Siena
St Therese of Lisieux

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General Timeline of the Development of Theology

1st 500 Years
Bishops + Basic Councils

Early Middle Ages
Monastics

Late Middle Ages
Universities w/Monastic Influence (Mendicant Orders)

>1500 Renaissance
Academia

For the first 500 years, theology was developed by the Bishops and a few select laymen. During this period of time, the basic councils of the Church were developed. The Basic Councils included: 1st Council of Nicaea in 325, 1st Council of Constantinople in 381, Council of Ephesus in 431, Council of Chalcedon in 451 and the 2nd Council of Constantinople in 553.

After the first 500 years, Europe was plunged into a prolonged period of political unrest. The monastic era began and most of the theological development was done under by the monks. However, as Europe began to flourish once again, the great universities were built, and the mendicant orders (Dominicans and Franciscans) were formed. During the late Middle Ages, the mendicant orders began to develop the theology that we recognize today. Of note were St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican, and his peer St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan.

After the Renaissance, around the year 1500, the development of theology was absorbed into academia where it remains today.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

When Did Theology Develop?

The term "Theology," as we know it today, is a product of the Middle Ages; though its first known use dates to around the second century with Clement of Alexander.

However, the concept of "theology" began to develop very early in the history of the Church as the Christian faith had to be explained to the Jews and the gentiles. It was especially important for the Greeks, Romans, and other gentile who had little understanding of the Old Testament.

"Kerygma," the Greek word for "preaching" or "proclaiming," is the term that is used to describe the teaching of the Apostle and early teaching of the Church as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles or the Didache. The Apostles were presenting the message of faith, their experience, believe, and revelation; they were not analyzing it per se. (Though in certain instances, St. John the Evangelist and St. Paul were very close to theological discourse, as we use the term today.)

St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th Century first presented theology in the manner that we know it today with the Summa Theologiae (also Summa Theologica.)

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

What is Theology?

The most common definition of theology is: "theology is faith seeking understanding." This definition is derived from the Latin phrase "fides quarens intellectum," which was written by St. Anselm (1033-1109) in the introductory of his book Curs Deus Homo ("Why the God-Man?')

"As the right order requires us to believe the deep things of Christian faith before we undertake to discuss them by reason; so to my mind it appears a neglect if, after we are established in the faith, we do not seek to understand what we believe." St. Anselm, Curs Deus Homo, English trans. from Latin by Sidney Norton Deane

Hence, theology must be derived first from faith and as a necessity likewise includes dogma. Yet while bounded by dogma, theology extends beyond to the intellectual and philosophical disciplines.

An emergent sense of theology arises at the earliest times in our lives when we begin to question "what is happening around me?" "Why is this happening?" "Is there a meaning to this happening?" "What will happen after I die?" "Is there some greater meaning beyond this world and how do I as a person fit into it?"

Thus, in a certain respect, theology seeks a deeper understanding of the basics of life.

Examining at the etymology of the word "theology" we can see that it is a combination of two Greek words: "Theo" meaning "God" and "Logos" meaning "word," "reason," or "study." As such, theology can be defined as the study of God or, more specifically, the study of reasoning about God and His revelation to us.

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A New Direction!

This blog is being completely redesigned. Please bear with me as I make the necessary changes. Over the last year, I completed my MBA and am now beginning an MA in Moral Theology. I will use this blog to share my reflections as I proceed through this new program.

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