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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about Christian religious theology. For the United States Court case known as the Christian Doctrine see G.L. Christian and associates v. US.
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Christian theology is discourse concerning Christian faith. Christian theologians use Biblical exegesis, rational analysis and argument to understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote Christianity. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian understand Christianity more truly,[1] make comparisons between Christianity and other traditions,[2] defend Christianity against critics, facilitate Christianity's reform,[3] assist in the propagation of Christianity,[4] draw on the resources of the Christian tradition to address some present situation or need,[5] or for a variety of other reasons.

Christian theology has permeated much of Western culture, especially in pre-modern Europe.


Divisions of Christian theology

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.



Christian theologians may be specialists in one or more theological sub-disciplines. These are the kinds of phrases that one finds 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
  • 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[6]
  • 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 (such as Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and 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[7]
  • Homiletics—in theology the application of general principles of rhetoric to public preaching
  • Moral theology—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.[8]
  • 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

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

A traditional pattern

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 (inquiry into the origins of the Bible)
  • 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

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

Controversial movements

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.



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

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


  1. ^ See, e.g., Daniel L. Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004)
  2. ^ See, e.g., David Burrell, Freedom and Creation in Three Traditions (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994)
  3. ^ See, e.g., John Shelby Spong, Why Christianity Must Change or Die (New York: Harper Collins, 2001)
  4. ^ See, e.g., Duncan Dormor et al. (eds), Anglicanism, the Answer to Modernity (London: Continuum, 2003)
  5. ^ For example, see Timothy Gorringe, Crime, Changing Society and the Churches Series (London:SPCK, 2004)
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^

See also


  • 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
    • Volume 1: The Living God (1992). ISBN 0–06–066363–4
    • Volume 2: The Word of Life (1992). ISBN 0–06–066364–2
    • Volume 3: Life in the Spirit (1994). ISBN 0–06–066362–6

External links


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