Friday, March 11, 2011

Chapter 1: Introduction to Systematic Theology

And thus begins my Theology notes. Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology in itself is only an introduction (despite being 1167 pages longs, excluding appendices and indices) and my future blogs only a summary of that. And so I guess this blog is a summary of an introduction of an introduction. That sums it up pretty well, I think. :)

What is Systematic Theology?
Here's Grudem's definition: "Systematic Theology is any study that answers the question, 'What does the whole Bible teach us today?' about any given topic." So, what does the whole Bible tell us about mankind? There's one study of Systematic Theology. What does the whole Bible tell us about sin? There's another.

We're not talking historical theology, like what Augustine taught or whatever. We're not talking apologetics, how to defend the Christian faith. We're not even dividing Old from New Testament. We want the whole Bible. And what it teaches us today, not the doctrine of the Jews or the early church, though there are certainly many crossovers. (However, we aren't, for example, required to slaughter a lamb to atone for our sin, nor do we require circumcision, etc.)

Systematic Theology is applicable to daily life. The Bible isn't some experts' guidebook for the greatest peril or direst need. The Bible is a guidebook to everyday life, and we do not need a Masters in Theology to understand it.

Did you know that you use Systematic Theology already? Have you ever said, "The Bible says that Jesus is the only way to God?" Systematic Theology, my friend. Granted, our 57-chapter volume is much more organized (systematic, if you will) and in-depth, but you've already started! Doing Systematic Theology on one topic leads us to doctrine: "what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic". Grudem splits up his book into 7 different doctrines: the Word of God, God, Man, Christ and the Holy Spirit, the Application of Redemption, the Church, and the Future. (Currently, Caleb and I are still in the Word of God.)

Why Should Christians Study Theology?
Honestly, my initial reaction to that question was to scoff and say, "Why not?" But then I remembered that I'm a nerd and extremely passionate about Theology. However, you don't have to be a nerd to have a passion for studying God.

We should study Theology because it helps us to understand what the whole Bible says, and it helps us relay this information to others. (Great Commission, anyone?) Studying theology also helps us right our wrong thinking. We've all grown up with some wrong understanding of God or man or the world or sin. Actually opening up the Bible and studying it deeply can correct that.

Final Thoughts
Grudem goes on about some arguments against studying Theology, and if you are interested in them, I suggest you read his book.

While the introduction was really long for me to read through, I appreciated the careful argument laid forth by Grudem. This last fall I took a Theology course at Cornerstone, and up until my first day of class, I had no idea how I would feel about Theology. I had heard the class was boring. I had heard it was painfully difficult. I had heard it was pointless. (People don't seem to 'complain' as loudly about classes that are interesting and yet challenging.) However, the moment we started delving into the knowledge of God, I realized how much my soul thirsted for knowledge of my Creator. Sure, I can't know God fully. That's impossible. But I can know Him better. And it's such a joy and thrill!

Up Next: The Doctrine of the Word of God.

However, there will probably be a non-Theology blog coming soon, too.

Love and Theology,
Leah Joy

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