What is the Difference Between Theology and Religious Studies?

What is the Difference Between Theology and Religious Studies?

Theology and Religious Studies…do you know the difference?

Twitter: @andrewmarkhenry
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37 thoughts on “What is the Difference Between Theology and Religious Studies?

  1. I have Bachelors degrees in both field and the thin line of difference between them is one is specifically narrowed to a particular religion and the other is broad and all encompassing.

    Theology is narrowed to a particular religion for example Christian Religious studies, Islamic Studies etc. A Christian Theologian will study Theology from the Christian perspectives like beliefs, doctrine, missionary activities, history, language etc same goes for an Islamic Theologian, Buddhist Theologian and any other religion that desires to argue her beliefs scholastically.

    But A Religious studies scholar studies religion from a broader perspectives. A student of religious studies belongs to no religion as far as the studies is concern. He/she would have no bias for anything religion. Finally Religious studies looks at how religion imparts the society/our world whether positive or negatively purely from a scientific perspective.

    Summarily. When you study Theology you study religion from an insider's perspective and when you study religion you study from an outside's perspectives. Thanks

  2. IMO “Buddhist theology” is an oxymoron. Theology concerns questions of God, hence “theo” but Buddhism is an atheist religion. Thus I disagree with David Ford’s definition of theology. More appropriate to refer to “Buddhist teachings.”

  3. Jeepers, for someone who studies religion you'd think he would have a better understanding of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha never said "All life is suffering." If that were true there would be no way to ameliorate the problem. The first Noble Truth defines suffering. No more, no less. He declared this to the five ascetics whom he once practiced with:

    "The Noble Truth of Suffering (dukkha), monks, is this: Birth is suffering, aging is suffering, sickness is suffering, death is suffering, association with the unpleasant is suffering, dissociation from the pleasant is suffering, not to receive what one desires is suffering — in brief the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering." —SN 57:11 (Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta)

  4. very common experience for academics haha. Unless you're a historian, most assumptions about disciplines are way off base.

    I've heard the following from,
    – Linguists: "how many languages do you speak?"
    – Classicist: "what's that? You study classical music?"
    – Anthropologists: " so, you're ike Indiana Jones?"
    -Archeologists "like Indiana Jones?"
    -Economist: "can you give me advice on trading stocks?"
    – Philosopher: "oh, give me something good. Like, what's it all mean? What's the meaning of life?" Or, "I love philosophy, have you read [insert self-help book here]?"

    True story, a philosophy prof told me she was asked for some of the aphorisms she wrote when she told the person next to her on the flight what she did. The person thought philosophers sat around writing pithy aphorisms all day.

  5. So find a better answer. You're a historian (and/or anthropologist) first and foremost, in the field of world religions. It doesn't seem that difficult.

  6. In Communist countries, the teachings of Marx and Lenin and the doctrines of the Party are obviously a state religion, although they have nothing to do with, and completely deny, the existence of the supernatural.

  7. Religious studies and theology do not merely ask different questions, but start from different assumptions. The former essentially work on the assumption that God does not exist and that religion is a purely human phenomenon (even believing scholars in religious studies must admit that this is how it works in practice). The latter begin with the working assumption that (some) God does exist within the context of a particular religion and then deal with the questions specifically relevant to that belief system.

  8. Thank you for your informative Chanel. I think still would be better if you also studied theology, because divine is imporant:))) Otherwise it is more about phenomena than about the Real Subject itself… It is also very helpful, but can be also very misleading:(

  9. My basic beliefs based on the above six minute video.
    Theology sort of = How does (&/or should) mystical beliefs influence humans?
    Religious Studies sort of = How do (&/or have) humans influence mystical beliefs?
    Philosophy of Religion sort of = What came first the mystical or the mystic?

  10. I once heard of a psychiatrist who, when he went on vacation, lied about his profession because otherwise he would be ignored once he said it.

  11. Now that we have science there is no need for religion because we found out where lightening comes from. People who like religion endulges in fantasy like Harry Potter.

  12. You exmplained perfectly why I care little for religios studies and instead focus on theology. I do wonder why religions came out why they do, but it is our father in heaven that I wish to understand something you do not.

  13. The name of my uni course was "The Study of the Religions of Africa and Asia" which I really liked. All the art and archaeology courses counted as religion units too which was pretty cool. I found the religion department much more respectful of the people and beliefs that it studied than the anthropology department that I was also part of.

  14. Andrew are you still surprised at the amount of YouTube comments you get that are utterly shocked at how “non-biased” a religious scholar is? It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around people not understanding that the study of religion is a thing.

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