I have a question about venal sin? So say a theologian who is an expert in church law and sin wouldn’t this make venal sin very hard to commit? Because of the fact that he or she has so much experience in the subject of sin.


Not really. That’s a bit like saying no lawyer would ever commit a crime because they are so knowledgeable about the law. Except there are plenty of lawyers who have been convicted of crimes. In the same way, I am sure plenty of theologians sin.


You have to keep in mind that theology is an academic pursuit, not a spiritual pursuit.

Truth comes from faith, not from the ivy covered walls of educational institutes.



As a theology professor, I’m sure every theologian sins, some more than others, of course. As the poster above me pointed out, it’s an academic pursuit, not a spiritual one.


I think St Anselm would take issue with that, as he describes theology as “faith seeking understanding.” And Evagrius Ponticus says “he who prays does theology, and he who does theology prays.” If theology is not a spiritual endeavor it quickly becomes divorced from its ultimate end. And if faith is not respected as having an intellectual dimension, it lapses into fideism and fundamentalism. We can’t and shouldn’t separate the two, nor denigrate prayer as mere sentimentality or commit the opposite error of reducing theology to an academic exercise. They have to go together. They are predicated one on the other.



Theology that is not a spiritual pursuit isn’t good theology, as far as I’m concerned, and I suspect all of my theology professors would agree.


Having a better understanding of moral theology can help us to avoid sin, provided we have the grace and the virtue to carry through on that knowledge. And we’d better pray for that grace and develop that virtue, because knowing better, we will be judged more strictly if we do sin.

That said, I would definitely place emphasis on the grace and the virtue; some of the greatest saints were peasants. That doesn’t mean a knowledge of moral theology is irrelevant to the spiritual life, but it is certainly not sufficient alone.


Knowledge can yes help one…but we will commit venial sins til the day we go to the Lord.

They can be avoided - but not totally - we will have some (apart from a special grace of God).


:confused: All of the great theologians, think St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Therese of Avila, modern ones such as John Henry Cardinal Newman, Peter Kreeft, Scott Hahn (the last three, all of whom converted to Catholicism because of their investigations) are men and women of great faith. To say that it is purely an academic pursuit (which it is) but not a spiritual one is to force a division, a dichotomy, that really shouldn’t be there.


yup. Including not wearing their profession on their sleeve.
Which would be the sin of vanity.


Yet St. Paul says be transformed by the renewal of your mind.

And of course Jesus commands us…

and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’

Now if your talking modern Scripture scholars…they’re the ones to be wary of…:slight_smile:


I would have to agree with you. I certainly wouldn’t want to take a theology class that has an atheist professor. They may know everything by the book, but that isn’t enough.


Fr. James Nugent has this to say in the EWTN Library:
I found it helpful in defining “theologian”.

*" Theologian " in the strict sense is applied only to those relatively few men who are regarded as truly experts in theology. Besides mere academic degrees or teaching positions in that subject, these men display a penetration of thought beyond the ordinary, that classifies them as authorities in the field of theology.

There are a number of factors that go together to constitute theologians in this restricted and exclusive sense. Frequently, they have occupied for a long time the professor’s chair at one or more of the top-ranking schools of Catholic theology. In addition, they have generally published a good deal on theological topics and have won approbation and praise from the Church hierarchy. Usually they are consultants and advisors not only to the laity, but also to priests and Bishops and even to the Pope. Another sign of the kind of theological expertise here considered is that a theologian be regarded as having it by his theological colleagues.

The function of such theologians is penetration, clarification, and defense of Church teachings. They themselves arc not primary teachers in the Church, but they assist the Pope and the College of Bishops, who are the primary teachers. The final test of the worth of some theologian’s opinion is his faithfulness to official and authentic Church doctrine.

Therefore, if it is true that the hierarchy sometimes consult the theologians, all the more do authentic theologians consult the hierarchy, because they understand that theologians are channels of doctrine and not its sources. When a theologian’s view is in open conflict with the clear and authentic teaching of the Holy Father, then that view simply lacks value, no matter what the theologian’s fame may be.

The role of theologians in the Church is somewhat like that of research scientists in an industrial firm. It is the job of such scientists to further the projects and goals of the company as they are established by its president and board of directors. If a scientist decides to set policy and to abandon company goals, he is stepping out of his proper role and will soon find himself unemployed. In the same way, a theologian who denies official Church teaching is not fulfilling his role.*


Yet, we see the Nouvelle Théologie of the early-mid 20th century explicitly condemned by the Holy Father Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Humani generis and by all of the preceding popes of the 20th century, go on barely a decade later to become the primary theology of the Second Vatican Council, and thus have a profound impact on the modern Church. How do we reconcile such things?


We defer to the sitting Pope, who, the Church teaches, is guided by the Holy Spirit.
I was quoting a priest in reference to Theologians, not Councils.


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