Systematic Theology Study Helps:
    Introduction to Systematic Theology

Table of Contents

I. The Nature of Theology

A. Definition

  1. General Definition
    The term theology comes from the combination of theos (Greek for god) and logos (Greek for word or dialogue). Theology is most broadly understood as a "discussion regarding God" (It is often said that theology may be defined as a "discussion of God" which intends the same meaning, though this is all too often misunderstood to mean "discussion by God") Thus any religion involving a god worthy of dialogue will require some form of theology. (Of course once you step out of western tradition, Greek terminology quickly loses its precision.)

  2. Specific Definition
    Christian Theology involves the entire study of God and His relation to man and the universe, while specifically incorporating all biblical doctrines.

B. Difference between Theology and "Bible Doctrine"

  1. Bible Doctrine restricts itself to only what is taught in the Bible.

  2. Theology goes to other sources of truth.
    1. Example: "Canonicity of the Bible" (Ie, The process through which the books of the Bible were decided upon)
      1. Canonicity involves historical truths (as to how canonicity occurred) not recorded in the Bible.
      2. One's stance on canonicity involves logical truths (as to what tests were used for canonicity) not recorded in the Bible.
    2. Example: Arguments for the Existence of God
      1. Such arguments involve philosophical truths not expressed in the Bible.
      2. Such arguments involve logical truths not expressed in the Bible.

  3. Theology includes Bible Doctrine
    1. Theologians will at times study more than the Bible.
      1. There is much truth not found in the Bible, such as in Science, History and Religion.
      2. All truth is of God, no matter where it is found.
    2. Theologians will raise and try to answer questions about some truth not found in the Bible.
      1. How did God "write" the Bible? (Bibliology)
      2. Is written revelation complete? (Bibliology)
      3. Why cannot Godís mercy over-rule his justice? (Theology Proper)
      4. Why is it fair for God to "elect" only some people for salvation? (Theology Proper)
      5. How is the sin nature passed from parent to child? (Anthropology)
      6. Why is man guilty for Adam's first sin? (Anthropology)

II. Areas of Systematic Theology

  1. Bibliology (Bible)
  2. Theology Proper (God)
  3. Anthropology (Man)
  4. Christology (Christ)
  5. Soteriology (Salvation)
  6. Pneumatology (Holy Spirit)
  7. Ecclesiology (Church, Christian life)
  8. Eschatology (Prophecy, End times)

III. Why do we need Systematic Theology?

  1. Because of the character of Scripture.
    1. The Bible is a book of unsystematized truths.
    2. The biblical books were written to meet immediate needs for specific purposes.
    3. Not all truth about any one doctrine is found in any one place or verse.

  2. Because of the organizing instincts of the human mind.
    1. What other areas are we satisfied to leave unorganized or unsystematized?

  3. Because of the need for the development of a full and balanced Christian faith.
    1. As the world and societal concerns change, theology must seek to provide continually relevant insights into theological and biblical truths.

  4. Because of well educated non-believers.

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