What is Catholic Theology…?

…And what should a society of “Catholic” theologians look like? That’s the question raised by two essays that have come across my twitter screen in the last few days.

The first is a plenary address to the Catholic Theological Society of America entitled “Theological Disagreement: What it is, and How to Do it”, by Paul J. Griffiths. Griffiths is the Warren Chair of Catholic Theology at Duke Divinity School, and a convert to Catholicism from the Anglican Church. Scott Stephens very kindly put this excellent paper up on the ABC Religion and Ethics website. Take the time to read it. If your job description has “Catholic theologian” in it, this paper will help you comprehend your task and vocation when you wake up in the morning.

But if you, like me, found yourself wondering “How on earth did such a clear-thinking, rational and truly Catholic theologian come to be addressing such a pull-no-punches paper to the CTSA?”, then you will want to read this article in the latest edition of First Things by James Keating: “In the Wake of Heroic Theology: how the quest for relevance distorts theology”. His thesis is that the fact that the ‘heroic’ theologians such as Congar and Rahner successfully challenged and changed the way Catholic theology was done within their lifetime has led today’s (somewhat less ‘heroic’) Catholic theologians to think that it is their right and duty to achieve the same.

The only thing I would still like to be able to find to round out this little debate would be access to the CTSA respondent’s paper so tantalisingly described at the end of Keating’s article. Sounds like she was spitting chips. [Update: Here it is]

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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