Posts Tagged ‘Elizabeth Johnson’

Confusion among the faithful

June 19, 2011

Father’s Day. Lots of memories, reflections, gratitude. It is a good day.


Friday, I led a discussion on the Trinity following my third-Friday communion service at the prison. The information I drew upon came from Elizabeth Johnson’s book,  Quest for the Living God. Her chapter on the Trinity was very helpful. Much more helpful than the usual “three persons in one divine nature.” How understandable has that ever been?

I’m well aware that the bishops don’t like Elizabeth Johnson’s book. I loved it! In fact, if the bishops hadn’t objected, I most likely would have missed it. Thanks, guys. The book sits on my shelf next to  Roger Haight’s book, Jesus Symbol of God. The bishops really hated that one.

Both of those books I inhaled with great interest. I commented in an email to Sr. Johnson, “I don’t know where I would be without an inclusive theology that makes sense.” It remains a mystery to me what the bishops found objectionable in her book. I’ll admit I haven’t read their report, but I did read her book.

We know that pluralism does give the bishops indigestion. But I don’t want a God who thinks the Catholic Church is “the only way” to salvation. The God I know is the one described in the Gospels through the words and behavior of Jesus, open to everyone, not the one described through the words and actions of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.

Departing from official Church teaching is a no-no, that much I have gleaned from news reports regarding their objections. They would love to have every theology book require an imprimatur. But can you imagine if we never knew more than the bishops? If all we ever heard about was what the Church already thought she knew? Are we to be constrained by what is often the least common denominator in awareness of  living faithfully in today’s world? Isn’t it possible that the church can teach from below as well as from above?

My understanding is that the bishops don’t like her treatment of the Trinity. Granted it was understandable and relevant which could cause “confusion among the faithful.” Confusion of the faithful is really the province of  the hierarchy itself, not the work of our theologians.