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Theology is typically defined as the rational and systematic study of God and all related attributes of the divine, spiritual and religious truths. As humanity has encountered the supernatural and divine, it becomes increasingly important not only to document historic accounts but organize our understanding of it, in order to properly discern all of its meanings.
Historically, Augustus of Hippo defined the Latin term ‘theologia’ as the reasoning of, or discussion of things divine (deity).” The word Theology comes from the two Greek words – ‘Theos’ which meanings God, and ‘logia’ which means utterance, saying or oracles. ‘Logia’ is a word very similar to the Greek word Logos which means reasoning, logic, discourse or account. Over time this word translated into Latin as the word ‘theologia,’ and by 1362 it had been converted into English as ‘theology.’ The term however is often used as a reference for a variety of different fields of study by different scholars and researchers.
Theology is determined using a variety of tools, not only to correspond its validity and accuracy, but also to determine a correct order or organization. This is the reason why studying theology is so important, not only to understand the deep meaning of historic truths, but to personally be able to affirm ones own life in light of divine revelation. The study of theology allows a person to be able to categorize their own beliefs in a way that makes the information more easily acceptable logically, without taking away from the emotional or spiritual experience.
Some of the tools used to validate theological arguments, which are similar to any other form of scientific study, are as follows:
- Philosophical understanding / arguments
- Historic documentation & personal testimonies
- Spiritual affirmations
TYPES OF THEOLOGY
Theology is typically categorized in different ways, each broken down according to different manner of arranging the teachings of scripture:
This term simply means ‘prefatory remarks,’ it is the criticism or introduction of a study. This refers to the method of studying the questions found in each topic of theology. Its main purpose is to describe the nature, purpose and focus point of the study. In theology, prolegomena help the student understand the beginning point, or point of view, that should be regarded in a particular study.
Systematic Theology, also referred to as ‘dogmatic’ or ‘constructive theology,’ is the discipline of studying theology based on topics or primary themes presented in scripture. General Areas of Systematic Theology:
- Prolegomena – the methods and presuppositions used before studying theology.
- Bibliology – the study of the Bible
- Theology Proper – the study of the doctrines of God
- Christology – the study of Christ
- Pneumatology – the study of the Holy Spirit
- Anthropology – the study of humanity
- Angelology – the study of angelic beings
- Soteriology – the study of salvation
- Ecclesiology – the study of the Church
- Eschatology – the study of last things or of end times
Philosophical Theology is the process of practicing or studying theology with the aid or in light of philosophical reflection, languages and methods. It is a way of understanding doctrines in theological concepts through the use of philosophy, sometimes it is viewed as a subcategory of religion altogether. Philosophical Theology is typically sub categorized into two different categories:
Natural Theology – the use of demonstrating the truth of religious claims by appealing to the evidence available apart from purported divine revelation.
Divine Revelation – the use of demonstrating the consistency and plausibility of theological claims using philosophical techniques.
Biblical Theology and Bible Studies
Biblical theology is the disciple that focuses on the Biblical writer, whom under divine guidance, taught and believe in context to their own times. This category focuses on the Bible itself, taking into all accounts and studied from the viewpoint that the Bible is the inerrant word of God.
This study in theology focuses on the Bible in a historic setting and the context of the human authors that where divinely inspired. It focuses on the canonical approach to all scripture and all the theology found within. It can be broken down into two main categories for a closer look at the specific books of the Bible:
Old Testament Theology – the study of theology in the Old Testament
New Testament Theology – the study of theology found in the New Testament
This is a generic term used to describe anybody of teaching that gives a clear understanding or insight into a specific message or truth that was revealed from God to humanity. Doctrines are especially import studies as they impart a specific message from God that ever person should know to help their spiritual growth and understanding about God and His creation.