What is Christian Literacy?

refers to the ability to use a language - to know what words means, to be able to use grammar, sentence structure, to be able to converse in that language is to be literate.

Religious literacy
means having the ability to understand and speak about our faith intelligently. It’s the ability to communicate the basic tenets of our religion.

I'm very grateful to B.U. Professor Stephen Prothero for his excellent book, "Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know and Doesn't." This book, along with my desire to teach the faith, served as the inspiration for this effort.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) spent 7 years writing his theological masterpiece, "Summa Theologica."  It was his attempt to present the entire breath of Christian theology in a systematic format. On December 6, 1273 Thomas was celebrating Mass when he heard Christ speak to him. Christ asked him what he desired. Thomas replied "Only you, Lord. Only you." Following this exchange Thomas had an intense, supernatural experience with God. It was so profound that he refused to go back to work on his masterpiece. When his assistant Reginald of Piperno begged him to return to his writing, Thomas replied,  "Reginald, I cannot, because all that I have written seems like straw to me." Thomas Aquinas left his sum of all theology incomplete and unfinished. He died 3 months later.

I share this story because I think it captures an important issue when it comes to the study of God, theology.  The issue is our words fall short, and yet we must use them. The issue is our finite minds will never fully understand the Infinite One, and yet we're driven to try. The issue is God is knowable but not completely. God is revealed and yet concealed, And most profoundly, God transcends human reason and human comprehension, and yet God was incarnated in human form.

Question: If we'll never fully understand the mystery of God this side of
heaven, why even try?

Two thoughts . . .

First, there is much we can know about the Infinite One. The Bible is filled with descriptions of God from mere mortals like us who encountered Divinity along the way. Here are just a few of the descriptions found in the scriptures: Mighty One, Faithful, Living, Eternal, Holy, Righteous, Rock, Redeemer, Savior, Almighty, Fortress, Judge, Strength, Justice, Truth, Compassionate, Forgiving, Love, Abba, Mother, Healer.

And secondly, Jesus Christ has made known the character of God. This is the centerpiece of Christian theology. "Christ is the image of the invisible God."  (Colossians 1:15). He's God's Word (Message) to us made flesh (John 1:14).

Prayer: What do we desire, O God? Only You, Lord. Only You. Give us hearts
to know you, minds to understand your ways, and spirits filled and guided
by your Spirit. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Great blog! I think we feel so far from God because we get so busy in our daily lives and forget what St Thomas already knew what he desired "only you". Of we take a moment if not each day than at least once a week to congregate and celebrate our desire for "only you" we will more likely see God