Theology Insanity!

Mainly under the influence of my mother, I’ve been reading some theology: namely Frank Sheed’s Theology and Sanity. I’m pretty sure I remember reading it in home school too, or anyway being supposed to read it, although at that time, having never actually picked the book up, I thought the title was Theology Insanity! Yes, with an exclamation point.

Oh boy, is it good stuff. The idea of reading theology turned me off for a while. I know I already tend to overanalyze, to pick life to pieces rather than just living it, and I didn’t want to bring that tendency to God — to intellectualize about him instead of just being with him.

Sheed puts that notion to rest at the outset, in two ways. First, by his explanation of the title: “Sanity” because we study theology in order to be more sane, that is, to see the world as it really is. We all know in theory that the world is something made, but how often do we see it that way? I remember reading that bit by the window, then glancing up at the moon. My jaw dropped: for a moment I saw the moon as an artifact, something crafted.

So we study theology in order to habituate our minds to reality, to strip away the layers of secularization and familiarization that get in the way of actually seeing the world.

Second, Sheed makes the point that love of God isn’t somehow threatened by knowledge of him. (How stupid does that idea sound if we say it about humans? “No, don’t tell me about yourself — I just want to love you!) The more we know about somebody, the better we’re able to love them. Sheed spends a good long time on the Trinity — the things God has revealed to us, not only about his dealings with us, but about his own secret inner life. The kind of thing you would only tell somebody you really loved.

I’m only 100 pages in or so, but I can feel the difference that it makes in prayer. I’ve frequently had the feeling, sitting before the Eucharist, that I don’t really know who or what I’m talking to, exactly. Knowing a little theology gives you something to grab onto, something to chew on, something to talk to Jesus about. It also goes a long way towards helping your sense of awe.

Welp, I’d give you some big meaty quotes, but the book is downstairs in my car, out in the cold, and I’m officially inside for the night. More later!



6 Comments on “Theology Insanity!”

  1. Kevin says:

    Where do you even start when it comes to theology (besides the obvious answer of Scripture)? God is so infinitely immense and complex, it’s hard for me to think of a jumping off point.

    1. Christine says:

      As far as where to start with theology, I recommend starting with Christ–His person, nature, and work. From Christology you can get to Trinitarian theology. Then from there you can get to everything else.

      I recommend this approach for several reasons:

      1. Christ is the center of our faith. It makes sense to start with Him.
      2. The early Church started with Christology; the first ecumenical council, the Council of Nicea, dealt with Christ’s nature: is He true God or just the highest possible creature, called the Son of God because of what He merited through his work on earth? I think the history of the Church’s response to heresy developed in a natural progression, with what was most essential being defined first. And of course, without believing Jesus is God, there’s no such thing as the Trinity, while belief in the Son’s divinity leads naturally to the Trinity.
      3. I think that studying Christ is one of the best ways for theology to enter more deeply into prayer, because you’re studying the One whom you love and who loves you.

  2. Liz says:

    Steve,

    On your recommendation, I got the book and just started reading it. I see what you mean. Good, good stuff…causes me to pause, look out the window and ponder a lot.

    Liz

  3. Patric says:

    The book is excellent: it gives me the chills! The chapters on the nature of God and the Trinity are great. I also like his explanation of grace and redemption.

  4. gaby says:

    Top notch book, Impressed me no end. Plenty more like it, by Sheed, and others. Want recommendations?

  5. Sean says:

    I would like some recommendations

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