This is about believing. It looks at where beliefs come from, how they have changed over time, how they are applied differently in different contexts and how they relate to each other.
In the context of RE, we are currently defining ‘theology’ as: Conversations about the key ideas or concepts in religions and belief systems which have
taken place throughout human history and continue to take place today within and beyond communities of faith…conversations about foundational beliefs within religions and worldviews; examining the key ideas or concepts in religions and belief systems.
The word ‘theology’ literally means ‘study of God’; it is inevitable that the study of religions and beliefs will include some approach to the concept of ‘God’ or ‘Ultimate Reality’. However, religions and beliefs are not limited to these concepts.
Theology (insofar as it relates to an RE curriculum) considers:
- The origins of key beliefs in a tradition; looking through the lens of theology would enable pupils to consider the sources of beliefs, such as sacred texts, tradition, reason and experience; the reliability and authority of sources may also be debated.
- The ways in which beliefs have developed over time; looking through the lens of theology would help pupils understanding how key beliefs, concepts and ideas have changed through history, or have emerged at different points in response to societal events. It acknowledges that theology takes place within, between and beyond communities of faith.
- The ways in which beliefs relate to each other; looking through the lens of theology would help pupils make connections between different beliefs, concepts and ideas both within and between religions and belief systems/worldviews.
- The ways in which they shape the way believers see the world and each other; looking through the lens of theology would enable pupils to consider how theology impacts on the way believers see the world and, as a result, how they live their lives.
Theology involves investigating key texts and traditions within different religions and belief systems, exploring the ways in which they have been used as authoritative for believers and the ways in which they have been challenged, interpreted and disregarded over time.
It considers the use of reason in assessing the key ideas of a religion or belief system (thus crossing over with philosophy in places), as well as exploring the significance of experience on the claims made by religious and non-religious people.
Theology enables children and young people to grapple with questions that have been raised by religions and beliefs over the centuries. Thus, we argue that everyone can have something to say about these ideas and concepts and that all can be theologians.