Why is Theology Important?
The Definition of Theology
Theology is the study or the science of God. Theology simply seeks to understand God, at least as much as humanly possible. This study is based on what God has revealed about Himself primarily throughout the bible.
Theology is a little more than the study or science of God. Theology also seeks to understand God and His relationship with His creation and creatures. A major portion of theology is taken with the redemptive plan of God for mankind.
Theology then is the seeking of understanding in the doctrines or teachings which make up what we call the “Christian faith.” The scriptures are searched and placed into various contexts that define who God is and what God is doing as He relates to mankind. Theology then can be identified by several markers. Theology is…
Biblical – Theology relies on a primary source and that source is the Bible. By the Bible, I mean the accepted canonical Scriptures of the Old and the New Testament. Excluded from the development of biblical doctrine or theology are the books, tracts, treatises which were not determined to “inspired” by the Holy Spirit and were not considered canonical. However, aspects of general revelation are usually considered in light of Scripture as those who deal with the bible evaluate general revelation as it relates to truths about God.
Systematic – Theology utilizes the entire Bible to determine biblical doctrines or truths. Theology does not use isolated scriptural texts separated from the rest of Scripture in order to establish pivotal truths. All portions of the bible are consulted and utilized in order to determine particular principles or doctrines.
Practical – True biblical theology relates to the daily life of a believer. Theology is not simply facts that are merely believed, but theology governs the living out of the Christian life. The difference between the mind-set of the Jews and the Greeks at the time of Christ centered on the purpose or reason for learning a truth or principle. The Greeks learned to learn; they loved knowledge. They didn’t necessarily act on the knowledge they acquired. The Jews believed when a principle or truth as learned it was learned in order to do something.
We must be very careful that we do not miss the truth or the principle set forth in a theological teaching. Searching the bible or theology for action or practicality can lead to bad, undesirable, or unacceptable actions. We cannot sacrificed the truth for activity. The activity must result from the clear apprehension of biblical truth.
The Divisions of Theology
Most “theologians” and pastors will tell you that the term “theology” is a very broad term. Theology covers a number of areas. When we are thinking along the lines of theology as it relates to doctrinal aspects of our Christian faith we view theology through four (4) different lenses:
Biblical Theology - is a branch of theological studies which studies the Bible from the perspective of understanding the progressive history of God revealing Himself to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. Biblical theology seeks to understand a certain passage in the Bible in light of all of the biblical history leading up to it and later biblical references to that passage.
Historical Theology - is a branch of theological studies that investigates the socio-historical and cultural mechanisms that give rise to theological ideas, systems, and statements. Research and method in this field focus on the relationship between theology and context as well as the major theological influences upon the figures and topics studied. Historical theologians are thus concerned with the historical development of theology.
Systematic Theology – is a branch of theological studies that attempts to formulate an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. Systematic theology draws on the foundational texts of Christianity, while investigating the development of Christian doctrine over the course of history, particularly through philosophy, science and ethics.
Philosophical Theology – is a branch of theological studies that attempts to utilize philosophical methods in developing and analyzing theological concepts.
The Classifications of Systematic Theology
The usual division of theology that concerns most believers is that of Systematic Theology. For it is here in this division that biblical or theological doctrines are developed giving us clear teaching and principles on various topics within the bible. Systematic theology answers the question, “What does the bible teach about…? Systematic theology is typically broken down into specific sections. These sections or classifications are…
Bibliology – the study of the Scriptures themselves
Theology – the study of God
Anthropology – the study of Man
Hamartiology – the study of the Sin
Christology – the study of Christ
Soteriology – The study of Salvation
Ecclesiology – The study of the Church
Pneumatology – The study of the Holy Spirit
Angelology – The study of Angels
Eschatology – The study of Last Things
To be continued…