Saturday, September 19, 2009

What Is Systematic Theology?

Systematic theology is a study of biblical topics or doctrines. Systematic theology includes the idea of collecting, evaluating, and understanding all of the relevant passages in the bible on a particular subject or theme which is then summarized in such a manner that the student clearly understands all that is said in the bible about that particular subject. In other words, when a study is completed on a particular subject it is clear what is too believed about that subject.
This definition of theology leads us to conclude that there are at least four (5) aspects involved: • Choosing a topic within the bible to study • Collecting all of the scriptural passages on that particular topic • Evaluating all that is said within context concerning that topic • Summarizing those passages related to the particular subject • Understanding clearly what the bible teaches about the subject I have to say that “doing theology” is not as complicated as this definition has made it sound. The question that naturally comes up at this point is why should Christians study theology in the first place? Why should a believer spend the time once an interest in a particular topic has been established to collect, evaluate, and summarize all relevant passages? Shouldn’t just reading the bible be enough? Jesus made it clear that as his disciples we are to teach and observe all, or everything that he commanded while he was here on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20 ESV) In order to teach all that Jesus had commanded we need to know what he taught, but also what did he mean by what he taught? It is important to note that the great commission is not just evangelism, but it also includes teaching. We are to teach the entire bible. To effectively teach the bible and what Jesus taught we need collect, evaluate, and summarize biblical passages in order to first understand them, and second to teach them to others. What this means is that we are all “theologians.” You are a theologian, the question is, are you a good one or a bad one? Do you know what the bible teaches about the Church, or about the end times, or about salvation and redemption, or about angels? Let’s look at an example shall we? If you wanted to know what does the bible teach
about the atonement, you could start at Genesis 1:1 and read until you came to Revelation 22:21. Now you would learn everything the bible taught about atonement, but that would take a long time and a lot of reading. We can teach ourselves and others by looking to systematic theology and seeing what has already been collected, evaluated, and summarized about atonement. So, the basic reason to become students of theology is to teach both yourself and others what the bible teaches on any given topic. Let me ask you then... are you doing?

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