The Lord Jesus commanded us: “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Greek: dianoia)” (Matthew 22:37). One of the ways the Church heeds the Lord’s command is by formulating doctrine. Doctrine is the result of the Church turning her mind in loving, thoughtful contemplation of the Lord’s Revealed Word (Sacred Scripture and Apostolic Tradition). Yet today not a few Catholics (clerics and lay people alike) are suspicious of doctrine. Some think that an intellectually serious faith is a sign of traditionalism. Others hold that doctrine is far from reality and hampers the Church’s pastoral response to today’s culture.
We cannot pretend that the cultural revolutions of modernity and postmodernity have not diminished the Church’s pursuit of a doctrinal synthesis of truth. The ancient era had produced its intellectual synthesis (e.g., Greek philosophy, Roman law). The medieval authors produced new and improved summae of all knowledge available to them. Even many modern scholars did the same: just recall the Encyclopédie of the Enlightenment movement. Yet modernity’s emphasis on specialization has given way to intellectual fragmentation and relativism and, thus, to a widespread subjectivism and emotionalism.
Among the members of the Mystical Body of Christ, the postmodern approach is often clearly visible both in the Church’s activity and in the settings for formation, such as catechesis and the seminary. While in the past the Church would spend much effort, time, and money in promoting solid studies and a culture grounded on them, things are quite different now. A few brief observations about this.