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Is serious theological discussion prudent on public forums?

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Whether or not this forum has much semi-scholary posting on it or not, I have been considering the issue of having any serious nuanced discussions on forums, which are loosely defined, includes things like Facebook, reddit, Internet forums, Youtube, and other such platform where individuals can interact.

It seems that without a control over who can participate, and in some cases, who can even view the discussions, some serious theological discussions are possibly quite imprudent.

Even a good discussion between two people can be scandalous to observers if it is concerning a topic that requires previous formation and understanding.

And even for topics that are not sensitive in themselves, it may be seen as inordinate to details that "don't matter" by others (you know, angels dancing on a head of a pin accusations), even if the discussion is perfectly ordered.

Michael Wilson:
Where else can we have a serious discussion, pray tell?


--- Quote from: Michael Wilson on July 09, 2021, 06:04:29 PM ---Where else can we have a serious discussion, pray tell?

--- End quote ---

What do you mean?

Are you responding to the title or what I wrote in the post?

If you are responding to the title, the post explains the question. If you are responding to the post, I'm not sure why you think public forums of those kinds are the only means to discuss these things.

Is it hard to imagine talking to people in person, on private forums, or with otherwise private correspondence?

The issue of prudence is not resolved with "where well else should it be done?". 

Michael Wilson:
I'm stating that the question on the O.P. Should rather be "Where else but on a trad Cath forum can one have a serious theological discussion"?  I don't know of any other place where I can engage on the Catholic theological discussions that we have here; "Prudent"? Of course; why would it be imprudent to engage in a serious discussion on the Catholic faith?

The ideal -- an ideal long vanished in the Catholic Church -- would be the following:

(1) No need for lay theological discussion because clergy provided whatever level of theological knowledge a lay person sought, beyond the clear truths of the faith universally elucidated by virtually all Catholic priests, good priests and bad priests, as well as by consecrated religious in charge of catechesis.  Such priests were products of traditional seminaries and convents where theology was not invented and dissent was not tolerated.

(2) Enough individual priests populating parishes that answering individual theological questions was abundantly available by appointment -- occasional, ongoing, or only once. Priests were accessible.

(3) Non-confusing published material on Catholic theology.  Most of the stuff that has been published since the Council bears little resemblance to abiding Catholic systematic theology for those of us who have studied that.  If one has not the educational background with which to sort that material, trying to make sense of modern theology is not a promising task.

(4) When items 1, 2, and 3 were operative, it was not only not necessary for any lay person to compete with true (ordained) authorities, it was also in itself a sign of disobedience and rebellion.  Anyone who tried to published unauthorized content, in any existing manner of communication, was curtailed by church authorities, roundly. There were explicit rules about publishing any material under a Catholic identifier.  The default position was that it was not permitted, and to do so, one needed approval of the See.

The council ushered in a radically unrecognizable era in the Church, shattering authority on the practical level and inviting spiritual, moral, liturgical, and intellectual chaos into the realm of sacred theology. Today, even catechesis is (a) not uniform, (b) inconsistent in length, (c) not usually followed by examination, except for converts and children associated with traditional apostolates, (d) often even heterodox. 

In short, the faithful who came of age after the Council, unless they had unusual parents who brought them to authentic sources, were robbed of the faith.  However, it goes beyond theology, because in order to understand traditional theology, it is essential to understand the philosophy upon which that theology is based.  In Tradition, theology and philosophy work hand in glove.

Discussion forums provide information and updates on traditional resources that were once only in print and sometimes are now also electronic. Often, posters publish these.  There are a lot of doctrinal and other theological errors on discussion forums; however, in selected cases there are proportionally more theologically knowledgeable people on a forum than in certain Catholic parishes, including the pastors of such parishes.

The only cautionary note is that I've seen a tendency on discussion forums to rely on guessing and to substitute guessing and opinion for the traditional body of doctrine.  For some people, this tendency appears to be a combination of laziness, frustration, and impatience. 

So I would say that it is not imprudent to have theological discussions on electronic forums but that it is imprudent to assume that there are shortcuts to the more complex kinds of questions that the Fathers and Doctors and other esteemed churchmen already tackled centuries ago. The true sources of theological truth -- such as we may know them with our limited brains -- are contained within the existing deposit of faith.


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