Theology: Never a private idea

Theology is never simply the private idea of one theologian. If it were, it could count for little, for as a private idea it would sink rapidly into insignificance. On the contrary, the Church, as the living subject which endures amid the changes of history, is the vital milieu of the theologian; the Church preserves faith’s experiences with God. Theology can remain historically relevant only if it acknowledges this living environment, inserts itself into it and attains an inner participation in it. It follows that the Church is not an organization which the theologian must regard as alien and extrinsic to thought. Insofar as the Church is a corporate subject which transcends the narrowness of individuals, she is the condition which makes theological activity possible. It is thus evident that two things are essential for the theologian. First, the methodological rigor which is part and parcel of the business of scholarship . . . but he also has need of inner participation in the organic structure of the Church; he needs the faith which is prayer, contemplation, and life. Only in this symphony does theology come into being.