St. Edmund Campion Catechism Group - Series 4 Lesson 1

Theology for Beginners: Chp 1. Why Study Theology?
Catechism: Q1-10
Basics of Catholic Faith by David Rodriguez: Why study the faith? 
Map of Life by Frank Sheed: Chapters 1-2
Summa Theologica 1aQ1a1

Why study theology?

Definition of “the faith”

  • The faith in the objective sense (that which is believed) is God and all His creatures in as much as they are in relation to Him.
  • The faith in the subjective sense (that by which one believes) either natural reason (natural faith) or natural reason illuminated by the supernatural virtue of faith (supernatural faith).

Definition of theology

Theology is the science of the faith. Theology may be natural or supernatural. Usually, when we talk of theology, we mean supernatural theology.

  material object principal of cognition means of cognition formal object
natural theology

(part of philosophy)

God and all His creatures in as much as they are in relation to Him

reason alone

observation of creatures

God as Creator and Lord (Deus Unus, Creator et Dominus)

supernatural theology

God and all His creatures in as much as they are in relation to Him


reason illuminated by faith

Divine Revelation (sacred scripture


God one and three (Deus Unus et Trinus)

Theology works by taking a truth revealed by God (a truth of revelation) and unpacking it by applying reason so that a further truth is ascertained. We call this further truth "virtual revelation". For example: 

  • We know by faith that the host becomes the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ at the moment of consecration.
  • We know by the evidence of our senses that the host looks exactly the same both before and after the consecration.
  • We conclude that the physical properties of the host (its accidents) do not indicate the substance of the host. This is a singular case.

Or another example:

  • Jesus suffered.
  • Only a material body can suffer.
  • Jesus had a material body (ie. He didn't have just the appearance of a body like the Angel Gabriel at the Annunciation.)

Answering the question

We should study theology for the following reasons:

1. Theology is wisdom which is the knowledge of all things in relation to their highest cause.

2. Theology is the greatest of all sciences:

  • by the sublimity of its object: God.
  • by the certitude of its conclusions: the certitude of faith

4. Theology teaches us our finality:

  • Everything has a purpose or finality in the universe; there is an answer to the question "what's it for?" for every single creature.
  • A creature is perfect in the measure that it achieves its purpose or arrives at its finality.
  • The finality of man is the supernatural perfection of all his faculties - the greatest among these are his intellect and will.

5. Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of ourselves:

  • We attain our finality by the perfect love of God.
  • We cannot love what we don't know.
  • Theology increases our knowledge of God so that we may increase our love of God.  

6. Theology helps us attain our finality in respect of our neighbour:

  • If we love God, then we love everything He loves including our neighbour. This means that love of God implies the desire for heaven for our neighbour.
  • We help our neighbour by teaching him the truths of the faith that we know by theology.

Division of theology

  • Dogmatic theology: the study of the truths of the Faith (which are the same as "the teachings of the Church" or the "truths of the Catholic Religion").
  • Biblical-historical theology: this includes biblical introduction, hermeneutics, exegesis; Church history, history of Liturgy, Church legal history and patrology.
  • Practical theology: moral theology, canon law, pastoral theology (catechetics and homeletics).


Why people are not interested in theology?

  1. Some have no notion of their ultimate finality which is in the knowledge and love of God (ignorance as to finality).
  2. Some think that they can get to heaven by being nice (helping old ladies across the road etc) and by not breaking the law of the land (ignorance as to means).
  3. Some are presumptious or have fashioned God to fit their limited understanding (see the Dunning-Kruger effect = pride + ignorance).
  4. Some just can't resist sensual and intellectual temptations of the world (incapability as to means = lack of moral virtue).

Why people should