Kinds of Theology

We’re doing this podcast because we’re passionate about theology.

And not just because we’re interested in thinking thoughts, but because these thoughts inform (and fill out) a deeper worship.

But as pastors, we’re passionate this be true any lay-person within the church.

As a result, we often recommend books and articles. We even use a lot of terms in our sermons (or on this podcast). And so sometimes we just throw out words (or phrases) that carry whole freight load of meaning -- In fact, there’s entire disciplines (and areas of study) bound up in a single word.

So we thought it’d be good to talk about the different kinds of theology out there -- and what’s meant by a certain term (or theological discipline).

When you use the term theology, many will simply think of systematic theology (e.g., Grudem, Berkhoff, etc.). But ST is simply one kind of theology.

There’s many kinds of theology out there. They all mean something different, and there’s certain goals with each of those.

So we want to give a brief survey.

Systematic Theology

Definition: “Any study that answers the question: ‘What does the whole bible teach us today?’... about any given topic.” (Grudem)

This is a pretty good definition.

First, it focuses on the fact that systematic theology is interested in what the entire Bible has to say about any given topic.

So ST is attempting to create a system of understanding (or system of thought), but based upon everything that the bible is saying regarding any given topic.

Systematic Theology begins with the bible, but will pull from other disciples (i.e., philosophy, reason, etc). But the bible is typically the controlling point in systematic theology.

For example: You’ll never find the word “Trinity” in the Bible.

However, the doctrine of Trinity is a system of thought, through which can we talk about (and then understand) the nature of God.

So throughout Scripture, God has revealed Himself as a Trinitarian reality, but the Word Trinity is never used.

So what we’re doing, then, is pulling together all the different ways God has revealed Himself in the Bible (e.g., Father, Son, and Spirit), and then developing a comprehensive (or systematic) understanding of that.

So the result of seeing God as Father, Son, and Spirit is the conclusion that God is 1 yet 3.

However, we’ve developed a certain system through which we understand the nature of what Scripture is.

So were looking at all the ways the Bible talks about itself, and then developing a system of understanding as to what the Bible then is.

So the result is that we then understand the Bible is both inerrant (there’s no error) and infallible (it’s not even capable of error).

Second, Grudem states that it’s figuring out what the whole of the Bible is teaching us today.

And this is why new systematic theologies are coming out all the time.

They’re seeking to take the fullness of Scripture, but then bring to bear upon the issues of today.

Example: Theological Anthropology.

What does the Bible say when it comes to issues of human sexuality?

This gets into the issue of transgenderism.

---- This wasn’t an issue 50 years ago.

---- Today it is – so new systematic theologies are being developed to see how the bible addresses this particular issue.

It’s important to know that ST is not without error.

ST is a man-made system, where finite minds are attempting to pull all the thoughts of God together (from the bible) to address a specific issue.

So since ST is a discipline involving finite (sinful) minds, it will always have error.

Three typical areas of Systematic Theology:

i. Theology I

1. Prolegomena.

a. Introduction (“a word before…”)

b. Typically giving explanations as to how the ST is

being done by a particular author.

c. Laying out his/her methodology, goals, outcomes.

2. Bibliology.

3. Theology Proper.

4. Angelology/Demonology.

ii. Theology II

1. Christology.

2. Anthropology.

3. Hamartiology.

4. Soteriology.

iii. Theology III

1. Pneumatology.

2. Ecclesiology.

3. Eschatology.

Other areas of study typically categorized as Systematic Theology.

i. Ethics (e.g,. Div. & Rem., sexul ethics, beginning and end of

life issues (IVF, Euthenasia), etc.)...

ii. Apologetics.

iii. *There’s different approaches to each of these, which

require their own episodes.

Biblical Theology

Definition: “Biblical Theology is that branch of Exegetical Theology which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible. [It’s a study]… which moves along the axis of

redemptive history.” (Geehardus Vos).

“Biblical Theology seeks to uncover and articulate the unity of all the biblical texts taken together, resorting primarily to the categories of those texts themselves.” (Carson)

“Biblical theology “asks what themes are central to the biblical writers in their historical context, and attempts to discern the coherence of such themes.” (Schreiner)

Biblical Theology’s very hard to summarize in a simple definition, just due to the nature of what it is.

Essentially, it’s the idea of tracing out a biblically stated theme of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and then seeing how it develops throughout redemptive history--- that is, as the Bible is being written.

It then, typically, climaxes in the person of Jesus Christ. (example: You can trace out the themes of kingdom, or rest, or temple, or love, or Word of God, etc…).

Example: a Biblical Theology of Rest.

In Gen. 1-2, there’s a parallel statement after each creation day… “There was evening and there was morning – an X day…”

But once we get to the 7 th  day (Gen. 2:2-3), God blesses the 7 th  day and then rests.

So what becomes interesting, is that because there’s been this cadence after each creation day (i.e., evening and morning), the reader’s expecting something obvious.

So after 6 days of creation (and 6 parallel statements), we’re expecting to read, “There was

evening and there was morning, a 7 th day....”

But, you don’t read that. It’s completely left out.

So what you begin to discover, especially as you trace out the theme of “rest” in the Bible, is that

the 7th  day rest now appears to be perpetual. There’s everlasting r