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AcademicGround >> Theology Degree?


7/5/08 1:17 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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Edited: 07/05/08 1:17 PM
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Of what does a theology degree make one an expert? I am not talking about a religious studies degree. Thanks!
7/7/08 6:38 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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No. I THINK a religious studies degree involves studying religion from a neutral perspective, while a theology degree entails studying religious questions from one perspective (typically, Christianity).

Is it fair to say that Christian theologists are experts at what Christianity says about ultimate truths and such?
8/4/08 5:00 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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Edited: 08/04/08 5:02 PM
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NPM - 

And I disagree with you saying a religious studies degree involves studying religion from a neutral perspective - objectivity is utterly impossible. Everyone has prejudices, predispositions, and presuppositions (like my alliteration?). No one on earth has ever been uninfluenced before they come to any discussion. Only an omniscient being can be purely objective and 'neutral.' If you think you're 'neutral' you're simply wrong (I am assuming you are not omniscient). You, like every other human being in history, are unable to think apart from your cultural/social/economi/etc/etc/etc experiences.

It's true that everyone enters academic study with some biases from their cultures, personal backgrounds, etc. But, of course, scientifically, we want people to strive to be detached and objective.

Does this seem fair to you?

Political science is interesting to someone if he wants to know about the academic study of politics.

Religious studies is interesting to someone if he wants to know about the academic study of the world's religions.

Christian theology is interesting to someone if he wants to know about the academic study of what the Bible says about God.

Also . . .

For a person to study political science, she should probably believe that politics exist.

For a person to engage in religious studies, she should probably believe that the world has religions.

For a person to study Christian theology, she should probably believe that a god exist and that the Bible can tell her something about it.  
8/5/08 6:55 AM
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BarkLikeADog
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...not really the forum for this nature of troll.

...not really a decent troll if you have to give away that it wasn't an innocent question just to keep the thread alive.

...not really a productive use of time no matter how you slice it.
8/6/08 6:32 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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BarkLikeADog - ...not really the forum for this nature of troll.

...not really a decent troll if you have to give away that it wasn't an innocent question just to keep the thread alive.

...not really a productive use of time no matter how you slice it.


I'm sorry if you didn't like the question, but I was being serious.
3/5/09 8:15 AM
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supercan
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Edited: 03/05/09 8:19 AM
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Hollywood Blonde - Of what does a theology degree make one an expert? I am not talking about a religious studies degree. Thanks!


I went to seminary and was an ordained minister for several years. In my opinion, a theology degree does not make one an 'expert' in anything, really. It may make one more thoroughly dogmatic in the views held by one particular religious group and/or highly knowledgeable in the belief system of other relgions, with whom they are at odds.

Due to the fact that spiritual concepts cannot be shown to be true or false in a lab, the study of God and spirituality (a.k.a. theology), is, in large part, subjective.

While there is historical and factual data to back up certain aspects of various religious beliefs, it is still difficult to 'prove' spiritual concepts, as you might be able to prove certain things that are able to be tried and tested by human hands.

All of that being said, faith is required to espouse any particular religious belief. Who is an expert in faith? The very concept of faith suggests a level of humility that says, "I don't know how this works, but I simply trust."

So, if one is an 'expert' in a particular religion, but eternity proves that a different religion was actually the 'correct' one, then clearly the former was no 'expert' at all.

An expert in mathematics is simply that - an expert. The laws of mathematics are eternal. They cannot change no matter one's color, culture, or religion. The laws are the same for everyone. As are the laws of nature, physics, and chemistry.

So, in answer to the question, I do not believe that one who obtains a degree in theology is really an 'expert' at all. It makes them someone that is highly knowledgeable and able to articulate theological concepts. That's my two cents.
5/1/09 1:51 AM
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thesleeper
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"For a person to study political science, she should probably believe that politics exist."

As a Phd student, I can tell you that there are more than a few Poli Sci tenured faculty who believe that politics does not exist, only structure exists or matters. They emphasize game theory, rational choice, and formal modeling.
10/4/09 12:51 PM
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ironmongoose
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The breadth or dogmatism built into the program varies from one school to another.

People who are really interested in theology generally have some obvious "perspective" about the key issues (just like any other area of study) and they shouldn't be faulted for this. But a good quality school should have a diverse faculty that cordially and openly disagrees with each other and defends or critiques the rationale behind every idea. You should be learning more about systems of thought than about dogma, much as a good philosophy prof will have his own certain views on ethics but should properly and systematically go through the different ethical frameworks throughout history, and the rationale of each.

Every field, even "synthetic", "instrumental" ones like engineering, has unresolved questions. (By synthetic, I mean that the field of study is something humans have created, not discovered; this often goes hand in hand with being "instrumental", as in the field is about means to ends rather than discovery of truth.) Let me use my own field of study as an example. I am a licensed psychologist, and believe STRONGLY, and based on good scientific evidence, that recovered childhood memories are rare and that genetic variables account for the majority of sexual preference. However, if I were to teach a college course, I would be responsible to present for the students' consideration the best academic articles advocating for recovered memories, and all the evidence for environmental factors influencing sexual preference (prenatal hormonal, family and life experience, etc.) in as evenhanded a way as I can. I'm not forbidden from mentioning my own beliefs.

I would have to guess that the theological schools that nonChristians are most likely to have heard of (because they show up in the news as advocating absurd positions on, say, Creationism) tend to be of poor quality. These are often ones that are named after one guy with an Anglo name, often one who`s had his own TV show. Say, Oral Roberts University, or Bob Jones University. Their intent is more to accurately promulgate the doctrines of a sectarian group, and to their credit, they don't pretend to be anything different. The existence of such institutions in a free society is inevitable, but I don't think they add anything positive to our world.

By contrast, a fairly good school (my girlfriend is doing her Masters there) is Regent College in Vancouver. They handpick influential intellectuals from all over the world from different denominations. and most courses involve polite debates among professors who hold vastly differing positions. Even there, a part of their teaching is based on refining the exegetical and hermeneutic techniques with respect to a "Holy Book" that the majority of the world doesn't think is valid whatsoever, so yeah, to some degree it`s still sectarian. Nonetheless, Regent draws in a lot of mature students who are intelligent professionals such as doctors, engineers, scientists, etc. and they inevitably find the scene very intellectually fulfilling.

So theology schools will run the gamut between telling what to think and teaching how to think.
10/4/09 12:53 PM
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ironmongoose
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ironmongoose - believe STRONGLY, and based on good scientific evidence, that recovered childhood memories are rare and that genetic variables account for the majority of sexual preference. However, if I were to teach a college course, I would be responsible to present for the students' consideration the best academic articles advocating for recovered memories, and all the evidence for environmental factors influencing sexual preference (prenatal hormonal, family and life experience, etc.) in as evenhanded a way as I can. I'm not forbidden from mentioning my own beliefs.


Point of clarification. If I were teaching on these topics, I wouldn't be presenting evidence for opposing views AT THE EXCLUSION of evidence that supports my own views. I would have to teach BOTH. I just realized that what I wrote was kind of confusing.
10/8/09 6:57 PM
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Hollywood Blonde
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thesleeper - "For a person to study political science, she should probably believe that politics exist."

As a Phd student, I can tell you that there are more than a few Poli Sci tenured faculty who believe that politics does not exist, only structure exists or matters. They emphasize game theory, rational choice, and formal modeling.


I know many argue that processes don't matter, but there are some who argue processes don't exist?

Regardless, I meant "politics" in the broad, Princeton's-terminology sort of way.
2/25/10 3:03 PM
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duckrabbit
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Theologians have been my best and by far the most intelligent teachers, almost all Jesuits. If you go to a good school, theology is a solid skill-building degree.
11/26/11 10:38 PM
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traneufcisback
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 Theology should be banned from all universities. I find it laughable that theologans think their degrees are comparable to physics or something.
Having a theology degree is like having a belief in Little Red Riding Hood, and then getting a degree in it. 
11/27/11 3:08 AM
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ironmongoose
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traneufcisback -  Theology should be banned from all universities. I find it laughable that theologans think their degrees are comparable to physics or something.

I think that theologians probably know that their degrees are in theology, and not "physics or something".

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