Catholic theology is facing a new challenge as young theologians are often more conservative and are often bewildered about the polarization in the church today, writes Thomas P. Rausch.
In America magazine (Oct. 14), Rausch writes that young academics in Catholic universities and seminaries are at odds with older theologians on matters of feminism, religious pluralism and adherence to other Catholic teachings. In contrast to the older faculty members who think the myriad of liberation theologies (feminist, Asian, African) are the way forward, younger theologians have taken up various schools of “ressourcement” or going back to the sources of the faith, such as “radical orthodoxy,” which seeks to engage postmodern thought. [A similar split between conservative seminarians and younger priests and the more liberal baby boom and older generations has been documented.]
Also evident among the young theologians are the “new apologists,” made up of such conservative Catholics as Karl Keating, Patrick Madrid, Scott Hahn and Mark Shea. These theologians stress evangelization, through “proving” the faith by rational and biblical argument to younger generations who are largely illiterate in Catholicism.
Rausch writes that the younger generation is often dismissed as backward by the older generation of theologians, but he thinks their conservatism may “actually represent a search for coherence and community” in the fragmented world of Catholic theology.
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