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What are the Different Types Of Theology?

Religious groups can form around a particular person such as Martin Luther, for example.
Ideas regarding the nature of Jesus vary by religion.
Opinions on the Eucharist may be used to divide Christian theologies.
Calvinism, created by John Calvin, is a specific type of Christian theology.
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  • Written By: Mark Wollacott
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2014
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There are many different types of theology. Theologies work on a number of different levels as theology is the study of the nature of God or a god. First, types of theology can be divided by religion; second they can be divided by nation, cult or sect; third they can be divided by individual theology such as Calvinism or Lutheranism; and fourth, they can be divided by specific area of theological thought such as what happens during Eucharist.

Theology comes from the Greek words meaning ‘God’ and ‘to reason.’ It is, in essence, the study of God and of religion. These kinds of studies are usually linked to academics and academic institutions, but they do not have to be. In the past, such studies have been fraught with danger if the theologian expressed ideas contrary to the religious power in his or her vicinity. Theologies that went against the Catholic Church were called heresies, and many are difficult to study study, as documents have been destroyed.

Any study of the types of theology should not be limited to just Christianity, although it dominates English and European-American texts. Any religion can have a theology, if the nature of God or the Gods are discussed in depth in academic circles. There are vibrant histories of theological study in Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam, for example.

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Group or sects can form around the theology of one man or woman, as seen with the Early Modern Era theologies of Martin Luther, Jean Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. As Christianity developed, there were whole nations or groups of people who belonged to different sects. For example, there were the theologies of the Arians and the Manicheans. Arianism was adopted by whole groups such as the Ostragoths and the Vandals.

Types of theology concerning individuals demonstrate a range of beliefs held by one person, as they shape a particular philosophy and set of beliefs. One of the defining conflicts between individual theologians occurred in the 4th and 5th centuries when Pelagius and Augustine of Hippo argued over the nature of sin. Augustine believed that humans were born naturally sinful and the saved were predestined by God; thus he created the theology of original sin. Pelagius believed that babies were not born with sin, but were capable of becoming sinful and he believed they could work their way to heaven through good deeds.

There are also many examples of types of theology within a religion or within an aspect of it that did not lead to the creation of a new church or sect. For example, the study of each of the Gospels can lead to the formation of a new theology. There is, therefore, the theology of Paul, the theology of Mark and so on.

Much writing has been done on types of theology concerning specific aspects of God and of belief. Such theological discussion has often caused fighting, excommunications and bloodshed. One of the great discussions is the nature of the Holy Trinity: God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost. The Catholic Church made the indivisible, effectively the same being, whereas Arianism believed that God created Christ and made him a separate being.

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