What We Believe: An Intro to Systematic Theology

This past year, I have really enjoyed teaching the class “What We Believe” on Wednesday nights. In essence, it’s a systematic theology class. Systematic theology is an attempt to draw truth from any and every source (primarily, the Bible) concerning God and express this truth simply in a comprehensive and complete system. For example, you can take the study of Christ (called Christology) by primarily discovering what the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, says about Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity.

In our pursuit of all the truth we can draw from scripture, I hope you’ll join me as we dive into systematic theology here on the blog. Over the next months I will give you the brief outlines of the class. We will briefly cover systematic theology divisions such as…

The study/theology of Scripture: Bibliology

  • Creation

  • The study of God: Theology

  • Jesus Christ: Christology

  • Holy Spirit: Pneumatology

  • Salvation: Soteriology

  • Good and Evil

  • The Church: Ecclesiology

  • The Afterlife

  • Last Things: Eschatology

Why is it important to learn about theology and doctrine? As A.W. Tower said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” In a real sense, everyone is a theologian. Everyone seems to have some idea of what they believe (even if they’re misguided). But if they are misguided in their beliefs, it can have devastating consequences on their lives, decisions, behaviors and their eternity.

Let me give you four reasons it’s important to learn doctrine:

1. Because knowledge about God is an essential foundation. (Hebrews 6:1-2; Ephesians 4:13-14)

  • Without truth, I am vulnerable to circumstances (“tossed back and forth by the waves” Ephesians 4:13-14)

  • Without truth, I am victimized by false teachings (“blown here and there by every wind of teaching” Ephesians 4:13-14)

2. Because knowing the truth protects against error (Colossians 2:6-8; Hebrews 5:14).

3. Because how I think determines how I act.

4. Because I am commanded to study the truth (2 Timothy 2:15) and live the truth (Psalm 25:5; Titus 1:1).

Finally, let me give you a warning: knowledge all by itself can be very dangerous!

  • Knowledge must be balanced with discernment (Philippians 1:9-10). Without this, knowledge remains theoretical; one person or group becomes a person’s exclusive source of knowledge.

  • Knowledge must be balanced with grace (2 Peter 3:18). Without this, we can learn more about God without growing closer to God (which is legalism).

  • Knowledge must be balanced with love (1 Corinthians 13:2; 8:1). Without this, knowledge leads to intolerance of others and to pride.

So, over the next months, I look forward to sharing with you “What We Believe.” May it be a blessing to you to know what you believe, and why you believe it.  As the Bible says, "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

*Note: Some of the basic outlines will be taken from various sources, especially Foundations by Tom Holladay and Kay Warren

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