Monday, May 02, 2005

The dangers of an overly historical approach to theology

That's the topic of this article by Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn of Vienna. In the course of the article, he outlines some of the dangers which come with overly stressing the historical nature of theology. Among them is this:
    A fourth difficulty concerns mainly the West, but probably touches the whole Church. I call it a tendency to encyclopedism. All of theology becomes a large encyclopedia. Ever since the 18th century there has been a tendency in the West to write encyclopedias. The Enlightenment tried to gather the whole of human knowledge in large encyclopedias. The teaching of theology has become largely a kind of encyclopedia of approaches, of models, of authors, which lack coherence and an organic structure. At the end of theology, students have bits and pieces of their faith, without a coherent, global view.
I find this to be a very accurate observation, and unfortunately, it's an error which I've committed. Theology must be presented in a manner which demonstrates its coherence, its organic nature. Unfortunately, it's all too often not done in such a manner.

The cardinal provides this theologian with the impetus to do better on this point.

(HT: David.)

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