Guide to Resources in Theology
As the world’s largest religion, it is important to understand the beliefs and practices of Christian theology. This is no easy task, for while all Christians are united on certain basic beliefs, there are differences in theology among the various different Christian denominations. Knowing where to go to find sound information on Christian theology is essential for rightly understanding Christian teaching
Often called a “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and more radical Protestantism, the Anglican Church is a Protestant denomination whose constituent churches are in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. One of the world’s largest Christian denominations, the Anglican Church is active in some form in all of the lands formerly controlled by the British Empire and elsewhere.
With over one billion adherents, Roman Catholicism is such an important religion that it even has official diplomatic representation at the United Nations. Made up of those churches who submit to the authority of the Pope or the Bishop of Rome, Roman Catholic teaching is influential in the lives of people and societies all over the world.
All of the forms of Latin or Western Christianity (Protestants and Roman Catholics) do theology in similar ways. The Eastern or Greek church, however, sometimes seems to speak an almost entirely different theological language than the West. A collection of self-governing churches in communion with the Patriarch of Constantinople, Eastern Orthodoxy is the second largest branch of Christianity in the world today.
Martin Luther’s emphasis on the apostle Paul’s teaching on justification by faith alone resulted in the Protestant movement, which is today made up of several different constituent Protestant denominations. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, Pentecostals, and more are all considered Protestants.
Evangelicalism is a movement, comprised mostly of Protestant Christians, that emphasizes the necessity of being “born again” and having a personal relationship with Jesus. Their political influence in the United States and worldwide missionary effort make them a group whose thinking demands to be understood.
Seeing the division that presently exists in the church, many Christians have sought to reunite the various branches of Christianity. The ecumenical movement is devoted to such unity, and in its most extreme forms it also advocates unity with other religions.
Much of Christian theology is based on the Bible and other texts written hundreds and even thousands of years ago. Textual criticism seeks to establish the original text of these works from the hundreds of copies that are now extant in the world. Fortunately, there are more and more manuscript study resources online each year.
The Internet has enabled people all over the world to have access to theological texts that they might not otherwise enjoy. A growing collection of Christian theological primary sources now exists online, and more are on their way.
There are various other Christian ministries, resource sites, and other tools on the Internet that do not fit neatly into any of the above categories. This is just a small representation of the scores of Christian theology-based websites that do not fit into the above groups perfectly.
All these tools make it easier than ever to understand Christian theology. Readers who use them will benefit from their study, whether they are pursuing the information so they can teach it to others or just because they have a personal interest in it.