Looking back on the last century, with all of the accomplishments in biblical, archaeological and linguistic scholarship that have bolstered the Catholic position, it might be difficult to see why there has been such a decrease in faithfulness. But this ignores the fact that knowledge and faith have never had an equal sign between them. Having a Ph.D. does not mean one has a halo, and studying the God of love does not guarantee an increase of love in oneself. If that were true, as Fulton Sheen once told us, every professor of theology would be a saint.
I distinctly remember the days when I was contemplating further studies in theology. I received much good advice from my peers and from those who were already following in the footsteps of the great minds in western history. But one piece of advice jarred me somewhat. The advice went something like this: if you study theology, you will lose your faith. But don’t worry. If you get it back, it will be a stronger, more vibrant faith. Now, I don’t know about you, but I found this troublesome. My reasoning went something like this: I had recently been married. I was and still am in love with my bride. And I knew, first hand, that the more I learned about her the more I fell in love with her. So how could studying the God who is love make me fall out of love with Him? It just didn’t make sense.
Let’s be clear about something. Knowledge cannot give you faith. Knowledge cannot even lead us to a point where we declare, the Faith is real. No, only an act of the will, a movement from the heart, can leave us open to receive the gift of faith. Believing does not always follow the act of seeing; after all many people looked upon the resurrected Lazarus, bound and smelling of the dead, and still refused to believe. But sometimes we have to believe in order to see anything. Sometimes we just have to say, I believe, to see the truth for the first time.