Religion and Theology term papers

What is Religion and Theology?

The definition of religion is a collection of beliefs, cultural systems and worldviews which link humans to a level of spirituality. Religion is more public in nature than private belief and is shared by a group of people, who also associate with symbols, ceremonies and texts which represent that religion. Religions are usually defined by their clergy, their membership, their belief in a higher being, their traditions, their initiations and their practices.  Examples of religion are Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Theology, which means 'the study of god' in Greek, is a learned profession which the student acquires after training in religious studies.  This is usually done in a seminary or through a university.

Religion and Theology as an Academic Discipline

Theology as an academic discipline has its roots in ancient schools and learning institutions.  For example, Christianity was taught in the School of Nisibis from the 4th Century AD, while Islamic teachings flourished at Morocco's University of Al Karaouine in the 10th Century.  During the Middle Ages, theology (known then as the Queen of Sciences) was key to the studies of all disciplines taught in universities, with other subjects such as philosophy only taught as a way of supporting theological ideas.  Today, religion and theology are taught as subjects in major universities around the world and in seminaries, religious institutes of higher learning and community colleges.  Many times students will study these disciplines to prepare for the world of ministry, and other times to these courses are offered without formal affiliation to any religion or church.  Some universities will offer theology as an individual discipline while others will run departments of religion and theology.

What will a Course in Religion and Theology Incorporate?

Places of higher learning differ from one to another when it comes to teaching religion and theology.  A typical course could include:

  • The study of religion as a world force which influences worldviews and practices.
  • Controversial topics such as science and religion.
  • Particular traditions.
  • A study of the origins and translations of various biblical texts.
  • Introduction and in-depth study of major world religions.
  • The contribution of religion to architecture, literature, philosophy, art, music and more.
  • The role of religion in the public sphere.

Theology Major

Theology taught as an individual major usually focuses on the beliefs and doctrines of a particular religion, and includes instruction in systematic theology, historical theology, moral theology and the applications of these ideas to ministerial and religious life.

Religious Studies Major

This is a broader type of major which incorporates instruction in phenomenology, religious history and politics and literature and art in religion, to name just a few areas.

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