What Is Difference Between Religious Studies And Theologian?

Pick a religion, preferably not your own.  Then write two paragraphs.  For the first paragraph, suppose you are studying that religion as a religious studies major.

1.What would you ask about it? For the second paragraph, suppose you are a theologian defending that religion.

2. What would you say about it?  The goal of this assignment is to show that you know the difference between a religious studies major and a theologian.

Limit your answer to one or two sentences for each question.

(View Assignment attachment)

Assignment: World Religion

Directions: Pick a religion, preferably not your own.

Then write two paragraphs. For the first paragraph, suppose you are studying that religion as religious studies major.


1. What would you ask about it? For the second paragraph, suppose you are a theologian defending that religion.

2. What would you say about it?  The goal of this assignment is to show that you know the difference between a religious study major and a theologian.





Limit your answer to one or two sentences for each question.  Here is an example.  Suppose you are looking at Islam.  In the first paragraph, religious studies student might ask what the meaning of the Ramadan fast is to Moslems.  In the second paragraph, a Moslem theologian might argue why keep the Ramadan fast.

Your answer should be between 150 and 300 words.








Helpful Notes for this assignment:

Religion – We will look at religion as a universal part of human culture;  the study of religion stands outside the faith.

Theology approaches religion from within a particular faith tradition. That is because theologians look at a religion from within a faith tradition.  They are building arguments in favor of their particular tradition, to strengthen the faith of others or persuade adherents to join their faith.

A theologian is a person who engages in the discipline of theology. The word ‘theology’ derives from two ancient Greek words that may be transliterated into English as ‘theos’ (meaning “god”) and ‘logos’ (literally meaning “word”). theology is the specific sub-discipline that tries to give an account of the nature of God—the “doctrine of God”—and thus is a kind of study of God.

Anyone who spends time trying to make sense of her faith in God fits in the first category. “ordinary theologians”. These are people to whom Anselm’s famous motto, “faith seeking understanding” might apply: they have faith and their informal ordinary theologizing is an attempt to understand that faith more deeply.

Deliberate theologians are generally those who pursue theology as a formal discipline—often an academic discipline. who pursue the discipline of theology in a conscious, deliberate, and systematic way.  This category of theologians would include the range of thinkers that are traditionally called theologians, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin LutherJohn CalvinKarl Barth, or Wolfhart Pannenberg.

Theology usually has at least three tasks:

1. Interpreting the significance of objects, events, and experiences from the perspective of faith;

2. Connecting thinking about faith with everything else in life, such as science, culture, and arts;

3. Assessing what is true, intelligible, appropriate, or morally sound with respect to these matters.

the hope is that theologizing leads to a stronger and wider faith, and perhaps to greater potential for religious ministry.

These sub-disciplines include biblical theologysystematic theology, historical theology, moral theology, and practical theology.

Systematic theology and philosophy have had a mixed and controversial relationship at least since Tertullian’s (an early Church father – 160 – 220 C.E.) famous quip, “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Tertullian’s statement expresses the view that the Western tradition of philosophy originating in ancient Greece—and Athens in particular—is set against Judeo-Christian thought, and thus that Christians should keep their theological thought separate from the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, and others who came after them in the Western tradition.

Systematic theology is an academic discipline that aims to give a critical and balanced account of central themes in Christian belief and practice.

In  Theology for the Community of God , the late theologian Stanley Grenz offers the following definition of systematic theology: “the reflection on, and the ordered articulation of, faith” (p. 1).   “dogmatics” or “dogmatic theology” since it is an effort to articulate dogmas or doctrines of various theological topics.

take their view of this “matter,” or one idea, and reinterpret all of scripture in terms of it.  In English this approach is called “theological interpretation.”  The problem is that much in Scripture is thrown out with this approach, in an effort to fit Scripture with the “one idea”.

The true theological “system” should only be understood as an eschatological goal—something to be aimed for, worked toward, but never reached this side of heaven—and not as a presupposition of one’s systematic theology.  Thus, systematic theology should not be understood as a discipline whereby we construct grand theological systems.

Here the “systematic” in systematic theology refers to the way the theologian goes about answering theological questions, i.e., in a thorough, deliberate, systematic way, with a view to how answers to the questions relate to other areas of our knowledge or belief. systematic theologians are in the business of synthesizing a single coherent viewpoint that is not as sensitive to exception and variation.

Systematic theology is traditionally divided into the following sub-disciplines: revelation (i.e., the theology of scripture), theology (i.e., the doctrine of God), anthropology (i.e., the theology of human beings), hamartiology (i.e., the theology of human sinfulness), Christology (i.e., the theology of Jesus Christ), pneumatology (i.e., the theology of the Holy Spirit), soteriology (i.e., the theology of salvation), ecclesiology (i.e., the theology of the church), and eschatology (i.e., the theology of last things).


Biblical theology is the sub-discipline of Christian theology that aims to understand and synthesize what scripture, or the Bible, tells us about God and other theological topics.

For example, in formulating a doctrine of creation—an account of how and why God created the world and its inhabitants—systematic theologians routinely draw on scientific data, such as the conclusions of astronomy and evolutionary biology (e.g., see Hans Schwarz’s  Creation ). Second, biblical theology is distinct from systematic theology in that it does not necessarily take up questions of what is true or false about various theological topics.  Biblical theology is thus analytical and descriptive



Topic 2: The Definition of Religion

Some definitions are too exclusive, for example, anthropologist Edward Tylor defines religion as “belief in spiritual beings.”

Theologian Paul Tillich defines religion as “being grasped by an ultimate concern.”  What is someone’s ultimate concern is seeking pleasure.



sociologist Steve Bruce in 1996:

“Religion, then, consists of beliefs, actions, and institutions which assume the existence of supernatural entities with powers of action, or impersonal powers or processes possessed of moral purpose.


Religion is a language game in a community, which may. or may not include:

a. Belief in supernatural or spiritual beings.

b. Myths about the formation of the world or the religious community.

c. Rituals and symbols.

d. Some kind of scripture of holy document.

e. Ways to relate to the spiritual beings through prayer, meditation, or other activities.

f. A system of ethical rules.

g. Spiritual leaders such as shamans, priests, rabbis, ministers, or imans.

h. An eschatology or vision of the end of days.

Note: not every religion contains all of these, but most contain most of these.  The

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