Thomas Merton's Statements on Theology and Interfaith Dialogue.

"In an era of revolutionary change, one of the crucially important tasks of theology will be the clarification of this fidelity (of the Church) and obedience (to God's will) in terms of the actual human condition and the current world view of secular man in his secularity.  A theology which is completely out of touch with the human problems of our age, which encloses itself in the categories of a world view that no longer speaks with any relevance to modern man, and demands "obedience" to a static and purely juridical order that serves reaction and the status quo rather than crying human needs, both material and spiritual, is no longer fulfilling its function, because it is obscuring that area where the will of God seeks most insistently to manifest itself to us.  The theology of each age is necessarily a debtor to the human needs of that age, because Christian theology is the elucidation of a salvic message addressed to all men in the context of their own time and their own history.  The task of theology is not only to give the Church an accurate understanding of "timeless" truths but, much more, to point how she may exercise her mission to serve man in his most pressing and authentic needs, in their actual existential reality here and now...A detached, academic, purely speculative consideration of essences and attributes, a contemplation of formalities and an exquisite examination of purely spiritual causalities will not longer serve as theology in this century."
Thomas Merton, Love and Living, P.94. Submitted by Gary Horn.

"When the Christian faith is made to appear very complicated, it seems to consist of numerous doctrines, a complex system of concepts which impart information about the supernatural and seems to answer all possible questions about the afterlife, and about the means to attain to happiness in heaven.  While these doctrines may be very true, they cannot be understood if we think that the only purpose of faith is multiple information communicated in many complex doctrines.  In fact, the object of faith is One - God, Love.  And though the revealed doctrines about Him are true, yet what they tell us of Him is not fully adequate as long as we grasp them only separately, incoherently, without living unity in Love.  They must converge upon Love as the spokes of a wheel converge upon a central hub.  They are window frames through which the One Light enters our houses.  The window frame is precise and distinct: yet what we really see is the light itself, which is diffuse and all-pervading, so that it is everywhere and nowhere.  No mind can comprehend God's reality, as it is in itself, and if we approach Him we must advance not only by knowing but by not-knowing.  We must seek to communicate with Him, not only by words, but above all by silence, in which there is only the One Word, and the One Word is infinite Love and endless silence."
Thomas Merton, Love and Living. P.   . Submitted by Gary Horn.

"...the more I am able to affirm others, to say "yes" to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am.  I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone. I will be a better Catholic, not if can refute every shade of
Protestantism, but if I can affirm the truth in it and still go further. So, too, with the Muslims, the Hindus, the Buddhists, etc.  This does not mean syncretism, indifferentism, the vapid and careless friendliness that accepts everything by thinking of nothing.  There is much that one cannot "affirm" and "accept," but first one must say "yes" where one really can. If I affirm myself as a Catholic merely by denying all that is Muslim, Jewish, Protestant, Hindu, Buddhist, etc., in the end I will find that there is not much left for me to affirm as a Catholic: and certainly no breath of the Spirit with which to affirm it."
Merton, Thomas.  Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander. P. 129. Submitted by Gary Horn.
Last updated: 2001/11/28