Introduction. What is Theology?. The Definition of Theology. The term “ theology ” is comprised of two Greek root words: Theos – divine beings in general, or the one true God in particular Logos – a very important biblical word, rich in nuances and associations, including:
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Introduction What is Theology?
The Definition of Theology • The term “theology” is comprised of two Greek root words: • Theos – divine beings in general, or the one true God in particular • Logos – a very important biblical word, rich in nuances and associations, including: • “Word,” something that is spoken • “Discourse,” study, questioning and discussion • “Reason,” the rational principle of the universe • “Revelation,” a word of divine disclosure to man
The Definition ofSystematic Theology “Systematic theology correlates the data of biblical revelation as a whole in order to exhibit systematically the total picture of God’s revelation. [Systematic theology] focuses on the total structure of biblical doctrine.” (Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology, p. 15; see also Paul Enns, Moody Handbook of Theology, pp. 147-48).
The Definition ofSystematic Theology “Systematic Theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today,’ about any given topic.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 21)
Theology: a Three-Legged Stool TRADITION CHURCH & CULTURE SCRIPTURE If any of the legs is missing, the whole thing collapses!
The Definition of Theology: Scientific Theology is “the science of the facts of divine revelation so far as those facts concern the nature of God and our relation to Him, as His creatures, as sinners, and as the subjects of redemption. All these facts, as just remarked, are in the Bible.” Charles Hodge, Systematic Theology, 1:21
The Definition ofSystematic Theology:Multi-Sourced “Systematic Theology may be defined as the collecting, scientifically arranging, comparing, exhibiting, and defending all of the facts from any and every source concerning God and His works.” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, Vol. 1, p. 6)
The Definition ofSystematic Theology:Known in Faith Christian theology is “the systematic study of the fundamental ideas of the Christian faith. ‘Theology is the science of faith. It is the conscious and methodical explanation and explication of the divine revelation received and grasped in faith.’” (Alister McGrath, Christian Theology: An Introduction, 139; quote from Karl Rahner)
The Necessary Attributes of Good Theology • Theology is biblical • Theology is systematic • Theology relates to the issues of culture and learning • Theology must be contemporary • Theology must be practical • Theology is NOT simplistic • Theology is NOT inspired!!
A Working Definition of Theology Theology must be • grounded in the Doctrine(s) of the Bible, • informed by the history of the church (creeds, confessions, tradition), • articulated in the context of the church and culture, • for the purpose of evangelism of the world and the edification of the church.
The Method of Theology • The Will • Isa. 1:18, “Come now…” • Acts 17:32 • 1 Cor. 2:14, “not receive” = “not accept” = active • rejection Why? • The Mind • Isa. 1:18, “…let us reason together” • Isa. 7:9 – belief precedes understanding • [Have to believe that there’s something there, or you won’t study it to understand it!] • 3. Rom. 12:2 – as believers! “Faith seeking understanding.”
Faith Seeking Understanding • “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7 • “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” I Jn 5:20 • “I do not try, O Lord, to plumb your depths; for that my understanding fails. Yet I long to understand somewhat your truth, the truth my heart believes and loves. I do not seek to understand and so believe, but rather believe and so understand.” Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)
NO Not sticking our head in the sand and denying reason NO Not a blind leap YES The prerequisite for receiving understanding What is Faith?
Lay Theology • Pastoral Theology • Professional Theology • Academic Theology The Location of Theological Reflection Where does theology belong?
The Historical PerspectiveHow have the three main branches of the Church done theology? • Eastern Orthodoxy: Theology in the context of ancient teaching and worship • Roman Catholicism: Theology in the context of apostolic authority and ecclesiastical hierarchy • Protestantism: Theology in the context of individualism, activism, and biblicism
Eastern Orthodox Distinctives • Culturally Distinct • The Orthodox Church is a collection of distinct national churches from the eastern Mediterranean, eastern Europe, and Russia. • Historically Conservative • The Orthodox Church wants to preserve the theology of the ancient church, particularly from the Seven Ecumenical Councils. • Experientially Oriented (Mysticism) • Beautiful liturgy, architecture, and icons seek to lift the believer to God.
Roman Catholic Distinctives Hierarchical Structure The Roman Catholic Church is united under a single head, the Pope (bishop of Rome). Universal Claims of Authority The word “catholic” means universal or worldwide. Catholicism claims to be the true Church of the world. Ongoing Apostolic Ministry The authority of the apostles is contained not only in Scripture, but also in the ongoing teaching of bishops. In practice, Catholicism centers around 7 sacraments believed to convey grace.
Protestant Evangelical Distinctives • Individualism • Everyone is able to establish a personal, direct relationship with God through faith alone. • Activism • All believers should evangelize, engage in church ministry, and seek personal holiness. • Biblicism • Scripture alone serves as the authoritative source for doctrine and life. All believers should study and be taught the Word.
Why “Do” Theology? • Everyone is already a theologian! • We all have personal, core beliefs called presuppositions. This is an inevitable part of being human. • Presuppositions are theological—they reflect a specific view (right or wrong) of God and Man. • Our presuppositions are displayed in our lifestyle choices. “For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Mt. 6:21
Why “Do” Theology? • To answer the “big questions” of life • Who or what is God? • Who or what reigns on the throne of my life? • What is the basic problem with our world? • Who am I and what are my goals? • What sources should I use to understand my place in the world? • What kind of person should I marry?
Paul uses the verb orthotomeo, “to cut straight” Why “Do” Theology? • To prepare for Christian ministry • “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” 2 Tim 2:15 • “Take pains with these things; be absorbedin them, so that your progress may be evident to all. Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you.” 1 Tim 4:15-16
Why “Do” Theology • To live wisely as a Christian should live • “The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: To know wisdom and instruction; to discern the sayings of understanding; to receive instruction in wise behavior, righteousness, justice and equity; to give prudence to the naïve; to the youth knowledge and discretion. A wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel. To understand a proverb and a figure, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Prov. 1:1-7
Why “Do” Theology • To worship God as He deserves • “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24
The Method of Theology “Faith seeking understanding.”