Thursday, my husband and I leave for Madrid. It is not just a pleasure trip, although it will surely be enjoyed! We are going to a science and religion conference. The subject is on Personhood. While many may not understand how personhood and the Church intersect, I believe it is the main challenge for the Church today in understanding faith.
It seems that the Church's beginning in Judiasm has been understood in such completely different ways, that it boggles one's mind to assess what really happened and why. But, a commitment to the Church calls for an understanding of some kind, which is my present pursuit.
In understanding Jesus' ministry, one has to asess who Jesus was, and how it was understood in that day, who Jesus ministered to and why, how Jesus related to Judiasm and what the implications are to the communities of faith, as well as understand the political context. Understanding Jesus in his context is only the beginning to understanding Christian faith. Then, one has to tackle Church history.
Church history begins with the Councils, which solidified the developing tradition. These councils must be put into the context of the Church's "power" at that time. Why were the decisions made that were made? What were the challenges to the Church at that time that were being addressed? And how did these decisions impact the Church's understanding of faith. But, the Church's history is not complete without understanding the Reformation and its impact on the Church.
One of the primary results of the Reformation was Scritpture being put into the "language of the people". Education was impacted by the development of the printing press and giving the individual access to the Scriptures. But, the result of individual interpretation was schism. How was the Church to understand itself when there were so many interpreters, each understanding the text differently? These experiential challenges in maintaining the "authority" of the Church were met with science's impact on reason.
Science and its impact on the Church cannot be undermined, as the Church had had pre-eminence in understanding the "world" and "life". But, now, science had challenged the Church's authority and its understanding of "man". Human sciences were now in the forefront of understaning man and his "world".
In understanding today's need of "authority", one must understand how man develops in reason. Man's reason is limited, but can lead to an understanding of faith. Man becomes the "study" of the Church in understanding how "God" has made man (universals) and how each individual is unique (particulars). The "study" of man crosses the disciplines of anthropology, biology, psychology, sociology, and theology. This is what we will encounter in Madrid and what it may mean....