When you complete this module, you should be able to:Explain the problems in defining “religion.”Describe some components of “religion” in general.Discuss the problem of the universal salvific will of God in Christianity on the one hand, and the particularity of Christian claims regarding Jesus’ uniqueness on the other.Summarize the position of Vatican II on world religions & religious freedom.Explain why ecumenism is so important today.Religious Studies Vs TheologyTheologyis an academic discipline that deals with understanding, elaborating, explaining, and defending the “creedal” (or doctrinal) and “code” (ethics) of a particular religion. This willbe explained in further detail later in the course. 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 Studiesis 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.This course takes a “Religious Studies” approach to learning about world religions. One canlearn the origins, life, and work of Muhammad, history and development of the Qur’an, beliefs, law, ethics, practices, rituals, and symbols of Islam, for instance, without having any religious commitment to Islam as a religion or being a Muslim.Religion Defined What is religion? There many different things that we call “religion”; therefore, religious studies scholars debate the essential components of religion.Two of the many proposed working definitions of religion are:“Human transformation in response to perceived ultimacy.”- William A. Young“A system of symbols, myths, doctrines, ethics, and rituals for theexpression of ultimate relevance” (Carmody 1).The 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.