Outline of Christian theology

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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Christian theology:

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, and to assist in the propagation of Christianity.

Divisions of Christian theology[edit]

There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.

Sub-disciplines[edit]

Christian theologians may be specialists in one or more theological sub-disciplines. These sub-disciplines are often included in certain job titles such as 'Professor of x', 'Senior Lecturer in y':

  • Apologetics/polemics – studying Christian theology as it compares to non-Christian worldviews in order to defend the faith and challenge beliefs that lie in contrast with Christianity.
  • Biblical hermeneutics – interpretation of the Bible, often with particular emphasis on the nature and constraints of contemporary interpretation. Hermeneutics takes into consideration the culture at the time of writing, who wrote the text, who was the text written for, etc.
  • Biblical studies – interpretation of the Bible, often with particular emphasis on historical-critical investigation.
  • Biblical theology – interpretation of the Bible, often with particular emphasis on links between biblical texts and the topics of systematic or dogmatic theology.[1]
  • Constructive theology – generally another name for systematic theology; also specifically a postmodernist approach to systematic theology, applying (among other things) feminist theory, queer theory, deconstructionism, and hermeneutics to theological topics.
  • Dogmatic theology – studying theology (or dogma) as it developed in different church denominations.
  • Ecumenical theology – comparing the doctrines of the diverse churches (e.g., Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, the various Protestant denominations) with the goal of promoting unity among them
  • Exegesis – interpretation of the Bible.
  • Historical theology – studying Christian theology via the thoughts of other Christians throughout the centuries.[1]
  • Homiletics – in theology the application of general principles of rhetoric to public preaching.
  • Moral theology, specifically Christian ethics – explores the moral and ethical dimensions of the religious life
  • Natural theology – the discussion of those aspects of theology that can be investigated without the help of revelation scriptures or tradition (sometimes contrasted with "positive theology").
  • Patristics or patrology—studies the teaching of Church Fathers, or the development of Christian ideas and practice in the period of the Church Fathers.
  • Philosophical theology – the use of philosophical methods in developing or analyzing theological concepts.[1]
  • Pragmatic or practical theology – studying theology as it relates to everyday living and service to God, including serving as a religious minister.
  • Spiritual theology—studying theology as a means to orthopraxy; scripture and tradition are both used as guides for spiritual growth and discipline.
  • Systematic theology (doctrinal theology, dogmatic theology or philosophical theology)—focused on the attempt to arrange and interpret the ideas current in the religion. This is also associated with constructive theology.
  • Theological aesthetics – interdisciplinary study of theology and aesthetics/the arts.
  • Theological hermeneutics – the study of the manner of construction of theological formulations. Related to theological methodology.

Major topics[edit]

These topics crop up repeatedly Christian theology; composing the main recurrent 'loci' around which Christian theological discussion revolves.

A traditional pattern[edit]

In many Christian seminaries, the four Great Departments of Theology are:

  1. Exegetical theology
  2. Historical theology
  3. Systematic theology
  4. Practical theology

The four departments can usefully be subdivided in the following way:
1. Exegetical theology:

  • Biblical studies (analysis of the contents of Scripture)
  • Biblical introduction
  • Canonics (inquiry into how the different books of the Bible came to be collected together)
  • Biblical theology (inquiry into how divine revelation progressed over the course of the Bible).

2. Historical theology (study of how Christian theology develops over time):

3. Systematic theology:

4. Practical theology:

Roman Catholic theology[edit]

One important branch of Christian theology is Roman Catholic theology which has these major teachings:

Controversial movements[edit]

Christians have had theological disagreements since the time of Jesus. Theological disputes have given rise to many schisms and different Christian denominations, sects and movements.

Pre-Reformation[edit]

Post-Reformation[edit]

Because the Reformation promoted the idea that Christians could expound their own views of theology based on the notion of "sola scriptura," the Bible alone, many theological distinctions have occurred between the various Protestant denominations. The differences between many of the denominations are relatively minor; however, and this has helped ecumenical efforts in recent times.

Contemporary theological movements[edit]

In addition to the movements listed above, the following are some of the movements found amongst Christian theologians:

Christian theology organizations[edit]

Evangelical Theological Society (ETS)[edit]

ETS[2] is a professional, academic society of Biblical scholars, teachers, pastors, students, and others involved in evangelical scholarship.

International Academy of Practical Theology (IAPT)[edit]

The purpose of the International Academy of Practical Theology is the study of and critical reflection on practical theological thought and action.[3] This critical reflection should be pursued with attention to the various historical and cultural contexts in which practical theology is done. Out of respect for the diversity of these contexts, the academy seeks to promote international, interracial, and ecumenical dialogue and understanding.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Session 1- What is theology? - Google Docs". Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  2. ^ ETS
  3. ^ IAPT

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Andcone, J.H., eds. Black Theology; A Documentary History, 1966–1979. Orbis Books, 1979
  • Appiah-Kubi, K and Torres, S., eds. African Theology en Route, Orbis Books, 1979
  • Bonino, J.M. Doing theology in a Revolutionary situation, Philadelphia:Fortress Press, 1975.
  • Christian Theology Reader by Alister McGrath. ISBN 0-631-20637-X
  • Christian Theology: An Introduction by Alister McGrath. ISBN 0-631-22528-5
  • Elwood, D.J., ed. Asian Christian Theology; Emerging Themes. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1979
  • Fuller, Reginald H. The Foundations of New Testament Christology (1965). ISBN 0-684-15532-X
  • Gonzalez, Justo L. The Story of Christianity (1984, 1985, 1999). ISBN 1-56563-522-1)
  • Hill, Jonathan 2003) The History of Christian Thought. ISBN 0-7459-5093-0 and 0830827765
  • Hoare, Ryan, 2009,'What is Theology' A lecture Given at suburbschurch Bristol.
  • Koyama, Kosuke, Waterbuffalo Theology. Orbis books, 1974
  • Leith, John H. Introduction to the Reformed Tradition (1978). ISBN 0-8042-0479-9)
  • Miranda, J. Being and the Messiah. Orbis Books, 1974.
  • Moore, B., ed. The Challenge of Black Theology in South Africa. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1974.
  • Muzorewa, H. African Theology: Its Origin and Development. Orbis Books, 1984.
  • Sobrino, J. Christology on the Crossroads. Orbis Books, 1978
  • Systematic Theology, an ecumenical trilogy by Thomas Oden

External links[edit]