In my last blog article, we considered several questions as an introduction to the subject of studying Systematic Theology. We are still not done considering some introductory matters. In this article, I will strive to demonstrate the task of Systematic Theology.
To begin, we must understand the subject matter of Systematic Theology is considering the knowledge gleaned over the years about God. Theology is made up of two Greek words: theos which means God and logos which means word. When you combine these two words, you have the study of God. The same is true with Biology, Psychology, Sociology, etc. with respect to their respective disciplines. We are used to the various “ologies” of school. Theology is one such subject, but it is more.
If you noticed, I said Theology is the knowledge gleaned over time concerning God. This knowledge is specific to God, both His person and work. In such a discipline, we consider this knowledge, and we use the Latin term for knowledge which is where our English word for “Science” comes from. Science simply means the knowledge of… So, we can take our definition even further now: Theology is the Science of God. We can say this because Science is knowledge gleaned over time, and the subject matter of Theology is God.
Some may wonder how we can study God in a scientific way. You cannot put him under a microscope or see Him through a telescope. We cannot experiment with God. In fact, to test God goes against the Scriptures. Yet, these questions or objections is to narrowly define science to what we call the “hard sciences.” Theology is the original science. It is, in a sense, the origin of science. For the task of Systematic Theology is to think God’s thoughts after Him. We introduced this in our last blog, and in this one, we are going to develop this further.
God brought all things into existence at creation. He spoke light into existence. To consider light is to consider something God spoke into existence. He spoke life into existence. To study a living being is to study something God spoke into existence. This is true of the hard sciences, and this is true of Theology. God inspired the biblical authors to write the Scriptures. The Bible is His Word in Scripture format. Therefore, when we take up the Bible, we are taking up God’s Word. When we study the Bible, we are studying God’s very word. What we find is God speaking. Then, we find God continues to open the eyes of man to understand and interpret His Word clearly. This is Theology. This is taking God’s Word or thoughts and confessing them after Him. This is essentially the task of Systematic Theology. This could be seen in simply stating a doctrine, defending a doctrine, and or applying the doctrine to life.
To help the task along, there are various signposts throughout the Scriptures to help us along. First, one finds unity in the word of God. There are no contradictions in the Scriptures. God cannot contradict Himself. Because God cannot contradict Himself, then we recognize His Word cannot contradict itself too. The unity of Scripture is found with the consistent theme: God saves His people. This is found throughout the Scriptures. There is more that could be said concerning the unity of Scripture.
Second, there is the reality that in Scripture God has spoken. The “thus says God” moments of the Bible are keys to the fact this is God’s very word given to us through His prophets and apostles.
Third, there is the fact that our tradition or our history is secure under the word of God. It is not the word of God because we say it is; it is because God says it is. Many claim this is circular, but this argument simply points to the stamp we just considered as authoritative. “Thus says the Lord” is God’s signature.
Finally, the word is given for the purpose of saving others. God is still calling people to salvation and the word is the means through which the lost are saved. The task of the Systematic Theology is to present this truth in an orderly (Systematized) way so that people can see and hear God.