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Theology > Definition of Theology


"Theology" is derived from two Greek words: theos, meaning "God," and logos, meaning "word"; thus, according to its precise etymology, "theology" is literally "a word about God." The word of man about God is predicated on the Word of God from God. In other words, man speaks because God has spoken, spoken both in His Son—the living Word—and in the Scriptures—the written Word.

The Christian use of the word has generally been for those works that are based upon the teachings of the Bible and that set forth those teachings in some organized manner. The Bible is the record of the Divine activity and of the Divine words relative to that activity whereby the Self-Revelation of God and His redemption of sinful man are set forth. Theology is the believer’s response to this record.

The Biblical theologian is uniquely interested in the Bible, and it is with the Sacred Writings that his life is spent: he reads them, he studies them, he memorizes them, he meditates upon them, he prays over them; and he waits upon God to illumine him and to instruct him as to their meaning. Although it cannot be exhausted, the student finds in the Bible a reservoir of Truth from which he draws the information that he seeks to organize and present; that presentation for the student is his theology.

Part of this process includes consulting the interpretative views of the Church throughout its history, for modern theology cannot be divorced from past theology. Truth endures and exposes the heresies that continually appear. No current theologian can be so arrogant as to think that there is nothing to learn from former students of Scripture. The past must be evaluated.

The word “theology” carries at least three connotations at the present time: one, it is used of the study of God proper; two, it is used of treatises on the teachings of the Christian faith (theologians write their theologies); and three, it is used to refer to the discipline that investigates the truths of the Christian faith (some major in the field of theology, for instance, rather than in the fields of New Testament or Missions).

Perhaps the statement of Thomas Aquinas best defines the Christian usage of the word:

Theology is taught by God,
teaches of God,
and leads to God.

See: Theologia

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