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Book by BC School of Theology and Ministry Prof. Thomas Stegman, S.J., Looks at Life of Faith


CHESTNUT HILL, Mass. (August 2015) -- In his new book, School of Theology and Ministry Associate Professor Thomas Stegman, S.J., turns to the major voices of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Paul—for portrayals of the life of faith that can serve to both instruct and inspire readers.

Thomas Stegman, SJ
Thomas Stegman, S.J.

“The Bible teaches us that the life of faith is grounded in the faithfulness of God,” said Fr. Stegman, who teaches the New Testament. “Christian faith is, first and foremost, about an encounter with Jesus, an invitation to be in relationship with Jesus.”

In Opening the Door of Faith: Encountering Jesus and His Call to Discipleship (Paulist Press, 2015), Fr. Stegman identifies a passage from each writer and then four unique aspects of faith the writer develops.

For example, Fr. Stegman cites the Beatitudes in Matthew, a gospel that emphasizes righteousness, learning the ways of Jesus, community and compassion. Here, the disciples are learners who are called to be teachers of Jesus’ ways.

In the Acts of the Apostles, Luke’s description of the early church emphasizes themes of boldness (from the Holy Spirit), generosity, hospitality and prayer.

Fr. Stegman concludes the book with a synthesis of all the themes that offers an overarching depiction of the life of faith in the New Testament: encounter with Jesus; call to discipleship and mission; empowerment of the Spirit; prayer and sacrament; community of faith, and connection between faith and evangelization.

Fr. Stegman says he sees Opening the Door as a natural extension of the discussions on faith started by Pope Benedict and continued by Pope Francis.

“Pope Benedict announced the Year of Faith with the apostolic letter, 'The Door of Faith' (Porta Fidei). Pope Francis’s first encyclical, Lumen Fidei, was the continuation of Pope Benedict’s work on the third theological virtue, faith. Francis’s apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium ('Joy of the Gospel'), ties the life of faith—understood primarily as relationship with Christ—to the new evangelization.

“The word evangelization can summon up ideas of door-to-door proselytizing,” said Fr. Stegman. “This is not what the Holy Father means. Pope Francis says we evangelize when we live lives transfigured by God’s presence.”

According to Fr. Stegman, Opening the Door is geared for adult faith groups, Bible study groups, advanced high school and beginning college instruction, as well as for the people in the pew who want to deepen their encounter with Christ. Each chapter concludes with questions for prayer and reflection.

The book is dedicated to Fr. Stegman’s late friend and colleague Daniel Harrington, S.J., an internationally renowned biblical scholar who taught in the School of Theology and Ministry.

“Dan was all about making the best of biblical scholarship accessible,” said Fr. Stegman. “I hope, in my small way, that I have done that with this book.”

 

--Kathleen Sullivan, Office of News & Public Affairs, kathleen.sullivan@bc.edu