Systematic Theology Matters!

Downloadable file here: Systematic Theology Matters!

Systematic Theology Matters!

By Ps Lucas Stoltz.

Credit to “What is Systematic Theology.” And Wayne Grudem’s “What’s Systematic Theology and Why Bother?” 14 May 2016 – taken from the Gospel Coalition. As well as by: Stephen J. Wellum & Peter J. Gentry’s “Why All Christians Should Care about Systematic Theology,” 31 August 2015 – taken from Crossway.

Systematic theology means answering the question: “What does the whole Bible say to us today about any given topic?”[1]

It means searching the Bible to find all the verses relating to a given topic of study, like the Doctrine of Christ or Salvation or the Church. Then, we put all the verses together to understand what God wants us to believe. As Wayne Grudem says, “Systematic” means “carefully organized by topics.”

So why bother?

You’re a Theologian. Even if you don’t consider yourself a theologian—you’re still doing systematic theology in some sense. Everyone has beliefs about who God is, who Jesus is, what salvation is, and how we should live as Christians. We’re all blending those beliefs together, whether they are correct or not.

So if you’re a Christian, you’re doing systematic theology, whether you’re aware of it or not. If you’re not aware of it, then your theology may not be very organized, or it may not take into account verses from the whole Bible. There may be a verse here or there, or from certain parts of Scripture, but it’s not the entirety of what God reveals about a particular doctrine. That’s why it’s important for us to study systematic theology, so that we can understand what God says and what the Bible says.

What is considered as Systematic Theology?

Here are the major doctrinal categories:

  • Theology Proper or Paterology is the study of God the Father.
  • Christology is the study of God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Pneumatology is the study of God the Holy Spirit.
  • Bibliology is the study of the Bible.
  • Soteriology is the study of salvation.
  • Ecclesiology is the study of the church.
  • Eschatology is the study of the end times.
  • Angelology is the study of angels.
  • Christian Demonology is the study of demons from a Christian perspective.
  • Christian Anthropology is the study of humanity.
  • Hamartiology is the study of sin.

So as you can see, Systematic Theology is an important tool in helping us to understand and teach the Bible in an organized manner.

Why Studying Systematic Theology matters:

Studying theology is one of most important things we can do, since there is a relationship between what we believe and how we live.

The Bible speaks of doctrine that agrees with godliness. For example, Paul encourages the Ephesian Christians to grow up into Christ so they won’t be tossed by every wind of doctrine, but will have stability and grow into maturity (Eph. 4:14).

On the other hand, if false teaching comes into the church—if people lose sight of true theology—then it can be harmful and turn people away from the faith. Paul warned the elders at the church in Ephesus:

“For I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God. Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:27–30)

Paul warns that false doctrine would come from believers within the church who adopt wrong teachings and are destructive in their influence. Damage comes from neglecting theology and allowing churches and organizations to stray into false teaching about the truths of God’s Word.

How important is it to study Systematic Theology?

First, in order to apply Scripture properly, we must first interpret Scripture correctly, which requires the doing of biblical theology. We are not doing theology unless we correctly understand how the entire canon of Scripture fits together.

Second, systematic theology involves the application of Scripture to all areas of life. Systematic theology involves theological and doctrinal construction, which is grounded in biblical theology and done in light of historical theology, where it also involves interacting with all areas of life—history, science, psychology, ethics, and so on.

How to Study Systematic Theology:

Here are five ways we should approach systematic theology:

  1. With prayer – We should imitate the psalmist, who prays, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps. 119:18).
  2. With humility – Both Peter and James say God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. We must study systematic theology with humility and seek peace with others. As James says,

The wisdom from above is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, and the harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.” (James 3:17)

  1. With reason – Contradictions aren’t acceptable in the study of systematic theology, since there aren’t any contradictions in the Bible. Psalm 119:160 says “the sum of your words is truth.” There are times we need to acknowledge mystery, impossibility, and things we can’t fully understand. But that’s different from saying there’s a contradiction.
  2. With help from others – There are great resources made available by humble, God-honouring men. Wayne Grudem – Systematic Theology, John MacArthur & Richard Mayhue – Biblical Doctrine, John Frame – Systematic Theology.
  3. With rejoicing and praise – There should be joy in our hearts as we study these topics, and it should result in praise to our King. Psalm 139:17 says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God. How vast is the sum of them.” The psalmist is overwhelmed with joy and praise for what God has revealed about himself and his deeds and this should be our response as well.

My prayer is that this will encourage you to search the scriptures for yourselves, to see if these doctrines are true and reflect God, just like the Bereans did (Acts 17:11). May this edify you and help you to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.

[1] John Frame