1.1 STUDYING THEOLOGY
Without realising it, most people have been doing theology all their lives.
Whenever they have wondered about God’s existence or asked questions about God’s interaction with the world, they have been doing theology.
Whenever people pray, they do so using words and ideas which reflect a knowledge of God. We pray repetitively, and this can disguise the fact that the words we are using are theological words, ones which have been refined over centuries of thinking and praying. People are also doing theology when they are inspired — or even challenged — by the lifestyle and example of others who follow the Gospel. Such example makes people stop, think and ask questions. Whoever responds in this way is already well practiced at doing theology.
Not everyone beginning the formal study of theology is sure why they are doing it ; they may simply feel that it is appropriate for them at this moment — if only out of curiosity or from the realisation that they have never given any systematic consideration to the fundamental questions of life. What are the implications of the existence of a caring God ? What of the problem of evil, of earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters ? Any or all of these reasons may stimulate people to commence the formal study of theology.
In addition to studying the modules presented in this programme, students should be stimulated to make the study of theology a lifelong activity. Doing theology deepens a person’s faith and commitment. It helps them to know God more fully and, as a result, deepens their personal relationship with God. It leads to a better appreciation of God’s presence and activity in our world, in the Church and especially in other people.
This module consists of seven units. Unit One deals with the task of theology. Unit Two discusses four recent theologioans whose work has had a profound influence on the Church. Unit Three focuses on important questions about God. Unit Four is devoted to exploring the mystery of God and God’s world. Unit Five studies morality and the Christian understanding of the moral life. Unit Six presents various approaches to understanding the Church. Finally, Unit Seven highlights the importance of celebrating the sacraments. Throughout the module, the student will be expected to reflect on the material presented, and to write down answers to the exercises provided.
1.2 LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this module, the student should have the following knowledge and understanding ; they should have : -* a) a broad knowledge and understanding of the task of theology, together with an ability to identify different theological approaches.
- b) an appreciation of theological thinking in everyday life.
- c) an understanding of basic theological terms and definitions.
In terms of evaluative skills, the student should be able to :
- a) demonstrate an ability to consider aspects of their personal faith objectively ;
- b) demonstrate empathy and respect for other theological traditions ;
- c) present written material in a suitable format, complete with references and bibliography where necessary.
This module has been designed to be helpful and stimulating, and to be a guide in exploring the christian faith. It should also be a stimulus for involvement in the Church’s mission of sharing the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is the Saviour of the world.