Actualizing Christian (Catholic) Identity in Past and Present
The mission of the Tilburg School of Catholic Theology, fides quaerens intellectum, determines the general focus of its research. Concretely, research of the School of Catholic Theology focuses on the Christian (in particular the Catholic) identity, rooted in Judaism and taking shape in interaction with other religions and cultural contexts. This identity is investigated via various disciplines: theology, philosophy and social sciences. The School of Catholic Theology aims at playing a prominent role both nationally and internationally in the current research of Roman-Catholic faith, i.e. its tradition and actual manifestations.
The leading questions through which the researchers of the School of Catholic Theology approach Christian identity are inspired by the cultural situation, in which the Catholic, c.q. Christian traditions find themselves in the West. This situation requires a constant re-actualization of this tradition in the light of ever changing circumstances. Cultural identity is typically characterized by continuity and change, and by a variety of manifestations. The same holds true for the Christian tradition of faith: it is an ongoing process, manifesting itself in ever new shapes through time and place, but nevertheless remains recognizable. This becomes apparent in two essential features of Christianity, viz. apostolicity and catholicity. Finally, re-actualization is something that takes place continuously, wherever tradition is passed on in the course of time. Thus (Catholic) Christianity can be interpreted as a two millennia old history of constant re-actualization of its identity. This re-actualization of Christian identity has raised a lot of questions and problems in the course of time. The researchers of the School of Catholic Theology are well aware that they themselves are part of the tradition they investigate and to which they want to contribute through their scholarly work. This stimulates them to constantly look for the most adequate actualizations of this identity in our times.
The question how these re-actualizations of Christian identity in past and present have taken shape is made concrete through the focus that unites both research-programs of the School of Catholic Theology. The first program, Christian identity in a pluralistic context: continuity and discontinuity, approaches this question from a historical perspective, while the second one, (Re)actualizing Catholic identity in advanced modernity, focuses on the actualization of faith and Church in contemporary society. Through its research the School of Catholic Theology wants to discover and determine the variety of actualizations of Christian (in particular Catholic) identity in past and present from a scholarly perspective, but also wishes to contribute to the ongoing process of self-reflection of the Catholic community of faith, in particular by assisting this community in finding answers to the fundamental questions with which it is confronted. This is a concretization of the mission of the School of Catholic Theology, viz. to give reason for the hope that lives in us (1 Pe 3, 15).