“Theology” in the most simple terms means “the study of God”. For the Christian, God has revealed Himself to mankind through the Bible. Therefore, in our pursuit of a sound knowledge of God and His ways, we look to what He has told us about Himself. Throughout the centuries, men and women have gone about this practice in various ways.
One way is Biblical Theology. This discipline involves many facets. For example, a theologian may delve deep into the writings of one particular author. From this we get phrases like “Pauline,” “Luke-Acts,” or “Johannine theology”. Or perhaps the theologian will take a common term, such as “repentance,” “redemption,” or “seed” and trace its usage from Genesis to Revelation to see how new themes develop as God reveals a little more about it at a time through what is called “Progressive Revelation”. Another example of how Biblical Theology plays out is the study of how the covenants in Scripture relate to one another and where the church fits into God’s grand plan of redemption.
Through Biblical Theology, the theologian will approach the study of any text with the passage’s position in the big picture in the back of their mind. They will look backwards to see what God has already taught about certain themes and vocabulary therein, as well as look ahead to see what else God chose to wait to reveal at a later time.
Another way Christians will study the Bible is called “Systematic Theology”. This discipline seeks to study the Bible topically. Rather than starting with a passage of Scripture and digging up all of the doctrines therein, this discipline takes all of the passages on any given topic and develops a sound understanding of it. We can then neatly bring all of the vast teachings of the Bible together to formulate a clear system of belief.
Traditionally the systematic theologian will break up the Bible into the following themes (give or take a couple):
Theology Proper – What does the Bible say about God the Father
Bibliology – …the Bible
Christology – …the Person of Jesus Christ (God the Son)
Pneumatology – …the Holy Spirit (God the Spirit)
Angelology – …angels
Anthropology – …mankind
Hamartiology – …sin
Soteriology – …salvation (the Work of Jesus Christ)
Ecclesiology – …the church
Eschatology– …the last things (future, return of Christ, eternity)
Through Systematic Theology, the student of the Bible will examine a passage in light of the Bible as a whole. They will access the most helpful study tool, the Bible itself, drawing clues from “the analogy of faith”. They will “interpret the unclear with the clear,” using unambiguous passages to aid his or her understanding of more difficult ones. They will seek out every other passage that talks about the same subject. In the end, the believer will have a plethora of cross references and the ability to synthesize all of the data in a well-defined statement of faith.
Having blessed our minds with theology, we now let it flow to our hearts and pour out to others through the way we live our lives. This discipline is known as Practical Theology. Here the Christian allows his convictions to change his attitudes, actions, and worship. After concluding the meaning of a passage, the student asks, “What then shall I do?” He or she will no longer study the Bible as dry facts like any old history book, but will see the ancient words as applicable to their everyday situations.
In this portion of our blog we hope to bless you in your pursuit of studying God. We will continually point you back to His self-revealing Word rather than promoting our own wisdom and opinions. It is our goal to aid you along the way as you develop your own statement of faith, while keeping the big picture of redemption history always before your eyes. We also hope to aid you in living out what you learn and promote Christlikeness in every area of you life.
Simply click below which area of theology you would like a study today.