At first glance, Bishop Manning’s outburst against “too much theology” seems worrying. Isn’t it precisely in the area of theology that so much is going haywire in the Church today?
But reading carefully, I see that what he is saying is not much different from what I was saying below about “expert litugists”.
One of the things that struck me when I entered the Catholic Church is that these terms “theologian” and “liturgist” are used with a strong “professional” and “academic” edge.
When Bishop Manning says “”Many people have educated themselves in theology and so on. I often wonder what it is for?”, he isn’t criticising people for doing a bit of adult education, or for seeking out opportunities for catechesis and deepening their faith. There needs to be much more of this type of “grass roots” learning about the Church’s faith.
Bishop Manning appears to be talking about people doing degrees in theology–without having a clear ministry objective or service area in which they intend to use this knowledge. And I must say I share his question: “What is it for?”
All the baptised are “theologians” by their birthright. That means that they have a right to learn about the Faith of the Church and to deepen their knowledge of God’s Word. It means they have a responsibility to use their knowledge for the building up of the Church.
The Church needs Catechists and Evangelisers, and these people need to be “Deep in the Faith”. In other words, we need practical and pastoral theologians.
But I agree with the bishop. The Church needs more professional “theologians” almost a little as it needs more professional “liturgists”.