Monday, November 21, 2011

Theology At ND

I've had this question come up a couple of times via email and more recently in this comment from an old thread about Professor John Cavadini. Basically, the question was whether or not you can go to ND and get a good theological education, sans heresy.

First, let me qualify this by saying that I graduated from ND over a decade ago, so things might be way different now.

Second, I didn't graduate in theology. I did get a philosophy degree, and there was some natural overlap between the two departments on a few things.

With those two qualifiers, let me say that I do think you can go to ND, major in theology, and get a soundly orthodox education on the subject. You will have to work around some things, though. Everybody knows about Fr. McBrien. When I was there, Fr. Baxter was another guy with some odd ideas, but I've been told he isn't there anymore. Hugh Page destroyed the faith of some students while I was there and was promoted to Dean of First Year Studies. I imagine he's still around. Professor Jean Porter has some clearly wrong ideas about abortion. Oh yeah, and Gustavo Guttierrez teaches there, too. In other words, there are some bad apples to be avoided.

However, you've got guys like Professor Cavadini there. I've heard great things about David Fagerberg. It's not like things are a complete wasteland. My advice to anybody looking to pursue a degree there would be to visit or call the theology department and speak to one of these guys. Tell them about your concerns. I'm sure they would be more than happy to help you out. The world needs good theologians. They aren't the type to discourage the formation of one.

While I will discourage my own kids from going to ND and have no intention of supporting it financially until there is a regime change or some public repentance, I can understand the fact that the world indeed needs good theologians. Not only that, but ND needs students serious about their Catholicism. Too many have grown up without really knowing the Faith. Lots of thinking that "everybody's going to heaven" and "many paths to God" and so forth. Having some savvy theological minds among the student body might help with this. If anyone feels called to take on this kind of work, I don't want to dissuade them.


Jessica (FancyNewBeesly) said...

I don't know if Harold Ernst is still there, but he is a wonderful teacher and very orthodox... a Thomist through and through, as far as I could tell. His class was my favorite in my whole 4 years at ND.

Anonymous said...

Hi. I was at Notre Dame while Fr. McBrian was chairman of Theology, and I didn't major in it. And 'though I managed to pick up a few wobbly ideas from my required scripture class, I got out of there pretty orthodox by majoring in Medieval Studies. But yes, I agree, no $$ till there's regime change--including the Board.

ND '91

Verbose said...

Getting any sort of post-secondary education, particularly in theology (which from what I understand is more or less a requirement if one is to move up in the echelons of Catholic Papacy) or in philosophy definitely looks good on paper.
Not only that, but it allows the person who is seriously taking up any sort of religious vocation to examine their beliefs in more ways than one.