Sunday, October 7, 2007

Theology and Sanity

So, I've been reading a book called Theology and Sanity by Frank Sheed. I've just finished the first of three sections, and I must say that it has been a great book so far. It's written with great clarity and wit, and it covers some rather important topics -- the three major sections are entitled "God," "Creation," and "Oneself." I would recommend this book to anyone interested in understanding the basics of Christian theology. It's neither overly technical nor dumbed-down in the least. I was initially attracted to the book because Karl Keating, the founder and president of Catholic Answers, claimed that it contained "the clearest explanation of the Trinity ever put on paper," and it did live up to my expectations in that respect. Here's how the book opens:

"My concern in this book is not with the Will but with the Intellect, not with sanctity but with sanity. The difference is too often overlooked in the practice of religion. The soul has two faculties and they should be clearly distinguished. There is the will: its work is to love -- and so to choose, to decide, to act. There is the intellect: its work is to know, to understand to see: to see what? to see what's there.

"I have said that my concern is with the intellect rather than with the will: this not because the intellect matters more in religion than the will, but because it does matter and tends to be neglected, and the neglect is bad. I realize that salvation depends directly upon the will. We are saved or damned according to what we love. If we love God, we shall ultimately get God: we shall be saved. If we love self in preference to God then we shall get self apart from God: we shall be damned. But though in our relation to God the intellect does not matter as much as the will (and indeed depends for its health upon the will), it does matter, and as I have said, it is too much neglected -- to the great misfortune of the will, for we can never attain a maximum love of God with only a minimum knowledge of God."

The intellect matters, Sheed maintains, because "every new thing known about God is a new reason for loving Him." I couldn't agree more.

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