Spiritual theology is the practice of studying theology in tandem with living out the tenets of a particular faith. Whereas spirituality involves faith and living a lifestyle in accordance with this faith, and theology involves studying a certain religion or faith, spiritual theology is a combination of both of these. Those who practice spiritual theology do not identify with a separation between what is written in the holy texts of a particular faith and what is lived by a believer of these texts.
Theology courses may be attended by people who believe in a certain religion or those who do not, but wish to study a faith from a scholarly perspective. Many people also consider themselves to have a spiritual faith, but do not put much credence on the study of theology. Spiritual theology, however, is practiced when a person or a group of people both believe in a certain theology and pattern their lives after the teachings of that theology.
While there are many types of theology, most often the label of spiritual theology is applied to evangelical Christians and Catholics who espouse a belief in the literal interpretation of the Bible and structure their lives around its contents. Christian university students pursuing a theology degree are often exposed to theology courses designed to explore the meaning of spiritual theology. While learning theology from a formal point of view, students are also expected to more closely analyze their own personal relationships with God and with the world around them. In addition to a theology education, habits, missionary work, relationships and worldviews are all closely scrutinized in an effort toward improvement.
Individuals combining spirituality and theology maintain that such builds their overall sense of morality. Prayer and study are intended to have practical application in a practitioner’s daily life. Such also extends to personal and professional relationships, as well as political affiliations.
Experts in spiritual theology maintain that the emphasis on related study is not merely scholarly, but it is also intended to help shape true adherents. An example of one dedicated to the practice of spiritual theology may be found in the Catholic Saint Teresa of Avila, who is also known as the patron saint of headache sufferers. Canonized in 1622, she is one of only two women bearing the esteemed title of Doctor of the Church for her dedicated service and work, which includes establishing a convent at a time when women didn’t engage in such activities, as well as teaching and writing about prayer.