Saturday, November 15, 2008

Religon or Theology - Same Thing?

Started reading R. C. Sproul's What is Reformed Theology?, and came across some insightful words in the introduction regarding our tendency to consider theology and religion as interchangeable terms. Sproul says this:

...there is a profound difference between the study of theology and the study of religion. Historically the study of religion has been subsumed under the headings of anthropology, sociology or even psychology. The academic investigation of religion has sought to be grounded in a scientific-empirical method. The reason for this is quite simple. Human activity is part of the phenomenal world. It is activity that is visible, subject to empirical analysis. Psychology may not be as concrete as biology, but human behavior in accordance with beliefs, urges, opinions and so forth can be studied in accordance with the scientific method.

To state it more simply, the study of religion is chiefly the study of a certain kind of human behavior, be it under the rubric of anthropology, sociology or psychology. The study of theology, on the other hand, is the study of God. Religion is anthropocentric; theology is theocentric. The difference between religion and theology is the difference between God and man - hardly a small difference.

Again, it is a difference of subject matter. The subject matter of theology proper is God; the subject matter of religion is man.

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