Religion and Theology
Religion is a set of beliefs, views and cultural systems that justify human existence and seek to give purpose to life. Religion is also defined as the worship and devotion to a supernatural being. Various religions provide followers of the religions with beliefs that explain the origin of life, for example, Christianity explains God that God created everything in the universe including man. There is an estimated 4,200 religions in the world. Religion lays down a set of rules and regulations that govern the lives of the followers of the religions. Each religion has its distinct set of religious beliefs and customs although similarities can be found in certain aspects of different religions. Religion is founded on faith as there is little or incomplete evidence to support the truthfulness of beliefs and views that are propagated by different religions. Followers are required to have blinding faith in the beliefs of the religion they follow. Theology is defined as “the study of God.” Theology seeks to understand God and his teachings so as to worship and glorify Him through love and obedience. Theology aims at understanding what God expects of us. This paper will entail a close study on religion and theology. It will also focus on the difference and relationship existing between religion and theology.
The roots of religion can be traced back to as early as 2500BC. The origin of religion is based on three religious systems. One of the systems is the polytheistic system that entailed the worship of many gods. Polytheism originated with Hinduism around 2500BC. Hinduism is one of the earliest and most widely spread religions in the world. Polytheism spread to other ancient cultures in Egypt, Rome and Greece. Religion further evolved with the development of the second religious system referred to as Pantheism. Pantheism was based on the belief that God exists everywhere, and the universe itself is divine. Pantheism was popular in African and American Indian cultures. The last religious system is Monotheism that is basedin the belief in one God. Monotheism is the foundation of Christian and Muslim religions. Monotheism began in Christianity around 2000BC in Israel. Since the history of man, religion has been an integral part in man’s life despite facing threats of extinction throughout history.
Religion has made a significant contribution towards different cultures across the world. The way people live had been controlled through religion, for example, the way individuals and communities in general behave through the coming together of political and social values. People tend to adapt to a culture that encompasses their individual beliefs and reflect the needs of their soul.
On the other hand, religion has also played a very significant role in terms of gender. It states the differences between men and women and it dictates what they should do and what they should refrain from doing in the society. For example, circumcision of males in the society has been pushed through religion. Circumcision signifies the transition of the male child from a boy into a man and thus more is expected from him in terms of carrying out responsibilities.
Gender inequality is also experienced in religion whereby women are looked down upon through the religious perspective. Women are expected to sit back and let the men do all the important roles while women are expected to handle the trifling matters that have least or no importance at all. Violence against women is propagated through religious factions and are expected to follow everything the man decides to the latter. Thisshows a negative aspect when it comes to religion.
Social order is also incorporated under religion as it offers guidance and advice on what is wrong and what is right. Social order ensures that people can tolerate other people who hold onto different beliefs. A good example is that life is considered precious in religious circles laying the important role that religion plays. Social order is important in ensuring that people get along just fine without conflicts people can accommodate and tolerate other people.
Wars have also been propagated through religion. The Israel-Palestine war has been waged through religion leading to significant losses in lives and resources. Religious wars are a result of followers and believers of different religions conflicting due to differences. People go to the extent of giving themselves forth for religious purposes in order to defend that which they hold onto. People tend to denounce easily what other people hold to be true, and this leads to friction between different religions that may spill over to major wars.
The identity that people pick from religion differs, and they see the rest as not their own beating the moral standard set. These wars contradict with what is entailed in religion such as the importance of life. This shows a significant role that is played by religion and is used in a bad light. The Holocaust saw Jews oppressed through being placed in concentration camps where people were mistreated and killed for simply believing in something different that was correct. Such events clearly show that religion can be used to achieve the wrong things in society.
Religion is also used to show discontent within different religious circles. Revolts have been caused through unity in a specific fact. A good example is the Arab Spring that saw the rise of revolts organized under the Islam nations. The Arab Spring was used to revolt against oppression and bad leadership within the countries involved. This was a significant step showing that the religion can be used for a greater purpose for the improvement of the society we live in if used for the greater good. Political and social change can be realized through such revolts and change the course of a society for the long term.
Fragmentation is also realized when it comes to matters thereligion. People feel oppressed under different groups, and this even makes it worse since they cannot relate with others with different beliefs but are facing the same plight. Fragmentation in society may it be through class, religion and ethnic makes it difficult to bring the society together as a whole as people feel left out of a system they have placed their trust in.
Theology is related to religion in the sense that theology analyzes and establishes the truths and beliefs already laid down in religion. Theology is also related to religion since theology is defined as “the study of God” and religions are founded on the existence of a supernatural being. Although the religion and theology are closely-related the two are quite different, and there are a few differences between the two. Religion is based on a collection of beliefs and the faith of its followers. Religions preach the existence of a supernatural being whose proof of theexistence cannot be asserted. Followers of religion are, therefore, required to have blinding faith to believe God or any other supernatural being exists. On the other hand, theology is the entails the study of the theistic belief that God exists. It is therefore logic that the religion was established before theology as theology is based on the study of God. Religious beliefs were established initially for the subject of theology to be developed. One of the differences between religion and theology is in relation to rational analysis. Theology entails the rationalanalysis of religious faiths and beliefs. Theology seeks to establish concepts and truths about of God and ascertain his mighty supernatural powers. Religion in general does not deal or involve any sort of rational analysis to clarify and understand religious beliefs. While theology involves seeking a better understanding of God, Religion is less complex as followers of religion are only required to acknowledge the existence of God and commit their lives to the worship of God.
Another difference between religion and theology is thatthe theology works with the idea of establishing proofs and rationally analyzing religious truths that have already been founded by religious leaders. Religion entails having unwavering faith in religious truths and beliefs founded by religious leaders. Another significant difference between theology and religion is that the region is concerned with the manner and customs adopted by the society in practicing any particular belief or faith. Theology is not concerned with the customs adopted by the society, but it is only concerned with examining and analyzing the principles of a religion.
Theology is an integral part of the society, and it is important for validating religious truths and beliefs. Theologyprovides a deeper understanding of the Bible. It analyses the texts in the Bible and tells us what intended meaning of the different texts in the Bible. Theology also provides spiritual enlightenment to the person’s studying theology which is a vital part in religion. Theology also helps individuals to articulate their personal experiences to God. Individuals can gain knowledge on how God manifests himself in various situations. In the absence of theology, individuals might fail to notice the ways in which God manifests himself to us. Theology also brings the practicality in religion since it is deals with the practical aspect of religious truths and beliefs rather than speculation.
In conclusion, theology acts as a complementary part inreligion. Theology is an integral part in religion to analyze and rationalize the established religious truths and beliefs. Both religion and theology play a vital role in the society and are important in the community.
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