Sunday, December 26, 2010

Theological Reflections #2 - Why I Like Systematic Theology and Why I Think it is Essential

I guess there are people who still read this and I have been blessed by your feedback, both in the comments section here and on facebook.

It's been a while since I wrote on this subject so I have linked to the first post here

My last post was a little hard on Systematic theology and I gave the reasons why. I ended that post promising, "Next up: What I like about systematic theology and why I think it is essential". I wonder if everybody caught that.

While I must admit studying systematic theology is at times a struggle for me, I do think it is important, perhaps essential.

Here's what I'm thinking:

The Bible talks a lot about "Doctrine". I know doctrine is not a word we talk about much anymore, but it's right there in the Bible numerous times. Most germane to our discussion are Paul's exhortations to Timothy to :
- nourish himself on the "sound doctrine which you have been following" (1 Ti 4:6)
- protect the honor of the doctrines the apostles teach (I Tim 6:1)
- defend against those who go against the doctrines of Jesus (I Tim 6:3)
And to Titus:
- stand for sound Doctrine (1:9; 2:1)
- Good deeds and good doctrine are inseperable (2:7; 2:10)

It seems clear that just as Jesus and the apostles would not have wanted someone to take one aspect of their doctrine or teaching and isolate and fixate on it - effectively ignoring the rest of their teaching - so we should not attempt to do the same with the collective doctrines of Divine Revelation as recorded in the Bible. A systematic understanding of the various teachings of God in Scripture is an essential element of faithfully understanding and obeying those teachings. If you cannot see how the micro theme (assuming you have indeed actually discovered/interpreted the passage/verse/phrase correctly) of an isolated passage relates to and harmonizes with the Meta themes of the whole of Scripture...tread slowly and carefully. Much if not all false teaching (intentional or, more often, not) has come from this dangerous position.

I leave you with the following thought from Spurgeon:

“Systematic theology is to the Bible what science is to nature. To suppose that all the other works of God are orderly and systematic, and the greater the work the more perfect the system; and that the greatest of all His works, in which all His perfections are transcendently displayed, should have no plan or system, is altogether absurd. If faith in the Scriptures is to be positive, if consistent with itself, if operative, if abiding, it must have a fixed and well-defined creed. No one can say that the Bible is his creed, unless he can express it in words of his own.” - Spurgeon, The Forgotten Spurgeon Ian Murray

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

why not...