Religious Studies & Theology


Don’t be like Narcissus, who looked in a mirror and saw only a reflection of himself


Our theology courses help members of society to better understand their own and other religious traditions without being isolated from the ideas and viewpoints of others. Our theology courses are all taught from the perspective of the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Religious Studies 

Religious studies is rather different from theology in that we study religions from the viewpoint of human sciences like psychology, sociology and anthropology, rather than from the perspective of a particular religious tradition.

Lieven Boeve writes, We understand religious studies as the scientific study of the phenomenon of religion in all its diversity. Religious studies use the canonised philosophical and (sociological) scientific methods to reflect on the phenomenon of religion.
It could also be said that not only the material but also the formal object of study can nowadays be characterised by its diversity. This includes the study of (reaching) self- understanding within a religion, a religion’s so-called theological content. Today, the term religious studies concerns the study of world religions in particular. In that case, the object of study is an understanding a specific religion, or the way different religions relate, and this also incorporates diverse methodologies. This being said, to be involved in interreligious communication, and to reflect on this communication, e.g., can be performed from the perspective of both religious studies and theology.

This essay is a translation of “Verschil moet er zijn! Naar een productieve spanning tussen godgeleerdheid en godsdienstwetenschappen”, in Tijdschrift voor theologie 48 (2008) 3-14, which, in turn, is the adapted written text of a lecture given at a conference on this theme with Cardinal Danneels, held in Leuven on November 29, 2007.

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© Ealing Abbey, edited 10 December 2015