What does it mean that theology is the 'queen of the sciences'?
Theology was named queen of the sciences in the High Middle Ages when schools divided classical liberal arts learning into grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.
Subscribe to our Compelling Mail Newsletter:
We tend to think of "science" as quantitative measures related to study of the natural world—fields like biology, physics, and chemistry. However, "science" has historically had a broader meaning. Augustine defined science to include anything related to knowledge of the temporal world. Thomas Aquinas deemed theology a science because it could be known by general revelation as well as special revelation. More recently, German universities in the 19th Century understood science to mean "a legitimate area of study oriented to a particular object, and possessing appropriate methods of investigation." They called this Wissenschaft to mean a science with an object to study. Theology, the study of God and His actions on Earth, fits this definition.
As to theology being the "queen," scholars believed that the various focuses of study were covered by the overarching standard of the Bible. They considered the Bible as the source of truth and therefore theology reigned above, or was queen, over all the other sciences and areas of study. Today, we sometimes use the word "worldview" to describe the foundation on which we build our understanding of the world. It was wise of medieval scholars to see the Bible as that foundation, and is wise for individuals in today's world to do the same.
When we see the Bible as inerrant, we elevate it to supreme over all other methods of understanding the world. Paul gives his protégé Timothy a specific warning in 1 Timothy 6:20–21 that applies to us today: "O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called 'knowledge,' for by professing it some have swerved from the faith. Grace be with you." In a second letter Paul writes to Timothy to "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15).
Of course, this wisdom is not just for Timothy, but for all of us. This foundation of knowledge rests on an ancient foundation itself, as stated in Proverbs 1:7, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction."
What is the definition of theology?
What is the academic field of Biblical Theology?
What is the academic field of Christian Theology?
How does systematic theology work?
Faith vs. science. Is there a contradiction between faith in God and science?
Truth about Theology