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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Faith Comes From What Is Heard: An Introduction To Fundamental Theology, Feingold (I)

I intend for this initial post to cover some personal reflections, and the introduction. I mean for there to be at least 19 posts in the series, for the introduction and the book’s eighteen chapters. However, you may have noticed that I think of more things upon reflection, so addenda are not uncommon. I will add Roman numerals to each main body text post, but mark everything with the tag “Feingold.” You can decide therefore how much additional time you want to spend on my haphazard ramblings.

Dr. (Larry) and Mrs. (Marsha) Feingold are personal friends. I owe to them so much, if I have any maturity in the faith, any supernatural wisdom. I stayed at their house each weekend, when I myself was a student in Ave Maria University’s Institute for Pastoral Theology. Larry was also one of my RCIA teachers. I have heard dozens of supplemental catechetical lectures by him for the Association of Hebrew Catholics, based here in St. Louis. Those efforts have blessed innumerable people in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and the parish of the Cathedral Basilica. I also count his son Francis, and Francis’s wife Sophia among my friends. In addition, there was a large group of seminarians, clergy, and laypeople hosted by Larry and Marsha that read the Summa theologiae of St. Thomas weekly for the balance of four years, from at least 2009 to 2012, and I was among them. All that is to say, in this incarnation or in the subsequent ones which may appear elsewhere, this will not be an objective or critical review, and I could not even feign otherwise. Nor do I find a desire to try. I hope you will bear with this failing. Larry is the best theologian I personally know, and they both are among the best people I know. This exploration is that of a student learning from his teacher, and as grace assists me, it will always be so.

The book is divided into eighteen chapters, and six parts. Feingold notes that a full half of the book is devoted to the interpretation of Scripture. This is proper because Scripture is the soul of theology, Feingold says. Particular attention will be given later to the historicity of the four Gospels, because their heart is the Person and work of Our Lord.

Feingold tells us that the subject of this book is Fundamental Theology, or “theology’s reflection on itself as a discipline, its method, and its foundation in God’s Revelation transmitted to us through Scripture and Tradition.” The six parts are: (1) Revelation and faith as man’s response to God’s Word; (2) the nature of Theology and theological method; (3) the transmission of Revelation through Tradition and the Magisterium; (4) the inspiration and truth of Scripture and principles of biblical interpretation; (5) the historical character of the Gospels; and (6) biblical typology.

Because of the centrality of Scripture to the task at hand, Dr. Feingold tells us that the most important magisterial text is the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum, from the Second Vatican Council. As a result, I read Dei Verbum before beginning this post. It would be good to do likewise, if possible.

Larry says, “The work is inspired by the conviction that theology ought to inform both the mind and heart, bringing them together to foster growth in faith, hope, and charity.” Doubtless his many students agree that this conviction and the life it has engendered is not theoretical and abstract for Dr. Feingold. May I imitate this example.