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Catholic Theology | Theological reflection

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Catholic Theology is the science that studies God ( Teo, “God” + Logos, “Discourse / Word “), in particular concerning His intervention in the History of Salvation. “Catholic Theology” can be approached from two different perspectives. In a broad sense, any doctrine relates to God, the gods, or religion. Strictly speaking, concerning the Christian faith, reflect on the revealed data.

  • In its horizontal dimension, Catholic Theology is the “discourse on God.” It is a search on the part of man, who seeks to penetrate the Mystery. Aware of its limits and, therefore, of total inaccessibility. In this horizontal dimension, Catholic theology can also be the object of study by the atheist of goodwill, who wants to understand the doctrinal and cultural foundations present at the basis of the concept of God.
  • In a vertical sense, Catholic theology is a “discourse with God.” God communicates with man, reveals himself, and makes himself known by taking the initiative.

Another distinction can also be made between:

  • Natural Catholic Theology: what can be said of God starting from the only rational reflection on the world? Where there is a general revelation of God through creatures.
  • Revealed Catholic Theology: what can be understood about God by investigating the particular divine Revelation. Which took place not in nature but in the history of the people of Israel and, above all, in the person of Jesus.

The beginnings of Catholic theological reflection

The Bible speaks extraordinarily concretely and does not resort to expressions of philosophical origin. Yet, the very meaning of Scripture, which is a message of salvation, must be understood. And closely transmitted leads to the need to elaborate formulas that clarify and avoid misunderstandings. And favor dialogue with the surrounding environment.

The first theologians assumed and transformed pagan philosophies with freedom and creativity. On the opposite front, the heresies arose from the reduction of the novelty brought by the revelation of a previous philosophical scheme.

The need for theological reflection arises from the infinite depth of what is being known, that is, of the mystery of God. Authentic fidelity to how God made himself known implies transmitting what has been received. News can only take place by making the gift of faith one’s own. Catholic Theology is thus configured as an expression of many lives, as the fruit of the fidelity and prayer of many. The task of Catholic Theology is the reflection and systematization of revealed truths. To express them in a way understandable to men of a particular culture.

Representation of Catholic Theology

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Catholic Theology in the Middle Ages

Tradition and renewal. The aspect that comes most clearly, and almost exclusively, in light between the 6th and 12th centuries. It is the concern of fidelity to the data received from tradition. The inheritance received from the past is, above all, Sacred Scripture, and culture essentially consists in knowing it and commenting on it. Closely following the comments made by the Fathers. Here the concept of ”auctoritas” is fundamental. 

A text is an auctoritas; it imposes itself as the principle of theological discourse by the select value recognized to its author by the Church and by tradition. Theological reflection develops as a ‘comment’ or ‘reading’ of texts. (First of all, the Bible, then the Fathers). The work of the commentators consists, above all, in harmonizing the different autorotate of Scripture and the Fathers.

In the schools of the Carolingian revival, a notable resumption of theological reflection can be found in the 9th century. Under the impulse of Alcuin. In the liberal arts, people are taught as an autonomous body in the double grouping of the trivium (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric ). And the quadrivium(arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy). An author of this period deserves more than any other to be remembered for giving testimony to a truly original thought: Scotus Eriugena. 

Catholic Theology in Renaissance and Reformation

While medieval Christianity manifests all the signs of its disintegration, a new world begins to announce itself. It is destined to receive a new statute or, instead, it must discover its place and read new possibilities. The world about to be born is that of the Renaissance and the ‘humanists.’ They passionately begin to free themselves from the traditions of a withered Middle Ages. They open themselves to a renewed evaluation of pagan antiquity and primitive and patristic Christianity. 

A new conception of theological work can, at the same time, respond to the needs of a renewed culture. He is concerned with objective truth and begins to awaken to the sense of historicity and those involved with satisfying the inner aspiration., for authentic religious nourishment. Erasmus’s work represents this double orientation of commitment to seeking new paths. Alongside philosophical and historical studies on Christian sources, Erasmus dedicates the best of his efforts to moral and spiritual education works involving one other, humanism and Christianity.

A new way of ‘theologizing’ is created by M. Luther. It consists of recognizing the value of the individual’s subjectivity and interiority. In this sense, Luther is a response to the needs of spirituality. That has long since ceased to satisfy. The novelty of  Luther is given above all from his starting point. Indeed, the concern is not to separate the theological work from the act that constitutes it. That is the personal act of faith of the theologian. 

Sources of Catholic Theology

The sources of Catholic theology are in revelation, in the complex relationship between Sacred Scripture and Tradition. In an improper sense, the post-conciliar theological reflection would also see the “creation” of the earthly reality as the ” place ” of the encounter with God and, therefore, a further source of revelation.

Catholic Theology draws on the results of philosophy, according to the classic adagio Philosophia ancilla Theologiae (“philosophy handmaid of theology”).


The direction of Catholic Theology in the last thirty years of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st is indicated by the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council. And by the development of its methodological and content orientations. Especially in anthropology, ecclesiology, Christology, Mariology, and morals. 

Simplifying, the development areas can be reduced to five—contemporary Catholic. The first consists of a renewed consideration of the diversity of non-Latin liturgical, juridical, theological, and spiritual traditions present within the Church and are part of its inheritance. The second is an ecumenical dialogue with other Christian traditions. (Of the ancient Churches of the East, Orthodox, Anglicanism, Protestantism, and other Christian communities). The third is represented by interreligious dialogue and the increasingly felt presence of different religious beliefs. 

The fourth area concerns the theme of inculturation. This indicates the Christian message’s urgency to be rooted in a specific culture. Or context so that this culture or context can re-express and experience the Gospel of Jesus Christ authentically and authentically salvific way. The fifth area also relates to the investigation of Jesus, which increasingly emphasizes its historical dimension—expanding the knowledge and appreciation of the Jewish context. But, through archaeological and papyrological discoveries and the new acquisitions of comparative literature.