Teaching Catholic Moral Theology

Theology, Fides quaerens intellectum, is an academic subject like none other. Not only is it’s object unique but its sources and the very fundamental disposition of the student and teacher are unique. Furthermore, its object cannot be known as other objects, say, electrons. No, the object of theology is in fact not an object but a tri-personal unity of being, the most blessed Trinity. The Trinity can be known the same way I know a person, relationally. Theology, then, gives professors the incredible privilege and grave duty to invite students into relationship with the God who revealed his plan for salvation in Christ Jesus. This invitation is at once made by the movement of the intellect and the will. The teacher of theology must provide material not only perceived as true by the intellect but also perceived as good by the will. While insight moves the intellect, beauty moves the will. The marriage of both makes for compelling theological pedagogy.

All theological pedagogy requires formation in Christian perfection, continual conversion of the soul to Christ, but moral theology in particular lacks intelligibility apart from the grace of being in Christ. This fact is both the challenge and joy of teaching moral theology, where the enlightening of the intellect so often accompanies the reordering of the will and the passions, a conversion of heart. As all educators in theology, I work, hope, and pray to bring about both of these changes in my students.

Join me, then, in pondering and praying over the best methods for teaching not only about the way in Christ, but teaching them in the way of Christ. This blog will feature my own hypotheses, successes, and failures in teaching Catholic moral theology, teaching the way in Christ. I will post reflections on teaching various controversial and seemingly benign topics, as well as assignments, in-class exercises, syllabi, etc. I invite you to enter the conversation. Excellent practice requires a community of practitioners in dialogue. Let us together expand our capacity to achieve the goods of our practice in moral, intellectual pedagogy.

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