Anshika, our Indian and DCU Ambassador, sheds some light on some common misconceptions and tells us more about the field of Theology…
Making decisions about your career is a mark of having entered adulthood. You can watch as much Pokemon as you want and live in denial, but no. You are officially an adult. It is not only important to make career decisions, it is important to make aware career decisions. Doing my master’s in Theology, was a planned out move. However, I have faced some difficulties because of the unawareness regarding this field. Coming from India where this course is unavailable, I was asked loads of questions regarding this field of study. Here are five misconceptions people usually have about Theology:i
It is a religious field
“Do you want to be a nun?” “You must pray quite often”. Do I study religion? Yes. Do my classmates and I form a huddle and praise the Almighty in every class? Absolutely not. It is a field of study, not a cult. A simple definition would be that Theology is a critical discussion or reading about God. Religion forms an important part of our society. Getting deeper into the scriptures just helps one’s understanding of everything around them. Theology is just a medium for grasping other people’s beliefs and customs better.
A part of some other discipline
People often think that Theology is a part of Philosophy or History. Theologians use philosophical, historical, or ethnographical methods to form their arguments while critiquing a text. But Theology is an independent field. It developed as an academic discipline around the 6th century BC (or earlier) when Vedic texts were taught in India. Similarly, The Platonic Academy in Greece (4th century BC), School of Nisibis (4th century AD), all included certain theological themes.
“So if you are criticising religion, you do not believe in God?”. Theology actually begins with the assumption that God exists. The aim of a theologian is not to prove that God does not exist. It is to critically analyse religious scriptures. These are two very different things. Theologians do not attack faith. They believe in reasoning and developing an understanding of faith.
It is often assumed that Theology is a technical field (Yes. I can’t wrap my head around this one either). Theology has a different method of reaching conclusions. A method that depends on the subject matter. Unlike science, there is no one technical way of approaching a particular theme. The two fields are vastly different.
Ouch. Just…ouch. I have often been told that Theology is unnecessary. That it “makes no sense to dig up religious scriptures and fight over them”. I disagree. Religion, though quite old, still holds importance in today’s world. Coming from India, where religion and politics are deeply entangled, I understand the importance of Theology in understanding the current circumstances. Theology helps one grasp their own religious traditions and those of others. It can be used to justify a religious tradition or argue against one.
Theology is a vast field. Hence, the vast variety of misconceptions. Hopefully, this clears up a few! any more questions, comment below!