“Is Study Conducive to Eternal Life?” Thursday Night Lecture by Dr. John Mortensen

It was a great joy to welcome ITI graduate and former ITI professor Dr. John Mortensen back to our campus. On March 2, he gave a Thursday night lecture under the title Is Study Conducive to Eternal Life?” He has been working to understand the relationship between studying and eternal life for the past thirty years. He consolidated his thoughts and conclusions on the matter into a Summa-style article on the topic, which he presented at the ITI that evening. If prayer is more important than study, why shouldn’t we just pray all the time? If study isn’t at the heart of what leads to eternal life, why study? And if some people are even led astray by study, is study dangerous? Reflecting on these questions, Dr. Mortensen investigated whether study can lead us to eternal life.

Among other insights, Dr. Mortensen particularly focused on the following: “If you can make your study a conversation with God, just as Thomas made his study a conversation with God and the saints, then you will be right in the center of exercising that friendship with God in your study. It is just like when you have a discussion with your friends about what you are learning: you are both studying something, and you are having a conversation with your friends. You can make your study be that way with God. Talk to him. And listen.”


Dr. John Mortensen: Having received his bachelor’s degree in 1997 from Thomas Aquinas College, he spent the next ten years in Europe where he studied theology and philosophy in Austria, Oxford, and Rome. From 2002 to 2007 he was an assistant professor at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria, teaching courses in logic, natural philosophy, metaphysics, fundamental theology, and Trinitarian theology. During these years he also held the positions of Director of Finance and subsequently Vice President of Administration. He completed a doctorate in philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation in theology. Dr. Mortensen’s research has centered on Aquinas’s doctrine of analogy, especially as it pertains to St. Thomas’s account of the mystery of the Trinity and of the divine causality of human freedom. In 2007 Dr. Mortensen and his family moved to Wyoming where he was Vice President of Finance and Administration, an Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, and finally Academic Dean at Wyoming Catholic College. In 2016 he and his wife began working full time publishing the Opera Omnia of St. Thomas Aquinas. Dr. Mortensen is currently President of the Aquinas Institute in Green Bay, Wisconsin.