To the Editor:
Paul Schmadeke’s column in the Feb. 15 issue of The Catholic Messenger, “Why study theology?” made a good point that adding theology to our daily lives enhances them. He assumes that the theology added will be good theology. Praise his optimistic heart.
Bad theology has been around since the story of Adam and Eve, when the devil tempted Eve, persuading her that eating of the tree of good and evil would not end in death. This was not only bad theology but false theology.
The Catholic Church has declared many theologies in history false, i.e. heresies. Most heresies were started by good-meaning theologians. Many were propagated by priests (i.e. Luther) and even bishops (i.e. Arian). Those ministers were supposed to lead us to the truth.
Bad theology can come from misunderstanding Scripture as sola scriptura believers do. St. Paul does not outright condemn slavery in his epistles. Instead, he tells Christian slaves to obey their masters. Confederate Protestant and even Catholic slave owners used Paul’s teachings to defend slavery. Christians today recognize this as bad theology, and rightly condemn slavery.
Bad theology can come from relying solely on one’s own personal intelligence, education and experiences. Note that the personal teachings even of Mary from Fatima and Lourdes were not recognized as true and worthy of being applied to daily life until the Catholic Church said the theologies were in line with all other theologies of the Catholic Church.
Honesty, humility, sound reasoning and comparing one’s personal theology to the established truths of the Catholic faith is the road to fruitfully applying them to daily life.
The consequence of applying bad theology to life may be catastrophic. The theology in the story of Adam and Eve resulted in sin, and it affected the whole world with sin down to this very day.