Divine Doctrines: Exploring Systematic Theology

This is the first of many “Theology Thursdays” where we will seek to understand various elements of Christian doctrine and theology by comparing different evangelical systematic theologies together.

“Doctrine divides”. “I just need Jesus and my Bible”.

These phrases can often be heard in many church circles. The essence of the premise is that as long as we have the “basic Gospel message” things like doctrine and theology are at best not that important and at worse a means of division within the body of Christ that should be avoided.

The problem is that the “basic Gospel message” is meaningless without sound doctrine and theology to under-gird it.

The elements that make up the “basic Gospel message” in the person of Jesus, His sacrificial death on the cross and His powerful resurrection are loaded with theology that if removed make it unrecognizable.

augustine - heart and mind

But what is theology?

Theology at its most basic level can be defined as the study of God. However the word “study” is where modern readers can get into trouble. It has led some to believe that theology is merely studying books or dealing with ideas in an ivory tower rather than an interactive relationship with a Person.

A better way of thinking about theology is the knowledge about God inseparably intertwined with the knowledge of God.

I think of it like someone becoming a doctor. You have to study and read books to get a framework understanding of the ins and outs of the human body and the various alignments that can plague it. However if you don’t perform surgeries/treatments and do hands on research applying the knowledge you have learned you aren’t really a doctor you’re just a reader.

In a similar fashion if we just read theology books or even the Bible without applying it in our daily lives we too become “readers” as oppose to doers of the Word of God (Jas. 1:22).

Globe-Puzzle-Pieces

Over the next couple months we are going to look at aspects of Christian theology by comparing various evangelical Systematic Theologies. These books are designed to summarize and organize aspects of theology (biblical, historical, etc.) into categories. They are helpful in formulating a Christian worldview and understanding what the Bible and Christian tradition has said about “x” or “y” doctrine. My aim in this is to help explain these doctrines, show why they are important and how they apply to our day to day lives in our journey with Jesus.

Because the reality is good theology is always rooted in an interactive between persons in the context of a relationship. In our case it is between God and His image bearers.

Next week we will be looking at the doctrine of the Word of God and how it is the foundation for our understanding of theology.

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~ by simplesage on December 4, 2013.

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