Too often when people hear the word they become uninterested and turn away—was that your response to the title of this blog?
Well, if it was, please indulge me for a couple of minutes’ read to try to change your opinion.
What is theology anyway? Systematic theology, as its name indicates, is the culling of the principal aspects of various teachings in the Bible, placing them in juxtaposition to one another, and reaching general conclusions about what God has to say concerning each one. Let’s just take a taste of what this means.
For instance, consider the Bible’s teaching about salvation. In the Scriptures, we learn that the original word for “salvation” means “rescue.” So, to begin with, we discover that there is a need for rescuing people from a desperate situation. We also read that all have sinned and come short of eternal life. That is the situation from which there is a need to be rescued—failure to measure up to God’s standards. Moreover, we discover that because God demands perfection in order to enter heaven—which is a perfect place from which all sin is excluded—we are unable to rescue ourselves. We probe some more and note that the situation from which we must be rescued is everlasting punishment for our sin. Thinking biblically about sin—this barrier to heaven and cause of punishment—we conclude that sin is offending a holy God by disobeying His commands. So, in order to be saved from hell, and get to heaven, we next understand that someone else must rescue us by satisfying those commands. Moving along in the Bible, we next come to see that this is why Jesus Christ came to the earth. Since a holy God demands satisfaction, Jesus—the only perfect man (Who obeyed those commands in our place)—came to die in the stead of guilty sinners in order to save them from the consequences of their sin. As a perfect man, He did this by bearing the punishment of all who would believe in Him, as He suffered and died upon the cross. That God accepted His sacrifice for sinners is made clear by the fact that He raised Him from the dead and ascended into heaven. Furthermore, the Bible teaches that He will return a second time to receive all believers who are alive and to raise those who have died. Then, we shall ever be with the Lord.
Nearly every statement in the paragraph above (and almost every word) is a theological statement. It wasn’t hard to follow them was it? Yet, whether or not you know it, you have compassed a great deal of theology merely by reading it. If you find it interesting to note such interrelationships, and want a truly systematic approach to Christian theology, I suggest that you buy and devour either L. Berkhof’s Systematic Theology or A. A. Hodge’s Outlines of Systematic Theology. If you are a serious student of the Bible, you couldn’t do better than to purchase both!