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Mod 1 NotesTheology:is an academic discipline that deals with understanding, elaborating, explaining, and defending the ‘creedal’ (or doctrinal) and ‘code’ (ethics) of a particular religion. Theology is practiced by those committed to the religious tradition, from the perspective of faith in the tradition. Theology draws upon authorities for the religious tradition which includes scriptures, important figures and leaders, an authoritative teaching body, etc. Religious Studies:is the academic study of religion as an objective phenomenon in the world. It assumes neither faith nor lack of it, but rather seeks an objective, ‘scientific’ study of religion. Religious study incorporates numerous academic disciplines such as history, linguistics, hermeneutics (the science of interpretation), sociology, psychology, anthropology, economics, philosophy, and others. There are many different things that we call ‘religion’; therefore, religious studies scholars debate the essential component of religion. “Human transformation in response to perceived ultimacy” – William A. Young“A system of symbols, myths, doctrines, ethics, and rituals for the expression of ultimate relevance” – Carmody 1The word ‘ultimate’ in these definitions expresses the idea that religion deals with what is most important (or supposed to be most important), compared to what is of ‘relative’ importance, namely anything that is not most important. Creed:(or doctrine, teaching) statements about the nature of ultimate reality, spirits, gods or ‘God’, the meaning and purpose of human life, the ultimate human problem and its solution, and the afterlife. This includes symbols and myths to express what cannot be fully captured withwords and concepts. Code:morals and ethics about individuals and group behavior, considering what ‘should’ be done in view of ultimate concerns (imperative, values). Cult:prescribed, formalized, ritual actions that dramatize religious doctrines, symbols, myths, and ethics. These are actions that could be everday (like sharing a meal), but are endowed with ultimate meaning and significance. Community:all of these aspects of religion are interrelated and interdependent, and are always learned, experienced, and lived in the context of a community. Even ‘personal’ and ‘private’ spirituality in the modern world is informed by key figures, texts and traditions, thus never fully avoiding the social element. In our modern, literate culture we tend to think of scriptures first when we think of religion. However, religion existed long before writing and written history. Once writing was invented – primarily for practical purposes like recording business transactions – the few educated and literate persons began to ‘write down’ the stories, myths, symbols, ethics, and rituals of their religious traditions.
These writings became endowed with sacred authority in the religious communities that produced them. Most major world religions have scriptures. There are, however, pre-literate