1. What is theology?

The term “theology” comes from the Greek words for “God” (theos) and “word,” or “body of knowledge” (logos); hence, it means, literally, “the body of knowledge about God,” or, more simply, “the study of God”. Therefore, in its strict sense, theology has to do only with the knowledge of the Godhead, and not with the other doctrines found in the bible. However, for many centuries, the term “theology” has had a broader connotation, and is often used to refer to the entire body of knowledge related to the Christian worldview, including all the various truths that are found in the scriptures, and the Christian doctrines which the Church has derived from the study of the scriptures over the course of her history.

Because the term “theology” has such a broad connotation, it has been customary to refer to the doctrine of God specifically, or sometimes just the doctrine of the first person of the trinity, that is, of God the Father, as “theology proper”. Thus, “theology proper,” meaning the study of God, is a subset of “theology,” meaning the study of all the doctrines of Christianity, including “christology” (the study of Christ); “pneumatology” (the study of the Holy Spirit); “bibliology” (the study of the bible); “anthropology” (the study of man); “angelology” (the study of angels); “hamartiology” (the study of sin); “soteriology” (the study of salvation); “ecclesiology” (the study of the Church); and “eschatology” (the study of last things).

The categories listed above all pertain to “systematic theology,” which is one method of organizing the doctrines encountered in theology. But theological doctrines may be arranged in other fashions as well, including “biblical theology,” the study of theology as it is progressively revealed in redemptive history; “historical theology,” the study of the development of theology in different periods of church history; “dogmatic theology,” the study of the theological teachings of different denominations and movements; and “contemporary theology,” the study of the theological issues currently being discussed and debated on a wide scale.

Related Reading for Further Study
Theology by Francis Turretin
The Justification of Theology as an Intellectual Discipline by Robert L. Reymond
Theses Theologicae Theological Propositions by R. Scott Clark

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