Introduction to Theology: Tradition, Doctrine, and Culture

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What is theology?

In order to understand and fully define what theology is, a few key terms must be understood and defined first - namely, Faith and Divine Revelation.

  • Faith: St. Anselm says that Faith is a kind of knowledge, an enlargement of understanding in first order. Faith is an ascent, caused by a gift of divine grace, to a type of knowledge, which is revealed, supernaturally, by God.
  • Divine Revelation: Divine Revelation contains things that are revealed by God, and most importantly in a person: Jesus Christ. St. John’s Gospel puts the matter into its classical formulation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Christianity is a historical religion, not simply a symbol system or a mental event. It is embodied religion par excellence. It is embodied in time, in the Church, in the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, both in Palestine long ago, and on our altars at every moment of every day until the Lord’s return. The Catholic faith sweeps in every direction; it is whole and entire. Its effect on a human being is wholeness, its effect on history is total, and its significance is eternal. God is God, and Jesus Christ has made Him known.

Theology as a science.

Theology is a science, the “divine science”, that requires intellectual effort to understand the presuppositions, content, and consequences of divine revelation. So, is that opposed to simple faith and humble piety? Not in the least, if the saints are to be trusted. According to some of them—St. Anselm, St. Thomas Aquinas, and St. Augustine, for example—to avoid theological discipline, provided one is capable of undertaking it, would be an abdication of the faith and a falsification of the piety that one practices. 

Is the study of historical, linguistic, and cultural knowledge of theology artificial?

If one defines faith simply by feeling or emotion, then, yes, it would seem artificial. But the Christian faith is saving belief and saving knowledge. Not simply synonymous with the will, and still less with feeling, faith is preeminently God’s work in us, not our own work in us. “God is greater than our hearts” (John 3:20) St. John says, and a good thing too! Our hearts can be very warped indeed. God’s supernatural revelation, on the other hand, brings us what we cannot otherwise have or know, and this revelation is the subject matter of the science known as theology.

Join Professor Ronald Thomas, then, as he introduces you to the most important study a person can undertake - the study of “the queen of all sciences.”
  1. Theology as a Science
    • Theology is the disciplined exploration of the presuppositions, content, and consequences of Divine Revelation.
  2. Scripture and Tradition, Faith and Reason
    • The two pairs of concepts, both Scripture and Tradition and Faith and Reason, play a fundamental role in the study of theology.
  3. Ecclesiology, Christology, and the Holy Trinity
    • Our study of theology brings us to some important questions regarding the nature of Christ, his relationship with the Church, and what it means to say that God is one in three persons.
  4. Christian Mission and the High Middle Ages
    • Medieval worship and the effect of that worship on the whole of society point to an age that is high in its expectations for the life to come.
  5. Scholasticism, Grace, and the Blessed Sacrament
    • Our study of theology brings us to the history of the university system, the nature of grace, and the epitome of worship - the Blessed Sacrament.
  6. The Mind of St. Thomas Aquinas
    • Continuing in our theological investigation, Aquinasí Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae will help us greatly.
  7. The Church Confronts Spiritual and Intellectual Fragmentation
    • After the Reformation, many began to become skeptical of the relation between faith and reason and attempted to find an answer to human dilemmas through reason alone.
  8. Eschatology and Culture
    • As we end our introduction to theology, we appropriately take a look at the field of study that concerns the things that are to come.
Lecture Sample


Meet Your Professor

Professor Ronald Thomas holds his Doctorate in Theology from the University of Cambridge, England, and his Master of Divinity from the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, Atlanta Georgia. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a student of Theology at the University of Goettingen, Germany. Dr. Thomas has taught at Christian Brothers University, Crichton College, the University of Mississippi, and Rhodes College and currently teaches Theology at Belmont Abbey College located in North Carolina. As a professor of Theology at Belmont Abbey, his classes include:

  • Introduction to Theology
  • The Liturgy and the Sacraments
  • The Virgin Mary
  • Christian Spirituality
  • The Mystery of God
  • Special Topics in Theology

Dr. Thomas is a convert to the Catholic faith after having served for five years as a Methodist minister and 13 years as an Episcopal priest. He both wrote and recorded the popular Meditations on the Stations of the Cross, distributed by Lighthouse Media.


Homeschooling Products

The Homeschooling Set includes the Streaming Video and Homeschooling Course Guide. Each Course Guide contains everything needed for a student to complete the course, including:

  • Lesson Plan
  • Quizzes
  • Final Essay
  • Lecture Notes
  • Answer Key


Ronald Thomas, PhD
Catholic Courses
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