Faith is part of the theology and so is thought. The absence of one or other of these would be the end of theology. In other words, theology presupposes a new beginning for thought that is not the product of our own reflection, but comes from the encounter with a Word that always precedes us. The embracing of this new beginning is what we call “conversion”. Because there is no theology without faith, so there is no theology without conversion. Conversion can take many forms. It does not always have to occur through the medium of a single event as it did for Augustine or Pascal, or Newman, or Guardini. Nevertheless, our Yes to this new beginning must be, in one form or another, a conscious turning away from the I and toward the no longer-I. It need hardly be said, then, that the possibility of a creative theology increases in the measure in which faith was genuinely experienced, in which conversion attained inner certainty in a painful process of transformation, in which it was recognized as being the indispensible way of penetrating to the truth of our own being. That is why the way of faith can always take its bearings from converts; that is why they are our greatest help in realizing and giving an account of the hope that is in us (1 Pet 3:15).
From: Internationale katholische Zeitschrift Communio 15 (1986)