theology 4983

Alexandria and Origen developed the first
conceptions of systematic knowledge and of an
understanding of faith. From the thirteenth cen
tury a new prototype of theology as science of
faith was established. The West and East devel
oped differently, with western theology con
cerned with inner processes of systematization
and rationalization, while the East was more
liturgically and spiritually oriented. Further
more, philosophy and theology in the West were
separated, and challenged faith and science to
bring forth their inner connection. Thomas
Aquinas thought of God from the rational as
well as the revelational points of view. The
plurality of theologies was already apparent
in the Middle Ages. Thus, scholastic theology
with its tendencies to rationalize and intellectua
lize faith went hand in hand with forms of
theology with ties to Augustinian Neoplatonic
thinking or those which were more biblically
or affectively oriented, such as the devotio mod
erna. Nominalism in the late Middle Ages came
under the pressure of the medieval synthesis of
faith and reason until it fell apart during the
Reformation.
Modern western theology is marked by
schism and conflict with modern society and
culture. Reformation, due to the negation of
scholastic theology, fell back on the Bible and
on patristic theology, as well as trends of mysti
cism. For Luther, the object of theology was no
longer the unity of faith and reason, but the
culpable and forlorn individual and the justifica
tory or saving God (WA: 327). Modern trends
in Protestant theology are marked either by
the search for a connection with modern culture
(e.g., the theology of the Enlightenment and
liberal theology) or a stress on separation (e.g.,
Pietism and dialectical theology). At first, mod
ern Catholic theology was anti Protestant and
dominated by controversy. Neo Scholasticism,
which was established in the nineteenth cen
tury, combined the critical debate with Protes
tantism with a separation towards modern
culture and society. Approaches in liberal
Catholic theology like the Tubinger Schule
cannot convince or were clerically sentenced
during the controversy over modernism. The
struggle against modernism did not exclude
inner processes of modernization in Catholic
theology or in ecclesiastical structures.
Theology conceives of its modern form in
processes of inner differentiation which follow
the general development of society and science.
When it began in the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries it was still homogeneous in its inter
pretation of the Bible, reflection on faith, and
introduction to religious practices. The begin
nings of the separation of biblical and systematic
theology reach back as far as the Middle Ages.
In its function of thinking about faith, theo
logy consists of three basic structures: historical,
systematic, and practical science. Historical
theology gained its modern form through the
development of the historical critical method,
which leads to tensions with systematic theo
logy. Pastoral theology reacts to the modern
differentiation of religion and society and helps
establish practical theological disciplines which
specialize in the practical role of the church in
society. It is a specific part of modern theology
that it reflects and copies the plurality of scien
tific approaches and disciplines. Today, theo
logy signifies the connection between historical
disciplines (contemporary history and exegesis
of the Old and New Testament, church history),
systematic disciplines (philosophy, fundamental
theology, dogmatics, moral theology, social
ethics), and practical disciplines (pastoral theo
logy, liturgics, canon law, missionary science,
religious education). The unity within the plur
ality of theologies is nowadays mainly expressed
in the challenges it faces: the overcoming of
confessional separation, the dialogue between
religions, the variety of cultures, and the separa
tion of the world into the poor and the rich.
Theology is challenged to demonstrate the unity
of the Christian promise of salvation and the
culturality of Christian faith. It proves to be
most fruitful where it succeeds in interpre
ting faith as part of a sociopolitical and cul
tural sphere with a view to its capability for
experience and action. This is all the more clear
in outlines of contextual theology developed
across confessional boundaries, the best known
of which are feminist theology, the theology
of liberation, the theology of enculturation, and
the theology of religions. In the sciences, theo
logy nowadays appears to be an indispensable
science of the cultural memory and a chal
lenge to overcome the limitations of the mod
ern understanding of science as a system of