Where is Catholic theology now?

During Vatican II famous Catholic theologians, mainly associated with the Nouvelle Theologie, like Congar, Rahner, de Lubac, Danielou, Ratzinger, Schillebeeckx, Chenu and von Balthaser were popular. Now after 50 years in this post Vat II and post JP II era who are the Catholic great theologians? Where do they stand? What influence do they have?

I would love to hear what contributors to CA think.

Karl Keating, Tim Staples, Brant Pitre, Jimmy Akin, Brent Horn, Devin Rose, Peter Kreeft, Christopher West, to name just a few, are producing works of great clarity, wisdom, and accessibility in a world where much of that is needed. I have found that reading what they write, listening to what they say, has definitely helped me to grow in knowledge, understanding, and ability to defend our faith.

Maybe these names don’t quite compare (yet) to the names on your list, but I certainly don’t think there’s a shortage of excellent theology and apologetics in our current times.

I think Dr. Scott Hahn is the preeminent living Catholic theologian who writes in English.

There is a difference between pastoral theology written by many of the commercial theologians (for lack of a better term) and that written for a more academic audience. All of those mentioned are very famous theologians and accessible to the general public but most of the greatest minds today are people we never heard of.

Allen C Mitchel at Georgetown is one.

Dom Bernardo Olivera OCSO, the former head of the Cistercian order is another.

Our own Brother JR has the highest degree attainable in the Pontifical University System of the Catholic Church - Doctor of Sacred Theology.


Wouldn’t most of the names you mentioned be closer to being considered good apologists rather than “theologians” (as that term is generally understood)?

This! The most popular Catholic theologians and philosophers known here on CAF, and on the likes of EWTN and other television/internet-based ministries, are mainly known here in that specific sphere of influence, and it’s a shame they’re not better known. But it is the unknown with the biggest influence. Dom Bernardo Olivera’s writings are highly recommended, and I even think you’ll find that the Pope Emeritus still yields great sway over theological thought and literature, and long may it last.

Son of Jonah,
many thanks for your reply.
The only person on your list I know is Peter Kreeft, but he is very deceptive as he appears to write very simply and in an acceptable way, but he is exceptionally deep, solid and philosophical.

I will try to get to know, read and study others on your list.

Thanks to all who contributed to this thread.

#6 LoyalViews: I am not familiar with Bernardo Olivera. I need to look him up. I mentioned Ratzinger as an important Vat II theologian in my initial post. Who is the image in your post?

#5 Tarpeian Rock: I will not argue about apologist vs. theologian.

#4 TimothyH: I am surprised I know little about Allen Mitchell, as our interests are similar. The biblical scholar Mitchell I know is Margaret Mitchell, who gave a lecture in Dublin that was excellent.

#3 DavidFilmer: I am not impressed with Scott Hahn, as he seems to me to be in the tradition of Protestant evangelists.

Dr. Peter Kreeft would the the most eminent Catholic theologian with Dr. Scott Hahn a close second.

Those are apologists, not theologians. There is a big difference. There is a big difference between the books of Cardinal Ratzinger which explain the deep theology of a subject, and the books of Tim Staples and Karl Keating which are oriented towards defense against protestants.

There are a few very good theologians. Thomas Weinandy is one. His books tend to be an examination of patristics and Christology. Pope Benedict/Cardinal Ratzinger is the best theologian that has published any books in the 21st century.

"If you are a theologian you truly pray. If you truly pray you are a theologian."

  • Evagrius

was Evagrius a follower of Tertullian who left the Church to become a Montanist, and those theology was condemned? Some claim the condemnations in the 6th century were aimed at the opinions of Evagrius, rather than Tertullian.

If we are talking about Evagrius Ponticus, I have read that he did subscribe to the idea of the preexistence of souls and some other ideas that were attributed to others and declared heretical later.

Many of the early Fathers and Mothers sought the truth. Some of what they hypothesized, believed or even taught was condemned as incorrect. Many of the same people have produced wonderful, orthodox works which have been reference points for our faith for 1500 or more years. Though somewhat later, Symeon the New Theologian is one example.

I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water and am reading the first volume of the Philokalia which contains writings by such people. You take the good and leave the bad, that’s all.


I am surprised Scott Hahn is considered so highly. I know he has a PhD from Marquette, a highly respected Jesuit University. But if he is among the two best Catholic theologians in the world, I worry for scholarship in the Church.

Best pop-apologist maybe.

We still have Ratzinger he is my favorite, I believe that Gerald O’Collins is good especially in Christology. Then there is Cardinal Walter Kasper very good and then theres Herbert Vorgrimler, he was an excellent Sacramental Theologian but he died last year,

One of my professors taught that one can only do good Theology through prayer.:thumbsup:

I was depressed on hearing Scott Hahn was considered one of the two foremost Catholic theologians

I have compared the CVs of Scott Hahn and Gerald O’Collins. Fr O’Collins is a giant compared to Scott Hahn. Fr O’Collins was a Prof in the Greg in Rome for over 30 years, and I had the privilege of hearing him speak in Dublin. He is a serious heavyweight.

Ratzinger and Kasper are also serious heavyweights, even though they may disagree.

Herbert Vorgrimler was a collaborator with Rahner. He was a theologian of the first rank who advanced the science of theology. Did Hahn have any original insights that contributed in an original way to theology?

Wynd wrote that Hahn is a foremost pop-apologist. Most would agree with this.

Hence, as is often the case, basically here most agree to a certain extent.

Cardinal Schoenborn has some good books.

Fr. Robert Barron is a fine academic theologian who also does popular apologetics–the best of both worlds.
My old friend Matthew Levering is a very well-respected younger theologian (he’s in his early 40s, I would imagine, since he’s about my age, but not yet an “elder statesman”).
Rusty Reno edits First Things but I’m not sure how much original theological writing he’s done since his conversion.
I know Paul Griffiths’ work on world religions best, but in recent years he’s mostly written about theology.
Two other fine convert theologians in the U.S. are Reinhard Hutter and Bruce Marshall.
I hear good things about Chad Pecknold, and have interacted with him briefly on Facebook, but have not yet read his work.
Adam DeVille is doing good work on East-West reconciliation.

These are just some of the names that come to mind, sticking to the U.S. I’m sure as soon as I hit “submit” I’ll think of some even more obvious choices!

Aidan Nichols in Britain is still alive. And of course so is Ratzinger, as someone else pointed out!


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