Q&A: What is Theology?

What is Theology?

Question

I'm looking for the right definition of the word "theology."

Answer

Actually, there isn't really one "right" definition. The word "theology" may be properly used in a number of ways. The most common idea represented by the word "theology" is "the study of God" or "the study of the things of God" in a generic sense. Used this way, it refers to anything that has to do with God's existence, attributes, acts, works, plan, etc. It may also refer to the study of God himself (attributes, existence, etc.) as opposed to the study of his works, creation, plan, etc. This use (sometimes called "theology proper") distinguishes the study of God in particular from the study of other things included under the aforementioned generic idea of "theology," such as "anthropology" [the study of man], "eschatology" [the study of the end times or last things], and "soteriology" [the study of salvation]). "Theology" may also refer not to study, but to a body of doctrine, the tenets held by a particular group (e.g. "Reformed theology," or "Roman Catholic theology") or even of an individual (e.g. "Paul's theology"). When properly qualifited, it may also refer to a smaller group of related doctrines (e.g. "soteriology" is "the theology of salvation") or even to a single doctrine (e.g. the theology of Christ's preexistence). All these uses generally share in common the idea of "the study or theory of God (or gods, if used in a non-monotheistic setting) and/or divine things."

Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.