What Is Theology?

When we ask the question, “What is theology?”  the word’s etymology offers us helpful insight.  The word theology comes from the Greek and means “God-talk” (theos = “God”; logos = “word”).  Hence, theology describes what we do: We talk about God.  Better yet, we have conversations about God.  Theology is communal; it belongs to the life of faith in the ongoing Christian community, stemming from the revelation of Jesus two-thousand years ago.  (J.J. Mueller, “Introduction,” Theological Foundations, p. 1)

Why do I appreciate this definition of theology?  First, while it is true that theology is “conversations about God,” it is equally true that theology is communal.  We tend to neglect this important aspect as we do theology.  Second, this definition makes it clear that this theology which is communal stems from “the revelation of Jesus,” thus making it Christ-exalting.

I commend this definition of theology.

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4 Responses to What Is Theology?

  1. One must not forget that “theology” is older than Christianity, the term being coined by Plato in the “Republic” referencing any discourse or study concerned with the “divine.”

    • TC R says:

      However, the Christian faith has given the word its current associations.

      • I suppose my response is merely intended to push against the second claim, “this definition makes it clear that this theology which is communal stems from “the revelation of Jesus,” thus making it Christ-exalting.”

        It seems limiting to relegate theology–as an entire discipline and study–to a strictly Christian understanding, as would the grounding of theology in the revelation of Jesus. Such a definition misses the pre-Christian origin of the field (as I have already described) and also (and perhaps more importantly) its simultaneous development in other traditions: i.e. Islamic theology, Judaic theology, etc….

  2. TC R says:

    Yes, point taken when we consider theology as a net, encompassing other religions.

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