The task of theology?

I am re-reading Avery Cardinal Dulles’ book on revelation, Models of Revelation. In the chapter on Revelation as Doctrine, Dulles quotes the evangelical theologian Carl Henry’s:

Christian Theology is the systematization of the truth-content explicit and implicit in the inspired writings. It consists essentially in the repetition, combination, and systematization of the truth of revelation in its propositionally given biblical form. The providence of theology is to concentrate on the intelligible content and logical relationship of this scripturally given revelation, and present its teaching as a comprehensive whole.

He goes on to point out that this Conservative Evangelical attitude to revelation is quite similar to the neo-scholastic within the Catholic Church. Neo-scholasticism injects the idea of tradition as the oral revelation systematized by the Church in her teaching role. Yet, both require the assumption that truth can be communicated via articulated speech and that this speech can be put into propositional statements.

But is that all theology is? Repeating and systematizing that which has gone before? It is a popular idea of theology. Orthodoxy is this context is easy: stick to the well trodden path. I have been told by good meaning Catholics that my eternal soul is in danger if I study theology. When I told an assistant at the local Catholic book store I was studying theology, she looked at me with all seriousness and asked, ‘Have you lost your faith, YET?‘.

Is theology just walking down the same path again and again? Using the same images and analogies?


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