Robert Wilkens cogently argues that many modern theologians and Christian laypeople find themselves rootless and drifting in a barren secular and ecclesiastical wasteland, largely because they have forgotten their Christian past. The modern mind, Wilkens believes, has lost any sense of obligation to the past. Instead, many modern thinkers have purposely limited their reliance upon past ideas and traditions, choosing to view autonomous reflection as the heart of rationality. One discovers truth only by purposefully separating oneself from the object of knowledge. For the modern Christian, Wilkens contends, this autonomous stance has spawned an unrelenting suspicion of tradition.
The result, Wilkens contends, is a tendency to produce theology in a context (the university) and with a stance (...autonomous inquiry) that ironically and unnecessarily divorces the theologian from the very religious community in which theological exploration and reflection finds its roots. Wilkens observes that while "Christian faith has always been a critical and rational enterprise, and at its best has welcomed the wisdom of the world into the household of faith," the wisest Christian thinkers also recognized they were "bearers of tradition," a tradition founded on Scripture, subjected to critical examination, tested in the lives of "countless men and women," defended against critics, and "elaborated in myriad social and cultural settings."
Christopher A. Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers, pp. 14, 15.