Academic Vision

image depicting the text, "Faith Engaging Culture in Teaching and Learning"

“Doing theology" within the Augustinian tradition

Studying theology within the Augustinian tradition is a crucial component of doing theology at VU. The Augustinian Tradition draws upon the legacy of St. Augustine’s passionate pursuit of truth[1], an intentional endeavor[2] that summons the union of mind and heart[3], correlates faith with reason[4], builds unity in the midst of diversity[5], and proceeds in the conviction that all authentic human wisdom is ultimately in harmony with divine wisdom[6]. In fidelity to St. Augustine’s theological reasoning in interaction with the religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions of his time, Christian theology in the Augustinian Tradition is a living, enduring way of understanding that continues to be refined, developed, and extended as it engages the contemporary world.

In other words, enriched by the tradition of St. Augustine, whose theology powerfully related faith and culture, theology is the study of Christianity as lived experience, and Theological Studies within the Augustinian Tradition aims to relate faith and culture for our time as Augustine did for his. Theology within the Augustinian Tradition thus seeks wisdom and truth[7].

  • in light of Christian religious, cultural, and intellectual traditions;
  • in unity with Philosophy, Liberal Studies, and the Sciences[8];
  • in the service of the Church[9];

probing rigorously, with its own canons of inquiry and verification, broader questions of relevance to Christian belief and practice, the unity and prophetic mission of the body of Christ, life as a whole, and the discovery of God[10].

As Augustine put it, theological knowing is "understanding what we believe," that is, as a critical, systematic reflection on the life of faith[11]. However, in the Augustinian tradition, it is both speculative and practical and distinctive in its emphasis on the union of mind and heart[12].

Faith engaging culture and the Augustinian vision

"Faith engaging culture" meets the Augustinian vision. Theology within the Augustinian tradition informs those seeking to fulfill the human vocation to be co-creators[1] with the Origin of Divine Wisdom. It understands theology to be part of culture[2] and energetically[3] accepts the challenge to render faith[4] intelligible and meaningful in our contemporary cultural contexts[5], shaped by the latest advances in modern science, natural history, and critical theory[6].

The teaching/learning paradigm that arises from the Augustinian tradition

From the Augustinian tradition arises a distinct teaching/learning paradigm. In the Augustinian tradition, learning is understood as nurturing a way of knowing (mind) that is infused with care and love (heart). The way of knowing[1] within the Augustinian tradition is consonant with biblical (and, therefore, incarnational) imaging of personal involvement[2] and mutuality reflecting the quality of truth[3] that draws us into community[4]: it is holistic[5] and humanistic[6]; unites heart and mind[7], love and knowledge[8], practice and theory[9]; authenticates inner- and inter-personal experiences[10]; responds to human restlessness[11]; fosters moral reasoning[12]; invites cultivating one’s self[13]; develops the desire to search out the unknown[14]; seeks unity[15] in humility[16]; and is a transforming experience[17].

In summary: the way of knowing within the Augustinian tradition is a journey seeking truth (veritas) and discovering understanding; a dialogue with learners different from ourselves (unitas) leading to understanding; and a transformational wholeheartedness (caritas) opening the doors of understanding.[18]

Sources and Resources

The academic vision was developed from observations by members of the University community and other sources.