Contrary to popular belief the study of theology isn’t the same as the study of religion or the practice of it either. The uninformed would place both of these words in the same category but the reality is, one feeds the other and without a proper feeding, this can be disastrous.
When we think about religion, about 99.9% of the time we associate all things faith and narrowmindedness as religion. However, in all reality, religion must stem from somewhere. Not only do the fanatics have religion or religious practices, but even the agnostic or atheistic community have religion. In all reality religion is just the practices that arise that out of the core belief of a group or individual, we see the practice of reading the bible as the main religious practice of Judeo-Christian communities, and the study of natural philosophy as the religious practice of the secular community.
All people have practices the use to either inform, advance, or share their core values, we see conferences for atheism as we see church, mosque, and synagogue events. This is with the purpose of informing ourselves, others and showing out religious practices with the intent of growing in it.
However, religion is not a self-existent entity, it branches of from somewhere.
We have stated that religion has a source, has something that feeds it. Religion is only the result, but the cause is what we must have a clear understanding of.
Theology is what feeds religion, it is the source of life and vitality that religious practices require. Theology is practiced by all men. The study or discussion on the person of God is what we know as theology. We might ask, how do atheist or agnostics know theology is they do not believe in God? The Scriptures present to use a different idea. Romans chapter 1 present, that the eternality and power of God is seen clearly with creation, but that men oppress the knowledge of God with their evil works. No matter how you peel it, the result is the same, we all have a clear relationship with God, with relationship comes knowledge, that knowledge is called theology.
It is important we study theology for many reasons, but I would say one is most essential. We are created and designed to do such thing. Our human nature is a nature of curiosity, one that seeks to find answers and discover how the world functions, we wish to exhaust the deeps of knowledge, however, all the things of this world is temporal. Though we study and search for the answers for the secrets of the cosmos, in actuality, we are seeking God.
Are theology and religion the same thing? No.
Religion is the actions or the application of our theology.