Theology, Faith, Universities: From
Specialization to Specification in Theology



The issue of hyper-specialization within the various academic fields has often been raised in the context of recent discussions concerning the purpose or end of the modern university. Theology, one such field in which continual specialization seems prevalent, is further complicated by questions regarding the relationship between faith and the scientific character of theology, as well as the role of the university with regard to that relationship. Though seemingly diverse, a resolution to both of these questions may be found by giving an account of how the sciences, like theology, are specified. It is the purpose of the present article to explore the classical Thomistic position on this subject, and to apply its principles to the case of theology. It is shown that the specification of a science can be understood in terms of both the “formal object which” is known in a given science and the “formal object under which” it is known. The former can provide a correct starting point for managing the multiplicity of “sub-fields” and various specializations within the science of theology, while the latter can help to answer the question of the interrelation between faith and theology as a science in a university setting.