Difference between Philosophy and Theology
Times change and everyday people are becoming more different than before but, still, a lot of them try to seek for many concerning things beyond the area of well-known and common knowledge. At first sight, everyone is almost sure in his/her ability to comprehend such notions as “philosophy” and “theology”. Nevertheless, it is mistaken to think about their easy bases. In addition, there are millions of people who are used to unite these concepts or, even, consider them the same in the most understandable fields of human existence. So, this letter will be a good proof of their vivid difference. It aims to persuade people like Judy Caroll, my friend, in their peculiarities.
As I know, Judy has her own views about human life, which are tightly connected with the religion of Christianity, especially based on St. Thomas’s thoughts about it. The utterance on the meaning of philosophy is important. It presupposes the understanding of our world in general features. It includes metaphysics (also ontology), “the study of being, of what “is”, epistemology referring to disclosure of knowing and “theory of value” with its ethics, aesthetics and other branches (Torres, 2007). The author added that it is hard to make the strict measures between Christian theology and Christian philosophy. Moreover, philosophy supports reasonable ways and decisions, everything that exist within the logical analysis. The rational approach is dominant in this case. It is a deep science that concludes a row of topics connected with each other. It is better to get the general knowledge of theology in order to compare. Theology concerns religion, it’s vary concepts and symbols. The only one God is the main character in this field. His words of wisdom are of a great value. Faith is a guiding light for people. According to Cline (n.d.), the borders between two terms are “straddling”. Accordingly, it is wrong not to distinguish philosophy and theology in their general views. There are many debates about their nature. For instance, Thomas Aquinas (St. Thomas), George Berkeley and Soren Kierkegaard, who were Western school’s philosophers said that philosophy defended religion and was the remedy against errors of rationalism and materialism (Merriam-webster.com, 2012). My friend, as many others, is a follower of the ideas of Aquinas, representative of the Roman Catholic Church and, simultaneously, great theologist and philosopher of the 13th century. He took a lot from Platonism and later from Aristotelian philosophy. According to Zenit.org (2010), the source of Vatican:
The word “philosophy” was not, therefore, the expression of a purely rational system and, as such, different from faith, but it indicated a comprehensive vision of reality, constructed in the light of faith, but made by and thought out by reason.
Evidently, this explanation has inspired many people. It shows a big relation between two notions and it cannot be set aside. Still, it does not tell about their identical basis. Possibly, philosophy is much broader area to explore and can include into its dimension the study of theology. St. Thomas said that philosophy was not completed until the Christ came on earth and brought his light into this world. Hence, philosophy existed and then it transformed its essence into pure theology. They were more than simply compatible (Zenit.org,2010). Generally, it is a good statement, as well as an idea how to connect them. Nevertheless, it is less appropriate when issue concerns other religions, which have different points of view on existence of human life and praise other gods.
Theology of Islam is an example of not only the difference between theology and philosophy, as a whole but also between religious theologies, such as Christian and Muslim. The followers of Islam, probably, have their peculiar philosophy, because their religion is rather strict and has many severe rules from the side of Christian. Thus, Muslims believe in Allah, who is the only one God and “is the Almighty, the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe”, and “nothing else can be called Allah” (Islam101.com, n.d.). It added that the Holy Quran is the Divine Book and the Prophet
Muhammad was a special man who got the revelation of this book. In order to compare the general principles of Christianity and Islam, it is important to understand that they both accept no more than One God, the existence of angels, the Day of Judgment, Heaven and Hell, as well as Life after Death and others. At the same time, it denies The Holy Trinity of Christians (Islam101.com, n.d.). Theology of Christianity is a clear reflection of biblical words and parables of Christ. There are a lot of differences which occupy the sphere of customs and traditions and influence on the philosophy of a social and political life, too. It means that religion has a great impact on philosophical theories. Of course, they have an interaction. Still, in the Islamic world where more tough categories of religious laws and probable punishment of their violation, in the aftermath, are obvious philosophical aspects are rather different, as well. They intervene all spheres of life and direct it.
Kohler (2010) referenced to Mendelssohn who said that Judaism included just truths evolved by reasons and had no one doctrinal belief. From this thought people can think that philosophy is the main basis of Judaism. Faith is the only confidence coming after these truths. However, Kohler underlines divinity of different levels formed Judaism of synagogues and Scripture. The Old Testament is a foundation for Judaism and its theology. At the same time, ethnic psychology was very weighty in the theology of Judaism (Kohler, 2010).
This paper is to persuade Judy and many others in the difference between two studies, which are very similar in many fields. Hence, philosophical concepts from their perspective can be purely comprehended only in a separation from theology. Yet it is impossible for average person who belongs to some religion and supports its God’s laws. It is clear that philosophy and theology are different studies, but often their ways are crossed and linked. The degree of their interaction depends on people’s concrete beliefs. Consequently, rationality is not only isolated thinking but also correlation to the rules of some religion. There are parallels between logic and faith, but it is not the same. After all, I would suggest to Judy to broaden the outlook on the concepts and review the points of St. Thomas. I hope that you can accept other thoughts concerning philosophy and theology.