Theology and Spirituality

The proposition that the division between theology and spirituality is linked with the division in our culture is confirmed by the language of the Greek Fathers, for there we find both terms naturally translated by the same word, theologia. For the Fathers theologia is both wider and narrower than our term, ‘theology’. It is narrower in that it is strictly discourse about God: in the Cappadocian Fathers it means the doctrine of the Trinity, God as He is in Himself, in contrast to oikonomia, the doctrine of God’s dealings with his creation; though it can be used to include that. It cannot, however, be used in the way we use ‘theology’ when we speak of, for example, a ‘theology of society’. At the same time, theologia for the Fathers is broader than our term, for it means not just the doctrine of the Trinity, but contemplation of the Trinity. Theologia, for Evagrius, a friend and disciple of the Cappadocians, is precisely contemplation, theoria, of God, as opposed to contemplation of the cosmos. A theologian for him is one who has attained this state of pure prayer: ‘if you are a theologian, you pray truly, and if you pray truly, you are a theologian’. There is here no division between theology and spirituality, no dissociation between the mind which knows God and the heart which loves him. It is not just that theology and spirituality, though different, are held together; rather theologia is the apprehension of God by a man restored to the image and likeness of God, and within this apprehension there can be discerned two sides (though there is something artificial about such discrimination): what we call the intellectual and the affective. Naturally these two aspects are present, and one or the other can predominate: St. Basil’s Liturgy is prayer, his book On the Holy Spirit is theology, though the latter is not without passages of prayerful ecstasy, and in the former the mind is concerned to express something with exactness and clarity; but the two aspects are not to be separated.

Fr Andrew Louth, Discerning the Mystery: An Essay on the Nature of Theology, 3-4

3 Replies to “Theology and Spirituality”

  1. Yes, yes, Yes! I’m pleased that you’re posting on this and this quote does say so much! It is so true.

    Yet of course the question that I’m left with is how we – at least we Western Christians – got to the sorry situation where we are today. And, more importantly, how we are to recover this – at least to some extent – lost vision? I really must get back to this book!

    1. just today we discussed with our professor Theology and Spirituality and that Theology and Spirituality must not be separated. Theology guides spirituality and spirituality invigorates theology.
      Thanks for the nice pots it helps a lot with my studies.

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