Monday, June 18, 2007

The Bible Is The Model Of All Theology

"There can be no doubt that contemporary theology needs a bridge. Following the trend in secular acedemia, theology has fragmented into many isolated disciplines, each working in isolation from all the others -the condition Jacques Barzun describes as 'specialism'. Thus, dogmatic theologians often assume they have nothing to learn from biblical scholars. Exegetes, for their part, give scant consideration to the insights of systematic and dogmatic theologians. To many scholars, these disciplines are almost contradictory: doctrine is the 'opposite' of Scripture.

Yet, amid the many varities of theological experience, the author of this volume sees a profound unity. His synthesis will, perhaps, strike readers as novel; but it is actually a recovery of the great Catholic tradition, not only of the Scholastics and the Fathers, but of the Apostles themselves.

For, though the divisions are deep, they are not very old. They reach back, rather, to the aftermath of the Protestant Reformation. Whenever heresies arise, the Church must treat dogma in a way that does not give due proportion to the whole truth. Instead, theologians must emphasize precisely the points that heretics deny. For example, because the Protestant reformers emphasized faith sometimes at the expense of works, post-Reformation Catholic theology has tended to emphasize works more than faith. Because Protestants preached 'Scripture alone' apart from tradition, Catholics have had to emphasize sacred tradition to a greater degree than before.

All this was necessary, in a remedial way. Yet its lingering effect has been to produce a theology that majors in relatively minor points. After all, tradition itself teaches the primacy of Scripture, and Catholic authorities from Saint Paul onward have taught the priority of faith over works. In classical theology, faith and works, Scripture and tradition, all receive their due, because all belong to one essential reality, whose archetypal expression is in the Word of God."

-Scott Hahn in the foreword to Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger's book Many Religions-One Covenant: Israel, the Church and the World.

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