Here is the last part in the series, dealing with chapter three of the paper, which is entitled 'Giving an Account of the Truth of God', which covers the last three of the twelve criteria the paper presents for judging whether or not something is authentic Catholic theology.
Criterion 10: Theology involves the use of reason illuminated by faith (paras 61 – 73)
Paragraphs 65 to 71 of the paper sketches some of the main lines this engagement has taken in the past, such as the encounter with Greek pagan philosophy; scholastic methodology; the Reformation and Enlightenment critiques; and the challenge posed by post-modernism.
- different specializations (eg biblical, moral, etc);
- external influences (eg transcendental theology, liberation, etc); and
- different sources, methods and disciplines/tasks (law, history etc).
- insisting on reference to the ecclesial tradition of theology (in particular the writings of the Fathers and St Thomas Aquinas);
- sub-disciplines talking to each other and working on interdisciplinary projects;
- critically assessing the methods and assumptions of other disciplines from a faith perspective rather than adopting them uncritically and allowing other disciplines to impose their frameworks on theologians (there seems to be an implicit attack on historico-critical approaches to texts, tainted by rationalism, in particular). Attention to philosophical frameworks can be helpful here.
We need to distinguish between theological wisdom, gained through intellectual contemplation and rational labour, and the mystical wisdom or ‘the knowledge of the saints’, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit which comes from union with God in love. There are links between the two, including that both require charity, and both must be a lived expression of faith, but they are distinct in character.
In particular, mystical theology, and particularly the ‘via negativa’, or sense of awe before the mystery of the Trinity, reflects the limits of positive theology, since ‘between creator and creature no similarity can be noted without noting a greater dissimilarity’, and we can never fully comprehend God.
I hope these notes prove of use, and spur you on to read the original paper, and google any terms you come across but don't fully grasp!