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Christian theology is the "theology of "Christian belief and practice.[1] Such study concentrates primarily upon the texts of the "Old Testament and of the "New Testament, as well as on "Christian tradition. Christian "theologians use biblical "exegesis, "rational analysis and argument. Theologians may undertake Christian theology in order:

or for a variety of other reasons.

"Systematic theology as a discipline of Christian theology formulates an orderly, rational and coherent account of Christian faith and beliefs. Systematic theology draws on the foundational "sacred texts of Christianity, while simultaneously investigating the development of Christian doctrine over the course of history, particularly through "philosophical evolution. Inherent to a "system of theological thought is the development of a method is developed: one which one can apply both broadly and particularly. Systematic theology will typically explore:

Christian theology has permeated much of "Western culture, especially in "pre-modern Europe.


Prolegomena: Scripture as the basis of theology[edit]

Biblical revelation[edit]

"Revelation is the revealing or disclosing, or making something obvious through active or passive communication with God, and can originate directly from "God, or through an agent, such as an "angel. One who has experienced such contact is often called a "prophet. Christianity considers the "Bible as divinely or "supernaturally revealed or inspired. Such revelation does not always require the presence of God or an angel. For instance, in the concept called of "interior locution by "Catholics, supernatural revelation can include just an inner voice heard by the recipient.

"Thomas Aquinas first described in two types of revelation in Christianity as "general revelation and "special revelation. General revelation occurs through observation of the created order. Such observations can logically lead to important conclusions, such as the existence of God and some of God's attributes. General revelation is also an element of "Christian apologetics. Certain specifics, such as the "Trinity and the "Incarnation, are revealed in the teachings in the Scriptures and can not otherwise be deduced except by special revelation.

Biblical inspiration[edit]

"Rembrandt's The Evangelist Matthew Inspired by an Angel.

"Christianity regards varied "collections of books known as the "Bible as authoritative and written by human authors under the inspiration of the "Holy Spirit. Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology concerned with the "divine origin of the "Bible and what the Bible teaches about itself. Different groups understand the meaning and details of inspiration in different ways. Most such as "Evangelicals and "Catholics, see the Bible as a truly human product whose creation was superintended by the "Holy Spirit, preserving the authors' works from error without eliminating their specific concerns, situation, or style. This divine involvement, they say, allowed the biblical writer to reveal God's own message to the immediate recipients of the writings and to those who would come later, communicating God's message without corrupting it.

In many passages of the Bible it claims divine inspiration of itself. Besides the direct accounts of written revelation, such as Moses receiving the "Ten Commandments, the "prophets of the Old Testament frequently claimed that their message was divine with the formula "Thus says the LORD" or "the word of LORD came to me...". In the New Testament, "Jesus treats the Old Testament as authoritative and says it "cannot be broken" in John 10:34–36. "2 Peter 2 Pet 1:20–21 says that "no prophecy of Scripture ... was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit" That epistle also claims divine "authority for the "Apostles in verse 3:2 and includes Paul's letters as being counted with the "Scriptures in verse 3:16.

"Christians who receive the Bible as authoritative generally think that the Bible is "breathed out by "God". In English, "2 Timothy 3.16–17 reads: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correction and training in righteousness". The unusual word theopneustos is rendered in some modern English translations as "God-breathed" ("NIV) or "breathed out by God" ("ESV) to avoid the word inspiration altogether, since its "connotation, unlike its Latin root, leans toward "breathing in instead of "breathing out.

Some["who?] argue that biblical inspiration can be corroborated by examining the weight of the Bible's "moral teaching and its "prophecies about the future and their fulfillment. Corroboration of this sort is a form of "Christian apologetics. Others maintain that the authority of the Church and its counsels should carry more or less weight in formulating the doctrine of inspiration.

Biblical authority[edit]

"Christianity regards the "collections of books known as the "Bible as authoritative and written by human authors under the inspiration of the "Holy Spirit. Some Christians believe that the Bible is "inerrant (totally without error and free from contradiction, including the historical and scientific parts)[7] or "infallible (inerrant on issues of faith and practice but not necessarily history or science).[8][9]

In addition, for some Christians, it may be inferred that the Bible cannot both refer to itself as being divinely inspired and also be errant or fallible. For if the Bible were divinely inspired, then the source of inspiration being divine, would not be subject to fallibility or error in that which is produced. For them, the doctrines of the divine inspiration, infallibility, and inerrancy, are inseparably tied together. The idea of biblical integrity is a further concept of infallibility, by suggesting that current biblical text is complete and without error, and that the integrity of biblical text has never been corrupted or degraded.[7] Historians note, or claim, that the doctrine of the Bible's infallibility was adopted hundreds of years after those books were written.

Biblical canon[edit]

The Protestant Old Testament is synonymous with the "Hebrew Scriptures" included in the "Jewish canon, but not the Catholic Old Testament, which contains additional texts. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon. Roman Catholic and Eastern Christians recognize 73 books as canonical, with 46 books for the Old Testament 7 more than Protestants.

The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the "Septuagint, a Greek translation with a few books in Greek originally. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the 4th century a series of "synods, most notably at the "Synod of Hippo in AD 393, produced a list of texts equal to the 46 book canon of the Old Testament that Catholics use today (and the 27-book canon of the New Testament that all use). A definitive list did not come from any "early Ecumenical Council.[10] Also, c. 400, "Jerome produced a "definitive Latin edition of the Bible, the contents of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time.

During the "Protestant Reformation, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists of the Old Testament. The texts that are present in the Septuagint, but not included in the Jewish canon, fell out of favor and, in time, they would come to be removed from Protestant canons. These texts are referred to as "Deuterocanonical books in Catholic Bibles, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as the "Apocrypha. The "New Testament apocrypha" has a very different meaning. It is a poorly defined group of early writings in which, generally, none ever achieved acceptance by any widespread group.

Theology proper: God[edit]

In "Christianity, God is the "creator and preserver of the universe. God is the "sole "ultimate power in the universe, but is distinct from it. The "Bible never speaks of God as impersonal. Instead, it refers to him in "personal terms– who speaks, sees, hears, acts, and loves. God is understood to have a "will and personality and is an "all powerful, "divine and "benevolent being. He is represented in "Scripture as being primarily concerned with people and their salvation.[11]

Attributes of God[edit]


Many "Reformed theologians distinguish between the communicable attributes (those that human beings can also have) and the incommunicable attributes (those which belong to God alone).[12] "Donald Macleod, however, argues that "All the suggested classifications are artificial and misleading".[13]

Many of these attributes are "negative", meaning that they only say "what God is not. For example, saying he is immutable is saying that he does not change.


Some attributes ascribed to God in Christian theology[14] are:


Christ in Gethsemane, "Heinrich Hofmann, 1890

Some Christians believe that the God worshiped by the Hebrew people of the pre-Christian era had always revealed himself as he did through "Jesus; but that this was never obvious until Jesus was born (see "John 1). Also, though the "Angel of the Lord spoke to the Patriarchs, revealing God to them, some believe it has always been only through the "Spirit of God granting them understanding, that men have been able to later perceive that they had been visited by God himself.

This belief gradually developed into the modern formulation of the "Trinity, which is the doctrine that God is a single entity ("Yahweh), but that there is a trinity in God's single being, the meaning of which has always been debated. This mysterious "Trinity" has been described as "hypostases in the "Greek language ("subsistences in "Latin), and "persons" in English. Nonetheless, Christians stress that they only believe in one God.

Most Christian churches teach the Trinity, as opposed to Unitarian monotheistic beliefs. Historically, most Christian churches have taught that the nature of God is a "mystery, something that must be revealed by "special revelation rather than deduced through "general revelation.

Christian orthodox traditions (Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant) follow this idea, which was codified in 381 and reached its full development through the work of the "Cappadocian Fathers. They consider God to be a triune entity, called the Trinity, comprising the three "Persons"; "God the Father, "God the Son, and "God the Holy Spirit, described as being "of the same substance" ("ὁμοούσιος). The true nature of an infinite God, however, is commonly described as beyond definition, and the word 'person' is an imperfect expression of the idea.

Some critics contend that because of the adoption of a tripartite conception of deity, Christianity is actually a form of "tritheism or "polytheism. This concept dates from "Arian teachings which claimed that Jesus, having appeared later in the Bible than his Father, had to be a secondary, lesser, and therefore distinct god. For "Jews and "Muslims, the idea of God as a trinity is "heretical– it is considered akin to "polytheism. Christians overwhelmingly assert that monotheism is central to the Christian faith, as the very "Nicene Creed (among others) which gives the orthodox Christian definition of the Trinity does begin with: "I believe in one God".

In the 3rd century, "Tertullian claimed that God exists as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—the three personae of one and the same substance.[20] To trinitarian Christians God the Father is not at all a separate god from God the Son (of whom "Jesus is the incarnation) and the Holy Spirit, the other "hypostases (Persons) of the "Christian Godhead.[20] According to the Nicene Creed, the Son (Jesus Christ) is "eternally begotten of the Father", indicating that their divine Father-Son relationship is not tied to an event within time or human history.

In "Christianity, the "doctrine of the Trinity states that God is one being who exists, simultaneously and "eternally, as a "mutual indwelling of three Persons: the Father, the Son (incarnate as Jesus), and the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost). Since earliest Christianity, one's salvation has been very closely related to the concept of a triune God, although the Trinitarian doctrine was not formalized until the 4th century. At that time, the "Emperor Constantine convoked the "First Council of Nicaea, to which all bishops of the empire were invited to attend. "Pope Sylvester I did not attend but sent his "legate. The council, among other things, decreed the original Nicene Creed.


"Holy Trinity" from the Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow, by "Andrei Rublev, c. 1400, but more properly known as the "Hospitality of Abraham." The three angels "symbolize the Trinity.

For most Christians, beliefs about God are enshrined in the doctrine of "Trinitarianism, which holds that the three persons of God together form a single God. The Trinitarian view emphasizes that God has a will, and that "God the Son has two wills, divine and human, though these are never in conflict (see "Hypostatic union). However, this point is disputed by Oriental Orthodox Christians, who hold that God the Son has only one will of unified divinity and humanity (see "Miaphysitism).

The Christian doctrine of the Trinity teaches the unity of "Father, "Son, and "Holy Spirit as three persons in "one Godhead.[21] The doctrine states that