If history and comparative religion alike offer us perspective on world events from the “outside,” the study of theology offers us a chance to study those same events “from within”: an opportunity to get inside the heads of those whose beliefs and choices shaped so much of our history, and who—in the world outside the ivory tower—still shape plenty of the world today. That such avenues of inquiry have virtually vanished from many of the institutions where they were once best explored is hardly a triumph of progress or of secularism. Instead, the absence of theology in our universities is an unfortunate example of blindness—willful or no—to the fact that engagement with the past requires more than mere objective or comparative analysis. It requires a willingness to look outside our own perspectives in order engage with the great questions—and questioners—of history on their own terms. Even Dawkins might well agree with that.
Study Theology, Even If You Don’t Believe in God – Tara Isabella Burton – The Atlantic. I agree wholly with the argument made here, but let’s be clear: what Burton is really saying is “Study Intellectual and Cultural History, and When You Do, Don’t Neglect Religious Ideas and Practices.” That’s a case that very much needs to be made, especially when you consider the near-absolute ignorance of both theology and religious practice exemplified regularly by many scholars; but it’s something a little different than a case for studying theology as such and for its own sake.