- What do you see as the task of theology and why is this important for you and for your faith community?
The work or task of theology according to Migliore is,” . . . inseparably bound to an identifiable faith community that worships God, attends to Scriptures and its accounts of God’s work and will, and engages in manifold ministries of education, reconciliation, and liberation. In short, theological inquiry requires continuing participation in the common life of a community of faith, prayer, and service.” (1). He goes on to expound in detail on these core principles in chapter one, but I found this definition of the task of theology above to be clear and concise.
“Roman Catholic Systematic Theology undertakes the task of a comprehensive and synthetic understanding of the Christian faith as mediated through the Scriptures and the Catholic Tradition and as through the Scriptures and the Catholic Tradition and as interpreted by the conciliar and papal magisterium.” This definition found in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary to me is very dry, but it is correct. But it makes it sound like the laity of the church have no role, and are merely sheep following the papal magisterium with no living, breathing role. With all the recent scandals and upheavals in the Catholic Church, I believe we are living in the age of the laity and the congregation has and is becoming of greater importance in every aspect of the Catholic Church.
If you delve into the meaning of the catechism of the church, the Oxford Dictionary describes catechism as meaning, “a summary of the principles of Christian religion in the form of questions and answers, used for the instruction of Christians.” Schreck in The Essential Catholic Catechism, states, “the Catholic Church is the continuing presence of Jesus on earth.” Which very much includes the laity and the whole body of the church.
I can see the praxis approach of liberation theology very much in the ideas and ways in which Pope Francis leads the Catholic Church. His personal history and being born and raised in Argentina and his Latin American roots in general very much color his ways of thinking and mirrors “Praxis” as described by Migliore as, “a technical term designing a way to knowledge that binds together action, suffering, and reflection.” (1) And the words of Gustavo Gutierrez in defending the importance of the praxis approach of liberation theology as, “critical reflection on Christian praxis in the light of the Word.” (1) Pope Francis has brought to the church, a renewed faith in “real charity, action, and commitment to the service of others”, and social justice. Recently Pope Francis said, “Church teaching on giving priority to the well-being of the poor and marginalized is not a political or ideological choice; it lies at the very heart of the Gospel.” (2)
Many in the Catholic Church have not appreciated the way Pope Francis is leading the church. But I personally find it to be a much-needed breath of fresh air in the church and steers the church into being more Christ-like in the vein of the verse below from Romans.
“Bless those that persecute you. Don’t curse them, pray that God will bless them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Not repaying anyone evil for evil; procuring that which is good not only in the sight of God, but even in the sight of all men. If possible, and to the extent that it depends on you, live in peace with all people.” – Romans 12, 14-18 (NLT)
- How might you explain the relationship between general and special revelation to an adult Sunday school class and why is this an important distinction?
General revelation is God showing himself through his wondrous creations in nature, through common grace, and through the human conscience. It is available to all people.
Examples: The majestic Grand Canyon, the mighty expanse of the oceans, the stars filling the night sky.
The writings of Hildgard Von Bingen often capture the revelation of God in nature.
“O most honored Greening Force,
You who roots in the Sun;
You who lights up, in shining serenity, within a wheel
that earthly excellence fails to comprehend.
You are enfolded
in the weaving of divine mysteries.
You redden like the dawn
and you burn: flame of the Sun.”
– Hildegard von Bingen, Causae et Curae
Special revelation is how God reveals Himself in the form of the Holy Spirit through supernatural and miraculous means. Special revelation is direct and specific.
Examples: Dreams, visions, miracles, feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in prayer and worship, God speaking to people by voice alone, through Theophany (a visible manifestation of God’s presence) and voice, through angels, prophets, high priests.
If I was teaching a group of adults about general and specific revelations, I would first have the class read Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (NIV). Then would ask them for provide examples of God found in nature from their own personal experiences.
Then we’d read and discuss Bible verses that show God revealing himself to us through special revelation such as Matthew 1:23 “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (KJV), God speaking to Moses out of the burning bush in Exodus 3:1—4:23, God speaking in dreams; Genesis 28:12-16, 1 Kings 3:5, Matthew 2:12. etc.
God has spoken to me in a dream three times in my life, once when I was 17 and twice when I was 36 years old.
I love the song All Creatures of Our God and King. This scaled down version by Elenyi is beautiful. She sings in English and Danish.
All Creatures of Our God and King / Alting som Gud har skabt (literal translation is Everything God has Created) by Elenyi. (Elenyi actually is a group of three LDS sisters, but only one is singing in this video).
- Migliore, Daniel L. (2014). Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology (3rd edition), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
- Making the poor a priority isn’t political, it’s the Gospel, pope says | National Catholic Reporter (ncronline.org)
☆ This blog entry is from my work in the Theology course I took at Phillips Seminary. ☆
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