The Moral Responsibility of Theologians

Last fall in The Globe and Mail (Monday, October 23, 2006, p.A19), Michael Higgins made a very astute comment regarding the public role of intellectuals. Writing in a piece entitled “Lament for our public intellectuals,” he emphasized that the specialization of scholarship in our culture requires all the more for there to be public intellectuals who communicate their ideas to the world outside of academia. There is, he rightly pointed out, a “the concomitant moral responsibility of intellectuals to communicate lucidly with the larger community, eschewing in the process the sometimes parasensical jargon” of the Academy.

This is also true of the world of theological academia. One of the great negatives of the current ecclesial scene is the separation of church and academy that has afflicted us in North America in various ways and to various degrees since the late nineteenth century. If God has called a person to a life of theological scholarship, such a person has a responsibility before God to “communicate lucidly” with the church. And also to recognize that he is responsible to the church for his doctrine and thought.