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191 Interesting Theology Research Paper Topics For You To Try

theology research paper topics

Do you know how to write a theology paper? Well, first you will need to find and research the best topic that you are interested in. However, it can be frustrating to some extent when you are not sure of what is expected of you, and what to do your research on.

As students, you need to consult your professors in college to know the best topic to choose for your research. Hence, be assured that after you decide on a topic, we will provide online help from there.

It can be difficult to find the right research topic for your University project. However, we have made it easier for you! We have provided a variety of topics that you can choose from.

Theology Research Paper Topics

Most of these topics are based on Christianity research paper topics. They help you visualize more how religion and society correlate. They are based on the various values and evidence behind them.

  • The issues that cause immorality in the church.
  • The role of religious institutions in ensuring peace and harmony.
  • The influence of the different church doctrines on Education development.
  • The effectiveness of faith in Christian life and how it impacts people.
  • What are the major contributors to divisions in the church?
  • The Biblical examination of why there are divisions in the church.
  • The Christian model of living and how it impacts society.
  • The religious conflicts in different parts of the world.
  • How persistent violence affects religious institutions.
  • The principles of religious institutions funding.
  • The role of religious institutions in state politics.
  • The impact of transformational leadership on leader’s performance.
  • The impact of a church minister’s family relationship on the growth of the church.
  • The implication of the involvement of religious institutions in politics.
  • The leadership styles and welfare programs impact salvation.
  • The major effects of servant leadership on Pentecostal fellowship.
  • Evaluate the impact of church leadership on church growth.
  • How does leadership affect the growth of churches?
  • How do parental curses affect the spiritual growth of children?

Theological Essay Topics

These are topics that you can use for your theological essays. They are simple to comprehend and will help you to get a better understanding of religion. They are also based on the beliefs of society.

  • Factors responsible for the division of people in religious institutions.
  • The moral effect of premarital sex among young teenagers.
  • Evaluate the effect of the sectarian crisis in the church.
  • How does parenting affect spiritual growth in children?
  • The impact of church separation at different ages for spiritual growth.
  • The truth behind speaking in tongues and its influence on spiritual growth.
  • Evaluate the impact of the use of new technology in providing spiritual growth to individuals.
  • The influence of the relation between the laity and clergy in building the church.
  • The impact of corporate social responsibility on society.
  • The various Christian ethics and impact on the church growth.
  • Do churches contribute to healthy living in society?
  • Illustrate the cardinal dimension of the Christina CSR – Corporate social responsibilities.
  • Evaluate proliferation and its impact on religious institutions.
  • Nature and faith roles for a Christian.
  • How does the administration of a religious institution affect its growth?
  • The nature and role of faith in different religions.
  • The effect of different denominations in the growth of the church.
  • Evaluate the accepted Christian life and its impact on society.
  • Describe Christianity as a way of life.

More Theology Paper Topics

These are other topics that are broad enough for any research paper. You just need to do proper research, consult your university professor, and choose the best topic for you. It will create a better understanding of theology.

  • The principles that guide church finance in the New Testament.
  • Evaluate the Roman Catholicism.
  • The influence of the religious doctrines in the church.
  • Evaluate the impact of objectification of religion.
  • Evaluate the Russian factory and evangelical church.
  • The Church and theological concepts.
  • Evaluate the Biblical insight on sexuality.
  • Understanding hope, faith, and other theological virtues.
  • What is Eschatology? The role in the life of a believer.
  • Evaluate the Rule of St Benedict through Humility, obedience, and justice.
  • According to Boethius, what is the origin of evil?
  • Explain happiness according to Thomas Aquinas.
  • Analyze the Philosophical arguments against or for the existence of God.
  • Evaluate Augustine’s political and social opinions.
  • Evaluate the relationship between science and theology.
  • Show the life and science of Giordana Bruno.
  • The best response to trauma according to theology.
  • The best response to loss and betrayal is based on Theology.
  • Evaluate the temptation in the garden and its influence on current life.

Research Topics in Theology

Are you looking for the best research topics in theology? Why not start with these? They are based on modern society and religions.

  • Evaluate the two views of theology and their impact on current life.
  • Provide a comparison between Armenians and classic Calvinism.
  • Evaluate the triumph of Armenians and its dangers.
  • Examine the Christian doctrine of security.
  • Evaluate God’s foreknowledge and human freedom and the problems associated with it.
  • Examine God’s immutability aspect and influence on everyday life.
  • Provide a detailed paper on the Biblical perspective of the tension of the son of God’s death as predestined by God.
  • Evaluate the pre-existence of the Son of God.
  • Examine the existence of God’s son concerning the historical dimension of the Biblical witness to God.
  • Evaluate the modern inerrancy debate and its impact on the church.
  • Discuss the reflections on the Theology of Worship.
  • Distinguish between the scripture and culture and impact on the society.
  • Distinguish humans through atheism and secularism.
  • How is humanism portrayed in society?
  • Discuss the problem of natural evil and its impact on society.
  • Analyze the Biblical perspectives on the second coming of the son of God.
  • Provide the popular ideas on the second coming of Christ.
  • Discuss the nature of God and its relation with living beings.
  • What are the popular concepts surrounding the second coming of Jesus Christ?
  • What are the speculations on the end times?

In Depth Theology Essay Topics

These are other theology essay topics that you can use. They are based on real-life circumstances and the consequences of some occurrences. They will help you get a better understanding of what you learn at school.

  • Evaluate the two Biblical stories and their impact on human understanding of creation.
  • Evaluate the protestant principle of faith alone as traced through Habakkuk and Paul.
  • How does faith impact how people live with each other in society?
  • Evaluate homosexuality as shown in the Bible.
  • Evaluate God’s love and human love.
  • Discuss Nehemiah’s life and the question of identity.
  • Explain synergism in fulfilling the mission of the Church.
  • How do you understand the term born again in Christianity?
  • What are the different views that people have about God?
  • What is subjected as Holy Living?
  • What justifies someone living a Holy life?
  • What is the importance of Christian creed, confessions, and catechism in Christianity
  • How do creeds of reformation help in faith-building?
  • Discuss the collection of Biblical studies, and theological reflections that address Women in the Ministry.
  • The impact of historical theology on modern Christianity.
  • Evaluate the heritage of Holiness in Christianity.
  • Evaluate the Day of the Lord and related metaphors in terms of Biblical passages.
  • What is the difference between prophetic and apocalyptic eschatology?

Bible Thesis Topics

The Bible is a great book, however, you need great intervention to understand it fully. Here are some topics that you can start with to understand the basis of the Bible.

  • Evaluate the Old Testament in the Bible as twenty passage
  • What are the implications of the day of the Lord and related metaphors of accountability?
  • Provide a literary analysis of the Book of Genesis.
  • Evaluate the term, “Limited God” in terms of His level of knowledge about humanity – new things he learns about humans
  • Analyze the Old Testament’s concept of the Torah from the Biblical traditions.
  • Evaluate the theoretical analysis of the Old Testament practice of sacrifice and how it differs from appeasement of the gods or physical means to forgiveness.
  • Evaluate the social ethics in the revelation and experience of God in human history.
  • Analyze the 4 Old Testament passages that use “us” to refer to God.
  • Evaluate Psalm 51 and the transformation language.
  • Evaluate Nehemiah and the Question of Identity.
  • Write an essay on the role of the wisdom and psalm traditions which provide a basis on the realities of life from a basis of Faith.
  • Analyze using different Bible passages on whether Jesus had to die.
  • What are the assumptions based on the death of Christ?
  • Evaluate the self-understanding of Jesus and its impact on society.
  • Analyze the social relationship of Jesus and its implication on modern life.
  • What is the relation between Jesus, Religion, and Politics?
  • Retrace the journey of Jesus Christ during his whole life.
  • What were the implications of the death of the Messiah?
  • What were the tensions involved in the overcoming of the death of the Messiah?
  • Analyze various passages in the book of Psalms and their impact on daily living.

Theological Discussion Topics

These topics are mainly based on discussions. This is on the various phenomenon and beliefs associated with them. They are also based on different religions across the world.

  • Evaluate the effect of the church in society in the 21 st century.
  • Evaluate Buddhism in Japan as compared to the one in China.
  • What are the basic ideas and beliefs behind honor killings in some religions?
  • What are the major differences between parables in the Bible and fairy tales?
  • Evaluate the organizational structures of the Buddhists n Thailand and other parts of the world.
  • Why do priests in certain religions never marry and stick to celibacy?
  • How was Jesus different from other prophets in the Bible?
  • How is the Islamic and Christian religion-related?
  • Evaluate the rise of mega-churches
  • Why abortion is strongly disregarded in Christianity?
  • What are the reproductive rights for women in Islam?
  • State the effects of homosexuality in different religions.
  • Provide the Biblical account of how the World was created.
  • The various effects of Greek culture on Christian theology.
  • Early Christian fellowship and encounter with Jesus.
  • Evaluate the sacred ceremonies in Christianity and their significance.
  • Discuss our ancestors and their spiritual beliefs.
  • Which scientific research and proofs disagree with Christian theology
  • Evaluate our ancestors and their spiritual beliefs

Religious Research Paper Topics

Have you ever thought of doing a religious research topic? Why not try any of these!. The topics will also help you get a better understanding of the world and various phenomena.

  • Discuss the emergence of the new religion and its effects.
  • Evaluate world science and religion.
  • Is there a big difference between the Christian and Islamic history?
  • Evaluate world religions with no God – how did people live?
  • Discuss the phenomenon and implications of the trickster gods.
  • Examine the influence of religion in theocratic states.
  • What are the effects of the Greek religion and European culture myths?
  • What is the impact of religion on modern Japan’s culture?
  • What are the considerations that children are innocent souls in the religious discourse?
  • Evaluate the polytheistic religion and mythology
  • Discuss the similarities of images of god and myths associated.
  • The role of women in Islam.
  • How does religion impact people’s daily life?
  • Evaluate animalism and totemism in the manifestation in the modern world.
  • What are the Greek myths and religion’s impact on the European culture?
  • Describe the phenomenon of trickster gods.
  • The similarities and differences of monotheistic religions.
  • Evaluate how atheism is a religion.
  • Evaluate the theocratic states and their influence on religion.
  • Is there an existence of world religions that have no gods?
  • Provide the history of Christianity.

Expanded Religious Topics to Write About

Do you know the best religious topics to write on? With the various topics at hand, it can be hard to choose one. However, these topics are unique and will make you get a different perspective on life.

  • What is the concept of the soul in different religions?
  • Evaluate the history of Judaism.
  • Evaluate the Nordic mythology and religion in the modern world.
  • Describe religious counseling versus classical psychology.
  • What is the attitude of sex in different religions?
  • Evaluate whether children are considered innocent in all religions.
  • Do you think faith can help overcome the harshness of puberty?
  • Examine female clergy in different religions.
  • Evaluate the concept of reincarnation in world religions.
  • Explain the history of Hinduism and its impact on Indian culture.
  • What is the impact of the crisis of faith in the world?
  • Is yoga a health or religious practice?
  • How is the afterlife considered in different religions?
  • Evaluate religion and economics.
  • Evaluate Confucianism and its impact on the modern world.
  • Discuss female clergy in different religions.
  • Debate whether a world full of so much evil can exist with an all-loving omnipotent God.
  • How do all religions lead to the same mountaintop?
  • How do wars use politics as a mask when religion is the core?
  • Is the Great Flood story known across all religions?

World Religions Research Paper Topics

These topics are mainly based on world religions and their impact on the modern world. The topics are broad to ensure you get a better understanding of the various religions in the world.

  • Can atheism be considered a religion on its own?
  • How are animalism and totems manifested in the modern world
  • Discuss the various philosophies such as post-modernism, fatalism, nihilism, and relativism
  • How military action is ethically justified through religion?
  • Can the religious leanings of a politician led to him or her losing an election?
  • Compare the modern Egyptian religious traditions to those from the presynaptic period.
  • Evaluation of what Confucianism is and its impact on the world.
  • How does the Gnostic faith different from modern Christianity?
  • How do new religions cannibalize the rituals that were being used in past religions?
  • How is the Bible different from all other books?
  • How does pure land Buddhism purport to reform the current Buddhist religion?
  • Discuss how God only exists in the minds of people who follow him?
  • How do the various religions deal with the end of the world?
  • Discuss the hypostatic union.
  • What was the Egyptian’s understanding of divinity’s existence?
  • Evaluate the existence of guardian angels and how one can be?

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186 Theology Topics for Discussion, Thesis, & Research Paper

As you may know, theology is the study of religion: its history, traditions, philosophy, morality, and literary works. Are you looking for theology topics? Here, you’ll find plenty of interesting theology topics to write about! Our extensive list includes ideas for a research paper, essay, and discussion, along with theology thesis topics. Read on to discover the most engaging biblical and Christian theology research paper topics and more!

🏆 Best Theology Topics for Discussion

✍️ theology essay topics for college, 👍 good theology research topics & essay examples, 🎓 most interesting theology research paper topics, 🔎 unique theological research topics, 💡 simple theology essay topics, ⛪ master of theology thesis topics, ❓ questions about theology, ✝️ christian theology topics, 📖 biblical theology topics.

  • Saint Augustine vs Aquinas: Theological Approaches Comparison
  • Psychology and Theology: Worldview Issues, and Models of Integration
  • Eternal Life in John’s Gospel: Theological Perspective
  • Neo-Orthodoxy Theology: Barth, Brunner et al.
  • Scriptural Authority and Theological Interpretation
  • Theological Reasoning as a Basis for Faith
  • “Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling” Book by McMinn
  • Theory and Theology of Helping People The theoretical approach to helping people is found in biblical, Christian, and Church values different from the psychology of helping people.
  • The Ashari Theology in Sunni Islam The Ashari theology is among the early primary theologies establishing itself as the most important, dominant, and influential tradition of systematic theology in the Sunni Muslim.
  • “Christian Theology” by Millard J. Erickson In his book “Christian Theology”, Erikson critically examines the nature of Jesus Christ through a discussion of the most prominent theological trends and opinions.
  • Theology: Virgin Mary as a Goddess The purpose of this paper is to analyze Virgin Mary within the scope of history, theology, tradition, and impact on contemporary women.
  • Courage and Paul Tillich’s Philosophy and Theology The research argues that courage is not merely an ethical value but an ontological conception and is opposed by the classical purely moral perspective on courage.
  • Process and Secular Theology: Tillich and Bonhoeffer This essay proceeds by delving into the connection between the theology of Tillich and Process Theology and the connections between the thoughts of Bonhoeffer and Secular Theology.
  • The Importance of Theological Study of Film The research paper seeks to build a constructive discussion by defying the notion that although the theological study of films is trendy, it is ultimately a meaningless exercise.
  • Psychology and Christian Theology Integration Finding connections between psychology and Christian theology might be a first step toward integration, and an integrative perspective can lead to the search for parallels.
  • Apologetics as a Theological Discipline Apologetics is an old discipline of theology that involves the defense of ones’ religious position by systematically reasoning out disputed issues.
  • Theological Translatability, Inspiration, and Authority in Religious Traditions The genesis of human inspiration is a major topic in almost every religion. Degrees of the authoritativeness of scriptures are another important thing in religious traditions.
  • Global Mission Theology of Samuel Escobar In his thesis on Global Missions, Samuel Escobar, a Latin American theologian, argues that Christian theology is contextual.
  • Liberation Theology and Its Expressions This essay delves into and delineates the uniqueness of three expressions of liberation theology within the context of each other.
  • The Theology of Christ Through the Ancient Ecumenical Councils It is essential to trace the development of Christ’s theology through the ancient ecumenical councils and reflect on how they developed the Church’s understanding of Jesus.
  • Understanding the Holy Trinity in Christian Theology The assertion the solo God lives as or in 3 mutually supernatural beings is a popular way to describe the Christian belief of the Holy Trinity.
  • Leadership in Church and Its Theological Aspects ​In theology, leadership has various meanings, but all have their foundation in Christ. All leaders aspire to follow in the footsteps of Jesus and lead others to redemption.
  • Missional Praxis: The Fruit of Theological Reflection Missional praxis is the “fruit” of theological reflection, the path to knowledge, perfection, and the acceptance of high, spiritual, and moral values.
  • Religious Study and Theology. I AM statements I AM statements are found both in the New and Old Testament. In the New Testament, the Gospel according to John emphasizes the statements.
  • Thomas Aquinas: Philosopher and Theologian To this day, Aquinas is widely studied by the philosophy scholars all around the world as a great example of a pragmatic Christian theologian and philosopher.
  • White Theology and Its Core Characteristics This paper looks at the factors that distinguish white theology and the ways in which it manifests itself in the Pentecostal church.
  • Liberation Theology in Mid-20th Century Latin America Liberation theology is a movement in Catholic beliefs and socioeconomic mobility which emerged in mid-20th century Latin America.
  • Theology of Family Life, Marriage and Parenting Religious marriage is possible when a ceremony is conducted (simultaneously or separately, depending on religion) with the couple being wed in the eyes of God.
  • Theological Vision of “Pleasantville” by Gary Ross “Pleasantville” by Gary Ross is a movie that brilliantly shows how worldviews are transforming, causing rapid social change.
  • “Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling” by Mark McMinn In “Psychology, Theology, and Spirituality in Christian Counseling,” Mark McMinn comes up with a healing model, which involves need, sense of self, and relationship with God.
  • Theology of Hope: Moltmann and Pannenberg This essay attempts to compare and contrast the theologies of Moltmann and Pannenberg within the rubric of Theology of Hope.
  • Roman Catholic Theology of Rahner and Kung This article evaluates the theology of Rahner and Kung in terms of how much they pushed for the envelope of traditionally accepted Roman Catholic theology.
  • Narrative Theology: Biblical Metanarrative Biblical metanarrative can underpin systematic and biblical theology, presenting a progressive narrative of God’s revelation to mankind.
  • The Incarnation of Christ: Theological Survey The theory of the Incarnation of Christ is the central teaching of the Christian church. It says that God took a fleshly appearance and a human nature.
  • Theological Challenges Between Judaism and Christianity Judaism originated from the covenantal relationship between the Jews and God. Christianity emerged from Judaism, and both faiths believe that God is the creator of the universe.
  • Predestination: The Theological Concept In theology, predestination is the belief that God has predetermined all events, generally concerning the person’s ultimate fate.
  • Religious Studies and Theology: Paganism in the Military Paganism has spread far and wide in society. From academia to the military, the practice of paganism is being accepted and accommodated just like other religions.
  • Thinking through Paul: Survey of His Life, Letters and Theology The authors of the book “Thinking through Paul: Survey of His Life, Letters and Theology” wanted to analyze the significance of Paul’s life to Christians.
  • “Grace Without Nature”: Theological Understanding of the Imago Dei The essay “Grace without Nature” significantly contributes to expanding human understanding of the meaning of the formula imago Dei.
  • Psychological and Theological Perspectives on Anthropology Psychological and theological perspectives on anthropology have some things in common; for example, they employ the scientific method to some extent.
  • Theology and Contextualization in Latin America This paper discusses theology and contextualization in Latin America and aims to give a full-fledged description of contextualization’s impact.
  • Biodiversity, Environmental Ethics and Theology This paper will focus on the issue of decreasing biodiversity, explaining how environmental ethics and theology apply to this problem.
  • The Limits of Language in Theology Apophatic theology suggests that everyone should try to reach beyond the image someone creates when speaking about God, his essence, or plans regarding humanity.
  • Lutheran Theology and Its Implications for Contemporary Church and Society Martin Luther’s theology started the reformation in Germany through his famous 95 Theses and, in doing so, helped model the contemporary society and Protestant Church.
  • Lutheran Theology and Its Implications for Contemporary Church and Society This study, therefore, focuses on Lutheran theology and explains why Luther can be regarded as the founder of the modern church and society.
  • The Positioning of Systematic Theology The paper states that the purpose of theology is not to investigate God’s phenomenon but to explore issues of belief and approaches to following biblical teaching.
  • Theology: Discipleship and a Healthy Church The report presents a disciple-making plan aimed to improve the organization’s efficiency in the task of making disciples and boost evangelistic efforts.
  • Augustine and Organization of Latin Theology Donatists were exclusively an African schismatic sect who viewed themselves as the true heirs to Christianity and claimed to be the church of martyrs.
  • Biblical Theology and How to Practice It Scholars have used different evangelical approaches to accurately articulate the significance of Christ-themed biblical theology and its prospects.
  • Book Review of “Paul the Jewish Theologian” by Young In the book “Paul the Jewish Theologian”, Young reveals Saul of Tarsus as a rejected individual who never departed from his Jewish roots.
  • Paul, the Jewish Theologian by B. H. Young The title of the selected book for this review is Paul, the Jewish Theologian: A Pharisee among Christians, Jews, and Gentiles.
  • Biblical Theology of Sexuality and Sex Sexuality, coupled with loyalty, is God’s gift for lovers who want to start a family and be with each other for a long time.
  • Integrated Theory of Leadership from Theological Perspective This paper has demonstrated that the integrated theory of leadership relies on an adaptive leadership style and theological beliefs.
  • Theological Differences Within the Major Christian Traditions Christians are followers of Christ who use the bible as the primary religious book for conducting services and personal spiritual nourishment.
  • Divine Currency: The Theological Power of Money in the West Money in Christianity is a dangerous matter, which requires careful and proper management to stay on the path of Christ.
  • The Theology and Science Roles and Relationships The relationship between science and faith is a relevant topic in theology, and the synthetic approach is one of the most viable solutions.
  • The Religious Pluralism Theological Framework The current theological framework for responding to religious pluralism was significantly shaped by Alan Race’s threefold typology.
  • Early Christology: Historical Theology Historical theology provides research on the way that the Church has undergone interpreting the Scripture under various conditions determined by the different epochs.
  • The Old Testament Theology Review This paper provides the Old Testament theology review, including approaches to Old Testament theology, discussing God and creation, worship and sacrifice, God and the future.
  • Integration Model: Theological Reasoning The paper dissects a case study of two couples who are unmarried. It references Piaget, Freud, and Sullivan’s psychological theories and offers adaptations.
  • Latin American Liberation Theology Latin American liberation theology was the prime example of contextual theology manifesting in the region, where the praxis model or method of theology was utilized.
  • Peculiarities of Religious Belief in Theology The intended audience is theologians and religious communities as well as all people interested in the issue of belief.
  • Natural Theology Book by William Paley In his book Natural Theology, William Paley paid considerable attention to the criticism of contemporary transformist concepts.
  • Theology: Japan’s View of Christianity Christianity is one of the most extensively practiced religions worldwide, and, in some countries, it even has the status of a state religion.
  • Liberation Theology and Gutierrez’s Contribution to It This essay will examine liberation theology’s background and provide a detailed overview of Gutierrez’s contribution to it.
  • Theological-Political Treatise According to Spinoza, superstition stems from the willingness of individuals not to link everything to certainty.
  • The Holocaust Impact on Jewish Theology Holocaust had a major impact on Jewish theology by providing an earth-shattering tragedy the likes of which the Jewish have never seen in the past, to explain.
  • The Research of Theological History There is a hermeneutical problem in Genesis 1: other approaches exist apart from a traditional one; the summary approach to view entered theological debates in the twentieth century.
  • Theology in the Context of World Christianity Perception of shame and guilt in different cultures plays an important role in people’s personalities and their vision of the world itself.
  • Malcolm X, a Revolutionary. Philosophical Theology Malcolm X is the eminent personality of the 20th century, widely known for his combat against African-American harassment.
  • Theology Doctrine Universalism The purpose of this paper is to discuss universalism. Universalism is a doctrine in theology that refers to universal salvation.
  • Christian Theology and World Religions Religion in the context of human history has been a part of people’s existence for many centuries; for some, gods were the creators of the word and its masters.
  • Christian Theology and World Religions: Christianity and Islam Christianity and Islam share many similarities, although they are two distinct religious traditions. The paper analyzes their similarities and differences.
  • Martin Luther King and His Theology Analysis Martin Luther was born in the age of Renaissance, which was blossoming with its artists and their works and which had a positive impact on the development of his personality.
  • Theology History: Forms of Beliefs Humans began to worship physical forms commonly seen around them in the form of oceans, mountains, the sun and the moon, animals, and even weather.
  • Theology Concepts Brief Review The gentiles were religiously accepted as Christians by the early Christians because they both common beliefs Jesus Christ.
  • Religious Studies & Theology: The Davidic Kingdom The paper is about David – one of the most prominent rulers who united many tribes and established a strong monarchy for the people of Judah and Israel.
  • Black Theology and Its Impact on Drug Addiction I have chosen the topic of Black Theology and its impact on drug addiction because I have experienced the impact of opioid addiction on my family.
  • Theology in the Enlightenment Age The enlightenment age started gaining momentum in the 13th when Thomas Aquinas recovered the Aristotelian logic that was primarily used in defending Christianity.
  • Evangelical Theology of Grenz and Olson This essay evaluates Evangelical Theology in terms of the affirmations of Grenz and Olson defining what God’s transcendence and immanence are in relation to Evangelical Theology.
  • Calvinism and Arminianism in Historical Theology Calvinism and Arminianism are theological systems that introduce methods to explain the relations which develop between God and people, which are directed to achieve salvation.
  • Marriage Theology Through the Protestant Reformation
  • Human Qualities Within Theology
  • Christian Theology and Greek Culture
  • The Youth and Islam Theology
  • Understanding Dialect, Philosophy, and Theology Through Scholasticism
  • Relationship Between Theology and Spirituality
  • Philosophy, Theology, and Ideology
  • Christian Worship Music and Theology
  • Roman Catholic Theology and Contemporary Culture
  • Relationship Between Science and Theology
  • Biblical Foundations for Health Theology
  • Theology and Theologians: Differences and Similarities
  • Biblical Foundation for Developing Contextual Theology
  • Immortality: Philosophy and Theology
  • Christian Theology and the Doctrine of Evangelism
  • Influential Ideas for Protestant Theology
  • The Universalism and Annihilationism Theology
  • Holy Trinity and Systematic Theology
  • Christian Theology, Family, and Marriage
  • Wesleyan Theology and the Concept of Salvation
  • The Theology and Anthropology of Mormonism
  • Appropriation, Politics, and Theology in the Gospel of Mark
  • Liberation Theology and the Catholic Church
  • Galileo Galilei and His Impact Theology
  • Sexual Theology: Biblical Insight on Sexuality
  • Wilfred Cantwell Smith’s World Theology
  • Understanding Political Theology and Its Application in the Canadian Democracy
  • The Most Important Contribution to Eucharist Theology
  • Relationship Between Theology and Natural Science
  • Christian Mediation and Theology
  • Catholic Moral Theology and the Medical Field
  • Buddhist and Christian Ethics Theology
  • John Calvin and the Calvinist Theology
  • Christian Theology and Feminist Theology
  • The Relationship Between Theology and Economics: The Role of the Jansenism Movement
  • Comparative Feminist Theology Analysis
  • Twentieth-Century Christian Theology and ‘Holiness’
  • John and Matthew’s Theology
  • Hierarchical Church and Liberation Theology
  • Contemporary Theology and Orthodoxy of the New Testament
  • Christian Theology and Market Economics
  • Biblical Paradigm and Ministry Theology
  • Jerusalem Politically Contested City Theology Religion
  • Urban Theology Using the Old Testament
  • Christian Theology and Religious Beliefs
  • Catholic Theology and Scripture Assignment
  • Family and Mass Media Influences Theology Religion
  • Church History and How It Fits With Biblical Theology
  • Mathematics and Theology Blossoming Together
  • Christian Counseling, Theology, and Spirituality
  • African American Women and Womanist Theology
  • Philosophy and Christian Theology
  • Christian and Navajo Creation Theology Religion
  • Integrating Psychology With Christian Theology
  • The Theology, Christology, and Pneumatology of the Book of Revelation
  • Integrating Change Models and the Theology of Leadership
  • Christianity and Faith, Evangelization, Life and Theology
  • Liberation Theology and Discernment
  • Anne Hutchinson and Her Theology Theory
  • Psychology Theology and Spirituality in Christian Counseling
  • Does Religious Theology Undermine the Basic Doctrines of Christianity?
  • What’s the Difference Between Reformed Theology and Calvinism?
  • What Is the Contribution to and Impact of Feminist Theology in Judaism?
  • Is Christian Theology More Modern Than Islamic Theology?
  • What Is the Difference Between Philosophy and Theology?
  • How Does Mormon Theology Explain Intersex People?
  • How Does Moral Theology Differ From Moral Philosophy?
  • What Is the Difference Between ‘Biblical’ and ‘Systematic’ Theology?
  • Is Constantly Asking Questions a Good Way to Get Better at Christian Theology?
  • How Did the Reformation Influence Eucharistic Theology?
  • Is Theology an Actual Science or a Pseudoscience?
  • What Is a Relationship Between Religion and Theology?
  • Has Theology Made Any Contribution to Knowledge in the Past 500 Years?
  • Is It True That Early Christianity Was Much Closer to Islam in Theology?
  • What Is the Purpose of Heaven and Hell in Christian and Islamic Theology?
  • What Parts of Hindu Theology Are Similar to Greek Theology?
  • What Effect Did Plato Have on Augustine and the Origins of Christian Theology?
  • What Are Some of the Most Controversial Views in Christian Theology?
  • What Is the Fundamental Theology Behind Why Jews Disagree With Islam?
  • How Do Jehovah’s Witnesses Reconcile Matthew 8:11 With Their Theology?
  • Is There a Way to Discuss the Deeper Theology of Religion Without the Extremist Positions?
  • To What Extent Has “Existentialism” Influenced Theology?
  • What Are Some Examples of the Apophatic Nature of Orthodox Theology?
  • Why Is It Important to Differentiate Spirituality, Theology, and Philosophy?
  • How the Church Handles Postmodernism Theology?
  • The concept of the Holy Trinity and its significance in Christian theology.
  • Atonement in Christianity: an analysis of different theories.
  • Theodicy: the issue of evil in the world created by benevolent God.
  • The views of death and afterlife in Christian eschatology.
  • Different theological perspectives on the nature of God.
  • Bioethics from the Christian ethics perspective.
  • The meaning and significance of Christian sacraments.
  • The role of women in Christian theology.
  • Liberation theology and its connection to social justice.
  • Faith and science: Christian views on evolution and the origin of the universe.
  • Covenant theology as an approach to interpreting the Bible.
  • Did Jesus Christ fulfill the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament?
  • Analysis of the biblical concept of the Kingdom of God.
  • A historical-critical approach to interpreting the Bible.
  • The role of the Mosaic Law in the Old and New Testaments.
  • Analysis of ethical teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
  • Prophets’ call for social justice: analyzing the Old Testament.
  • The apocalyptic imagery in the Book of Revelation.
  • How does the Bible address the problem of suffering?
  • The biblical understanding of Israel as God’s chosen people.

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These essay examples and topics on Theology were carefully selected by the StudyCorgi editorial team. They meet our highest standards in terms of grammar, punctuation, style, and fact accuracy. Please ensure you properly reference the materials if you’re using them to write your assignment.

This essay topic collection was updated on January 9, 2024 .

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How to Write a Paper on a Biblical or Theological Topic

essay about theology subject

Writing research papers is an excellent way to learn because it trains you to gather information, interpret it, and persuasively present an informed opinion. The process teaches you a great deal, but it also equips you to contribute to ongoing discussions on a given topic.

Here’s the basic process of writing a research paper on a biblical or theological topic, either for a class or for your own personal research. Start at the top, or skip to what topic interests you most.

  • Pick a topic
  • Research your topic
  • Construct an outline
  • Draft your paper
  • Revise and refine

Pick a Topic

Choosing the topic you want to research is often easier said than done. But perhaps the best advice to get the ball rolling is to narrow your scope. When your topic is too broad, you’ll likely find too much information (much of it unhelpful). But when your topic is appropriately focused, you can hone in on the information you need to gather and get down to the business of interpreting it.

For example, choosing to write a paper on the topic of sanctification is too broad to be helpful. But if you narrow your focus to a specific question about sanctification (for example: How do spiritual disciplines contribute to our sanctification?), you’ll find better direction for your research.

Remember, you don’t have to be an expert on the question you want to find an answer to—that’s what the research process will accomplish. You should, however, have an interest in the question and in finding an answer (or several!) to it.

For more on the process of researching and writing a paper, check out these resources:

  • The Craft of Research  – particularly chapter 3
  • Writing & Research: A Guide for Theological Students  by Kevin Gary Smith
  • Logos Academic Blog:   Work with Librarians to Help Students Write Better Papers

Logos Theological Topic Workflow

The Theological Topic Study Workflow in Logos guides you through the steps of studying a theological topic. It taps into the Lexham Survey of Theology and the built-in Theology Guide to give you the topic’s broader context, basic concepts, and issues associated with the topic. Review the biblical support and go deeper in your theological study by reading relevant sections from systematic theologies.

Research Your Topic

With your topic selected, it’s time to find the resources you’re going to use and dig into them. You may find that one resource offers the best discussion of your topic, but you can’t stop there! Researching well means considering opinions that differ from each other (and probably from your own). It’s in the conversation that emerges from engaging with multiple perspectives on a topic that real insight and understanding emerge.

Start the research phase by reviewing literature and building your bibliography, then consult standard sources and peer-reviewed journals.

1. Conduct a literature review and build your bibliography

The process of conducting a literature review and building a bibliography is an iterative process. It’s not a one-time step but a step you’ll return to repeatedly as you move through your research.

Essentially, in this step, you’re discovering what resources exist and cataloging them. As you begin to read the resources you discover, you’ll likely find references to other works that you’ll then want to read.

essay about theology subject

Logos Topic Guide

The Topic Guide gathers information from your library about a topic or concept. Using the Logos Controlled Vocabulary dataset , the guide finds topics in your Bible dictionaries and other resources that correspond to the key term you enter.

2. Consult standard sources

Encyclopedias, commentaries, theological dictionaries, concordances, and other theological reference tools contain useful information that will orient you to the topic you’ve selected and its context, but their biggest help to you at this stage will in their bibliographies. Be sure to check the cross-references often.

essay about theology subject

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, rev. ed.  by E. A. Livingstone and F. L. Cross

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, since its first appearance in 1957, has established itself as the indispensable one-volume reference work on all aspects of the Christian Church. This Revised Edition, published in 2005, builds on the unrivaled reputation of the previous editions. Revised and updated, it reflects changes in academic opinion and Church organization.

essay about theology subject

Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity (3 vols.)  by Angelo Di Berardino

The Encyclopedia of Ancient Christianity covers eight centuries of the Christian church and comprises 3,220 entries by a team of 266 scholars from 26 countries representing a variety of Christian traditions. It draws upon such fields as archaeology, art and architecture, biography, cultural studies, ecclesiology, geography, history, philosophy, and theology.

essay about theology subject

Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT) (10 vols.)  by Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, Geoffrey William Bromiley

This monumental reference work, complete in ten volumes, is the authorized and unabridged translation of the famous Theologisches Wörterbuch zum Neuen Testament, known commonly as “Kittel” and considered by many scholars to be the best New Testament dictionary ever compiled.

3. Consult peer-reviewed journals

Even if you’re writing on a single text (like John 15:1–8 or Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite’s The Divine Names), you need to see what your contemporaries have to say about it to situate your research in its context. This means consulting peer-reviewed journals. As you read, you’ll discover where scholars agree and disagree and how the study of that topic has advanced over time.

essay about theology subject

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures (11 vols.)

The Journal of Hebrew Scriptures is an academic, peer-reviewed journal devoted to the study of the Hebrew Bible, and provides a forum for critical scholarly exchange. You’ll find hundreds of articles from top Hebrew scholars on trends in Hebrew and Old Testament scholarship, including historical, literary, textual, and interpretive topics.

Construct an Outline

This step is incredibly important, but it’s often overlooked. Start by refining your topic based on your research, then arrange your notes and research materials into a clear outline that will guide you toward a convincing and coherent argument.

See chapters 8 and 9 of  The Craft of Research  for more guidance on constructing your outline.

Draft Your Paper

You are now ready to draft your paper. Your initial focus is to expand your outline into paragraph form as straightforwardly as possible. While your outline will be essential as you draft, you don’t have to stick to it absolutely. You may discover as you write that a different structure or organization will better advance your argument. While you’re at it, add relevant quotations from your research to clarify your points or support your arguments.

Revise and Refine

Notice the word “draft” in the previous step. That word is intentionally selected because, arguably, the most important part of the writing process is in your revisions. Drafting gets the ball rolling, but revising is where you refine and revise your previous drafts, ensuring your argument is clear and forceful.

Before you send your final paper, you’ll want to make sure you’re writing clearly and using the right style. If you are in school, follow the rules of your academic handbook. If not, adopt a common style guide like APA, Turabian, or the  SBL Handbook of Style , and consult online guides like  EasyBib  or the  Chicago Manual of Style   for help. You can also find helpful writing advice in  The Elements of Style .

If there are multiple paragraphs, just add another paragraph tag. If you need more padding, use an additional text block section as you see below.

While this structure is helpful, you may find that some variation of it works better for you. Go with what works because, at the end of the day, a thoroughly researched and well-written paper is what you’re after.

See how Logos can power research and aid you in the writing process.

essay about theology subject

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Logos is the largest developer of tools that empower Christians to go deeper in the Bible.

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Theology Essay Examples and Topics

Prophet muhammad and his characteristics.

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Life After Death: Christianity and Islam Perspectives

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Muslim Bin Al-Hajjaj Al-Nisaburi and His Methodology of Compiling Hadith

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The Role of Religion in Public Education

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The parable of the lost sheep.

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Images of the Evangelist Matthew in the Book of Durrow and the Colbertinus Codex: Faith and Devotion for the Evangelist

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Qur’an and Its Interpretation

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John Hick’s “Soul-Making” Theodicy and the Problem of Evil

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The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman

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Human Nature: The Christian Worldview

The ultimate reality in different religions.

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The central beliefs of Judaism

Emile durkheim’s views on religion.

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Aquinas’s ‘Summa Theologiae’: The Scholastic Method

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The Fall of Satan – A Theological Study

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Islamic Theology and Philosophy

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The Sacraments: Celebration

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The Army’s Regulation 600-13 for Female Soldiers

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John Chrysostom Is an Excellent Example of Antiochene Exegesis

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Christians Beliefs: “For Us Men and For Our Salvation”

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The Doctrine of Entire Sanctification

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Christianity: Theological Themes in Jesus Life

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Thomas Aquinas and the Proof of Gods Existence

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Evidence that God exists

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Story of Esau and Jacob

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Jane Leach’s Pastoral Theology as Attention

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Different Religions: Progressive Creationism

Jesus christ the saviour and his mission to the world, a chaplain’s work in problematic situations.

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Theology: Religion and Healthcare

Perception and understanding of theology, the “dynamics of faith” book by paul tillich, image of salvation: everyday theology, the “god still matters” essay by herbert mccabe, deliverance and spiritual authority, religion vs. spirituality: finding the difference, nature of soul according to saint bonaventure, saint bonaventure’s views on the soul’s nature and condition, theological history and young-earth creation, god’s healing is not influenced by level of faith, doctrine of creation and the imago dei, doctrine of original sin: man before and after fall, pauline theology in moo’s and schreiner’s views.

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Paul’s Consistent Teaching on Law

“sanctification in lutheran theology” by scaer, theology: religious representatives in modern warfare, jesus: dressed like a servant, acting like a slave.

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“Evangelism Is…” by Earley & Wheeler

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The Message of Christ: Sermon Project

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A Christian Organization Serving in an Islamic Context

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Jesus the Resurrection and the Way

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Guide on how to write a theology paper, bob cardens.

  • November 30, 2023
  • How to Guides

Writing a theology paper, or any essay for that matter, needs a lot of knowledge, writing skills, and thinking carefully. To write well, you need to remember some important things, like following your instructor’s instructions.

Your instructor will probably give you a list of important words, ways to structure your paper, and where to find information for it. You’ll also have to do thorough research. Every point you make in your paper needs to be supported by strong evidence, often from the Bible. If you don’t do this, your paper won’t do a good job of talking about spirituality.

If you’re not sure how to start your essay, this guide will help you understand the important steps for writing a theology paper the right way.

What You'll Learn

What is a Theology Paper?

So, what exactly is a theology paper? In Christianity, theology is all about studying God and how he relates to people. As part of your theological studies, you’ll need to research and write a paper about a specific topic.

A theology paper is basically a way to show what you know about that topic. You use facts and arguments to answer a particular question or solve a problem.

A good theology paper should give a detailed answer to an important question. You need to use scripture to convince your readers as you write. Remember, theology isn’t just summarizing the Bible. The main goal is to say truthful things about God.

How to Write a Theology Paper: Tips for Success

Writing a theology paper can seem like a daunting task, but with the right approach, you can tackle it successfully. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and produce a well-structured and compelling theology paper.

Choose a Topic

When starting your theology paper, it’s important to choose a topic that sparks your interest and aligns with the requirements of your assignment. Select a subject that you are passionate about and eager to explore. This will make your research and writing process more enjoyable and ensure that you stay engaged throughout.

Conduct Thorough Research

To write an informed theology paper, it’s crucial to conduct thorough research. Consult reliable sources such as academic journals, books written by respected theologians, and reputable theological blogs.

Use library databases and online resources to access a wide range of literature on your chosen topic. Remember to critically evaluate your sources for credibility and relevance.

Develop a Clear Thesis and Organize Your Paper

A strong theology paper requires a clear thesis statement that reflects your argument. Your thesis should be well-supported by evidence and engage with relevant theological concepts.

Once you have a clear thesis, organize your paper into logical sections. Each section should focus on a specific point and contribute to the overall coherence of your argument.

The Structure and Formatting of a Theology Paper

When writing a theology paper, it is important to follow a well-structured format to ensure clarity and coherence. The structure of a theology paper typically consists of an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This format allows for a logical flow of ideas and arguments throughout the paper.

In the introduction of the paper, provide background information on the topic and present your thesis statement. This sets the stage for what the paper will address and gives the reader an understanding of the overall argument.

The body paragraphs are where you present and support your arguments. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point and provide evidence and analysis to support it. Use clear and concise language, citing sources appropriately to back up your claims. By structuring your paper with well-developed body paragraphs, you can effectively convey your argument to the reader.

The conclusion of the paper should summarize the main points discussed and restate the thesis statement. It is an opportunity to wrap up your argument and leave a lasting impression on the reader. By following this structure, your theology paper will have a clear and organized format that will enhance its overall impact.

Related article: How to Write a Theology Paper?

Examples of Theology Papers for Inspiration

When it comes to writing a theology paper, studying examples of well-written papers can provide valuable inspiration and guidance. By analyzing how other authors present their arguments, engage with sources, and use evidence, you can learn important strategies to improve your own writing. Here are a few examples of theology papers that can serve as excellent sources of inspiration.

Analyzing the Role of Sin in Christian Theology

In this paper, the author explores the concept of sin in Christian theology, examining its origins, implications, and theological significance. The paper delves into biblical references, historical interpretations, and contemporary theological debates surrounding sin.

Through a careful analysis of various theological perspectives, the author presents a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the topic. This paper is a great example of how to engage critically with theological concepts and synthesize complex ideas into a coherent argument.

The Intersection of Faith and Science: Exploring the Creation-Evolution Debate

This paper explores the ongoing debate between creationism and evolution from a theological perspective. The author provides a thorough analysis of the key arguments presented by proponents of both sides, examining biblical interpretations, scientific evidence, and theological implications.

The paper demonstrates the ability to navigate complex and controversial topics, presenting a balanced analysis of different viewpoints. It serves as a valuable example of how to integrate theological reasoning with scientific evidence in a respectful and thoughtful manner.

Examining the Role of Women in Religious Leadership

In this paper, the author examines the role of women in religious leadership within various religious traditions. Drawing from biblical texts, historical records, and contemporary feminist theology, the author presents a comprehensive analysis of the challenges faced by women in attaining leadership positions within religious institutions.

The paper challenges traditional interpretations and offers a compelling argument for gender equality in religious leadership. This example showcases the ability to engage critically with social and cultural issues in theology and present a persuasive case for inclusive practices.

These examples demonstrate the diversity of topics and approaches within theology papers and can provide inspiration for your own research and writing. Remember to always give proper credit to the original authors by acknowledging their work and properly citing any sources you use in your own paper.

Related Article: How to Write a Theological Paper

Theology Research Paper Guide

When it comes to conducting research for your theology paper, there are numerous resources available to assist you in gathering relevant and credible information. Utilizing a variety of sources will help you to deepen your understanding of theological concepts and strengthen the arguments presented in your paper.

One valuable resource for theology research is library databases such as JSTOR and ATLA Religion Database. These databases provide access to a wide range of academic journals and scholarly articles, offering in-depth analysis and critical insights on various theological topics.

In addition to academic databases, books written by respected theologians and scholars in the field can also provide valuable insights and perspectives. These books often offer comprehensive examinations of specific theological concepts or explore the historical context of religious texts, providing you with a solid foundation for your research.

Online resources can also be helpful in your research process. Academic websites and reputable theological blogs often feature articles and essays written by experts in the field. These sources can provide alternative viewpoints, offer contemporary perspectives, and spark new ideas for your theology paper.

Remember to critically evaluate your sources for credibility and relevance. As you conduct your research, consider the author’s expertise, the publication’s reputation, and the timeliness of the information. By utilizing a diverse range of resources and critically analyzing the information you gather, you can ensure that your theology paper is well-informed and carefully constructed.

Table: Types of Resources for Theology Research

By utilizing a combination of these resources, you can ensure that your theology paper is well-researched, insightful, and contributes to the ongoing academic discourse within the field of theology.

Writing a theology paper can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. By following the tips and guidelines in this theology paper guide , you can effectively navigate the process of researching, writing, and formatting your paper. Remember to approach your topic with curiosity and critical thinking, and seek guidance from your professor or mentor when needed.

With proper planning and diligent effort, you can produce a well-written and thought-provoking theology paper. Remember, if you need inspiration or assistance with your assignment, StudyingHq.com is a Free Essays and Papers Database where you will get access to thousands of free essay examples, samples, guides, topics, and research papers.

Additionally, if you find yourself in need of writing help and have a tight deadline, our team of expert writers can provide you with professional assistance in just 2-3 hours. Don’t hesitate to seek support when you need it, as it can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. Happy writing!

What is the best way to start a theology paper?

Begin by choosing a topic that aligns with your interests and the requirements of your assignment. Conduct thorough research on your topic, using reliable sources such as academic journals and books.

How should I structure and format my theology paper?

A theology paper follows a typical academic structure, including an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide background information and present your thesis statement. The body paragraphs should present and support your argument, with each paragraph focusing on a specific point. Use clear and concise language, citing sources appropriately. The conclusion should summarize your main points and restate your thesis statement. Follow the formatting guidelines provided by your instructor or institution.

Where can I find examples of well-written theology papers?

Look for scholarly articles and essays in theological journals, as well as well-written books on theological topics. Analyze how the authors present their arguments, engage with sources, and use evidence to support their claims. Note the citation style and formatting used in these papers as well.

What resources should I use for researching my theology paper?

Utilize library databases, such as JSTOR and ATLA Religion Database, to access academic journals and scholarly articles. Consult books written by respected theologians and scholars in the field. Online resources, such as academic websites and reputable theological blogs, can also provide valuable insights and perspectives. Remember to critically evaluate your sources for credibility and relevance.

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What Is Theology & Why Is it Important?

What Is Theology & Why Is it Important?

Theology is studying God. Christian theology is knowing God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Theology is “the queen of the sciences.” 1  This was not only the opinion of the great Middle Ages scholar, Thomas Aquinas but was held as truth all the way through the 20 th century. After the infamous influence of higher criticism, following Darwinism metastasized and infected every school of learning including metaphysics or divinity, theology was relegated to a specialized study. This would have been surprising if not abhorrent to both faculty and students of familiar institutions like Harvard, Yale, Oxford, Cambridge, and even our state universities, like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — the oldest state university in America — where the teaching of theology was central to higher education.

The reason for theology’s decline in higher education and its compartmentalization to Bible schools and seminaries has a lot to do with the cultural degradation and the onset of postmodernism, which deconstructed Western civilization, including the centrality of Christianity to our ideas about self, others, and, especially, God our Creator. As these bad ideas made their way into the vital organs of theological higher education, the cancerous growth of denying God’s Word made its way into the full bloodstream of the Church, in virtually every denomination and tradition. In fact, evangelicalism, is in large part, a response to this philosophical and social pandemic.

So, it is rather unusual for some Bible-believing Christians to complain that “theology has crept into the Church,” as if theology, “knowing God,” had never been central. Influenced by the airborne spiritual pathologies of a post-Christian culture, such muddle-headed assertions from the mouths of believers unwittingly support the ungodly ideas in the “world,” which they would otherwise oppose. It is right to ask again: What is theology and is it important?  Why was theology important in the early Church (and it most unquestionably was important)? Why was it important in the Middle Ages? In the Reformation? In the 18 th , 19 th , and 20 th centuries? The answers to those questions are nothing short of life or death for biblical Christianity.

Let’s explore the meaning of theology and its effects on the soul, the Church, and the very world in which we live.

Theology Is Knowing God

The definition of theology is simply “the study of God.” Two Greek words—“Theos” (θεός)— God — and  “logos”(λόγος)—combine to create the word “theology.” The emminant scholar, Louis Berkhof , asserted with brevity and precision: “The New Testament has the Greek equivalents of the Old Testament names. For ’El, ’Elohim, and ‘Elyon it has Theos, which is the most common name applied to God . ”

Jeremiah called Israel to recall the priority of theology, that is, of “knowing God:”

“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me,  that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord’” ( Jer. 9:23-24 , emphasis added)

The Apostle Paul joined the chorus of voices, divine and human, to emphasize the necessity of theology, that is, of “knowing God:”

“Formerly, when you did not know God,  you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God,  or rather to be known by God,  how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?” ( Gal. 4:8-9 , emphasis added).

 The Apostle Paul is saying that the Galatian Christians not only knew about God, but they had an intimate knowledge of God in their own lives. Such intimacy not only opened their consciousness to their Creator but also to themselves. This is quite different from someone saying that they know about God. I think of the great J. I. Packer in his book, Knowing God. Dr. Packer wrote of a sadly familiar spiritual pathology, which remains a constant toxic threat for all of us:

“A little knowledge of God is worth more than a great deal of knowledge about him.”

Theology is knowing God. Indeed, this kind of knowing God is filled with love, gratitude, and the “communicable” attributes of God impressed into our lives. Theology is not incompatible with love. Theology, the thirst for knowledge of God in our lives, is equated with love by the Apostle John:

“We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” ( 1 John 4:6-7 , ESV).

Theology Is the Divine Drama of the Ages

Theology is more than merely a definition of a word. Theology that is biblical, Christ-centered, and comprehensive is the very plan of God revealed in His Word. The great twentieth century English professor and essayist, Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957), wrote of theology as the “divine drama.” In her remearkable book, Letters to a Diminished Church: Passionate Arguments for the Relevance of Christian Doctrine ,  the Oxford scholar asserted:

 “. . . for the cry today is: “Away with the tedious complexities of dogma—let us have the simple spirit of worship; just worship, no matter of what!” The only drawback to this demand for a generalized and undirected worship is the practical difficulty of arousing any sort of enthusiasm for the worship of nothing in particular. (P. 14) Surely it is not the business of the Church to adapt Christ to men, but to adapt men to Christ. It is the dogma that is the drama—not beautiful phrases, nor comforting sentiments, nor vague aspirations to loving-kindness and uplift, nor the promise of something nice after death—but the terrifying assertion that the same God who made the world, lived in the world and passed through the grave and gate of death. (P. 20) The Church’s answer [to the great existential questions of life and death, the meaning of life, and life after death] is categorical and uncompromising, and it is this: That Jesus Bar-Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, was in fact and in truth, and in the most exact and literal sense of the words, the God ‘by whom all things were made.’” (P. 2)

I cannot imagine a more credible, concise, and convicting definition of the theology and its importance. For Sayers, the Church in trying to reach the world without theology was impossible. Theology is the drama that attracts. Theology, knowing God through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is the essence of the Christian religion. It cannot be otherwise.

Theology Is the Answer to Our Deepest Needs

All theology is pastoral. I mean to to say that after we have studied “knowing God” in the Old Testament, New Testament, and have catalogued our findings into a systematic theology, as we have observed God’s Word and ways in historical theology, we come to see that theology is “knowing God” for the purpose of living (and dying, which is, for the believer, a continuation of life). Thus, there is a beauty about theology that transcends, even resists, categorical truths that remains unapplied in the human soul. Dr. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary put it so memorably in his work, The Pastor as Minor Poet: Texts and Subtexts in the Ministerial Life :

“The primary symptom of a soul that has become sick is that it becomes blind to the poetry of life.”

Theology, the pursuit of knowing God in Christ, is the poetry of life.

Why Wouldn’t Theology Be Important?

I believe it is right to reflect the question on the mind of some that says, “theology is simply not that important.” Now I might ask myself, “why would anyone say such a thing?” But, in fact, people do say this. Why? I have heard from people that “theology is . . .”

 Some believe that theology is dull. I generally don’t hold the student responsible for a boring subject but rather the teacher. I’ve heard it said that the greatest sin of a history teacher is to make history boring. That is quite right. We should also say, “the greatest insult to the doctrine of knowing God — that is, theology — is to make the subject boring. I guess it is possible for one to make child-rearing a very boring subject. I guess it is possible to talk about the relationships of men and women, courtship and marriage , and to come off as quite dull. However, you and I both know that neither of the subjects are dull whatsoever!

We must not judge theology as dull if we are so unfortunate as to have a dull preacher! Is there anything dull about the divine drama of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ? Let us zoom out from the life of Jesus to see the plan of redemption running from Genesis to the last verse of Revelation! What is dull or boring about the plan of God to redeem fallen humankind by making a covenant that God will provide what God requires?

Theology that cannot be preached in theology that cannot be applied to the life of a child is very likely a theology that is brittle, dour, dull, and . . . wrong.  But I have heard that theology is . . .

2. Divisive

Another criticism about theology is that dogma is divisive. When I say “dogma,” I’m using the word in the same way that Dorothy Sayers did in her essay. Dogma is merely an English word based on the Greek word for teaching. So the teachings that flow from the theological system that is revealed in the Word of God or of prime importance in faith and life. It should not surprise us that human beings who have been infected with original sin and its dark consequences, even after they have been saved and they are putting on Christ, yet battling “the old self” that still resides within them and must be mortified throughout all of their life of sanctification, would have conflicting opinions about the most important things — the things of primary importance. This is a human quality, which is seen in every aspect of life. The Word of God is divine. The Bible is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. Those who read the Bible must be filled with the Holy Spirit so that the Spirit that recorded God’s Word through mortal men and women will recognize the Spirit in the reader and the two shall become one. However, theological dogma such as baptism, communion, how one is sanctified or grows in the Christian life, and a few others — not many — is so important than human beings form “communities of conviction” that are based upon their opinions of one or more of these vital matters.

Men and women of good will, therefore, may disagree. Their inability to express a perfect unity in every single aspect of Christianity neither invalidates their faith nor the veracity of the Word of God. It merely shows that we are human. The Apostle Paul said that one day we will know even as we are known. For now we see through the dark glass, not always able to discern every single truth with unquestionable precision. Thankfully, God has left us with a kind word,

“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" ( Deut. 29:29 ).

True theology that is revealed to us from God’s Word can divide: truth from error.   Yet, some have said that theology is . . .

3. Esoteric

This criticism of theology is that it is merely too esoteric — that is, the doctrines of the Bible may have philosophical, metaphysical, or intellectual merit, but they are simply impractical. Someone might even say, “stick to the simple things.” Actually, I would agree with that. But the thing is, the “simple things” of the Bible are also “deep things” revealed from God to humankind.

I sometimes hear about “pie in the sky by and by.” Those who have said this to me wanted to stress that Christianity — that is biblical theology — offers nothing for the here and now. It is all about heaven. It is all about another world. It is all about another kingdom. I sometimes respond to them as I would like to do in this little article by quoting CS Lewis, who wrote in response to the charge that Christians are just too heavenly minded to be any earthly good:

“If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next… It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’: aim at earth and you will get neither.”  ( Mere Christianity )

Why Theology is Vital to the Christian Faith

It Is the Study of God

Firstly, remembering that theology is truly knowing God by personally knowing His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ,  we must assert that theology is absolutely vital to Christianity. The study of God and of His Word leads us to the glorious doctrines that change lives. Even as St. Paul admonished young pastor Timothy to rightly divide the truth of the Word of God and to teach it, withholding nothing, so, also, we must pursue the knowledge of God through His general revelation — creation – and His special revelation — the Bible.

Karl Barth wrote in his The Epistle to the Romans an essential theological cornerstone of Christianity and why it must be studied,

“The Gospel is not a truth among other truths. Rather, it sets a question-mark against all truths.”

It Is the Story of Ourselves

Theology, the pursuit of God, is an extraordinary inquiry into not only the Creator but of necessity the creation. That creation includes every one of us. A theology that is built upon study of God’s revelation—in creation and in Scripture—leads us to see that God is God and we are not. But we are His image-bearers. We are without Christ image-bearers with a marred image, a distorted spiritual framework inherited from our first parents that touches everything we do, all that we are, all that we want to be. The unquenchable thirst after knowledge of God will bring us to Jesus Christ, His Son, our Lord. Knowing Him and following Him restores our humanity, removes the “birth mark” of a sinful nature, and places us on an ever-expanding experience of God’s remodeling of our lives from the inside out.

Theology proper is to know God. And to know God is to know what it is be fully human.

It Is the Greatest Story Ever Told

Theology is a narrative of God’s pursuit of His own joy and communion in the relationship, lost and found, of His People. It is Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. The culminating truth of Christian theology is the Person of Jesus. He lived the life we could never live and died the death that should have been ours. He was crucified for our sins. He rose again on the third day. He appeared to over 500 at once, many of whom lived into the last years of the first century. Witnesses saw Jesus the Christ ascend into heaven with angelic presence and celestial voice that He would also return in like manner.

This is the Greatest Story ever told. How did one theologian put it?

“The Gospel of the Resurrection is the—power of God, His virtus, the disclosing and apprehending of His meaning, His effective pre-eminence over all gods. The Gospel of the Resurrection is the action, the supreme miracle, by which God, the unknown God dwelling in light unapproachable, the Holy One, Creator, and Redeemer, makes Himself known: ‘What therefore ye worship in ignorance, this set I forth unto you ( Acts 27:23 )."

Theology must always lead to doctrine on fire in the pulpit. Theology must always culminate in lives transformed by the power of the Gospel. Theology is intended to awaken, to heal, to encourage, to admonish, to correct, but more than anything to know love. To know the love of God. The eminent Catholic theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar wrote in his classic theology, “ Love Alone is Credible ,” these words:

“But if we view creation with the eyes of love, then we will understand it, despite all the evidence that seems to point to the absence of love in the world. We will understand the ultimate purpose of creation: not only the purpose of its essence, which we seem to make some sense of through the various intelligible relationships among individual natures, but the purpose of its existence in general, for which no philosophy can otherwise find a sufficient reason.”

For Balthasar, our humanity is realized as we receive “the love offered …by the divine heart that breaks for us upon the Cross.” And this theological message is a powerful conduit to the human heart, “for the world, love alone is credible.” And God is love. And to know Him is to know pure love. To receive His eternal gift of life in Christ Jesus is to not only know but experience this divine love. Out of the fullness of this love we are able to express His love to another.

What Theology Must Never Be

For as much as we have talked about what theology is, we must be careful to assert what it is not.

Theology is not Speculation

We were told throughout the Scriptures that we should not be speculating about the meaning of a mystery not revealed. Indeed, one of the features of a maturing believer is to be able to live in the tension of the ministry. The Apostle Paul warns Timothy about the disastrous consequences of wrangling over words. We must, therefore, be careful and precise in our statements about what the Bible says. Going beyond that is theological speculation. This will surely lead not only to strife within that particular Christian community but will lead to heartache by the one who is espousing it.

Theology cannot be Weaponized

We have no doubt seen how some people use Scripture as a weapon to hurt other people. Yet even the prophets, like Jeremiah, who warned of judgement, wept exceedingly when their prophecies at length became judgement. There is nothing so heinous as twisting the very Word of Almighty God to become an arsenal to use against another human being made in God’s image.

If someone reading these words has born the brutality of a verbal attack on the conscience by misuse of God’s Word or a theological Molotov cocktail thrown to maime the conscience of another, then it is no wonder that one would have a distaste for “theology.” But theology is about knowing God, not taking His name in vain to hurt another. But there is another thing that theology must never be.

Theology must never be Ignored

Theology, the knowledge of our Creator, must not be neglected. How do we do that? Well, one way is to allow the misuse of theology by another our excuse to avoid knowing God. The reasons that I have named are real. As a pastor, I have seen the damage that abuse of theology can do to a person. To neglect the true knowledge of your God is to ignore the healing salve of grace that is needed to cure your pain.

Others ignore theology because of less complicated reasons: they just don’t have time. Can you imagine that? One would say, “I am too busy in life to come to know the Giver of my life?” It really is quite ludicrous, isn’t it? We have seen that theology is not mere philosophical speculation. Theology is not an esoteric inquiry into metaphysical ideas that are disconnected from living (and dying). Theology is always personal, always accessible, always about knowing God.

Our Lord Jesus was the Great Theologian who taught us about God and, thus, about ourselves. Our Savior once told some who had trusted in Him that conversion was not the end, but the beginning:

“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘ If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free" ( John 8:31-32 ).

And that, dear friend, is the wondrous, unfathomable glory of true biblical theology: God is truth. To know Him, to follow Him, to pursue Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind is to increasingly shed the darkness of a fallen world and walk into the soft golden beams of celestial light; a light that warms, illumines, and guides you into the perfect freedom you have dreamed of for so long.

1. Leo J. Elders, The Metaphysics of Being of St. Thomas Aquinas in a Historical Perspective(Brill, 1992).

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Plato's euthyphro: in defense of god.

Plato’s famous dialogue Euthyphro chronicles a conversation between Socrates and a man named Euthyphro and concerns the nature of “good” and is widely applied to question the existence of God. Socrates asks Euthyphro a number of questions concerning piety and its relation to the Greek...

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The Encouraging Power of the Prosperity Theology

When I was young, I remembered sitting at home with my family watching TV and seeing a commercial for Peter Popoff’s Miracle Ministry. The commercial caught my eye. Peter started off by telling the viewers that it is in God’s will for all of us...

The Value of Theism Christianity and Naturalism

Worldview, which acts like a filter of the mind, plays an important role on the life of each individual living on the earth by affecting the way that one is thinking, recognizing, and even solving the problems. There is more than one worldview out there,...

John Hick’s and David Hume's Thoughts on the Problem of Evil

The problem of evil has been a long running problem for perfect Gods for millenia, and with disasters upon tragedies upon disasters even just over the past century, it is a problem that demands an answer. Soul-making theodicy is one common answer that has arisen...

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The Theological Themes and Aspects in Finding Nemo

As a young child, I used to sit around with my siblings and watch Finding Nemo on repeat. Finding Nemo as a child was about a fish who got lost and is trying to find his way back home to his dad. Now, as an...

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Theories of Religion: Worship of Multiple Gods

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Social Stratification Through the Lens of Theological Perspectives

Social Stratification is a term used to define the way in which different individuals and groups are ranked within society (O’Leary, 2007) (Carter, 2012). The status of people, commonly paralleled to how many valued resources an individual may possess, determines how society is stratified (Gusky,...

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The Use of Structural and Lighting Elements in Cranach's Adam and Eve

Adam and Eve Adam and Eve painted by Lucas Cranach depicts the beginning of Genesis Chapter 3 in which Eve takes the forbidden fruit and eats it. Different aspects of Cranch’s work specifically refer back to lines of text from the old testament along with...

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A Comparison of the Depiction of Nudity in Genesis and Praxiteles' Venus

Adam and Eve in Genesis were initially unworried about their nudity, but after they eat the fruit to gain knowledge of good and evil, they spiritually die, resulting in feeling shameful and afraid. This is represented through the image Adam and Eve, for the figures...

An In-Depth Review of Genesis and the Seven Deadly Sins

Genesis And The Seven Deadly Sins The Seven Deadly Sins have been in existence since man’s exile from paradise. Ever since the days of Adam of Eve, we encounter Lust, Pride, Greed, Wrath, Sloth, Gluttony, and Envy. Throughout the Bible, we read stories that teach...

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Reexamining the Facts with Strauss' Jesus Behaving Badly

Jesus Behaving Badly explores the common misconceptions of Jesus’ behavior throughout the New Testament. Mark Strauss, the author of Jesus Behaving Badly, raises the point that we often overlook how Jesus was perceived. As observers of Jesus Christ we often ignore the fact that Jesus...

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Understanding the Importance of the Holy Land to the Three Abrahamic Religions

The Holy Land and Jerusalem and Their Significance to the Three Abrahamic Religions Jerusalem is one of the oldest cities in the world and has made a huge impact on on global history, culture and religion. The city is the religious center for the three...

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The Theological and Spiritual Significance of Jerusalem

Introduction Axis Mundi, or Axis of the world in Latin, refers to a sacred site being the center of the world both historically and religiously. I will turn to Mircea Eliade’s The Sacred and the Profane, as well as the Hebrew Bible; specifically passages in...

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A Critique of Madeline Albright's Solution to Lowering Religious Conflict

Albright’s Thesis In “Faith and Diplomacy” Madeline Albright expresses that diplomats should, “develop the ability to recognize and how religious beliefs contribute to conflicts and when religious principles might be invoked to ease strife” (36), in her thesis. I believe that Albright is correct when...

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A Look at the Lifestyle and Beliefs of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Jean-Jacques Rousseau lived a nomadic lifestyle, which caused him to change religions multiple times in his lifetime; his religious views were based off of secularism, Roman Catholic, Protestantism, the counter-enlightenment and natural religion. Jean-Jacques Rousseau published multiple books on religion, such as Civil Religion and...

Mankind's Theologies: A Look at the Origins and Practices

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A Comprehensive Conclusion of the Gospel of Mark

A Suitable Ending The Gospel of Mark covers the adult life of Yeshua Messiah on earth. It contains the selection of his twelve disciples as well as the sermons, parables, and various miracles that he performed. Following his ministry, chapters 11-16 proclaim his death and...

An Examination of the State of Atheism

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Theism vs. Atheism: An Analysis by David Hume

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Atheism: The Foil to Religion?

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The Theological Importance of Food in Hinduism, Judaism, and Christianity

We have read primary and secondary texts that address ritual and religious understandings of food derived from Hinduism (the Upanishads), Judaism (Leviticus, and the Seder meal and narrative), and Christianity (the Eucharist). In the unique variations of the various different perspectives we are offered a...

Understanding the Philosophy of Living Based on Islamic Theology and the Qu’ran

Although the Qur’an and the hadith are the common sources of Islamic theology, Marcia Hermansen argues that different sects and trends interpret these authorities differently, as previously established. Therefore, there is also no concrete agreement on eschatology, which refers to doctrines on death, resurrection, life...

An Open Letter to Martin Luther: A Description of Fallacies

To the Venerable Martin Luther, whom I respect and hold with the utmost esteem We have not met; I am but a poor student attending the University of Brigham Young in the United States of America. I am neither wise nor learned. I have not...

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Finding Common Ground: An Integration of Christianity and Psychology

Transformational Psychology: theological and philosophical reflections Entwistle (2010) in his book titled Integrative approaches to Psychology and Christianity seeks to explain the various attempts at integrating theology and psychology, two philosophies that appear to conflict. Through the investigation of critical historical conflicts between faith and...

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An Overview of the Osmer Model for Practical Theology

Richard Osmer created the Osmer model for practical theology in which his focus and purpose was to teach church leaders how to react and how to approach or handle pastoral situations. Another purpose Osmer had with his model is to equip lectures to help and...

Best topics on Theology

1. Plato’s Euthyphro: In Defense of God

2. The Encouraging Power of the Prosperity Theology

3. The Value of Theism Christianity and Naturalism

4. John Hick’s and David Hume’s Thoughts on the Problem of Evil

5. The Theological Themes and Aspects in Finding Nemo

6. Theories of Religion: Worship of Multiple Gods

7. Social Stratification Through the Lens of Theological Perspectives

8. The Use of Structural and Lighting Elements in Cranach’s Adam and Eve

9. A Comparison of the Depiction of Nudity in Genesis and Praxiteles’ Venus

10. An In-Depth Review of Genesis and the Seven Deadly Sins

11. Reexamining the Facts with Strauss’ Jesus Behaving Badly

12. Understanding the Importance of the Holy Land to the Three Abrahamic Religions

13. The Theological and Spiritual Significance of Jerusalem

14. A Critique of Madeline Albright’s Solution to Lowering Religious Conflict

15. A Look at the Lifestyle and Beliefs of Jean-Jacques Rousseau

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Introducing TGC Essays: Theology for the Global Church

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essay about theology subject

For more than a decade, The Gospel Coalition has been publishing a wide range of articles, podcasts, videos, books, and more. This work is driven by an observation in our Foundation Documents :

We have become deeply concerned about some movements within traditional evangelicalism that seem to be diminishing the church’s life and leading us away from our historic beliefs and practices. On the one hand, we are troubled by the idolatry of personal consumerism and the politicization of faith; on the other hand, we are distressed by the unchallenged acceptance of theological and moral relativism. These movements have led to the easy abandonment of both biblical truth and the transformed living mandated by our historic faith.

Over the years, our resources have targeted each of the concerns outlined in that statement, and these challenges continue to drive our expansion of new content formats such as a catechism , free online courses , and devotionals . We’re excited to announce our latest offering––a series of 250 theological essays .

  • Expansive . The essays fall into 12 major categories––the Bible, the Christian life, the church, creation, end times, God, the Holy Spirit, humanity, Jesus Christ, salvation, sin, and systems and methods of theology.
  • Free . They’re not hidden behind a paywall. You can access, share, print, and distribute them.
  • Non – technical . They are intentionally written to be understandable and accessible to those without formal theological education, yet are still a helpful resource for the seminary-trained. Most of the essays contain few footnotes, and all Greek and Hebrew references are transliterated and explained.
  • Translatable . So many rich theological resources are locked away under copyright. We want to do our part to change that reality. Each of the essays is made available under a Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA), instantly allowing Christians the world over to begin translating the resources without needing our permission. Under this license, local translators may even bind and sell these translations to help sustain their local businesses.
  • Multi-authored . In a typical systematic theology textbook, you read perhaps 1,000 pages of a single author’s treatment of various doctrines and issues. In these essays, you will have access to around 2,000 pages worth of theological reflection from 102 different authors.
  • Far – reaching . One of the most exciting aspects of launching this series is that people far from Christ all over the world are now able to interact with excellent, orthodox theological resources. If you google phrases like “ divine revelation ” or “ priesthood of the believer ,” chances are you’ll find one of these essays on the first page. Even more exciting is the implications for a “ God the Father ” search—a glance at the competing websites gives a clear sense of the importance of this effort.
  • Growing . Today’s list of essays  is just the beginning. In the coming years, we plan to keep expanding this collection to cover additional doctrines and issues. Unlike a systematic theology textbook, we have the ability to continue scaling, updating, and localizing these resources for years to come.

In a list of resources this large, it’s hard to identify favorites. But here are my top 10:

  • Don Carson’s essay on “ Contemporary Challenges to Inerrancy ” wades into issues of the Bible’s Author/authors, certainty of interpretation, and moral objections to the text.
  • Jeremy Treat’s handling of “ Kingdom and Cross ” functions as a shorter version of his excellent book on the same subject.
  • When it comes to canonicity, it’s hard to beat Michael Kruger’s insights. In this essay series, Kruger tackles “ The Biblical Canon ” and “ The Apocrypha .”
  • I enjoyed the practical warmth and theological depth of “ The Love of God ” by Sam Storms.
  • Some essays wade into contested issues. A great example is Tom Schreiner on the topic of “ The Miraculous Gifts and the Question of Cessationism .”
  • Jonathan Leeman on “ The Relationship of Church and State ” is a must-read in the lead-up to a passionate national election.
  • If you’re looking for a simple resource for deacon training, Matt Smethurst’s essay on “ Deacons ” will be particularly helpful.
  • The issue of a “ Historical Adam and Eve ” is insightfully addressed by John Collins.
  • Andy Naselli’s explanation of apostasy is salient as recent years have included many stories of “deconversions” of prominent Christian leaders.
  • Ligon Duncan penned excellent essays on “ Redemption ” and “ Propitiation .”

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The Gospel Coalition seeks to provide resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, to strengthen the global church. Even as we make this new content freely available to the world online, we are trusting that the Lord would provide resources so we can continue these efforts.

For example, one of our next projects—to complement the essay series—will be a series of commentaries on the whole Bible. As it is prepared, it will also be released into the Creative Commons and be available for free on our website.

As we step out in faith in these endeavors, we would be honored to have your support .

Is there enough evidence for us to believe the Gospels?

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Phil Thompson (PhD, Columbia International University) serves as program director for The Carson Center at TGC. He is a teaching pastor at Christ Fellowship Eastside , a recent church plant, and an adjunct professor at Columbia International University . Over the past decade, Phil has traveled to train pastors in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. He and his wife, Laurel, live in Greenville, South Carolina, with their daughters Lane, Kately, Harper, and Darcy.

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Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology

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Oliver D. Crisp and Michael C. Rea (eds.), Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology , Oxford UP, 2009, 316pp., $99.00 (hbk), ISBN 9780199203567.

Reviewed by Gordon Graham, Princeton Theological Seminary

The editors of this volume have elicited new essays from an impressive list of contributors, including both long established figures in philosophy and theology and others relatively new. Since all the essays make interesting contributions to topics of importance, they all merit comment. At the same time, since the essays were commissioned and collected in this volume for a specific purpose — namely to explain, elaborate and explore the merits of ‘analytic theology’ — a review adequate to the aims of the editors must resist the temptation to be distracted by the arguments of individual authors, and must address the more general issue of how well, and even whether, the essays contribute to this overall purpose.

The collection is divided into four parts, and in his introduction Michael Rea explains this organization. The three essays in the first part set out analytic theology’s credentials. Those in Part II set these credentials in historical context. Part III brings the conception to bear on some prominent theological topics — the divine inspiration of Scripture, religious experience, science and religion. In Part IV, the editors have courageously given a platform to critics of analytic theology’s ambitions, critics, moreover, of considerable academic weight — Eleonore Stump, Merold Westphal and Sarah Coakley.

What is analytic theology? Rea offers us a succinct characterization:

analytic theology is just the activity of approaching theological topics with the ambitions of an analytic philosopher and in a style that conforms to the prescriptions that are distinctive of analytic philosophical discourse. (p. 7)

This brief statement, of course, only becomes fully informative if we are told what the ‘ambitions’ and ‘style’ distinctive of analytic philosophy are. Rea has things to say about this. Indeed he sets out two ambitions and five points of style. Even before we consider this further explanation, however, perplexities arise that, in my judgment, the ensuing essays intensify rather than dispel. They do so not because of disagreements between the authors, but because of their uncertainty as to how this new terminology is to be used, and what its significance is exactly.

Here is one example. In his essay “How Philosophical Theology Became Possible”, Nicholas Wolterstorff seeks to explain the remarkable change in status that philosophy of religion underwent in the 20 th century. Having had virtually no place in the intellectual world of logical positivism, fifty years later it had become one of the most vibrant areas of Anglo-American philosophy. Part of the explanation (in my view) must lie with the influential work of a few highly gifted philosophers who took religion seriously (including Wolterstorff himself, of course). Wolterstorff’s own explanation, however, lends special weight to the collapse of ‘classical foundationalism’ in epistemology. Once the long held belief in a single epistemological litmus test was abandoned, the way opened up for philosophers trained in the style and methods of logical empiricism and conceptual analysis to take religious beliefs as properly basic, and explore the implications and possibilities of doing so. For my own part I find this explanation very convincing, but how does the possibility of philosophical theology relate to the project of analytic theology? In the concluding paragraphs Wolterstorff addresses this issue briefly. Having noted that contemporary philosophical theology is now no less concerned with traditional questions in the doctrine of God than it is with the arguments of natural theology, Wolterstorff says “Is it philosophy or is it theology? What difference does it make. . ? Call it what you will” (p. 168). But it does make a very great difference from the point of this volume . If philosophical theology of the kind that the collapse of foundationalism made possible is indistinguishable from analytic theology, then the theme of the essays in Part I is empty, because analytic theology is nothing new, and has been carried on with vigor for the last four decades or more.

It is not enough to reply that Wolterstorff is being a little idiosyncratic here. There is genuine uncertainty. In another interesting essay, Andrew Chignell gives a careful account of Kant’s strictures on thinking about God and shows persuasively that, contrary to a supposition that has been widespread in contemporary theology, “we can engage in substantive analytic theology, even by Kantian lights” (p. 135). It will come as good news to (some) theologians that philosophical theology after Kant is not as problematic as has generally been thought, but despite Chignell’s use of the term ‘analytic theology’, this tells us very little about the possibilities for a new theological enterprise. Indeed, in a footnote Chignell more or less admits this when he says “I frankly have some trouble seeing a significant difference between analytic theology and what has recently been called ‘philosophical theology’ in the analytic tradition” (p. 119).

Might the difference emerge negatively? Might we get a better handle on just what analytic theology is through the characterizations of its critics? The three essays in Part IV are all well worth reading, but they do little to illuminate this issue. All three make the focus of their reflections the analytical tradition in philosophy as a whole, and none of them show that the deficiencies they identify in this tradition are specially related to the extension of its methods to theology, or that the ways in which these deficiencies might be mitigated owe anything special to theology. Eleonore Stump, who has an even broader target in view — “philosophy as it is widely practiced in the Anglo-American tradition” (p. 252) — thinks that it is recent work in neurobiology that reveals the inevitable narrowness of this tradition and that the cure lies in an engagement with literature and literary criticism that accords them equal status as modes of knowledge. Merold Westphal focuses on the distinction between ‘analytic’ and ‘continental’ philosophy. He doubts if such a distinction is absolute, and eschews any ambition to demonstrate the superiority of the latter. Rather he wants to show “how discourse to and about God can be understood in the light of two overlapping continental traditions, phenomenology and hermeneutics” and leaves it to the reader to draw comparisons with theology of a more analytical kind. Sarah Coakley’s topic (and target) is very precise — the use of Teresa of Avila as an example in philosophical arguments about religious experience. She thinks it an error to regard mystical experience such as Teresa’s as episodic rather than integral to developed and sustained spiritual practices. I am sure this is correct, and worth saying, but the mistaken nature of one approach to a single topic hardly counts as a counter to a proposed new method of theological inquiry in general.

The essays in Part III might be thought to provide some clarification of these uncertainties in a different way — by showing the method of analytical theology at work on specific issues. It is not obvious that this is how they are intended, but if they are, it is hard to see that they work. Thomas McCall does aim to employ the theory of speech acts as elaborated by Austin and Searle to resolve what he sees as tensions within Karl Barth’s account of the Bible as the Word of God. This discussion, however, seems somewhat tangential to me, and the main concern of his essay is the interpretation of Barth, not the direct exploration of a major theological topic. Thomas Crisp employs the kind of probabilistic reasoning that Richard Swinburne made familiar in the philosophy of religion, but it does not have much (or perhaps any) bearing on the theology of Scripture. Michael Sudduth, who discusses the role of religious experience in natural and dogmatic theology, and Michael Murray have written thoughtful pieces. Nevertheless, either, and especially Murray’s, could have been included in collections that had no special interest in or relevance to the methods of ‘analytical’ theology.

So the question remains: just what is new about ‘analytic theology’ and how does it differ from the kind of philosophical theology made familiar over the last few decades by Plantinga, Swinburne, Wolterstorff and the generation of philosophers that they inspired? Since the three essays in Part I are meant to set out its nature and credentials, it might seem obvious that this is where a review of the book focused on this question should have started. Yet as I read them the same uncertainties are to be found even here. The essay by Rea’s co-editor Oliver Crisp is entitled “On Analytic Theology” and is the essay most plainly pertinent to the question. It has the slightly defensive tone of someone more concerned to deflect criticism than expound a vision. This is understandable, I am sure, since contemporary theology is more likely to be hostile than hospitable to anything that plausibly falls under this label. More importantly, however, Crisp observes that philosophers currently engaged in ‘analytic philosophical theology’ tend to defend their approach by finding in it a continuity with the classical theologians of the past that contemporary theology has abandoned, a continuity John Lamont illustrates in his essay, “A Conception of Faith in the Greek Fathers”. Crisp quotes Alvin Plantinga on precisely this point, and comments that “there is more than a grain of truth in [the] assertion” that “the best work in philosophical theology in the English speaking world and over the past quarter century has not been done by the theologians but by philosophers” (p. 39). I agree, but if this is true, ‘analytic theology’ can only be a further refinement on the developments of the last forty years, and one that is left with relatively little to do that is new.

Randal Rauser’s highly readable and robust essay on “Theology as a Bull Session” makes an interesting case for analytic theology. Elaborating on the central thought of Harry Frankfurt’s (now) famous essay “On Bullshit”, Rauser argues that the emphasis on clarity typical of analytic philosophy will provide some protection against the tide of bullshit that is licensed (no doubt unintentionally) by theology in the style of Sally McFague and Jurgen Moltmann. I am readily persuaded by this contention, but it seems to me that the counters to bullshit — clarity of expression, rigor of argument and honesty of intellectual purpose — are merits in ALL intellectual inquiry and not the preserve of a distinctive theological method. Further, by quoting Maes and Schaubroek on this point Rauser effectively agrees, since their reference is to ‘academic discourse’ in general (p. 73).

William Abraham is more forthright and visionary. The title of his essay, “Systematic Theology as Analytic Theology”, gives a clear indication that he wants to go further than Crisp and Rauser and look to the methods of analytical philosophy to come to the rescue of the mishmash that is contemporary systematic theology. At the same time he insists that “the subject matter of systematic theology has its own integrity”, so analytic theology is a method for doing theology and not a replacement (p. 69). Interestingly, though, in order to argue for this point he relies on a conception of philosophy as an inquiry that delivers results that systematic theology may use. In this respect, Abraham’s picture of philosophy’s relation to theology is somewhat like a common picture of its relation to cognitive science. Common though it is, it is also highly questionable. Since philosophers rarely agree, there are never any settled ‘results’ in the way that there are in other disciplines. This is not just a matter of contrariness. It has to do with the nature of the subject because, as Wolterstoff rightly observes in his essay, “Philosophy as a whole is an ineradicably pluralist enterprise”.

This brings me to some final thoughts on the collection. Here and there, as in the essays by Abraham and Wolterstorff, there are passing reflections on the nature of philosophy in general as an intellectual activity, but not enough to explore its relation to theology adequately. Further, there are surprisingly few reflections on the enterprise of theology, and its relation to religion. One of the most interesting chapters from this point of view is Andrew Dole’s essay on “Schleiermacher’s Theological Anti-realism”. Dole interprets Schleiermacher as insisting that “to engage in metaphysics within theology … would be to contaminate religion by bringing an alien motivation — an interest in truth for its own sake — into the fold” (p. 151). He goes on to draw a somewhat limited implication from this:

the analytic theologian who acts from a serious interest in the truth-relevant content of religious doctrines without turning a blind eye to the other dimensions of religious discourse will … have learnt the lesson that Schleiermacher has to teach. (p. 153)

I think there is a better lesson to be learned. In his essay Oliver Crisp employs the ancient dictum of “faith seeking understanding”. This is not the same as faith seeking truth . Given its “ineradicable pluralism”, however, philosophy is not plausibly interpreted as seeking truth anyway. What it seeks is a distinctive kind of understanding, a profoundly intellectual one that can only be gained through an exercise of strictly intellectual virtues. What passes for philosophy does not always exemplify this, and sometimes in the analytic tradition it exhibits what Eleonore Stump refers to as “the vices of its virtues” (a danger to which Thomas Crisp might plausibly be accused of having succumbed in this volume). When it does exemplify these virtues, however, philosophy is in a special position. While eschewing any claims on behalf of human reason to establish truths about God, and discarding the metaphysical constructions that have tended to accompany such claims, it can nevertheless counter the retreat to ‘feeling’ so often attributed (wrongly) to Schleiermacher, and thus help believers to love God with ‘all their mind’. I doubt if much is to be accomplished by labelling this mode of religious life ‘analytic theology’. The fact remains, however, that for the most part these are good essays well worth reading, and if the editors’ principal purpose has not been realized, they are still to be congratulated on commissioning some very fine work.

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Resources on How to Write a Research Paper

We've all been there. We know (sort of) on what we want to write, but we don't really know how to write it, how to organize our thoughts, or how to organize our research. It's fun to read, but it's another thing to articulate, analyze, and synthesize our thoughts.

Here are some ideas/resources that might help you along the way:

  • John Frame, professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology at RTS, wrote a helpful step-by-step process for how to write a theology paper.  You can access it for free here .
  • Michael Jensen (D.Phi. at Moore Theological College) has written a short, topically-arranged book, How To Write a Theological Essay (78+pages), available on reference at SBTS.  Find it here .
  • The Craft of Research, accessed here , gives a book-length treatment of the subject.
  • The Writing Center , located in the library, has a staff dedicated to helping you craft an excellent paper.

Here is some advice regarding Systematic 1, 2, or 3 class papers specifically:

  • Start Early. Begin planning your paper the day before the first day of the class. You'll get first crack at the books, you'll get to ask the professor about any research "snags" you hit along the way, you'll get plenty of time to edit and refine, you'll learn more about the subject, and you'll finish the assignment stress-free.
  • Define the question. Every paper seeks to answer a question. The sooner you discover what that question is and the more specific you can make your question, the better off your paper will be. Once you have your question, the answer to that question can be your beginning thesis statement. This thesis statement, with refining, will begin your writing effort on a good foot to having a strong paper.
  • Discover the lead, competing positions regarding your particular question. This requires reading, and sometimes reading broadly.  You want, in this step, to be able to summarize precisely the arguments/positions regarding your research subject.
  • Pick a position. Which available position wins out and why? Is there one that is "the best"?
  • Defend it against the best objections. One common problem of bad theology papers is that students fail to treat their objectors fairly. It doesn't do you or the world any good to argue against a position nobody actually holds. Moreover, it's disingenuous and academically uncouth.

Your paper should not look like your research. It's feasible that your actual paper will look something like this:

  • Introduction (define the problem), Thesis (state your solution), Methodology (preview how you will demonstrate your Thesis).
  • Summarize the available and most persuasive positions (including your own).
  • Support your position.
  • Defend your position against the best objections.
  • Conclusion. Restate your position in light of your paper. This is not a simple "copy" and "paste" of your Introduction. It is the final appeal to your readers for why your position is superior in view of all you've just said.

Remember, you are not done until you have edited your paper. Read through it again, editing as you go, and then have someone else read through it so you have another set of eyes looking at what will be the finished product.

Distinction between Primary and Secondary Sources

It is often the case that when doing theological research, it will be important to examine Primary Sources .  A primary source is an author's first-hand account of the event being studied.  Examples include: diaries, letters, journals, memos, interviews, manuscripts, newspaper articles of current events, photographs, records of government agencies like birth or death certificates, and minutes of conferences or agencies.  Secondary Sources interpret/analyze the event in question.

Here's a clarifying example from the ATLA website : "A letter from a Union soldier to his wife during the Civil War would be considered a primary document.   A book written by a historian that discusses letters written by soldiers during the Civil War would be a secondary source, even if it includes those letters we consider primary sources. "  The distinction is relevant for researchers because interpretations of primary sources may be incorrect.  If you rely only on secondary sources, your own conclusions may be, consequently, skewed.

For Systematics:

A primary source would be the original (or definitive) edition of a work. Examples (again from the ATLA site) would include:

  • Ausgewahlte Werke —the 1883 or “Weimar” edition of Martin Luther’s works. (Also available online as a subscription database by Proquest.)
  • Institutio Christianae Religionis —John Calvin’s Institutes ( definitive version in 1559) although the 1560 French edition is also considered definitive.
  • Grundkurs des Glaubens —Karl Rahner’s   Foundations of Christian Faith in German.
  • Systematische Theologie— Wolfgang Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology in German.
  • Kirchliche Dogmatik— Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics in German.
  • While not a “definitive” edition of their works, many theological librarians use the Christian Classics Ethereal Library to look at the works of the    early church fathers, originally published in print as Early Church Fathers series.

A secondary source would be a later, non-definitive edition, a non-definitive translation, or an examination of a particular facet of the primary source.  For example, Paul Helm's John Calvin's Ideas is a secondary source because it is an analysis of Calvin's works; Balthasar's The Theology of Karl Barth is a secondary source for the same reason.

If you're unsure what an author's primary works are, you can peruse the Enclopedia of Christian Theology by Lacoste or The Oxford Companion to Christian Thought to get an idea of particular theological thinkers and their primary works.  These are helpful, but not comprehensive guides to theological research.  If you ever have trouble finding primary literature, contact a research expert at the library or attempt to dialogue with a researcher in your field of interest.

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To many Christians, there is still that though runs wild that sense of doubt that lingers beneath their mind. The unanswered questions which they so much wish would be answered. This question is on how much God knows and whether everything that happens is all within His knowledge. We learn...

Words: 5310

Different theological scholars have different opinions on theology, ranging from the definition of the term to the implications and applications of the ideologies of the concept to the church in the modern day. The conflicting views all have different impacts on the understanding of the subject. The perceptions provide a...

Words: 2260

Theology is a term that is used to refer to the study of God. The study attempts to understand better the nature of God as He is explained in the Bible. Faith is the belief in the things that an individual hope for. Reason and faith are accompaniments playing a...

Words: 1509

It had previously been an altarpiece's back piece. It would show James minor and John the evangelist under a colonnade when combined with another similar panel. For Franciscans, who regarded Saint Francis as their founder and Apostle Number Thirteen, the inclusion of Saint Francis would have had a special significance....

Regarding moral ethics St. Aquinas adheres to two distinct schools of thought. He had a preference for Christian doctrine and eudaimonism from Aristotle. In relation to how they aid or hinder people from achieving their goals, he views actions as either beneficial or bad. Second, St. Aquinas shares the belief that...

Interpretations of the Statement in Genesis 49:10 Jacob made the statement in Genesis 49:10, "until Shiloh arrives," when he was telling his sons and their offspring their futures and fates. Leah made the direct remark to Judah, Jacob's fourth son, and it has been the subject of numerous interpretations for generations....

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The catholic faith's view of the source of redemption is related to the Paschal Mystery. McIntosh has outlined the nature of redemption using the paschal mystery. He asserts that learning religion without being a believer is challenging. To comprehend theology and the doctrine of salvation, one must have a personal...

Introduction Any official or informal cultural system, including ethics, organizations, sanctified places and things, handed down texts, designated behaviors and practices, and worldviews, that has a clear connection between humanity and the supernatural or transcendental is referred to as religion. Anthropologists like Clifford Geertz have described the relationship between religion and...

The Bible's Figurative Meanings The bible has frequently been dismissed as a holy text that only offers theological lessons and gripping narratives. But it's long past time for people to reconsider how they perceive the bible. Christians should stop taking the creation tales literally and start thinking about their figurative meanings....

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John Clerk led the liturgical changes under Henry VIII, backed by the bishops, clergy, and laity despite opposition from Archbishop Thomas Cranmer. The reformers argued against maintaining the king's authority, which was for the mention, by suppressing the papal power during the church's public prayers. It has not been investigated...

Words: 2407

First off, the church in Christianity has a history that is parallel to that of the religion, which goes back to the early church. The issue of church discipline is made clear in 1 Corinthians 11 when the apostle Paul sends a letter to the Corinthians instructing them on how...

William Foxwell Albright, one of the most renowned academics and archaeologists of his period, is regarded as one of the most productive archaeologists, having contributed significantly to the growth of the current biblical archaeology. He is regarded as a genius by many, largely because he discovered an incredible number of...

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essay about theology subject

A Theology of the Spirits

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essay about theology subject

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Anthony Reddie has said that while Black Theology has always spent a great deal of time and effort on Jesus, there has been “comparatively little on the Holy Spirit.” Recognizing this reality, one hope of this paper is to invigorate and contribute to a conversation on the Spirit in Black Theology. After a brief examination of the intriguing work of Jawanza Eric Clark, who challenges taken-for-granted views of original sin and Christocentrism, the paper will explore understandings of spirit(s) within select religions of Africa and the African diaspora. The study will build from these pieces with a consideration of possibilities for constructive pneumatologies within contemporary Black Theology. The paper’s interest in the Holy Spirit is concerned primarily with the relationship between divine power and presence and human potential and responsibility, and especially in creative formulations of this dynamic that call for human action toward social justice, wholeness, and positive transformation.

Kurt Buhring

Kurt Buhring is Associate Professor of Religious Studies & Theology at Saint Mary’s College (IN). He is the author of Spirit(s) in Black Religion: Fire on the Inside (Palgrave Macm illan, 2022) and Conceptions of God, Freedom, and Ethics in African American and Jewish Theology (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008). Both of these texts are a part of Palgrave Macmillan’s “Black Religion/Womanist Thought/Social Justice” series.

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Rays were more diverse 150 million years ago than previously thought

by University of Vienna

Rays were more diverse 150 million years ago than previously thought

In a new study published in the journal Papers in Palaeontology , an international team of scientists led by paleobiologist Julia Türtscher from the University of Vienna has explored the puzzling world of rays that lived 150 million years ago and discovered a previously hidden diversity—including a new ray species. This study significantly expands the understanding of these ancient cartilaginous fish and provides further insights into a past marine ecosystem.

In her new study, paleobiologist Julia Türtscher from the Institute of Paleontology at the University of Vienna examined 52 fossil rays from the Late Jurassic period. These rays are 150 million years old, from a time when Europe was largely covered by the sea, except for a few islands, comparable to today's Caribbean.

The Late Jurassic specimens are particularly valuable to scientists because they are among the oldest known fully preserved ray specimens. As only the teeth of fossilized rays are usually preserved, such rare skeletal finds provide exciting insights into the early evolution of this group.

Although the exceptionally well-preserved fossils (from Germany, France, and the U.K.) have been known for some time, they have been largely unexplored. Türtscher's study is the first comprehensive analysis of the variation in body shape in these rays.

The results show a greater diversity of holomorphic (fully preserved) rays in the Late Jurassic than previously thought. "Until now, only three holomorphic ray species have been confirmed from the Late Jurassic, but thanks to this study, a total of five species have now been identified," says Türtscher.

Based on their analyses, the researchers were able to confirm a fourth species that had been discussed for some time, as well as documenting and introducing a new, previously undiscovered ray species: Aellopobatis bavarica. This species, which can grow up to 170 cm long, was previously thought to be a large form of the much smaller French Spathobatis bugesiacus, which is 60 cm long.

However, by analyzing the skeletal structures and body shapes in detail, the scientists were able to show that Aellopobatis bavarica is a separate species.

The new results also suggest that the five species occurred in very restricted areas, but the authors are reluctant to jump to conclusions about possible endemisms: "Further studies on the tooth morphology of the specimens and subsequent comparisons with isolated teeth from other sites may help to reconstruct the paleogeographic distribution of Late Jurassic rays," explains Türtscher.

Insight into past marine ecosystems

The results of this new study not only contribute to the understanding of the biodiversity and evolution of rays in the Upper Jurassic, but also have direct implications on the identification of fossil ray species that are known from isolated teeth solely. Continual new discoveries about these fascinating animals provide insights into the dynamics of past marine ecosystems and highlight the importance of well-preserved fossils in the reconstruction of our geological past.

"We can only draw accurate conclusions about living species if we also understand the past of a group, including its evolution, its adaptations to changing environmental factors over time, and the extinction this group has faced during its evolutionary history. Paleobiological knowledge enables us to better understand the dynamics behind evolution and extinction of species and thus aids to develop more effective conservation measures for today's endangered species," says second author Patrick L. Jambura from the Institute of Paleontology at the University of Vienna.

Journal information: Papers in Palaeontology

Provided by University of Vienna

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