I have been called upon to teach Theology 106 at the Colegio San Agustin-Biñan. When I brought together the old Theology 107 and 108 to form a new 3 unit course called “Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Augustine” it was to solve the problem of untrained catechists teaching seminar-like courses on St. Augustine. It proved to be beneficial however since it forced us to read St. Augustine’s works and therefore have a better appreciation of what he has done in deepening our understanding of the Catholic faith. So how do I currently understand the place of Theology 106 in the Theology curriculum we have at the University of San Agustin, Colegio San Agustin Bacolod and Biñan? Here it is…

Theology as taught in the under-graduate level has the characteristics of an adult catechetical instruction. Its main purpose is instruct students in Catholic thought and doctrine. For non-Catholics such an instruction serves a cultural purpose: the Catholic Church is two millenia old, the only human institution that has survived centuries of persecution and suppression. Surely, the vitality of such an institution is worth studying, especially since it has been and continues to be an active agent in the formation of human history.

Theological instruction has another purpose. Colegio San Agustin-Biñan, like its sister schools, aim at the formation of an integrated human being. Integral to this formation is the element of reflection. It has been said that the unreflected life is not worth living. Integral formation requires that reflection which allows the human person to drink deep, as it were, from the marrows of human existence.

Philosophy is the systematic reflection on all things in the light of their first principles and causes. Its object is the answer to the question “Why”. The means by which philosophy arrives at its goal is through reason alone. “Reason alone” does not mean reflection in a vacuum; such a reflection also requires all possible data that the human mind can gather using methods that are valid for research and study. Theology – as taught in any undergraduate Catholic school — is the systematic reflection on all things as known by God and revealed by Him. In this perspective, “Theology” is indeed the science/knowledge of God as Revealer. The formal object quo is reason aided by faith.

Theology, then is not only about Catholic life and teaching, it is also about human reflection which combines reason and faith. John Paul II in his “Faith and Reason” has shown how the Catholic Church upholds human reason and how this human power is elevated by Divine Grace when it opens itself to God’s Revelation and accepts it in faith. Faith is basically trust in the One who reveals and is in no way in opposition to reason. In fact, reason requires it, as our experience at school makes obvious.

If Theology is required for the maturity of human beings, within the walls of our Augustinian schools, it acquires a new color. One of the values which our educational program wishes to impart is the pursuit of Truth (see “Ten Augustinian Values: Devotion to Study and the Pursuit of Truth”). Truth, for the Christian is not just the agreement between what is thought and what is known, or of the thing to itself. It is also the life-giving Light that shines on all who are born (cf. John 1). It is a Person, not just one of the properties of Being. Theology aims not at the philosopher’s Truth, but the encounter with Him who declares: “I am the Truth.”

In sum, our Theology curriculum has the following purposes:

  1. It provides instruction in the Catholic faith;
  2. It helps the undergraduate have a life that is worth living;
  3. It is one of the Colegio’s way of imparting the value of truth and wisdom

Our theology curriculum unfolds in six courses: Theology 101 to 106. Theology is the systematic reflection on all things as known by God and revealed by Him. God’s revelation can only be accepted in faith. Theology 101 is precisely on Faith and Revelation. Revelation is the data; faith accepts it and aids reason in processing it.

God reveals everything in His Word. “Word of God” has three inter-dependent meanings. First, it means “Christ”, the Word of God made flesh. Second, it is the “memory of Christ” that the apostles hand down from generation to generation through their successors in the act of Tradition. At a certain point in history, the tradition of the apostles was fixed in writing and “canonized” as it were so as to become a memory-aid in the subsequent traditioning of the Word of God. Thus, the third meaning of “Word of God”: Holy Scriptures. Theology takes all three in consideration, with Tradition and Scriptures as its guides to the knowledge of Christ, God’s Word par excellence. It is by this that it is truly “theology”.

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God reveals Himself in Christ. The object of Theology is the encounter with the Word of God who is Truth. But Christ is no longer just the carpenter from Nazareth who died on the cross two thousand years ago, who after three days resurrected and “was taken up into heaven.” Paul writes that we no longer regard Christ as he was in the flesh. Rather, He is now Head of the Body, which is the Church. Theology 102 therefore is about Christ and His Church, the Total Christ that still needs to grow to full stature.

Theology 103 focuses on the vital relationship of Christ and His Church. “I am the Vine, you are the Branches” Jesus said to his disciples, those whom He calls “my brothers”. The sacraments are the means by which the vitality of the Resurrected Christ sustains the life of His Body.

From Theology 102-103, the Christian’s life and his relationship to Christ is seen abstracted from day-to-day living. In Theology 104-105 the Christian life is seen within the context of human history. Christ commands his disciples to love God above all and their neighbor as themselves. Theology 104 is about how these commands are carried out in the day-to-day life of the Christian. Theology 105 extends the study to cover the relationship of those commandments to the Common Good.

From Theology 101-105, then there is a progress from reflection on the Christian life as inserted in the mystery of the Total Christ to the Christian life as lived in human history. The basics of theological reflection has been covered. The undergrad should at the end of Theology 105 already realize that a good Christian makes a good citizen of any nation. It should then be clear that like Noah and his family at the end of the Great Flood, the Christian, emerging from the waters of baptism, is the hope of the world. In other words, until Theology 105 the student is already equipped with the essential elements for entering the professional life and make him/herself not only useful for society but also to live a fully human life. The last course in the series offers an example, that of St. Augustine of Hippo, who lends his name to the Colegio. Thus Theology 106 is “An Introduction to the Life and Works of St. Augustine”. John Paul II himself has endorsed Augustine not only as a guide to Theology but also to Christian living. He writes:

the exact and heartfelt knowledge of his (Augustine’s) life awakens the thirst for God, the attraction of Christ, the love for wisdom and truth, the need for grace, prayer, virtue, fraternal charity, and the yearning for eternal happiness.

In sum, Theology 106 is not just information about St. Augustine, it is also a peek into the life of one who has known how it is to encounter the Word of God and make Him the main reason for living.

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