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July 04, 2005

Ch. I. Q.1. Theology

THEOLOGY is the science of God and things Divine. 1 It is properly called a science since it treats of ascertained facts; coöordinating them and exhibiting them, with their logical implications, in systematic order. 2

2. Theology cannot be shut out from any sphere of being or fact, but treats of all things in so far as they are related to God and Divine purposes. In particular it treats of the nature of God and His operations; His creatures and providential government; His dealings with all creature-hood; His designs, and the historical facts and institutions which reveal and fulfil them; the future for which He is preparing all things; and the principles and laws of conduct which, as a consequence, it is the duty of man to obey. 3

3. These elements are partly natural and partly supernatural. They lie partly within the range of our natural faculties and partly beyond, so as to require the aid of grace for their proper mastery.

4. True Theology assumes the Catholic Faith as its premise and governing principle. This Faith is unalterable in substantial content, and its fundamental meaning remains forever the same. Yet Theology is a progressive science, for it can never exhaust the scientific bearings of the Faith; and is enriched by every increase in natural knowledge, in so far as such knowledge throws light upon Divine operations and purposes. 4

1,Hooker, Eccles. Polity , III. viii. 11; Fleming, Vocab. of Philos.; Pearson, De Deo, p. 1; St. Thos., Summa, I. i. 7; Suicer, Thesaurus, Θεολογια.

2, Newman, Idea of a University, Disc, ii.; Fleming, “Science”; St
Thos., I. i. 2; Martensen, Dogmatics, §2; Clarke, Outline of Theol., pp. 4, 5.

3, St. Thos., I. i. 7.

4, Anglican literature lacks a really complete treatise of Dogmatic Theology. Of small manuals, the best are Lacey's Elements of Doctrine; Stone's Outlines of Dogma, and Norris' Rudiments of Theology. Owen's Dogmatic Theology is useful, but dry for this generation. Mortimer's Catholic Faith and Practice is in many ways valuable; but, along with Percival's Digest of Theology, is somewhat Latin in point of view and terminology. Moule's Outlines of Christian Doctrine and Walker's Outlines of Christian Theology are evangelical and limited in value.

Looking afield, St. John of Damascus' On the Orthodox Faith is the classic resumé of Greek patristic Theology; and St. Thomas Aquinas' Summa Theologica is the flower of Scholastic Theology, and indispensable. Of modern treatises in the Eastern Church should be mentioned Macaire's Theologie Dogmatique Orthodoxe; and Blackmore's Doctrine of the Russian Church, containing two important Russian Catechisms. Modern Latin Theology is very rich. Petavius' De Dogmatibus and Thomassinus' Dogmata Theologica contain ample historical treatments of each topic considered. Their Latin is stiff. Suarez' Summa, Perrone's Praelectiones, and Schouppe's Elementa Theologica Dogmatica are standard. Wilhelm and Scannell's Manual of Catholic Theology is in English, and very valuable. Hunter's Outlines of Dogmatic Theology, also in English, is polemical and perverse. The Latin treatises of Klee and Franzelin should also be mentioned as valuable.

Protestant Theology is fatally defective in certain respects; yet may not be altogether disregarded, allowance being made, of course, for its presuppositions and rationalistic private judgment. Among Lutheran works may be mentioned Martensen's Christian Dogmatics, and Dorner's Christian Doctrine. The chief Calvinistic works readily available are Chas. Hodge's Systematic Theology and Shedd’s Dogmatic Theology. The best Baptist work is A.H. Stone's Systematic Theology.

Much help in the systematic study of Dogmatics can be gained from works on the Catholic Creeds. Forbes' Nicene Creed is especially valuable, and Pearson's classic treatise on The Apostles' Creed, is very learned. Maclear's Introduction to the Creeds is more elementary, but useful. Mortimer’s The Creeds may also be mentioned, and Lias on The Nicene Creed.

Posted by Debra Bullock at July 4, 2005 04:59 PM

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