Definition of Systematic Theology:
Systematic theology is any study that answers the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today?” about any given topic. Systematic theology focuses on summarizing each doctrine as it should be understood by present- day Christians.
Definition of Doctrines:
A doctrine is what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic. This definition is directly related to our earlier definition of systematic theology, since it shows that a “doctrine” is simply the result of the process of doing systematic theology with regard to one particular topic.
Biblical Theology vs. Biblical Ethics
Theology tells us how we should think while ethics tells us how we should live. A textbook on ethics, for example, would discuss topics such as marriage and divorce, lying and telling the truth, stealing and ownership of property, abortion, birth control, homosexuality, the role of civil government, discipline of children, capital punishment, war, care for the poor, racial discrimination, and so forth.
Why study theology?
(1)The main reason is that Jesus commanded us to teach believers to observe all that he commanded (Matthew 28:19-20) In reality this includes not only the specific words of Jesus, but the entire New Testament. And not only the New Testament because the Old Testament holds just as much authority…it is all the Word of God. To teach you must study and understand what the Bible says on various topics.
(2)Studying theology helps us overcome our wrong ideas and our rebelliousness against God. The more Biblical support we have for a position, the harder it is for us not to accept it.
(3)The better foundation we have in what the Bible says, the better equipped we are to answer doctrinal controversies and/or identify and combat ideas that are not Biblically sound. And protect ourselves from these ideas.
(4)Helps us grow as Christians. From Grudem:
“The more we know about God, about his Word, about his relationships to the world and mankind, the better we will trust him, the more fully we will praise him, and the more readily we will obey him. Studying systematic theology rightly will make us more mature Christians. If it does not do this, we are not studying it in the way God intends.”
The Bible connects sound doctrine with maturity in Christian living (1 Timothy 6:3, Titus 1:1) and connects disobedience and immorality with things contrary to sound doctrine (1 Timothy 1:10)
Difference Between Major and Minor Doctrines:
A major doctrine is one that has a significant impact on our thinking about other doctrines, or that has a significant impact on how we live the Christian life. A minor doctrine is one that has very little impact on how we think about other doctrines, and very little impact on how we live the Christian life. There can be some gray area in evaluating what is major and what is minor.
How Should Christians Study Systematic Theology?
(1) Study with Prayer – We need the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us understand scripture
(2) Study with Humility
(3) Use reason to draw conclusions from the statements of scripture
(4) Study with others
(5) Collect and Understand all relevant passages on any topic
(6) Study with rejoicing and praise