The Imperial religion is not the product of one text or one teacher, but the accumulated wisdom of many investigative theologians. The first to refer to themselves as such were the Scions of Atun Chapter from Highguard's history. It was the Scions who thoroughly investigated the properties of liao and its various states, and constructed the first gateway. From there, they - and other investigative theologians - have studied the effects of liao and the visions, learning about the nature of humanity, virtue, the Labyrinth and history.
Under Imperial and Synod law, investigative theologians are permitted to consider alternatives to the doctrines of the faith, but are not permitted to teach these as truth. Doing so without having amended the doctrines through the General Assembly is heresy and a threat to the unity of the Imperial Synod and the Empire. The truth, it is maintained, has its own authority and will be recognised by the General Assembly of sound spiritual leaders.
It has been necessary in Imperial history to remind some investigative theologians that their studies are on, and in relation to, the soul of the Empire herself, and are not merely academic in nature.
Nevertheless the following are the most commonplace strands of investigative theology:
- Visionary Theology - The discovery of pure liao was a revolutionary breakthrough for theology, and many investigative theologians pursue it ardently. Others seek to replicate similar discoveries through other non-liao means.
- Archaeology - It was the discovery and analysis of sites and relics of the past that confirmed that pure liao visions were rooted in truth. Consequently, there are several investigative theologians who seek funding for expeditions to battlegrounds, known locations of paragons, and other key sites. In some cases, this is an essential part of confirming whether a virtuous person was truly an exemplar or even a paragon.
- Comparative Theology - Although clearly backward and ill-informed, the various Foreign nations have their own religious traditions which have arisen without the insights that the Empire possesses. Whilst the Synod guards the Empire against idolatry and blasphemy, some investigative theologians also believe that study of foreign religion may yield insights in the Labyrinth of Ages. Equally, there may be foreign paragons or exemplars of Virtue whose qualities have gone unrecognised in their homelands.
- Theology of Reason - The doctrines of the faith are founded on the analysis of the phenomena collected and observed by past theologians. This analysis is rooted in the sound judgement of the members of the Synod. The Synod is required to defend the doctrines of the faith but, within the Synod itself, they may be discussed more robustly to refine and purify mortal understanding of the spiritual world.