Friday, 19 March 2010

In defence of academic theology

"Tiny advances or displacements in the field of scientific theory often begin by being impossible to evaluate. Such changes may appear at first as pastimes reserved to the leisurely keen-wittedness of scholars. But when one considers that such new acquisitions then become part of the general consciousness and so become the automatic presuppositions of action, one can perhaps recognise that much may depend on them, and sometimes everything. This is also true of theology. It is very strange. But we Christians often seem to be completely unconvinced of the power of thought with regard to our Christian faith, and to be very doubtful that 'theory' can bring about very practical effects. That is why we often prefer to think over Church politics, social questions, methods of propaganda and so on. That is why living theology is so little esteemed. Many people in the Church have the impression that it merely casts useless obscurity on truths that have long been clear, that it generates unrest and distracts from more important matters. Such people miss the point, that a living, questing, questioning theology is working today for the preaching of tomorrow, so that it can reach the spirit and heart of man. Such theological work may often seem fussy and futile. It is nonetheless necessary."

Karl Rahner, Nature and Grace

Photo: Rahner and Ratzinger, from Radio Christiandad


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