Sunday, September 23, 2007
The last RCIA class dealt with some key concepts of the Catholic church. It was pretty good and reinforced everything that I had studies leading up to this whole process. The class started out with a brief discussion on theology, pre and post Vatican II.
It was stated that pre-Vatican II, theology was limited to intellectual, European, males. Post-Vatican II saw the focus of theology shift towards a more open and experiential based focus. It shifted from the ivory halls of European academia to the dusty roads of Latin America and Africa. While I cannot and will not argue the shift in Catholic theological thought, I can and will weigh in on the concept of theology and the formation of it in the modern context.
The first thing that came to mind during the class was the question of whether or not theology is, at its core, intellectual or experiential. The obvious answer to that question is it is both and neither exclusively. The very core nature of theology is not the dissection of Biblical principles, passages, or even general concepts of the Divine. What theology is, in it's most pure and simple form, is the skeletal frame on which our religious and spiritual lives are built upon. It is foundational to our concept of who God is and how we relate to him. Theology is not something that academics dutifully guard, it is an exercise that all people engage in... consciously or not.
The second place my wandering mind drifted to was questioning whether or not experience should change theology. I believe it can and should. however, theological truths should never be based solely, or even principally upon experience. Experience relies on perception. Perception is subjective and liable to misinterpretation and cultural biases. True theology, right theology does not change according to culture or current trends. Experience enriches our theological concepts and current trends and cultural streams broaden our understanding of how truth is played out, but theology is founded and grounded on something much more substantial. Good theology, at least from a Christian view, must be founded upon scripture and tradition. We have been handed down a great heritage.
We do ourselves a disservice to ignore those who have come before and show ourselves to be arrogant and ignorant by thinking we have latched on to some great hidden truth that has been missed by 2,000 years of faithful men and women. We are all theologians in one form or fashion. We ought, therefor to be at least somewhat educated and open to learn from the past and value even the mistakes of those who came before.
And that had what to do with RCIA?