Wednesday, May 4, 2016

why we do theology

In my seminary years I enjoyed most of the classes and subjects I studied.  I loved learning to study the Bible in its original languages, hearing exposition of every book of the Bible, taking historical theology and apologetics, and gaining practical ministry skills for the pastorate.  But my greatest love, and the area that became my major interest, was (and is) systematic theology. 

Theopedia gives a good definition: "Systematic theology is a discipline which addresses theological topics one by one (e.g. God, Sin, Humanity) and attempts to summarize all the biblical teaching on each particular subject. Sometimes called constructive theology or even dogmatic theology, the goal is to present the major themes (i.e. doctrines) of the Christian faith in an organized and ordered overview that remains faithful to the biblical witness."  

Recently, I came upon this quote from John Murray, who taught theology for many years at Westminster Seminary, on why systematic theology is "the most noble of all studies"...   
"When we properly weigh the proposition that the Scriptures are the deposit of special revelation, that they are the oracles of God, that in them God encounters and addresses us, discloses to us his incomprehensible majesty, summons us to the knowledge and fulfillment of his will, unveils to us the mystery of his counsel, and unfolds the purposes of his grace, then systematic theology, of all sciences and disciplines, is seen to be the most noble, not one of cold, passionless reflection but one that stirs adoring wonder and claims the most consecrated exercise of all our powers.  It is the most noble of all studies because its province is the whole counsel of God and seeks, as no other discipline, to set forth the riches of God's revelation in the orderly and embracive manner which is its peculiar method and function."
~ John Murray, "Systematic Theology" in the Collected Writings of John Murray, Vol. 4 (Banner of Truth, 1982).
I couldn't agree more!  The goal of systematic theology is that we might know God truly, trust him more, and have our lives conformed to his will.  For me, studying theology indeed is not "a passionless reflection but one that stirs adoring wonder"!

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