I love Theology. It is without a doubt my favorite thing to study. I love learning about different people’s views they may have on a particular theological subject.
Throughout the summer on our Facebook page we asked what you would like to see us write about. Much to my surprise we had a question about the differences between Biblical and Systematic Theology.
What is Theology? Is the Bible a Theology manual? This can be confusing if we are not careful. The Bible is not a textbook on Theology. Theology is the study of God. The Bible gives us Theology because it is mainly about God. In the Bible we find Theology but not a textbook on Theology.
There are three ways you can study Theology:
With so many options how is one to choose? Do we need to choose?
Before we describe each type of theology it is important to realize that all three are important because each have a defined focus.
Biblical Theology seeks to understand the storyline of the Bible. One way of doing this is looking at the Bible from the Covenants we find in it. Therefore the Bible unfold the Covenant made with Abraham. Another way to look at this is the Kingdom of God. God established His Kingdom in Eden and the Kingdom increases until it will be completely fulfilled when Jesus comes again. Biblical Theology then seeks to look at the Bible as a whole and how it is unified.
Systematic Theology takes a certain subject and looks at it from the standpoint of the whole Bible. You take a subject like sin and try to systematically put together what the Bible teaches on it. This can aid us in Biblical Theology but they are separate disciplines.
Historical Theology will take the subject of sin and see what the church has believed throughout its history. This is vitally important. If we are not careful to study this we will become guilty of what C.S. Lewis called “Chronological Snobbery.”Normally a good Systematic Theology will have historical sections in it.
So which do you choose? To which I answer, YES! We need all of them. Biblical Theology is essential because it seeks to show us how the Bible is a unified book. Systematic is important to see what the Bible teaches on a certain truth. Historical is important so we can see where the church has been on the truth throughout its history. In order to have a well rounded Theology we need to give time and attention to all three.
Does Theology have an end? When we study Theology it is not an academic exercise (that’s hard for a Theology student to say) but it is important. Theology should cause us to respond like Paul in Romans 11:33-36:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?”
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen
Theology leads us to commune with God and to worship Him. Could there be a greater end than that?