"It is widely understood to mean literally "the study of God".
Theology finds its scholars pursuing the understanding of and providing reasoned discourse of religion, spirituality and God or the gods.
The origin of the word theology comes from late middle English (originally applying only to Christianity) from French théologie,
from Latin theologia, from Greek: theologia, from theos or God or logos, "words", "cause", "sayings," or
"discourse" + suffix, "state of", "property of", "place of". It is widely understood to mean
literally "the study of God."
Theologians use philosophical analysis and argument to understand, explain, test, critique, defend or promote any of a myriad of religious
topics. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian understand more truly his or her own religious tradition, understand more
truly another religious tradition, make comparisons between religious traditions, defend a religious tradition, facilitate reform of
a particular tradition, assist in the propagation of a religious tradition, or draw on the resources of a tradition to address some present
situation or need, or for a variety of other reasons.
The word 'theology' has classical Greek origins, but was slowly given new senses when it was taken up in both Greek and Latin forms by
Christian authors. It is the subsequent history of the term in Christian contexts, particularly in the Latin West, that lies behind most
contemporary usage, but the term can now be used to speak of reasoned discourse within and about a variety of different religious traditions.
Various aspects both of the process by which the discipline of ‘theology’ emerged in Christianity and the process by which
the term was extended to other religions are highly controversial.
Why Do Christians Hold Such Different Interpretations of the Same Bible Text?
Same Verse, Different Interpretations
It is amazing how one given Bible verse can be interpreted so many different ways. There are, of course, examples of Biblical text that
can be interpreted different ways, and be justified in doing so. God's word is unique in this way. Sometimes, Biblical text is dynamic
in its meaning and implications. However, most of the time, when a verse of Scripture is interpreted in different ways, it is usually
because there is a bias from a presupposition already held that the reader tries to apply to a verse to confirm their own belief. There
is always a comfort in finding validation to what we believe to be true, especially when it comes from Holy Scripture. The danger, however,
is always that our bias and/or presuppositions will influence our interpretation of Scripture, rather than allowing the Scriptures to
influence our bias and/or presuppositions.
There has been discussion among some Christian leaders encouraging readers to hold to a "balanced" interpretation
of any given scriptural text. This raises a few questions for me; (1) By what standards or criteria do we deem something as "balanced"?
(2) What presuppositions and/or bias is held by someone making the case for a given "balanced" interpretation? (3)
Does a balanced interpretation necessarily guarantee an accurate interpretation? This can be a problem because an assumption about being
"balanced" is being made here. The assumption would be that a "balanced" view is the correct view,
and that "balance" in general is a good thing to strive for. Some would argue that if we are "balanced",
we will satisfy the need to combine more than just one interpretation, so as to make it more palatable to a wider audience. However,
our ultimate goal here should be an interpretation that communicates truth, whether the interpretation is popular or not, or "balanced"
or not. The true interpretation is not always the "balanced" interpretation! If someone embraces an interpretation
of scripture that is clearly in error, should we then compromise on its real meaning in the name of being "balanced"?
Of course not!! Therefore, we should not concern ourselves so much with being "balanced" but rather on what the scriptures
says in context and in harmony with itself, despite what we want it to say. We cannot "balance" truth with error,
nor should we ever try to!
Presuppositions + Bias = Interpretations and Beliefs
Some of the different beliefs, views, and interpretations that we hold of the same Scripture, are the result of presuppositions and bias
that already exists somewhere, contrary to a Spirit-led correct biblical interpretation.
The reasons we tend to have presuppositions are (1) because we trusted someone who persuaded us to believe what they believe, (2) it
brings some comfort to believe a certain way, (3) we align ourselves with secular humanistic value systems of logic or reason based more
on philosophical assumptions rather than in taking the Scriptures at face value, (4) Pride—The unwillingness to admit that maybe
we are wrong, or, (5) some or all of the above.
The reasons we tend to be biased are (1) because we have presuppositions, and/or (2) we hold self-interest above the interests of God
We all have a reason for what we believe to be truth, as revealed by the Scriptures. I hope and pray that the way that we interpret the
Scriptures is consistent with the Scriptures themselves and based on the Sprit's leading, resulting in good Biblical exegesis, rather
than in personal preference, based on what we want to believe. We do not have that luxury.