What is Theology?
We have all heard the question, "What is Theology?" It is such a basic question that often it goes without much thought. As a Christian, we spend much of our time dealing with theological terms and concepts. Theology is second nature to us. But when was the last time you stopped an asked yourself “what are the different types of theology?”
In this article we will examine a few different types of theology and their applications. Applying these theologies can be so very seamless to the point that a transition from one to the next often goes unnoticed when speaking of theological concepts or living them out in our communities.
Applications of Theology:
Theology has been defined by some as “the quest to understand God”, while others have defined it as “the study of God”. Theology is a term from the late Middle English (originally applying only to Christianity). The first half of the word comes from Greek: theos ‘god’ + -logia which means basically “the study of”. Abraham Kuyper called it “the knowledge of God”. John Frame has stated it this way, theology is “the application of God’s Word by persons to all areas of human life.”
We are going to look at many different aspects of theology. We need to think of theology beyond merely just the study of God. Theology has many different applications. When we undertake the study God, it naturally leads us to take that knowledge and apply it to our lives and those around us. When you review this list, I want you think though the different applications theology can have.
- Practical- Think of this as applying theology to the world around you. How you do church.
- Authoritative- Has compelling power over us, has commands from God.
- Personal- Directly applies to us.
- Corporate- Applies to the body of believers corporately.
- Comprehensive- Think of 2 Tim 3:16 we are “complete” for good works.
- Pastoral- Applies to the direct needs of human beings.
- Intellectual- Challenging, thought provoking, reasonable, defensible.
- Volitional- It requires man to act, to respond to take action.
- Emotional- Christ was emotional “Jesus wept.”
- Supernatural- man could not have come up with the Christology found in Scripture.
There are many different aspects of theology. Taking the study of God and applying it to the many realms of our lives is what we are called to do as Christians. We cannot afford to be ignorant of the way theology not only impacts us, but how it can be harnessed in service to God and His kingdom. From pastoral theology when you need that comfort and a word of peace from your pastoral during a very difficult trial to that theologically authoritative proclamation of the Gospel over all men when you are street witnessing. Theology is done in all aspects of life.
Now that we have briefly examined what theology different expressions of theology there are, let’s look at some categories of theology:
Theology is also:
- Exegetical- What does this verse say? This paragraph? This Chapter? This book? Who is it speaking to? Why is it saying what it is saying?
- Biblical- What is the overall narrative of the Bible? What message is the Bible trying to convey to the reader? What message starts in genesis and end in revelation?
- Systematic- How do we properly categorize the knowledge of God found in the Bible? What are the necessary things and what things are contingent upon the necessary things? What does the Bible have to say about a particular topic or issue?
- Historical- What have Christians believed the bible to be saying down through history? What has the church taught? What has the church taught against? Why has the church taken these positions?
- Practical- How do we implement what we learn? How do we apply what we know about God to our lives? How do we impact the world for the kingdom of God?
I leave you with this last thought: What is theology? How do you take theology and apply it to your life? Has God granted us theology to just be head knowledge and kept within the church? The great commission is more than just preaching the gospel and baptizing believers. For within the great commission is inherently theology. This theology of God affects so much of our lives. We must strive to bring it from the head to the heart then to our hands and feet.
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