Theology is the critical study of the nature of the divine. It is taught as an academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the unique content of analyzing the supernatural, but also especially with epistemology, and asks and seeks to answer the question of revelation. Revelation pertains to the acceptance of God, gods, or deities, as not only transcendent or above the natural world, but also willing and able to interact with the natural world and, in particular, to reveal themselves to humankind. While theology has turned into a secular field, religious adherents still consider theology to be a discipline that helps them live and understand concepts such as life and love and that helps them lead lives of obedience to the deities they follow or worship.
Theology is derived from the Greek theologia (θεολογία), which derived from Τheos (Θεός), meaning "God", and -logia (-λογία), meaning "utterances, sayings, or oracles" (a word related to logos [λόγος], meaning "word, discourse, account, or reasoning") which had passed into Latin as theologia and into French as théologie. The English equivalent "theology" (Theologie, Teologye) had evolved by 1362. The sense the word has in English depends in large part on the sense the Latin and Greek equivalents had acquired in patristic and medieval Christian usage, although the English term has now spread beyond Christian contexts.
Augustine of Hippo defined the Latin equivalent, theologia, as "reasoning or discussion concerning the Deity"; Richard Hooker defined "theology" in English as "the science of things divine". The term can, however, be used for a variety of disciplines or fields of study.
Theology begins with the assumption that the divine exists in some form, such as in physical, supernatural, mental, or social realities, and that evidence for and about it may be found via personal spiritual experiences or historical records of such experiences as documented by others. The study of these assumptions is not part of theology proper but is found in the philosophy of religion, and increasingly through the psychology of religion and neurotheology. Theology then aims to structure and understand these experiences and concepts, and to use them to derive normative prescriptions for how to live our lives.
Theologians use various forms of analysis and argument (experiential, philosophical, ethnographic, historical, and others) to help understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote any myriad of religious topics. As in philosophy of ethics and case law, arguments often assume the existence of previously resolved questions, and develop by making analogies from them to draw new inferences in new situations.
The study of theology may help a theologian more deeply understand their own religious tradition, another religious tradition, or it may enable them to explore the nature of divinity without reference to any specific tradition. Theology may be used to propagate, reform, or justify a religious tradition or it may be used to compare, challenge (e.g. biblical criticism), or oppose (e.g. irreligion) a religious tradition or world-view. Theology might also help a theologian address some present situation or need through a religious tradition, or to explore possible ways of interpreting the world.
Greek theologia (θεολογία) was used with the meaning "discourse on god" in the fourth century BC by Plato in The Republic, Book ii, Ch. 18. Aristotle divided theoretical philosophy into mathematike, physike and theologike, with the last corresponding roughly to metaphysics, which, for Aristotle, included discourse on the nature of the divine.
Drawing on Greek Stoic sources, the Latin writer Varro distinguished three forms of such discourse: mythical (concerning the myths of the Greek gods), rational (philosophical analysis of the gods and of cosmology) and civil (concerning the rites and duties of public religious observance).
Some Latin Christian authors, such as Tertullian and Augustine, followed Varro's threefold usage, though Augustine also used the term more simply to mean 'reasoning or discussion concerning the deity'
The Latin author Boethius, writing in the early 6th century, used theologia to denote a subdivision of philosophy as a subject of academic study, dealing with the motionless, incorporeal reality (as opposed to physica, which deals with corporeal, moving realities). Boethius' definition influenced medieval Latin usage.
In scholastic Latin sources, the term came to denote the rational study of the doctrines of the Christian religion, or (more precisely) the academic discipline which investigated the coherence and implications of the language and claims of the Bible and of the theological tradition (the latter often as represented in Peter Lombard's Sentences, a book of extracts from the Church Fathers).
In the Renaissance, especially with Florentine Platonist apologists of Dante's poetics, the distinction between "poetic theology" (theologia poetica) and "revealed" or Biblical theology serves as steppingstone for a revival of philosophy as independent of theological authority.
It is in this last sense, theology as an academic discipline involving rational study of Christian teaching, that the term passed into English in the fourteenth century, although it could also be used in the narrower sense found in Boethius and the Greek patristic authors, to mean rational study of the essential nature of God – a discourse now sometimes called theology proper.
From the 17th century onwards, it also became possible to use the term theology to refer to study of religious ideas and teachings that are not specifically Christian (e.g., in the term natural theology which denoted theology based on reasoning from natural facts independent of specifically Christian revelation,) or that are specific to another religion (see below).
"Theology" can also now be used in a derived sense to mean "a system of theoretical principles; an (impractical or rigid) ideology".
The term theology has been deemed by some as only appropriate to the study of religions that worship a supposed deity (a theos), i.e. more widely than monotheism; and presuppose a belief in the ability to speak and reason about this deity (in logia). They suggest the term is less appropriate in religious contexts that are organized differently (religions without a single deity, or that deny that such subjects can be studied logically). ("Hierology" has been proposed as an alternative, more generic term.)
In Jewish theology, the historical absence of political authority has meant that most theological reflection has happened within the context of the Jewish community and synagogue, including through rabbinical discussion of Jewish law and Midrash (rabbinic biblical commentaries). Jewish theology is linked to ethics and therefore has implications for how one behaves.
Christian theology is the study of Christian belief and practice. Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as on Christian tradition. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian better understand Christian tenets, to make comparisons between Christianity and other traditions, to defend Christianity against objections and criticism, to facilitate reforms in the Christian church, to assist in the propagation of Christianity, to draw on the resources of the Christian tradition to address some present situation or need, or for a variety of other reasons.
Islamic theological discussion that parallels Christian theological discussion is called Kalam; the Islamic analogue of Christian theological discussion would more properly be the investigation and elaboration of Sharia or Fiqh.
Kalam ... does not hold the leading place in Muslim thought that theology does in Christianity. To find an equivalent for 'theology' in the Christian sense it is necessary to have recourse to several disciplines, and to the usul al-fiqh as much as to kalam. (L. Gardet)
Within Hindu philosophy, there is a tradition of philosophical speculation on the nature of the universe, of God (termed "Brahman", Paramatma and Bhagavan in some schools of Hindu thought) and of the Atman (soul). The Sanskrit word for the various schools of Hindu philosophy is Darshana (meaning "view" or "viewpoint"). Vaishnava theology has been a subject of study for many devotees, philosophers and scholars in India for centuries. A large part of its study lies in classifying and organizing the manifestations of thousands of gods and their aspects. In recent decades the study of Hinduism has also been taken up by a number of academic institutions in Europe, such as the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and Bhaktivedanta College. See also: Krishnology
Some academic inquiries within Buddhism, dedicated to the investigation of a Buddhist understanding of the world, prefer the designation Buddhist philosophy to the term Buddhist theology, since Buddhism lacks the same conception of a theos. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, who argues that the use of "theology" is appropriate, can only do so, he says, because "I take theology not to be restricted to discourse on God ... I take 'theology' not to be restricted to its etymological meaning. In that latter sense, Buddhism is of course atheological, rejecting as it does the notion of God."
The history of the study of theology in institutions of higher education is as old as the history of such institutions themselves. For instance, Taxila was an early centre of Vedic learning, possible from the 6th century BC or earlier; the Platonic Academy founded in Athens in the 4th century BC seems to have included theological themes in its subject matter; the Chinese Taixue delivered Confucian teaching from the 2nd century BC; the School of Nisibis was a centre of Christian learning from the 4th century AD; Nalanda in India was a site of Buddhist higher learning from at least the 5th or 6th century AD; and the Moroccan University of Al-Karaouine was a centre of Islamic learning from the 10th century, as was Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
The earliest universities were developed under the aegis of the Latin Church by papal bull as studia generalia and perhaps from cathedral schools. It is possible, however, that the development of cathedral schools into universities was quite rare, with the University of Paris being an exception. Later they were also founded by Kings (University of Naples Federico II, Charles University in Prague, Jagiellonian University in Kraków) or municipal administrations (University of Cologne, University of Erfurt). In the early medieval period, most new universities were founded from pre-existing schools, usually when these schools were deemed to have become primarily sites of higher education. Many historians state that universities and cathedral schools were a continuation of the interest in learning promoted by monasteries. Christian theological learning was therefore a component in these institutions, as was the study of Church or Canon law: universities played an important role in training people for ecclesiastical offices, in helping the church pursue the clarification and defence of its teaching, and in supporting the legal rights of the church over against secular rulers. At such universities, theological study was initially closely tied to the life of faith and of the church: it fed, and was fed by, practices of preaching, prayer and celebration of the Mass.
During the High Middle Ages, theology was therefore the ultimate subject at universities, being named "The Queen of the Sciences" and serving as the capstone to the Trivium and Quadrivium that young men were expected to study. This meant that the other subjects (including Philosophy) existed primarily to help with theological thought.
Christian theology's preeminent place in the university began to be challenged during the European Enlightenment, especially in Germany. Other subjects gained in independence and prestige, and questions were raised about the place of a discipline that seemed to involve commitment to the authority of particular religious traditions in institutions that were increasingly understood to be devoted to independent reason.
Since the early nineteenth century, various different approaches have emerged in the West to theology as an academic discipline. Much of the debate concerning theology's place in the university or within a general higher education curriculum centres on whether theology's methods are appropriately theoretical and (broadly speaking) scientific or, on the other hand, whether theology requires a pre-commitment of faith by its practitioners, and whether such a commitment conflicts with academic freedom.
In some contexts, theology has been held to belong in institutions of higher education primarily as a form of professional training for Christian ministry. This was the basis on which Friedrich Schleiermacher, a liberal theologian, argued for the inclusion of theology in the new University of Berlin in 1810.
For instance, in Germany, theological faculties at state universities are typically tied to particular denominations, Protestant or Roman Catholic, and those faculties will offer denominationally-bound (konfessionsgebunden) degrees, and have denominationally bound public posts amongst their faculty; as well as contributing 'to the development and growth of Christian knowledge' they 'provide the academic training for the future clergy and teachers of religious instruction at German schools.'
In the United States, several prominent colleges and universities were started in order to train Christian ministers. Harvard, Georgetown, Boston University, Yale, and Princeton all had the theological training of clergy as a primary purpose at their foundation.
Seminaries and bible colleges have continued this alliance between the academic study of theology and training for Christian ministry. There are, for instance, numerous prominent US examples, including Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, Criswell College in Dallas, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, Dallas Theological Seminary, North Texas Collegiate Institute in Farmers Branch, Texas and the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary in Springfield, Missouri.
In some contexts, scholars pursue theology as an academic discipline without formal affiliation to any particular church (though members of staff may well have affiliations to churches), and without focussing on ministerial training. This applies, for instance, to many university departments in the United Kingdom, including the Faculty of Divinity at the University of Cambridge, the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Exeter, and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds. Traditional academic prizes, such as the University of Aberdeen's Lumsden and Sachs Fellowship, tend to acknowledge performance in theology (or divinity as it is known at Aberdeen) and in religious studies.
In some contemporary contexts, a distinction is made between theology, which is seen as involving some level of commitment to the claims of the religious tradition being studied, and religious studies, which by contrast is normally seen as requiring that the question of the truth or falsehood of the religious traditions studied be kept outside its field. Religious studies involves the study of historical or contemporary practices or of those traditions' ideas using intellectual tools and frameworks that are not themselves specifically tied to any religious tradition and that are normally understood to be neutral or secular. In contexts where 'religious studies' in this sense is the focus, the primary forms of study are likely to include:
Sometimes, theology and religious studies are seen as being in tension, and at other times, they are held to coexist without serious tension. Occasionally it is denied that there is as clear a boundary between them.
Whether or not reasoned discussion about the divine is possible has long been a point of contention. Protagoras, as early as the fifth century BC, who is reputed to have been exiled from Athens because of his agnosticism about the existence of the gods, said that "Concerning the gods I cannot know either that they exist or that they do not exist, or what form they might have, for there is much to prevent one's knowing: the obscurity of the subject and the shortness of man's life."
Since at least the eighteenth century, various authors have criticized the suitability of theology as an academic discipline. In 1772, Baron d'Holbach labeled theology "a continual insult to human reason" in Le Bon sens. Lord Bolingbroke, an English politician and political philosopher, wrote in Section IV of his Essays on Human Knowledge, "Theology is in fault not religion. Theology is a science that may justly be compared to the Box of Pandora. Many good things lie uppermost in it; but many evil lie under them, and scatter plagues and desolation throughout the world."
Thomas Paine, a Deistic American political theorist and pamphleteer, wrote in his three-part work The Age of Reason (published in 1794, 1795, and 1807), "The study of theology, as it stands in Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authorities; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion. Not anything can be studied as a science, without our being in possession of the principles upon which it is founded; and as this is the case with Christian theology, it is therefore the study of nothing."
The German atheist philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach sought to dissolve theology in his work Principles of the Philosophy of the Future: "The task of the modern era was the realization and humanization of God – the transformation and dissolution of theology into anthropology." This mirrored his earlier work The Essence of Christianity (pub. 1841), for which he was banned from teaching in Germany, in which he had said that theology was a "web of contradictions and delusions".
The American satirist Mark Twain remarked in his essay "The Lowest Animal", originally written in around 1896, but not published until after Twain's death in 1910, that "[Man] is the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his throat if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to happiness and heaven... The higher animals have no religion. And we are told that they are going to be left out in the Hereafter. I wonder why? It seems questionable taste."
A.J. Ayer, a British former logical-positivist, sought to show in his essay "Critique of Ethics and Theology" that all statements about the divine are nonsensical and any divine-attribute is unprovable. He wrote: "It is now generally admitted, at any rate by philosophers, that the existence of a being having the attributes which define the god of any non-animistic religion cannot be demonstratively proved... [A]ll utterances about the nature of God are nonsensical."
The Jewish atheist philosopher Walter Kaufmann, in his essay "Against Theology", sought to differentiate theology from religion in general. "Theology, of course, is not religion; and a great deal of religion is emphatically anti-theological... An attack on theology, therefore, should not be taken as necessarily involving an attack on religion. Religion can be, and often has been, untheological or even anti-theological." However, Kaufmann found that "Christianity is inescapably a theological religion".
The English atheist Charles Bradlaugh believed theology prevented human beings from achieving liberty, although he also noted that many theologians of his time held that, because modern scientific research sometimes contradicts sacred scriptures, the scriptures must therefore be wrong. Robert G. Ingersoll, an American agnostic lawyer, stated that, when theologians had power, the majority of people lived in hovels, while a privileged few had palaces and cathedrals. In Ingersoll's opinion, it was science that improved people's lives, not theology. Ingersoll further maintained that trained theologians reason no better than a person who assumes the devil must exist because pictures resemble the devil so exactly.
The British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has been an outspoken critic of theology. In an article published in The Independent in 1993, he severely criticizes theology as entirely useless, declaring that it has completely and repeatedly failed to answer any questions about the nature of reality or the human condition. He states, "I have never heard any of them [i.e. theologians] ever say anything of the smallest use, anything that was not either platitudinously obvious or downright false." He then states that, if all theology were completely eradicated from the earth, no one would notice or even care. He concludes: "The achievements of theologians don't do anything, don't affect anything, don't achieve anything, don't even mean anything. What makes you think that 'theology' is a subject at all?"
it is hard to exaggerate the importance of its [Pakistan's] current drift toward's Maududi's version of Islam
lay men and women, religious sisters and brothers, and seminarians have studied alongside one another, preparing to serve God's people
Criswell College exists to serve the churches of our Lord Jesus Christ by developing God-called men and women in the Word (intellectually and academically) and by the Word (professionally and spiritually) for authentic ministry leadership
the mission of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is ... to be a servant of the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention by training, educating, and preparing ministers of the gospel for more faithful service
Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS) is a learning community dedicated to the development of servant leaders for the global church, leaders who are spiritually, biblically, and theologically prepared to engage contemporary culture for the sake of Christ's kingdom
Ashʿarism or Ashʿari theology (; Arabic: الأشعرية al-ʾAšʿarīyya or الأشاعرة al-ʾAšāʿira) is the foremost theological school of Sunni Islam which established an orthodox dogmatic guideline based on clerical authority, founded by the Arab theologian Abu al-Hasan al-Ashʿari (d. 936 / AH 324). The disciples of the school are known as Ashʿarites, and the school is also referred to as the Ashʿarite school, which became the dominant strand within Sunni Islam. It is considered one of the orthodox schools of theology in Sunni Islam, alongside the Maturidi school of theology.Amongst the most famous Ashʿarites are Al-Bayhaqi, Al-Nawawi, Al-Ghazali, Izz al-Din ibn 'Abd al-Salam, Al-Suyuti, Ibn 'Asakir, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani, Al-Qurtubi and Al-Subki.Beatification
Beatification (from Latin beatus, "blessed" and facere, "to make") is a recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name. Beati is the plural form, referring to those who have undergone the process of beatification.Calvinism
Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism that follows the theological tradition and forms of Christian practice set down by John Calvin and other Reformation-era theologians.
Calvinists broke from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. Calvinists differ from Lutherans on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, theories of worship, and the use of God's law for believers, among other things. As declared in the Westminster and Second Helvetic confessions, the core doctrines are predestination and election. The term Calvinism can be misleading, because the religious tradition which it denotes has always been diverse, with a wide range of influences rather than a single founder. In the context of the Reformation, Huldrych Zwingli began the Reformed tradition in 1519 in the city of Zürich. His followers were instantly labeled Zwinglians, consistent with the Catholic practice of naming heresy after its founder. Very soon, Zwingli was joined by Martin Bucer, Wolfgang Capito, William Farel, Johannes Oecolampadius and other early Reformed thinkers. The namesake of the movement, French reformer John Calvin, converted to the Reformed tradition from Roman Catholicism only in the late 1520s or early 1530s as it was already being developed. The movement was first called Calvinism, referring to John Calvin, by Lutherans who opposed it. Many within the tradition find it either an indescriptive or an inappropriate term and would prefer the word Reformed to be used instead. Some Calvinists prefer the term Augustinian-Calvinism since Calvin credited his theology to Augustine of Hippo. The most important Reformed theologians include John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, Martin Bucer, William Farel, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, Theodore Beza, and John Knox. In the twentieth century, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck, B. B. Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Karl Barth, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Cornelius Van Til, Gordon Clark, and R. C. Sproul were influential. Contemporary Reformed theologians include J. I. Packer, John MacArthur, Timothy J. Keller, David Wells, and Michael Horton.
Reformed churches may exercise several forms of ecclesiastical polity; most are presbyterian or congregationalist, though some are episcopalian. Calvinism is largely represented by Continental Reformed, Presbyterian, and Congregationalist traditions. The biggest Reformed association is the World Communion of Reformed Churches with more than 100 million members in 211 member denominations around the world. There are more conservative Reformed federations such as the World Reformed Fellowship and the International Conference of Reformed Churches, as well as independent churches.Catholic theology
Catholic theology is the understanding of Catholic doctrine or teachings, and results from the studies of theologians. It is based on canonical scripture, and sacred tradition, as interpreted authoritatively by the magisterium of the Catholic Church. This article serves as an introduction to various topics in Catholic theology, with links to where fuller coverage is found.
Major teachings of the Catholic Church which were discussed in the early councils of the Church are summarized in various creeds, especially the Nicene (Nicene-Constantinopolitan) Creed and the Apostles' Creed. Since the 16th century the church has produced catechisms which summarize its teachings, most recently in 1992.The Catholic Church understands the living tradition of the church to contain the essentials of its doctrine on faith and morals and to be protected from error, at times through infallibly defined teaching. The Church believes in a Spirit-guided revelation in sacred scripture, developed in sacred tradition but entirely out of the original deposit of faith. This developed deposit of faith is protected by the "magisterium" or College of Bishops at ecumenical councils overseen by the pope, beginning with the Council of Jerusalem (c. AD 50). The most recent was the Second Vatican Council (1962 to 1965); twice in history the pope defined a dogma after consultation with all the bishops without calling a council.Formal Catholic worship is ordered by means of the liturgy, which is regulated by church authority. The celebration of the Eucharist, one of seven sacraments, is the center of Catholic worship. The Church exercises control over additional forms of personal prayer and devotion including the Rosary, Stations of the Cross, and Eucharistic adoration, declaring that they should all somehow derive from the Eucharist and lead back to it. The Church community consists of the ordained clergy (consisting of the episcopate, the priesthood, and the diaconate), the laity, and those like monks and nuns living a consecrated life under their constitutions.
According to the Catechism, Christ instituted seven sacraments and entrusted them to the Church. These are Baptism, Confirmation (Chrismation), the Eucharist, Penance, the Anointing of the Sick, Holy Orders and Matrimony. The Catholic bishops at the Second Vatican Council, after centuries of celebration of the Mass in Latin, found it salutary to decree:
Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.
On April 22, 2019, Pope Francis released a document called for reform of the Catholic government structure by creating a new “super dicastery” which will give Catholic evangelization more authority over Catholic theology than the Catholic doctrine.Exegesis
Exegesis (; from the Greek ἐξήγησις from ἐξηγεῖσθαι, "to lead out") is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, particularly a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for work with the Bible; however, in modern usage "biblical exegesis" is used for greater specificity to distinguish it from any other broader critical text explanation.
Exegesis includes a wide range of critical disciplines: textual criticism is the investigation into the history and origins of the text, but exegesis may include the study of the historical and cultural backgrounds of the author, text, and original audience. Other analyses include classification of the type of literary genres presented in the text and analysis of grammatical and syntactical features in the text itself.
The terms exegesis and hermeneutics have been used interchangeably.God in Christianity
God in Christianity is the eternal being who created and preserves all things. Christians believe God to be both transcendent (wholly independent of, and removed from, the material universe) and immanent (involved in the world). Christian teachings of the immanence and involvement of God and his love for humanity exclude the belief that God is of the same substance as the created universe but accept that God's divine nature was hypostatically united to human nature in the person of Jesus Christ, in an event known as the Incarnation.
Early Christian views of God were expressed in the Pauline Epistles and the early creeds, which proclaimed one God and the divinity of Jesus, almost in the same breath as in 1 Corinthians (8:5-6): "For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords'), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live." "Although the Judeo-Christian sect of the Ebionites protested against this apotheosis of Jesus, the great mass of Gentile Christians accepted it." This began to differentiate the Gentile Christian views of God from traditional Jewish teachings of the time.The theology of the attributes and nature of God has been discussed since the earliest days of Christianity, with Irenaeus writing in the 2nd century: "His greatness lacks nothing, but contains all things". In the 8th century, John of Damascus listed eighteen attributes which remain widely accepted. As time passed, theologians developed systematic lists of these attributes, some based on statements in the Bible (e.g., the Lord's Prayer, stating that the Father is in Heaven), others based on theological reasoning. The Kingdom of God is a prominent phrase in the Synoptic Gospels and while there is near unanimous agreement among scholars that it represents a key element of the teachings of Jesus, there is little scholarly agreement on its exact interpretation.Although the New Testament does not have a formal doctrine of the Trinity as such, "it does repeatedly speak of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit... in such a way as to compel a Trinitarian understanding of God." This never becomes a tritheism, i.e. this does not imply three Gods. Around the year 200, Tertullian formulated a version of the doctrine of the Trinity which clearly affirmed the divinity of Jesus and came close to the later definitive form produced by the Ecumenical Council of 381. The doctrine of the Trinity can be summed up as: "The One God exists in Three Persons and One Substance, as God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit." Trinitarians, who form the large majority of Christians, hold it as a core tenet of their faith. Nontrinitarian denominations define the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in a number of different ways.Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, covers diverse philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century onward. Liberal does not refer to progressive Christianity or to political liberalism but to the philosophical and religious thought that developed and grew as a consequence of the Enlightenment.
Liberal Christianity, broadly speaking, is a method of biblical hermeneutics, an undogmatic method of understanding God through the use of scripture by applying the same modern hermeneutics used to understand any ancient writings, symbols and scriptures. Liberal Christianity did not originate as a belief structure, and as such was not dependent upon any Church dogma or creedal doctrine. Liberal Christianity from the start embraced the methodologies of Enlightenment science, including empirical evidence and the use of reason, as the basis for interpreting the Bible, life, faith and theology.
The word liberal in liberal Christianity originally denoted a characteristic willingness to interpret scripture according to modern philosophic perspectives (hence the parallel term modernism) and modern scientific assumptions, while attempting to achieve the Enlightenment ideal of objective point of view, without preconceived notions of the authority of scripture or the correctness of Church dogma. Liberal Christians may hold certain beliefs in common with Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, or even fundamentalist Protestantism.Liberation theology
Liberation theology is a synthesis of Christian theology and Marxist socio-economic analyses that emphasizes social concern for the poor and the political liberation for oppressed peoples. In the 1950s and the 1960s, liberation theology was the political praxis of Latin American theologians, such as Gustavo Gutiérrez of Peru, Leonardo Boff of Brazil, Juan Luis Segundo of Uruguay, and Jon Sobrino of Spain, who popularized the phrase "Preferential option for the poor".
The Latin American context also produced Evangelical advocates of liberation theology, such as C. René Padilla of Ecuador, Samuel Escobar of Peru, and Orlando E. Costas of Puerto Rico, who, in the 1970s, called for integral mission, emphasizing evangelism and social responsibility.
Theologies of liberation have developed in other parts of the world such as Black theology in the United States and South Africa, Palestinian liberation theology, Dalit theology in India, and Minjung theology in South Korea.Lutheranism
Lutheranism is a major branch of Western Christianity that identifies with the teaching of Martin Luther, a 16th century German reformer. Luther's efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Protestant Reformation. The reaction of the government and church authorities to the international spread of his writings, beginning with the 95 Theses, divided Western Christianity.The split between the Lutherans and the Catholics was made public and clear with the 1521 Edict of Worms: the edicts of the Diet condemned Luther and officially banned citizens of the Holy Roman Empire from defending or propagating his ideas, subjecting advocates of Lutheranism to forfeiture of all property, half of the seized property to be forfeit to the imperial government and the remaining half forfeit to the party who brought the accusation.The divide centered primarily on two points: the proper source of authority in the church, often called the formal principle of the Reformation, and the doctrine of justification, often called the material principle of Lutheran theology. Lutheranism advocates a doctrine of justification "by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Scripture alone", the doctrine that scripture is the final authority on all matters of faith. This is in contrast to the belief of the Roman Catholic Church, defined at the Council of Trent, concerning authority coming from both the Scriptures and Tradition.Unlike Calvinism, Lutherans retain many of the liturgical practices and sacramental teachings of the pre-Reformation Church, with a particular emphasis on the Eucharist, or Lord's Supper. Lutheran theology differs from Reformed theology in Christology, divine grace, the purpose of God's Law, the concept of perseverance of the saints, and predestination.Monophysitism
Monophysitism ( or ; Greek: μονοφυσιτισμός; Late Koine Greek, pronounced [monofysitizˈmos] from μόνος monos, "only, single" and φύσις physis, "nature") is the Christological position that, after the union of the divine and the human in the historical incarnation, Jesus Christ, as the incarnation of the eternal Son or Word (Logos) of God, had only a single "nature" which was either divine or a synthesis of divine and human. Monophysitism is contrasted to dyophysitism (or dia-, dio-, or duophysitism) which maintains that Christ maintained two natures, one divine and one human, after the incarnation.
Historically, the term "Monophysites" (capitalized in this sense) referred to those Christians in the Eastern Roman Empire who rejected the fourth ecumenical council, the Council of Chalcedon in 451. The moderate members of this group, however, maintained a "miaphysite" theology that became that of the Oriental Orthodox churches. The Oriental Orthodox reject the label "monophysite" as a catch-all term, but the label was extensively used in historical literature of Chalcedonian Christian authors.
After the Council of Chalcedon, the monophysite controversy (together with institutional, political, and growing nationalistic factors) led to a lasting schism between the Oriental Orthodox churches, on the one hand, and the Eastern Orthodox and Western churches on the other. The Christological conflict among monophysitism, dyophysitism, and their subtle combinations and derivatives lasted from the third through the eighth centuries and left its mark on all but the first two Ecumenical councils. The vast majority of Christians presently belong to the Chalcedonian churches, namely the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and traditional Protestant churches (those that accept at least the first four Ecumenical Councils); these churches have always considered monophysitism to be heretical, usually claiming that it implies Christ is neither "truly God" nor "truly man".Monophysitism is occasionally referred to as "monophysiticism".Mormonism
Mormonism is the predominant religious tradition of the Latter Day Saint movement of Restorationist Christianity started by Joseph Smith in Western New York in the 1820s and 30s. After Smith was killed in 1844, most Mormons followed Brigham Young on his westward journey to the area that became the Utah Territory, calling themselves The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). Other sects include Mormon fundamentalism, which seeks to maintain practices and doctrines such as polygamy, and other small independent denominations. The second-largest Latter Day Saint denomination, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, since 2001 called the Community of Christ, does not describe itself as "Mormon", but follows a Trinitarian Christian restorationist theology, and considers itself Restorationist in terms of Latter Day Saint doctrine.
The word Mormon originally derived from the Book of Mormon, a religious text published by Smith, which he said he translated from golden plates with divine assistance. The book describes itself as a chronicle of early indigenous peoples of the Americas and their dealings with God. Based on the book's name, Smith's early followers were more widely known as Mormons, and their faith Mormonism. The term was initially considered pejorative, but Mormons no longer consider it so (although generally preferring other terms such as Latter-day Saint or LDS).Mormonism has common beliefs with the rest of the Latter Day Saint movement, including the use of and belief in the Bible, and in other religious texts including the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants. It also accepts the Pearl of Great Price as part of its scriptural canon, and has a history of teaching eternal marriage, eternal progression and polygamy (plural marriage), although the LDS Church formally abandoned the practice of plural marriage in 1890. Cultural Mormonism, a lifestyle promoted by Mormon institutions, includes cultural Mormons who identify with the culture, but not necessarily the theology.Nestorianism
Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes that the two natures (human and divine) of Jesus Christ were joined by will rather than nature. This Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius (386–450), Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, who was influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch.
Nestorius' teachings brought him into conflict with other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized especially his rejection of the title Theotokos ("Mother of God") for Mary, the mother of Jesus, and issued 12 anathemas against him at a council in Rome in 430. Nestorius and his teachings were eventually condemned as heretical at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and again at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which led to the Nestorian Schism; churches supporting Nestorian teachings broke with the rest of the Christian Church.
Following that, many of Nestorius's supporters relocated to the Sasanian Empire, where they affiliated with the local Christian community, known as the Church of the East. Over the next decades the Church of the East became increasingly Nestorian in doctrine, leading to it becoming known alternatively as the Nestorian Church.Polemic
A polemic () is contentious rhetoric that is intended to support a specific position by aggressive claims and undermining of the opposing position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist. The word is derived from Ancient Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning 'warlike, hostile', from πόλεμος (polemos), meaning 'war'.Polemics often concern issues in religion or politics. A polemic style of writing was common in Ancient Greece, as in the writings of the historian Polybius. Polemic again became common in medieval and early modern times. Since then, famous polemicists have included the satirist Jonathan Swift, Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy, the socialist philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the novelist George Orwell, the psycholinguist Noam Chomsky, the social critic Christopher Hitchens, the existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche, author of On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic.Prosperity theology
Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith) is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be blessed. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are mainstream in Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible), though less so in Christianity. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.
It was during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s that prosperity theology first came to prominence in the United States, although commentators have linked the origins of its theology to the New Thought movement which began in the 19th century. The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Pentecostal Movement and Charismatic Movement in the United States and has spread throughout the world. Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Reverend Ike, and Kenneth Hagin.
Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Secular as well as some Christian observers have also criticized prosperity theology as exploitative of the poor.Protestantism
Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone (sola fide) rather than by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone (rather than with sacred tradition) in faith and morals (sola scriptura). The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.Protestantism is popularly considered to have begun in Germany in 1517 when Martin Luther published his Ninety-five Theses as a reaction against abuses in the sale of indulgences by the Roman Catholic Church, which purported to offer remission of sin to their purchasers. However, the term derives from the letter of protestation from German Lutheran princes in 1529 against an edict of the Diet of Speyer condemning the teachings of Martin Luther as heretical. Although there were earlier breaks and attempts to reform the Roman Catholic Church—notably by Peter Waldo, John Wycliffe, and Jan Hus—only Luther succeeded in sparking a wider, lasting, and modern movement. In the 16th century, Lutheranism spread from Germany into Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, and Iceland. Reformed (or Calvinist) denominations spread in Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Scotland, Switzerland and France by reformers such as John Calvin, Huldrych Zwingli, and John Knox. The political separation of the Church of England from the pope under King Henry VIII began Anglicanism, bringing England and Wales into this broad Reformation movement.Protestants have developed their own culture, with major contributions in education, the humanities and sciences, the political and social order, the economy and the arts, and many other fields.Protestantism is diverse, being more divided theologically and ecclesiastically than either the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, or Oriental Orthodoxy. Without structural unity or central human authority, Protestants developed the concept of an invisible church, in contrast to the Roman Catholic view of the Catholic Church as the visible one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. Some denominations do have a worldwide scope and distribution of membership, while others are confined to a single country. A majority of Protestants are members of a handful of Protestant denominational families: Adventists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Baptists, Reformed, Lutherans, Methodists, and Pentecostals. Nondenominational, evangelical, charismatic, independent and other churches are on the rise, and constitute a significant part of Protestant Christianity. Proponents of the branch theory consider Protestantism one of the three major divisions of Christendom, together with the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodoxy (both Eastern and Oriental).Scholasticism
Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics", or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.Scholasticism is not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning, as it places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. In the classroom and in writing, it often takes the form of explicit disputation; a topic drawn from the tradition is broached in the form of a question, opponents' responses are given, a counterproposal is argued and opponents' arguments rebutted. Because of its emphasis on rigorous dialectical method, scholasticism was eventually applied to many other fields of study.As a program, scholasticism began as an attempt at harmonization on the part of medieval Christian thinkers, to harmonize the various authorities of their own tradition, and to reconcile Christian theology with classical and late antiquity philosophy, especially that of Aristotle but also of Neoplatonism. (See also Christian apologetics.)
Some of the main figures of scholasticism include Anselm of Canterbury (the "father of scholasticism"), Peter Abelard, Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas's masterwork Summa Theologica (1265–1274) is considered to be the pinnacle of scholastic, medieval, and Christian philosophy; it began while Aquinas was regent master at the studium provinciale of Santa Sabina in Rome, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. Important work in the scholastic tradition has been carried on well past Aquinas's time, for instance by Francisco Suárez and Luis de Molina, and also among Lutheran and Reformed thinkers. The historical legacy of scholasticism lay not in specific scientific discoveries, for these were not made, but laying the foundations for the development of natural science.Seminary
Seminary, school of theology, theological seminary, and divinity school are educational institutions for educating students (sometimes called seminarians) in scripture, theology, generally to prepare them for ordination to server as clergy, in academics, or in Christian ministry. The English word is taken from the Latin seminarium, translated as seed-bed, an image taken from the Council of Trent document Cum adolescentium aetas which called for the first modern seminaries. In the West, the term now refers to Catholic educational institutes and has widened to include other Christian denominations and American Jewish institutions.In the USA, the term is currently used for graduate level institutions, but in history it has been used for high schools.Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity (Latin: Trinitas, lit. 'triad', from Latin: trinus "threefold") holds that God is one God, but three coeternal consubstantial persons or hypostases—the Father, the Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit—as "one God in three Divine Persons". The three Persons are distinct, yet are one "substance, essence or nature" (homoousios). In this context, a "nature" is what one is, whereas a "person" is who one is. Sometimes differing views are referred to as nontrinitarian. Trinitarianism contrasts with positions such as Binitarianism (one deity in two persons, or two deities) and Monarchianism (no plurality of persons within God), of which Modalistic Monarchianism (one deity revealed in three modes) and Unitarianism (one deity in one person) are subsets.
While the developed doctrine of the Trinity is not explicit in the books that constitute the New Testament, the New Testament possesses a "triadic" understanding of God and contains a number of Trinitarian formulas. The doctrine of the Trinity was first formulated among the early Christians and fathers of the Church as early Christians attempted to understand the relationship between Jesus and God in their scriptural documents and prior traditions.World
The world is the planet Earth and all life upon it, including human civilization. In a philosophical context, the "world" is the whole of the physical Universe, or an ontological world (the "world" of an individual). In a theological context, the world is the material or the profane sphere, as opposed to the celestial, spiritual, transcendent or sacred spheres. "End of the world" scenarios refer to the end of human history, often in religious contexts.
The history of the world is commonly understood as spanning the major geopolitical developments of about five millennia, from the first civilizations to the present. In terms such as world religion, world language, world government, and world war, the term world suggests an international or intercontinental scope without necessarily implying participation of every part of the world.
The world population is the sum of all human populations at any time; similarly, the world economy is the sum of the economies of all societies or countries, especially in the context of globalization. Terms such as "world championship", "gross world product", and "world flags" imply the sum or combination of all sovereign states.
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