Within years of his 1669 death, Rembrandt painted his iconic The Return of the Prodigal Son. The returning son kneels before his welcoming father. The elder brother, robed in crimson, stands to the right. A wealthy man sits, a servant stands, the mother watches from the background…but the painting highlights the returner and the receiver. The Prodigal has come home.
Many have mourned theology’s separation from the Church, but over the last thirty years we have witnessed resurgent efforts to reconnect academic theology to its ecclesial roots. The Scholar-Priest Initiative stands in this vein, endeavoring to be the servant in the background of Rembrandt’s picture: to do everything in our power to reintegrate theology back into the life of the parish, to rekindle theological vocation and imagination. In short, to welcome theology home.
Rembrandt’s painting is about returning, welcoming, hurt feelings, squandered opportunities, hoped-for reconciliation, and new beginnings. Whether you’re the son, mother, father, or brother, you are invited to help us welcome theology home. You are invited to help us nurture the great tradition of scholar-priests: from Irenaeus, Augustine, and Aquinas; to Richard Hooker, the Caroline Divines, and William Temple; to Sarah Coakley, Sam Wells, and Rowan Williams. You are invited to help us prepare the Feast.