BUILDING YOUR THEOLOGY
PREPARATION FOR LESSON 1
WHAT IS THEOLOGY?
Have you ever found yourself gazing at some great building, bridge, or highway, and wondering how it was made? Who conceived the idea, drew up the designs, hired the contractors, acquired the materials, and supervised the construction? All of the great building projects of our time, from the great skyscrapers of our cities, to the slender spans linking one landmass to another, to the plunging tunnels under the sea, are the product of thousands of engineers, workers, and many others, using techniques that have slowly developed over the centuries.
In many ways, this is also true of theology. Modern Christian theology is the result of innumerable contributions, over thousands of years, from the writings of the Old Testament, the Apostles, the teachings of the early Church Fathers, church councils, theologians, pastors, laypeople, and of course, Christ. Perhaps you’ve been a Christian for most of your life and have taken all of this for granted. Or maybe you’re a relatively new believer, and have not yet pondered how this great edifice we call “Christianity” came to be. But in this series of Lessons, which we’ve entitled "Building Your Theology," these are the kinds of issues we will be exploring. Our goal will be to explain how each Christian can understand and develop his or her own Christian theology, and appreciate that of others.
Theology is such a vast subject that the prospect of grasping even a basic understanding of it can seem daunting. So, we need a strategy to accomplish this task. In our first Lesson, we will explain what theology actually is.
Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
In preparation for this lesson, read Ephesians 4:1-16. Write down what this has to teach us about doing theology. What is the main goal of studying theology?
This lesson has three main sections:
The Definition of Theology
The Goals of Theology
The Topics of Theology
Goals and Objectives of Lesson 1
In this lesson, we would like to accomplish the following:
1. We hope you will get excited about doing theology in a proper and biblical way.
2. We hope you will make use of all the resources and activities of the lesson to learn the proper nature and purpose of theology.
3. We hope you make some changes in your life as a response to the teachings of this lesson. It should change the way you do theology and the way you analyze theological expressions.
When you have done the following, it will show that the goals are met:
1. Use all the resources and complete all the written assignments of the lesson, expressing your own thoughts and attitudes regarding theology.
2. Obtain satisfactory grades on the automatically graded activities of the lesson, demonstrating that you can identify different ways of defining theology, and that you can distinguish the significance of orthodoxy, orthopraxis, and orthopathos in the task of theology.
3. Answer the application questions in the study guides, in which you apply what you learned in the lesson to your life.
"Instructions for Lesson 1"
Carefully read these summarized instructions. You may want to print them out so that you can refer to them as you proceed through the assignments.
If this is your first time to study one of our lessons, you should read "General Instructions for Assignments." This PDF will explain how to use the videos, how to arrange your word processor to take notes, how to use the quizzes, and other important suggestions.
Note about Greek and Hebrew
Once in a while, the lectures of this course include words in Greek or Hebrew. Don't worry about this, because a knowledge of these languages is not necessary for the course. Furthermore, when a Greek or Hebrew word is used in a study guide, glossary, or quiz, it will be transliterated (using English letters). However, it may be helpful to at least look at the alphabet of these biblical languages and learn something about the way they are transliterated. If you are interested, you may look at the following resources:
For Greek, see the following PDF document:
For Hebrew, you may look at the following web site called "Judaism 101"
Each lesson has a glossary of terms and names used in the lesson. You can find it in the "Resources" section of the lesson.