The ecclesiological context of faith

I have regularly blogged about the intimate connection of faith and Faith. The Holy Father has again highlighted the context of great theology – The Church. Using Tertullian as an example, the Holy Father reminded the faithful that true theology is only done within the Church and not outside of it. Or, to put it another way, faith only comes through Faith.

Vatican, May. 30, 2007 ( – During his weekly public audience on May 30, Pope Benedict XVI (bio – news) resumed his series of talks on the leaders of the early Church, speaking about the influence of Tertullian.

A convert to Christianity who lived in north African in the 2nd century, Tertullian was “the first great Christian author to write in Latin,” the Pope observed.

Speaking to a crowd of over 30,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict said that Tertullian’s powerful arguments against his pagan contemporaries had an important influence on the early Church. He also noted that Tertullian gave theologians an accurate way to describe the holy Trinity as “one substance” and “three Persons.”

However, Tertullian’s life is also a caution to theologians, the Pope continued. The great African thinker became steadily more demanding in his moral teachings for Christians, “expecting them to behave heroically in all circumstances and especially during persecution.” Eventually “the intemperance of his character gradually led him to abandon communion with the Church,” the Pope recalled. In his later life, the Pope said, Tertullian “lacked the simplicity and humility to be part of the Church.”

Pope Benedict concluded that even great thinkers must be mindful of their own limitations, or risk losing the perspective that makes their ideas influential. He said: “The essential characteristic of great theologians is the humility to remain with the Church, to accept her weaknesses and their own, because only God is truly holy.

Thanks to Universal Indult Blog for the link.

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