Christian theology is the enterprise which seeks to construct a coherent system of Christian belief and practice. This is based primarily upon the texts of the Old Testament and the New Testament as well as the historic traditions of Christians. Christian theologians use biblical exegesis, rational analysis, and argument to clarify, examine, understand, explicate, critique, defend or promote Christianity. Theology might be undertaken to help the theologian better understand Christian tenets, make comparisons between Christianity and other traditions, defend Christianity against objections and criticism, facilitate reforms in the Christian church, assist in the propagation of Christianity, draw on the resources of the Christian tradition to address some present situation or need, or for a variety of other reasons.
Systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that formulates an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the 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 that a method is developed, one which can be applied both broadly and particularly. Systematic theology will typically explore God (theology proper), the attributes of God, the Trinity for trinitarian Christians, revelation, biblical hermeneutics, the creation, divine providence, theodicy, anthropology, hamartiology, Christology, pneumatology, soteriology, ecclesiology, missiology, spirituality and mysticism, sacramental theology, eschatology, moral theology, the afterlife, and the Christian understanding of other religious systems and philosophies.
Eastern Orthodox Christian theology is the theology particular to the Eastern Orthodox Church. It is characterized by monotheistic Trinitarianism, belief in the Incarnation of the Logos (Son of God), a balancing of cataphatic theology with apophatic theology, a hermeneutic defined by Sacred Tradition, a concrete ecclesiology, a robust theology of the person, and a therapeutic soteriology.
This is an article for the general view of the theological teaching. For the teaching specific to the Eastern Orthodox church please refer to the Essence–Energies distinction (Eastern Orthodox theology) article. A real distinction between the essence (ousia) and the energies (energeia) of God is a central principle of Eastern Orthodox theology. Eastern Orthodox theology regards this distinction as more than a mere conceptual distinction. This doctrine is most closely identified with Gregory Palamas, who formulated it as part of his defense of the practice of Hesychasm against the charge of heresy brought by Barlaam of Calabria. These teachings of Palamas were made into dogma in the Eastern Orthodox church by the Hesychast councils.
Historically, Western Christianity has tended to reject the essence-energies distinction as real in the case of God, characterizing the view as a heretical introduction of an unacceptable division in the Trinity and suggestive of polytheism. Further, the associated practice of hesychasm used to achieve theosis was characterized as "magic". More recently, some Roman Catholic thinkers have taken a positive view of Palamas's teachings, including how he understood the essence-energies distinction, arguing that it does not represent an insurmountable theological division between Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.
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