"Theology" comes from the Greek, theos = God, and logos = word or reason. Theology means "talking about God". We are all theologians. We all "talk" about God. By our words and our actions, we all witness to God (or fail to witness to God). Whenever we talk or act about what is ultimate in our lives, when we let go of selfishness, when we transcend ourselves, when we reach for what is beyond, we are engaged in a theological endeavour. We are talking about or witnessing to God, whether or not we name God.
Conversely, whenever we talk or act out of lesser motives, when we act out of selfishness, when we indulge ourselves, when we settle for the immediate only, we are failing to speak well about God. We are giving false witness. We are denying God. We are worshipping an idol, something less than God, something fashioned by human minds and hands.
We either serve God, or we deny God. This is true no matter what religion we follow, or even if we don’t follow any religion. We are either witnessing to what is ultimate in our lives, however we name that reality, or we are denying ultimacy and settling for the proximate, the immediate.
The true purpose of religion is to facilitate this quest for the ultimate, to name its goal, and to mediate its call to us and to our world. Different religions go about this task in different ways, at different times and in different places, addressing different areas of our lives and our world.
Interreligious dialogue makes that theological quest a shared task and opens us up to the vast richness of God’s presence and action in other religions and belief systems.
Fr Patrick McInerney