Last week, I argued that every discipline is connected to theology. However, within the academic discipline of theology, there are various branches such as dogmatic, systematic, moral, biblical, pastoral, and spiritual theology.
Another branch less known is existential theology which is an existentialist orientation rather than a systemised body of doctrine. Theologians here seek to understand God in relation to concrete situations of human existence. Among the most prominent is Rudolph Bultmann who argued that to speak of God validly, one must necessarily speak of man. In other words, the faith must interpret itself, show itself, and speak for itself. Therefore, he attempted to express the meaning of the gospel in terms in existential philosophy .
In the light of the increase in religious disinterest, antagonism to some Christian values, backlash to the past crimes perpetrated by the Church, advancements in science and technology, and indeed a new global ethic rooted in postmodernist ideology, there is a need for a new approach to theology that seeks to explain doctrine in terms appreciable to the contemporary society.
For instance, using 2 Tim 3:16 to speak to an atheist about the bible is a fallacy of an argument from authority (argumentum ab auctoritate) since the atheist does not believe in the authority of the bible itself. The same happens when one cites the authority of Church documents to convince one who believes that the Church does not have the authority to define a doctrine.
Against this backdrop, I argue for a different existential approach to theology. Since every discipline is connected to theology, I define my approach as the adoption of elements of physical sciences, social sciences, arts, humanities, law, and culture for the purpose of expounding Catholic doctrine in terms appreciable to contemporary society. Jesus Christ was the first person to adopt this approach to salvation because in his teachings, miracles, and other actions, he used verbal and non-verbal expressions appreciable to the society in which he lived.
Therefore, the goal of this approach is the continuation of the spiritual and temporal salvation wrought by Christ (John 10:10). With Catholic doctrine being the starting point, this approach self-regulates any attempt to deviate from Catholic teachings. While not limited to apologetics, this approach, in reflecting on the mission, teachings and actions of Christ, is redemptively honest as it cautiously engages the various disciplines that help to further expound Catholic doctrine.
As I theologise for my beautiful diocese😊, my weekly posts will adopt this approach to analyse the situation of our diocese as we work towards fulfilling our mission of saving souls for Christ.
May God continue to bless our beloved diocese.🙏🏾.