The theologian as evangelist

The theologian as evangelist December 7, 2012

Deacon James Keating dropped me a note about this upcoming gathering and said:

Greg, this is big news. In the midst of tensions between bishops and theologians, the CTS has designated it annual meeting as a place for theologians to think about their role as EVANGELISTS! In my college years at three Catholic universities, no one cared if I practiced the faith, only if I got the footnotes right…

I think he was kidding.  I think.

From the online announcement:

The College Theology Society holds its fifty-ninth annual convention from May 30 – June 2, 2013 at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. The theme is Teaching Theology and Handing on the Faith: Challenges and Convergences. William Portier (University of Dayton) and Matthew Sutton (St. John’s University, NY) are co-editors for the annual volume.

In the United States, several recent studies from the Pew Forum and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate show that religious illiteracy is widespread and religious practice particularly among Catholic students is declining. The demographics of students at most Catholic colleges and universities is changing rapidly if not radically in their relationship and understanding of the Christian faith. In light of these challenging observations, it is important for the College Theology Society to revisit assumptions about the possibility of convergences between the teaching docere) of theology and handing on (tradere) the faith.  For many students attending a Catholic or Christian college, their theology courses often represent the first substantive adult engagement with the Christian tradition and their theology professors might represent the first substantive encounter with an intellectually committed Christian. These observations raise questions about core curricula and the responsibilities of how Catholic and Christian colleges give explicit attention to the Christian intellectual and cultural tradition. These observations also raise questions about the tenuous, disputed character of the relationship between the academic position of teaching theology and the ecclesial mission of handing on the faith. For the future of Christianity in the United States, particularly in our Christian colleges and universities, explicit understanding of the relationship between the teaching of theology and handing on the faith is absolutely critical for a more conscious pedagogy and a proper implementation of evangelization.

The conference will examine questions like: should theologians be understood as evangelists handing on the faith in the sense of pointing to Christian theology as a vital intellectual and spiritual tradition that helps shed light on the human person, the world, and the divine? How is it possible to teach Catholic theology among religiously diverse student populations given our needed sensitivities to ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue? How can the teaching of theology increase religious literacy and practice given the declines in young adult affiliation with the Catholic faith? What is the relationship between a theologian’s responsibilities to the church in handing on the faith and a theologian’s responsibilities to the academy in terms of professional competence and academic rigor?

Visit the web page for more.

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