Epistemology

Epistemology – a big word referring to the study of knowledge itself.

This isn’t as cut and dry to define as some areas of study as it is effectively a branch of philosophy but still an important one for those studying the Scriptures.

“Theory of knowledge” is another common definition of this area of study.

From etymonline:

“1856, coined by Scottish philosopher James F. Ferrier (1808-1864) from Greek episteme “knowledge, acquaintance with (something), skill, experience,” from Ionic Greek epistasthai “know how to do, understand,” literally “overstand,” from epi “over, near” (see epi-) + histasthai “to stand,” from PIE root *sta- “to stand, make or be firm.” The scientific (as opposed to philosophical) study of the roots and paths of knowledge is epistemics (1969). Related: Epistemological; epistemologically.”


Discussion/Explanation

Ultimately, it is an area of study focused on truth and our ability to know what that truth is. Knowledge of the truth inevitably involves our ability to understand that truth. As finite (limited) beings, we have to seriously consider our ability to know anything in particular and this area of study is focused on understanding our ability to know as well as justify belief. This includes our ability to decipher between truth and fiction, fact and opinion.

Three famous questions within this area of study include:

Is it possible to have knowledge at all?

Does reason provide us with knowledge of the world independently of experience?

Does our knowledge represent reality as it really is?

This last one is the one I find myself pondering the most. Why? As I believe God is truth, I often wonder whether my understanding of His truth is accurate as to who God is and the nature of the universe He created. Do I truly understand it as God meant it or for that matter how He sees it?

Anyway, there are five (that I’m aware of) main approaches or perspectives on knowledge within epistemology which include:

1. Skepticism

2. Rationalism

3. Empiricism

4. Constructivism

5. Relativism

I can think of examples of each of these and their impacts on US culture alone and I’m sure there are others. Even so, I’ll end this introduction here. I recommend a closer look at this study as you will probably find your thoughts have wandered into this philosophical realm of thinking at some point or another. Of particular note is what it means for all those who claim to believe in the one God of the Bible and our knowledge of Him.

 

Theology – part 1

Theology is commonly defined as the study of God.

From etymonline.com:

[mid-14c., “the science of religion, study of God and his relationship to humanity,” from Old French theologie “philosophical study of Christian doctrine; Scripture” (14c.), from Latin theologia, from Greek theologia “an account of the gods,” from theologos “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos “god” (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -logos “treating of” (see -logy). Meaning “a particular system of theology” is from 1660s.] https://www.etymonline.com/word/theology

Why do we (particularly as Christians) study God?

  1. We study Him to approve ourselves to God (2 Timothy 2:15). This includes coming to know more about God. This action reflects a valuing of Him in our lives and is another way we bring God glory.
  2. We study God to stand for our faith. We cannot live our faith or even point others to it without first studying to understand Him and the basis of our faith more. We study to become more transformed into the likeness of His son, Jesus Christ.
  3. We study for the ultimate reason – to point others to God. This is all the more clear when reading in the Gospels, the Great Commission. (Matthew 28:16-20) It is God’s intent to spread His truth to those who would follow Him.

Some writers of the faith may add more to this list, but to me, this is a good start as many of the things we will be looking at going forward (including the follow-up to this post) will effectively be looking at subcategories within the realm of theology.

(Click here to continue to part 2)


Note: this is the first in a series – “-ologies & Key Terms“. The first post was broken into two pieces – the first laying the groundwork and the next digging a little deeper into a key question regarding division.

In addition:  I covet your prayers as I continue forward with this blog and other ministry opportunities. Thank you!