Christian Life v. Theology

Catholics like studying. I guess it’s just part of what we do. We like to sit in classrooms, take notes and have study groups. A typical parish bulletin will advertise the weekly Bible Study or a 4-part series on an encyclical or a Catechism group or a Catholic social teaching book group. For us, “learning about The Faith” often means “learning theology.” We don’t usually see a difference between the two. But I think this is a problem.

Christian Life and Theology are two different things. In theology we learn about God, about the Church, about the Bible. But when we study Christian Life we learn how to be a Christian, how to pray, how to act rightly in different situations, how to live for God. The study of Christian Life should take precedence over the study of theology in the life of the average Catholic. We should be spending our time and mental energy learning how to love God and live for Him, not simply learning about Him. There’s a big difference.

Update 3/28/08: I just read an essay by Canon Drinkwater, a 20th Century English catechist, about how to teach the faith. He argues that the faith should be taught as something to be done not just something to be learned about. He says that if someone sees his faith as something to do then it becomes inherently more interesting and relevant. I think that’s a profound insight. Christianity must be done, practiced, lived out not just read about, learned or studied.

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