This study program is not meant to be like the popular Dummies or Idiots series. Quite the opposite. One of the distinguishing characteristics of The Theology Program is its intense nature.
Session two of this module, Introduction to Theology, provides a definition of theology is. The study of any field of sufficient depth begins by understanding the specialized language and terms used in that field. Doctors, engineers, and mathematicians use medical terms the average person is not familiar with.
Understanding the specialized terms used when studying theology helps maintain clarity and specificity around difficult topics.
Distinctions between different kinds of theologians is one of the most helpful features of this session.
Different Kinds of Theologians
Tabloid: One who constructs his or her theology based upon naïve hearsay information that has no basis in fact and very little, if any, evidence to be believed. Many times people are Tabloid theologians because of the theology’s appearance of originality. As well, it can be “cutting edge” in many people’s minds.
Folk: One who uncritically and unreflectively constructs his or her theology according to traditions and religious folklore. The Folk theologian is often very dogmatic and militant about his or her beliefs.
Lay: A layperson, who constructs his or her theology and who, unlike the folk and tabloid theologian, is . . . (1) more reflective upon learned theological concepts (2) likely to formulate a system of beliefs which distinguishes between essential and non-essential doctrine (3) more critical of unfounded traditions (4) willing to use study tools
Ministerial: A layperson who constructs his or her theology and who, unlike the lay theologian is . . . (1) educated in theological methodology (2) able to use study tools and resources at a more effective level (3) able to openly critique personal theology against competing models (4) intent on devoting more time to reflection so that theological integration can take place.
Professional: One who constructs his or her theology and makes a living doing so. They usually. . . (1) are didactically purposed toward lay and pastoral theologians (2) conduct practical original research (3) critically evaluate common theological trends and folk theology.
Academic: A professional theologian who constructs his theology with an overly speculative and critical spirit. His dialogue can usually come only with other theologians. It is often called “Ivory Tower theology .”