Why study theology?

Having been a theology student at the University of London International Programmes for two years, this is my first post to try and describe why I find the study of theology so exciting and personally rewarding (even, or should I say especially, in the 21st century London).

Theology is not a widely studied or discussed subject nowadays (unfortunately, in my opinion), so it may be useful to start by defining the term. The Oxford English Dictionary defines theology as follows:

The study of the nature of God and religious belief; religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed.

Further analysis of the word theology shows that it is made of two Greek words, θεός (God) and λόγος (word, idea, speech); therefore theology can be thought of as words, ideas and speech about God. Now of course our atheist friends may be quick to say “wait a second, but there is no such thing as God, and therefore there is nothing to study, right?” Well, not quite, for the statement “there is no such thing as God” is itself a theological statement (and a pretty poor one for that – since God is not thought of as being a thing in any sense of that word) and is therefore open to theological discussion and analysis. Without going into too much detail, it is perfectly possible to engage in theological studies while being an atheist or an agnostic; however theists in general and Christians in particular find theological study and reflection especially relevant and illuminating, not least because we are told in 1 Peter 3:15:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.

Christian belief, contrary to popular but unfortunately misinformed opinion, is not “blind” or “unreasonable” but is based on reasons studied, attacked and defended for the last two thousand years; the reasons may be open to challenge (which is also a theological activity) but they are reasons nevertheless, and therefore can be studied and discussed. The same argument can be applied to other Abrahamic faiths, Judaism and Islam, which have their theology as well. Some of the advantages of studying theology at University of London International Programmes is the academic rigour as well as the option of studying Judaism, Islam and Buddhism as part of a degree in Christian theology.

The great and sometimes intimidating but also breath-taking questions and debates in theology have been going on for millenia; we may not have all the answers (and probably will never have, for answers today tend to pose new questions tomorrow!) but we can, regardless of whether we believe in God or not, discover the wealth of intellectual and spiritual richness that is opened to us by the study of theology.

Edgar is studying for a Bachelor of Divinity (BD) degree and is a 33 year-old software engineer living in London. His other qualifications are in computer science and law.

For more information about studying theology at the University of London International Programmes visit Undergraduate programmes in Divinity and Theology

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