The Nature of Theology and Religious Studies
The Department of Theology and Religious Studies offers courses in both Theology, which examines a particular religion (often Christianity) from "inside," the perspective of its believers, and in Religious Studies, which examines one or more religions from "outside," without assuming its validity. There is a certain overlap in these two areas because they are both concerned with what is sacred or ultimate or most meaningful, or at least with human ideas about those things. The two areas may be explored in different courses or considered in the same course.
Obviously, there are many differing ideas about what is sacred and therefore of ultimate significance, which are expressed in the many dimensions of various religions. Meeting the challenge of navigating these differences is a major goal of our courses. Therefore, courses in these fields at Molloy, and at most liberal arts colleges in the United States, avoid two opposite extremes: instruction that assumes or imposes the validity of one belief system, and instruction that only presents factual information about theology or religion without any framework for interpreting or evaluating it. Consequently, our courses are neither a form of religious education, as found for example in a church, synagogue or mosque, nor an attempt to be absolutely neutral and avoid all judgments of value and validity. Our goal is to provide students with both adequate information and tools of evaluation to foster their religious literacy.
Individual Faculty Members on the Nature of Theology and Religious Studies
Below, you can read statements by individual members of our faculty about the nature of theology and religious studies, and about how these subjects are taught in courses at Molloy. These statements can expand your understanding of these fields, and can also introduce you to the perspectives of our instructors.