What is the definition of "Theologian"

Discussion in 'Free-For-All Archives' started by ChurchBoy, Aug 11, 2004.

  1. ChurchBoy

    ChurchBoy
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    I read a lot of posts where people say so-and-so is not a theologian (ex: James Dobson). What do you consider a theologian to be?
     
  2. donnA

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    Theology is the study of God, the nature of God. Therefore a theologian is one who studies the nature of God.
    This is not the regular day to day study we do as christians, but much more. And maybe someone else could help with the exacts.
     
  3. StefanM

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    I do not consider someone a theologian unless he or she has a terminal doctoral degree in the field of religion.
     
  4. Charles Meadows

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    "Theology" is my favorite hobby. I'd define theology as the academic study of God and His word to man. I consider it a hobby or an interest because I think the academic study is distinct from man's relationship with God - which we cannot really completely ever know.
     
  5. Paul of Eugene

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    Aren't we all "theologians" of varying abilities?
     
  6. HisMercy

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    donnA and StefanM,

    Would you consider the Scribes and Pharisees theologians?
     
  7. NateT

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    I think Donna is right, someone who studies God. Just as a biologist is someone who studies biology. I don't think it would have to be a professional. I worked with a guy we might call an amature "astronomist"

    I think the Pharisees were theologians, although they did an incredibly poor job at it. It's kind of like "Leader" -- Satan is a leader, he get's people to follow him everyday, but he's not a good leader.
     
  8. SpiritualMadMan

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    From the New American Heritage Dictionary
    Not neccesarily degreed...

    And, I have to agree that, just because one is 'studied' in Theology, and by definition a Theologion, doesn't mean they are 'Spiritual' , 'God-Knowing', or a 'correct' authority.
     
  9. HisMercy

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    NateT,

    Although you believe the Pharisees were theologians they didn't recognize Jesus Christ. Nothing is new under the sun. Just because one may be considered a "theologian," it doesn't make one an expert on God. I don't believe any of the prophets or disciples would be considered theologians by today's definition.
     
  10. NateT

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    HisMercy - that is true they didn't recognize Messiah, that's what makes them bad theologians - they studied and studied but didn't get it
     
  11. StefanM

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    Scribes and Pharisees would have been the ancient equivalent of the theologians today. Theologian as a term does not imply correct theology. For example: Harvard Divinity School has many theologians in its faculty, but very few of them would I consider to hold acceptable theological beliefs. To me, theologian is just someone who has seriously pursued the field of theology in an academic setting.

    My original definition was perhaps a bit too restrictive. I could accept certain individuals as theologians if they held Master's degrees in religion such as an M.A., S.T.M., or Th.M. I would not automatically include M.Div. because it is a degree preparing for ministry primarily, not solely for academia, as the other degrees are.

    Of course the easiest definition would be someone who makes original contributions in research in the academic theological community. I initially said those with terminal doctorates (Th.D, Ph.D) because these are the individuals who contribute the vast majority of research.
     
  12. SpiritualMadMan

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    StefanM,

    Are you saying that you only accept formal academic training?

    If that is so then, Paul's years on the back side of the dessert in the Holy Spirit's School of Theology didn't and don't count?

    And, by inference, no one can have anything valid to say about God or Jesus authoritatively unless they are degreed?

    Am I properly understanding what you've said?
     
  13. HisMercy

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    StefanM,

    M.A.'s, S.T.M.'s, Th.M's & Ph.D's are fine when it comes to our physical/social lives but when it comes to our spiritual lives, these are irrelevant. They are man's way not God's way.
     
  14. Pete

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    "In the Church of Jesus Christ there can and should be no non-theologians." - Karl Barth

    "Every Christian is a theologian. We are always engaged in the activity of learning about the things of God. We are not all theologians in the professional or academic sense, but theologians we are, for better or for worse. The "for worse" is no small matter. Second Peter warns that heresies are destructive to the people of God and are blasphemies committed against God." – R.C. Sproul
     
  15. Charles Meadows

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    I'd avoid the pitfall of bashing the advanced degrees. A PhD doesn't make one spiritually knowledgeable - but it doesn't make him less so.

    Those who eschew PhDs as "piled higher and deeper" are the ones who are UNeducated and insecure about it.

    I would certainly agree though that a person's closeness to God has nothing to do with his/her education level. That being said there are aspects of biblical study which involve academic disciplines. Languages, archeology, and church history are legitimate fields of study. A liberal Harvard PhD ( as most of the ones from Harvard are) still would likely know more about Greek syntax than Pastor Fred from Joe Blo bible college, whether or not the PhD is a faithful believer.
     
  16. SpiritualMadMan

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    Charles, I agree with you that advanced degrees have value...

    And, I have worked for and with any number of really good ones...

    But, *they* were the ones that told me the 'true' meaning of a PhD/ [​IMG]

    Knowing more about a subject without Spiritual Life, though is less than useless...

    Especially when it comes to Biblical Studies, Greek and Hebrew... Because they tend to get an all-knowing false sense of security that occults the knowledge of God...

    Yes, I'll prefer a well educated Spirit-Filled Born-Again Pastor any day...

    But, *if* I have to make a choice between a 'dead' degreed person and a Spirit-Filled unschooled Fisherman... Give me the Fisherman.

    And, IMHO, part of today's problem with the church is that too many 'dead' people with degrees are filling our pulpits...

    And, that is a 'sickness' that crosses all denominational boundries...

    FWIW (For What It's Worth.)
     

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