A priest giving a series of lectures on theology for his parish once discussed the difference between “Big T theologians” and “little t theologians.” He explained “Big T theologians” as those who sought advanced degrees in theology and devoted their lives to the study of God. Scholars of antiquity, such as St. Thomas Aquinas, and scholars of modern day, such as Pope Benedict XVI, are “Big T theologians.” Continuing the lecture, he pointed out that everyone is a “little t theologian,” because all of us desire to know more about God and continuously seek more knowledge about God. Keeping the great scholars who study God in mind, how could we as Catholics be theologians – big or little t? Looking at the sources of theology, it becomes quite evident that each one of the faithful is a “little t theologian.”
In general, theology has four main sources: Sacred Scripture, reason, traditions and experience. The Sacred Scripture is divinely revealed. Each time we read or hear scripture, we are hearing the Word of God. Reading and thinking about scripture is theology. Thinking about God and finding him in nature through the use of our human reason is theology. Learning about and practicing the traditions of the Catholic Church, such as posture in prayer, is theology. Finding the beauty and wonder of God in a slowly fading sunset is a study in theology.
Whether a theologian spells their title with a “big T” or a “little t” actually does not matter. While a “little t theologian” may never write a comprehensive text such as the Summa Theologica (written by St. Thomas Aquinas), our study of God in our world will help bring all of us a little closer to God and his unconditional love.
The Columbus Catholic Connection: Are you interested in becoming a theologian? Watch your parish bulletin for the start of RCIA, Bible Study, small faith groups, and other adult education opportunities.