NOTE: This is adapted from a posting I made in my Fundamental Theology On-line Course. I wanted to share it with you all:
A working definition of the task of Theology might be: the disciplined exploration of what is contained in revelation." I would like to offer an analogy of my own to help understand this definition and the types of theological exploration.
My friend has a 10 month old daughter named Cecelia, who is beginning to explore her world for the very first time. She is set on the floor of the kitchen where her mother and I are sharing our weekly prayer time. She has faith in the solid nature of the floor based upon seeing her mother and I walking on it ourselves (fundamental floorology). She has seen this action before as she has been carried into this same room(historical floorology). Everyone she has seen has been able to walk on the floor just as we do (systematic floorology) If she walks on the floor she will be safe (moral floorology). If she walks out of the door of the kitchen into the hallway, she will still be able to safely walk on the floor. (practical floorology).
But, say she walks down the hallway to the stairway. This floor doesn't look the same.(revelation) She looks back to see that mom and I are watching her, (disciplined) She reaches up and tests the first step (exploration) and feels that the stair is solid, as the floor she is standing on. She climbs up the stair, and sits on the runner. Then she tries to move up to the next stair in the same way she did the first. (methodology). Then she watches as mom climbs the stairs standing up and realizes that she can do the same, and the next step she steps up onto instead of crawling up (observation and adaptation of others).
I realize as all analogies, this one is limited in scope. I was reading Fr Nicholas' article I kept thinking of how children learn about thier world. Aren't theologians similar in the way they explore revelation? So long as they are disciplined in thier aproach, no question should be disregarded out of hand, and within the framework of discipline, they will be kept from toppling down the stairs, hopefully. As they explore they make implications for the other aspects of life. Our lives are all richer because they take the time to explore.