Sacred Scripture and Theology | Thomas More College

Sacred Scripture and Theology

This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
–John 17:3

The human person, created in the image of God, is made for truth. In the words of St. Augustine, the blessed life that all men seek consists in “joy in the truth — for this is joy in You, O God, who are truth” (Confessions X, xxiii, 33). According to John Paul II, it is the privileged task of the Catholic college or university “to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth” (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, 1). That intellectual effort finds its fulfillment in the study of sacred theology, the “science of faith” — the reasoned-out knowledge of things believed.

At Thomas More College, students spend two years building this foundation. We begin by considering the human search for God, its promise and its perils. We then examine God’s own initiative on behalf of man — the divine answer to the human question — as revealed in Sacred Scripture. Select texts of the Old and New Testaments are read in their essential unity — as manifesting the one plan of God centered on Jesus Christ — and within the living tradition of the Church — that is, as authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium and faithfully expounded by the Fathers and Doctors — St. Augustine and St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Great and St. Bernard, Newman and Benedict XVI. The Word of God is also considered as the source of the Church’s life of prayer and worship — as not only “informative” but also “performative” (Spe Salvi, 2).

Having secured the foundation, students pursue scientific theology proper in the fourth year, examining the mystery of Christ — the Word made flesh for our salvation — and the mystery of our new life in Christ. As the recent Holy Fathers never tire of repeating, “only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light…. [Christ] fully reveals man to himself and brings to light his most high calling” (Gaudium et Spes, 22). Our principal guide here is St. Thomas Aquinas, the “Common Doctor,” whom the Church has always proposed “as a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology” (Fides et Ratio, 43).

Course Descriptions

(3 credits during first year of studies)
Man by nature seems to long for something beyond the mere human condition.  Yet, side by side with the thirst for transcendence we find recurring skepticism that divine things are anything more than a human fabrication.  What is the relationship between experience and revelation within religion?  What is the relationship between faith and reason within Christianity?  Why does man desire transcendence?  Why does he stray from pursuing it?  Authors and texts include: Books of the Old Testament, Sophocles, Plato, Lucretius, Cicero, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

(3 credits during first year of studies)
A study of the person, words, sufferings, and deeds of Jesus Christ who is the Redeemer of Man, as prefigured in the Law, foretold by the Prophets, and proclaimed by the Evangelists. The principal texts will be the Gospels themselves, accompanied by commentaries by Sts. Leo the Great, Augustine, and Aquinas and Pope Benedict XVI.

(3 credits during second year of studies)
An examination of the lex orandi, the law of prayer, through a consideration of such topics as worship, sacrifice, liturgical and private prayer, lectio divina, sacramental theology, and the role of sacred art and music.  Particular attention will be given to the poetic impulse and figurative language in prayer.  Biblical texts will include the Psalms, the Song of Songs, the Letter to the Hebrews, and the Apocalypse, with commentaries and supplementary readings from the works of the Fathers of the Church, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Pius X, and Joseph Ratzinger.

(3 credits during second year of studies)
A careful journey through the writings of St. Paul with the goal of attaining a clear understanding of the mystery of salvation.  In addition to the Pauline corpus, students will give serious consideration to the commentaries of the Fathers and St. Thomas Aquinas.

(3 credits during fourth year of studies)
A study of God’s providential plan of salvation centered on—and revealed in—the Incarnation, Passion, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The principal texts will be the works of Saint Augustine and Saint Aquinas.

(3 credits during fourth year of studies)
A study of the mystery of divine life granted to us in Christ. Topics include Grace and the New Law, beatitude and the Beatitudes, the theological virtues—charity in particular— and the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The principal text will be Aquinas’ Summa Theologiae, with constant reference to his Scriptural and Patristic sources.

(3 credits during fourth year of studies)
An examination of the continuous contact of Western Catholic culture with others; particular attention is given to understanding the Church’s universal mission of evangelization in the context of contemporary dialogues with Eastern Orthodoxy, Judaism, Islam, and other non-Christian religions.  Readings will be anchored by magisterial documents (e.g., Satis CognitumUt Unum Sint, etc.) and primary sources of the other societies such as the Koran.   Attention will be given to literary, philosophical, and theological works from these non Western-Catholic societies (Confucius, Averroes, Dostoyevski, etc.) in order to encourage students to see how the imagination both shapes and is shaped by culture in the mind’s apprehension of reality, and to enquire into what extent we can speak about generic patterns of order and ideas.

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