Systematic Theology
Pastor Brett Peterson
Slide 34
Coastland University
What do you believe?
• What would you be willing to die for?
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Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
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DEFINITION:
• THEOLOGY
– qeo,j, theos- God
– lo,goj, logos- word, study, discourse,understanding,
universal rational
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What Is Theology?
“The study or science of
God.” –Millard Erickson
“The Science of God and of the
relations between God and the
universe.” –A. H. Strong
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“Rational discussion
respecting the deity.”
—Augustine
“Thinking about God
and expressing those
thoughts in some way.”
—Charles Ryrie
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What Is Theology?
“The science of God or of religion; the science
which treats of the existence, character, and
attributes of God, his laws and government, the
doctrines we are to believe, and the duties we are
to practice; divinity; (as more commonly
understood) ``the knowledge derivable from the
Scriptures, the systematic exhibition of revealed
truth, the science of Christian faith and life.”
—Webster’s
Dictionary
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Pastor Brett Peterson,
CCBCU.EDU
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Who Is a Theologian?
Anyone who has asked the ultimate
questions of life:
–
–
–
–
Why am I here?
What is life?
What happens after death?
What is the difference between right and
wrong?
– Why is there something instead of nothing?
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Who Is a Theologian?
The question is not, “Who is a
theologian?” but “What kind of
theologian am I going to be?” Are you
going to be a good theologian or a bad
theologian? This is a more accurate
question because, as one writer put it,
“not all theologies are equal.”
-Source unknown
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“We live in what may be the
most anti-intellectual period in
the history of Western
civilization. . . We must have
passion—indeed hearts on fire
for the things of God. But that
passion must resist with
intensity the anti-intellectual
spirit of the world.”
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—R. C. Sproul
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Who Is a Theologian?
There are basically five arenas in which
we can do theology:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Folk Theology
Lay Theology
Ministerial Theology
Professional Theology
Academic Theology
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Who Is a Theologian
Folk
Lay
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Ministerial
Professional
Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
Academic
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Who Is a Theologian
Describe this chart in relation to practicing medicine
Folk
Lay
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Ministerial
Professional
Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
Academic
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Who Is a Theologian
Now describe this chart in relation to practicing theology
Folk
Lay
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Ministerial
Professional
Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
Academic
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Who Is a Theologian?
Folk Theology
 Naïve
 Traditionalistic
 Dogmatic
 Uninformed and unreflective
What are some examples?
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Who Is a Theologian?
Folk theology examples:

Views of eternity (clouds, harps)

Angels’ wings

Good works salvation

All people are good at heart
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Who Is a Theologian?





Peter’s gate
Devil’s pitchfork
“God helps those who help themselves”
Demon possession (Hitler, Stalin, etc.)
Name-it-claim-it, health and wealth gospel
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Some ‘Pop’ Eschatology
• Where will we spend eternity?
• The ‘Tribulation’ is a 7 year period of wrath
on earth.
• The ‘Time of Jacobs Trouble’ is the 7 year
‘Tribulation’.
• The antichrist will arise from a 10 nation
confederacy
• The parable of the 10 bridesmaids (they wait
for the groom in the brides house)
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‘Pop’ Theology (cont.)
• There are many sections of scripture in the
New Testament that are not written to the
Church.
• The Church will NOT fulfill the great
commission.
• After the Rapture, a great multitude of
people from every nation will get saved
• And on we could go…
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The Trinity
What is Truth?
Who is God?
How are you saved?
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Who Is a Theologian?
Lay Theology
 More reflective upon learned theological
concepts
 Likely to formulate a doctrine of
essentiality
 More critical of unfounded traditions
 More willing to use study tools
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Who Is a Theologian?
Ministerial Theology
 Reflection is more sophisticated
 Educated in theological methodology
 Uses tools and resources at a more
effective level
 Working knowledge of the languages
 Ability to openly critique personal
theology against competing models
 Devotes more time to reflection
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Who Is a Theologian?
Professional Theology
 Didactically purposed toward lay and
pastoral theologians
 Works with pastoral and lay theologians
 Conducts practical original research
 Critically evaluates common theological
trends and folk theology
 Often accused of quenching the Spirit
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Who Is a Theologian?
Academic Theology
 Overly speculative
 Overly critical
 Dialogue can come only with other
theologians
 Ivory Tower theologians
 Unspiritual theology
 Follows the academic status quo
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Who Is a Theologian?
Folk
Lay
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Ministerial
Professional
Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
Academic
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Who Is a Theologian?
Acceptable range
Folk
Lay
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Ministerial
Professional
Pastor Brett Peterson, CCBCU.EDU
Academic
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Why Study Theology?
Because you are a theologian!
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Why Study Theology?
“Theology is for everyone. Indeed, everyone needs to be a
theologian. In reality, everyone is a theologian—of one sort
or another.
And therein lies the problem. There is nothing wrong with
being an amateur theologian or a professional theologian, but
there is everything wrong with being an ignorant or sloppy
theologian.”
—Charles Ryrie
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Why Study Theology?
How do we “do” theology everyday? In
other words, how does our theology
influence our daily routine?
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Why Study Theology?
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
When we think about God.
When we share the Gospel.
When we interpret the Bible.
When we get sick.
When we defend the faith.
When we plan for the future.
When we choose schooling for our
children.
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Why Study Theology?
8. When we vote.
9. When we attempt to deal with sin in our
lives.
10.When we decide on who we marry.
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What Is Theology?
“Credo ut intelligam”
“faith seeking understanding.”
—Anselm of Canterbury
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Types of theological study:
• Apologetics, “Can you give an answer for the many
questions people have about the Bible & your faith?”
• Exegetical Theology, “What is the message God
intended for the text?”
–
–
–
–
–
–
Canononics
Textual Criticism
Biblical Languages
Biblical History/Archaeology
Hermeneutics
Exegesis Proper
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Types of theological study
continued …
• Biblical Theology, “What does the Bible, in context,
teach about the subject you are studying?”
• Systematic Theology, “Given all scripture, what is the
expositional consistency/progressive revelation for the
doctrine?”
• Historical Theology, “What has the Church taught
regarding the subject or doctrine you are studying?”
• Practical Theology, “What action must be taken in light
of the doctrine or subject?”
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Relationship of Categories
Scripture
Biblical Theology
Historical Theology
Philosophical Theology
Systematic Theology
Apologetic Theology
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Creedal/Dogmatic Theology
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Why study Theology in a
SYSTEMATIC way?:
•God created our minds to Systematize truth:
– We construct lists of ideas
– We compare what is experienced with previous
ideas and teachings
– God is a God of order, and therefore reveals
Himself in a systematic way
– It gives us a clear view of the truth we are studying
from Genesis to Revelation.
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Systematic Theology will:
•Bring to light the truths of God and how
He relates to mankind
– It gives us an opportunity to experience
God’s revelation of Himself
– It helps us maintain a balance between
emotionalism and Intellectualism
– It allows us to analyze ‘Biblical
Theology’ is a all inclusive way.
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Understanding God systematically
helps us:
•Establish absolute truth on a given
doctrine and teach that truth to others
– We allow God’s revelation of Himself to teach
us His truth
– We are then prepared to teach that truth to
others
– This gives the Church protection against false
teaching
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The Goal of Theology:
• To bring individuals into a right understanding of God
and how He works in their lives
• To proclaim the absolute truth of scripture in a
contemporary yet Uncompromised way
• To give the Church the meat of God’s Word
• To equip the saints
• To make the gospel relevant and rational
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Cautions as we study theology:
• Apriori: “Finitum non capax infiniti.” That is to say,
the finite is not capable of the infinite.
• Truth is Spiritually discerned
• Preconceived Ideas: Church tradition, man’s ideas
rather than Bible based truth.
– Example;The Trinity – ‘man is unable to comprehend the
triune nature of God’ Where does the Bible say that?!
– ‘I was always taught _________________’
– ‘That’s not what Pastor _________ says’
– ‘If the church holds this truth, it must be Biblical’
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Cautions continued:
• Limitations (A.H. Strong, Systematic Theology, I,
34ff), cont.
– Incomplete Knowledge of Scripture: We do not know all
parts of Scripture and the parts we know we do not know
equally well
– Silence of Revelation (Deut. 29:29): There is much that
God has not seen fit to reveal; there is much we are
incapable of receiving
– Lack of Spiritual Discernment (I Cor. 2:14): “A theologian
is not fitted for his undertaking unless he knows the power
of the redemptive provision of which Scripture is the
revelation.” John Murray, “Systematic Theology,”
Collected Writings, IV, 4
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How can we grasp theological
truth?
• We filter everything through our experience
– The academic study of Theology must lead us to
Spiritual and emotional change – it is then we
begin to experience God in creation.
– F. D.W. Schleiermacher says, “ . . . the doctrines in
all their forms have their ultimate ground so
exclusively in the emotions of the religious selfconsciousness, that where these do not exist the
doctrines cannot arise.” The Christian Faith,
E.T., 78.
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The study of Theology impacts
who we are rationally:
– In understanding the author of creation, we begin to
understand our place in creation.
• “Two characteristics are perceptible in religious
conceptions which must be stated at the very outset. They
are always the possession of a community and they express
not merely a relations between God and man, but always at
the same time a relations toward the world on the part of
God and those who believe in Him.” A. Ritschl,
Justification and Reconciliation, E.T., 27.
• In our section on science, we will find many scientists who
came to faith by their discovery of an author of creation.
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The consequence of Theology
• It brings us into a right relationship with God
– Truth – a right understanding of God
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Theology is God’s revelation of
Himself…
• It comes down to God’s desire to have a
relationship with mankind
– God want a relationship with YOU!
– WOW!
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What are the sources of our
study of Theology?
– The “Wesleyan Quadrilateral”
• Scripture (Supreme Authority)
• Reason
• Tradition
• Experience
– All four of these areas are important to
discover truth – however, the last two
need to be used with caution.
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Sources of Theological study;
• The Multiple Source View
– B.B. Warfield
• Nature (What God has created: would include Reason)
• Providence (What God has done in history, in the Churchtradition)
• Experience (What God has done in your life)
• Scripture (What God has said)
– “The revelation of God in his written Word is easily shown
not only to be incomparably superior to all other
manifestations of him in the fullness, richness and
clearness of its communications, but also to contain the
sole discovery of much that is most important for the soul
to know as to its state and destiny.” Warfield, Studies in
Theology, 60-1.
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The Bible is our canon…
• Scripture is the unifying authority
– How does scripture relate to our experience?
• Scripture, as the unique source of revelation, and
• Other sources as subordinate to Scripture
• The Latin terms norma normans and norma normativa
provide help
– Scripture is norma normans, a rule that rules
– All other revelatory media (Experience, Tradition,
Providence, Reason) are norma normativa, a rule that is
governed- by Scripture, in this instance
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Our apriori…
• Theological Presuppositions
• Expositional consistency:
– There is Unity in the Scriptures by virtue of their
ultimate author, God himself
– ‘Sola scriptura’ Scripture is our sole source for
faith and practice
– You must be born again to understand scripture
• The Holy Spirit ultimately must illuminate your mind
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Absolute truth:
• Premise – there is absolute truth and it does not
change with personality or culture
– Since the Scriptures, ultimately, are God’s revelation to all
of mankind, there will be a unity of truth even in the midst
of diverse cultural emphases and contextualized language
– We “have tended to view theology as transcultural or
culturally neutral. …and have typically championed
biblical authority by claiming that there is only one
horizon in theology- the biblical text itself.” Richard Lints,
The Fabric of Theology, 102
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Theology gives us truth that is
not bound by space or time…
• There is a transcultural aspect to the doing of
theology: “Ought we to give our western creeds to the
Oriental mind? . . . Of course those Western creeds
ought to be given to the Oriental mind. But that ought
to be done only on one condition- that those western
creeds are true. If they are not true, they ought not to
be given to the Oriental mind or to any other kind of
mind; but if they are true, they are just as true in
China as they are in the United States.” Machen,
Christian Faith in the Modern World, 93
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The result of studying theology:
• Our practice of studying and applying
theological truth will impact our culture:
“Contemporary theologians must also seek
to challenge the contemporary mind to think
more critically about its own culturally
accepted values.” Lints, Fabric, 113
• Even in the post-modern world, we must be
salt and light. As we study theology, we
must…
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Truth: Jesus Christ – The Word
of God
Then Jesus said to those Jewish people who had believed him,
“If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32
But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed
from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to.
Romans 6:17
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof,
for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated
to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
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Matthew 22:37
“You shall love the Lord your God with
all your heart, with all your soul, and
with all your mind”
—Jesus Christ
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Next week
Read Thiessen
Chapters 3-4
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Theology