Write In Between

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Writer's Wednesday -- Joseph Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI)

Theology is never simply the private idea of one theologian. If it were, it could count for little, for as a private idea it would sink rapidly into insignificance.

On the contrary, the Church, as a living subject which endures amid the changes of history, is the vital milieu of the theologian; the Church preserves faith’s experiences with God. Theology can remain historically relevant only if it acknowledges this living environment, inserts itself into it and attains an inner participation in it. It follows that the Church is not an organization which the theologian must regard as alien and extrinsic to thought. Insofar as the Church is a corporate subject which transcends the narrowness of individuals, she is the condition which makes theological activity possible.

It is thus evident that two things are essential for the theologian. First, the methodological rigor which is part and parcel of the business of scholarship; in this regard….philosophy, the historical disciplines and the human sciences as privileged partners of the theologian. But he also needs the organic structure of the Church; he needs that faith which is prayer, contemplation and life. Only in this symphony does theology come into being.

-- “The Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian” from The Nature and Mission of Theology by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.

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