Theology Undergraduate Theses

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    The Philosopher’s Trinity: Philosophical Parallels to the Doctrine of the Trinity
    (2020) Cooney, John; Ries, John; Glowienka, Edward; Hall, Eric
    One of the fundamental tenets of the Christian faith happens to be one of the most mysterious: the doctrine of the Trinity. The Trinity, despite its seeming contrariety to reason, has seen several philosophical parallels—divine triads resembling the Christian doctrine but lacking a basis in divine revelation. In this paper, I analyze such triads, as well as their historical-theological counterparts, in an attempt to identify the merit and limitations of pure reason in Trinitarian theology. I specifically examine the work of Plotinus and Augustine, Hegel and Rahner, and several theologians utilizing contemporary philosophical developments in Trinitarian theology. Ultimately, I conclude that while reason apart from divine revelation may produce a system approximating the fundamental elements of the Christian Trinity, there remain several components inaccessible to philosophy alone. Additionally, I suggest that the discussions concerning reason and revelation have important implications for the relationship between the ‘economic’ and ‘immanent’ Trinities.
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    Meaning Of Social Justice In Quadragesimo Anno By Pope Pius XI
    (1957-04-01) Panyon, Joan; Rev. John O'Connor
    The purpose of this thesis is to inquire into the meaning of the term Social Justice, as used by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno. In the course of the past six years, three interesting books have appeared on the subject of the meaning of Social Justice. Dr. Newman, who writ his thesis in Louvain, France, has defined Social Justice thus: "As a virtue, it is best defined as that disposition of the will which inclines individuals and social groups in general, to work for the common good of the community of which they are a part." Father Drummond, in his work, Social Justice, defines it as: "A special species of justice, distinct from commutative, legal and distributive, which requires that material goods, even privately owned, shall serve the common use of all men." According to Father William Ferree, who wrote his book at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., Social Justice is the organizing action of man for the sake of the common good. We notice at once that which the three give definitions of Social Justice not usually found in our texts on Ethics, yet they do not altogether agree on what Social Justice means. This thesis, therefore, confining itself chiefly to the Encyclical Quadragesimo Anno is an attempt to discover what Pius XI actually said about Social Justice in this letter to Christians of the world.
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    No Longer Servants But Friends: A Contemplative Approach To Friendship
    (1979-04-01) Perrier, Mark; Rev. J. Eugene Peoples; Rev. Jack Redman; W. M. Thompson
    When I first began this paper on friendship, I really did not know where to begin. Besides having had thought about friendship, I had read some books and magazine articles. The result was a thousand diverse ideas with no common thread to weave them together. Finally, it occured to me that an etymological dissection of the word "friend” might help. Not only did it help, but it proved to be a common thread for many of those varied thoughts on friendship. "Friend" in the language of the Frisians (a Germanic tribe who lived in what is now Holland), meant "free." In turn, that word meant "beloved." In going to the gospel accounts, I found additional threads which beautifully tied together friendship and freedom. Yet this also caused more questions to arise. John 8:31-32 for example asked more questions than it answered. In that passage, Jesus tells the people that if they make his word their home, they would learn the truth, and the truth would make them free. Clearly friendship and truth were both grounded in freedom. But how did they tie together? And of what form is the truth?
    I was still struggling with this idea of truth when a new problem came up. If friendship is intended to free, would that not imply that we as human persons are not free? Are we in some sense enslaved? My answer to that question was 11 Yes we are enslaved." Enslavement comes as a result of self-centered desires, as I try to point out in the story of the Fall. Personal enslavement allows our external empirical selves to increase, while simultaneously it allows the conscious presence of the Risen Christ within each of us to decrease. Friendship reverses this trend. But how? That again brought up the idea of truth. In the light of personal enslavement, the gospel accounts, and etymological considerations, I came to realize that we as human persons are not true to our identity. Each one of us in some way wants to be who we ourselves want us to be and not as God intended us to be. Because of it, our relationships are stained with a pervading egotism. Our relationships are fatally superficial. They only serve to enslave. Friendship is intended to free. Something must come to rescue friendship of its deviant forms. Contemplative experience, I believe, can rescue friendship from its underside. The contemplative experience has eyes to see beyond the superficial and to see things as they really are. It helps to free us from self-centered tendencies and to rejoice
    in the truth of our own uniqueness. Far from being a solitary experience, contemplative friendship is active in communtiy and solitude alike. Both this togetherness and aloneness are necessary in overcoming selfish desire. With the added dimension of the contemplative element, friendship may truly be an expression of full personhood—which is freedom itself. It should be point out that this work is not scholarly in the sense that I have not poured over volumes upon volumes of material and then analyzed their contents. Rather, this work is more of a creative approach, the result of an idea which was developing in my own mind. My resources were selective, and were used to help elaborate and confirm the ideas that I had. It is, however, a legitimate approach in writing an Honors Thesis. I hope and I pray that what is contained herein is not taken as an absolute or a perfect ideal. Friendship transcends intellectualization. It is always evolving. It lives and it grows. No words can ever contain the experience of friendship. May God bless all of your friendships with His creative and freeing love.
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    The Theology of John Zizoulas: Contributions to Anthropology
    (2008-04-01) Woelkers, Alex; John Ries; Mark Smillie; Murphy Fox
    The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially ofthose who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Nothing that is genuinely human fails to find an echo in their hearts. For theirs is a community of people united in Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit in their pilgrimage towards the Father’s kingdom, bearers of a message of salvation for all humanity. That is why they cherish a feeling of deep solidarity with the human race and its history. These opening lines of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, certainly among the most celebrated words written by the council fathers, proclaim the dignity and splendor of humanity. These words declare that the Church’s cry for salvation echoes the deepest cries of every human heart; and these cries not only echo in the heart of the Church, but are definitively answered there in the person of Jesus Christ. Thus, the council fathers make this second, and equally celebrated statement: “In reality it is only in the mystery of the Word made flesh that the mystery of humanity truly becomes clear.”2 3 By these statements, the council fathers declare that the mystery of man and the mystery of God have become indivisibly united in the person of Christ, and thus in the deepest identity of the Church. In so doing, they emphatically underline the importance of anthropology for every aspect of the Church’s life and being. They place the truth of the human person at the very foundation of the mystery of salvation in the Church, the body of Christ. Therefore, Christian theology demands a Christian anthropology. The goal of this thesis is to develop a Christian anthropology. The impetus for this anthropology is not merely a generalized understanding of the human person, but an articulation of the salvation of the human person. Such an anthropology attempts to be faithful to the vision of the Second Vatican Council described above by placing every aspect of theology and ministry into relationship with that understanding of personhood. This understanding must be organically bound to and derive its content from all the areas oftheology if it is to succeed in grounding the salvation of human persons. The Church is about nothing more and nothing less than the salvation of every human person in every time, and so the anthropology which this thesis seeks must be situated at the very heart of Her self-understanding, and must be capable of resonating with every aspect of Her being. This means that this anthropology must derive first and foremost from the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. The Church only gives what She has first received, and so Her anthropology must find its foundation in God himself. I have chosen the theology of John Zizioulas as the basis for my inquiry into Christian anthropology because in its foundations and application, the anthropology contained there fulfills the goals which I have outlined above.
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    Called To Community: A Scriptural Model Of Religious Education For All Of God's People With Special Concern For The Mentally Retarded
    (1981-04-01) Richer, Brenda; Allen Pope; Rev. Harry Way; Leta Levoti
    Religious education for many conjures up the image of children receiving "religious instruction." This is an extremely limited horizon associating religious education with childhood and crippling the possibilities and potential for Christian maturity as well as the authentic Christian community to which we are called as the Body of Christ. Children will perceive this crippling outlook and will themselves value religion as an asset for immature people, much like we convince a child to eat his spinach because it will help him grow, presuming that adults neither have the taste nor the need for it. Children recognize such attitudes for what they are and become skeptical of parents and teachers whose "religious policies" for their children do not coincide with their own personal practice and lifestyles. Rather, religious education must be presented in such a way that the revelation of God himself in the history of man is not a "thing" outside of himself, but that God is, was and always will be revealing himself in the present conscious experience of people. Revelation is a constant personal relationship between God and his people, Jesus being •the recipient of God's self-gift. Through his life, death and resurrection we come to understand the personal, relational nature of God.