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What Is Theology? Essay

1669 words - 7 pages

If you were to ask most people in our modern world what they thought or knew about theology, I believe very few would have a great deal of confidence in giving an adequate response. The discipline itself is dominated by words such as faith, revelation, eschatology and redemption. Such terms may offer even more difficulties for individuals. Theology is often looked upon by people as a very diverse and complicated subject. There are so many aspects and systems within theology that people may feel overwhelmed. Protestant or Catholic, liberation or feminist, positive or speculative, the list just goes on and on. As theology is such an immense subject, in this essay I will attempt to simply define the word itself, give a brief history of its development and outline some of the major areas of relevance in theology. To attempt to do any more than this would be an impossible task to complete within a project of this size.The word theology is derived from two Greek words, Theos, and logos. (1) The word logos is often translated as meaning "study of." The term Theos is interpreted as "God". We are therefore left with the translation, "the study of God." This interpretation, I feel is not completely accurate and a more apt translation of the word would be; "God talk," or "talk of God." However, this definition of the word theology does not totally define the term either. I feel theology would be more satisfactorily described as the study of belief in God, as individual faith is essential for method of study.The word theology has been used in writing since the time antiquity. Both Plato and Aristotle used the phrase theologia in their works and others such as Panaetius of Rhodes also commonly used the term. The word itself never appears in the Bible. (2) It was not until the time of Origen that the phrase became evident in use among Christian thinkers to define knowledge of God. The word theologia continued to be an infrequently used term in the Christian world. It was only during the time of Thomas Aquinas that it entered common usage. Aquinas himself preferred the term, sacra doctrina ("Sacred Doctrine"). (3) However, others during his lifetime began the introduction of its use.Although we can translate the meaning of the word theology and trace its origins, finding solutions to the problems within the disciplines itself are not that simply attained. The difficulties start and end quite simply with God. In theology, we try to talk about something that is inapprehensible, that of course is the reality of God. Karl Rahner has said that its not that we can not know God, at least somewhat, but what it does mean is that we can not fully comprehend Him with our finite minds. (4) Many people have attempted to define theology. Some perhaps with greater success than others. One of the most recognised examples comes from Saint Anselm of Canterbury who roughly defined theology as, "faith seeking understanding."(5) To this day Christian theologians, place enormous...

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