Posted by: clavelle | March 4, 2009

Bringing Faith to Class

One of my biggest criticisms of the theology program at SLU has been that it doesn’t do enough to tie back what we’ve learned to our faith.  The quality of academics has been superb:  Whether it’s the historical critical investigation of the scriptures, the challenge of liberation theology to our commitment to the poor and for justice, or the application of evolution to our Christian faith, my undertanding has deepened incredibly.  I speak better, I think better, I argue better and my mind has been opened in the process.  But what about the heart?

Many things I’ve learned in my theology classes have challenged my faith, influenced where I decide to commit myself, how I treat myself and others, my prayer life, my commitment to God, etc.  However, this has been mostly through personal initiatives like working at St. Matt’s or joining a CLC or going to Latin America.  Most classes have addressed certain theologies without any discussion of the impact it has on the way we, as Christians, live and relate to God.  It seems to approach theology in such a way that “faith” seems almost void and it becomes another academic study, like philosophy for example.  Theology is not just “faith seeking understanding;” it is “faith seeking understanding in order to deepen faith.”  So I’ve been yearning in my theology classes to take all that we’ve learned and say, “Okay, so as Christians, what is this saying to us?  How is it challenging us?  How is calling us to deepen our walk with God?”

I think last class we got some of that.

I was excited when Jim suggested that we bring up the question that was pointed directly at our own faith lives and our own struggles.  It took us away from rational arguments, thoughts, points, and into our faith and its expression.  I was curious to see how well the class would respond, because I think we all knew we were entering new territory; vulnerable territory in which these questions and challenges started to impact our worship life, our prayer life and our relationship with God.  We brought the arguments of the New Atheists to our reality, as middle class university students living in Saint Louis, and allowed them to interact with our commitments, our prayer, and our faith.

I hope we can keep doing this throughout the rest of the semester.  It enriches our faith and it connects us as a Christian community.  We start to look more like Christian theologians who understand that if theology is not deepening our faith and directly impacting our love and trust in God, then we are not doing theology in the way it should be.  We are merely shootin’ the intellectual breeze or bringing up concerns that never make it back to a conscious interaction with our faith.



  1. I agree with you, the whole reason why I decided to become a Theology major was so that I could be challenged both spiritually and academically with the ultimate goal of deepening my relationship with God in mind. I feel that my entire time here at SLU has prepared me for this class because it has given me the background and the confidence to face the questions that we are facing here in this seminar together. However, I do not expect that during class time, all of my questions will be answered, but I do expect to be given the resources and the support to venture outside my comfort zone and investigate areas that are truly important to me. So far, this class has given me the life skills necessary to deepen my knowledge of God and my spiritual relationship to him. Theology is, as you say, “faith seeking understanding in order to deepen faith” and I feel that after I graduate from SLU with a theology degree I will be able to continually accomplish that goal.

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