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Introduction to Systematic Theology
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  1. Introduction to Systematic Theology

  2. TYPES OF THEOLOGY: • Modern methods of doing theology: classified according to typologies • See Peter Toon, The End of Liberal Theology, 145ff • Typology focuses on the “structures of systems of thought,” 152 • The Deductive Approach: This is a method that uses Scripture and/or the tradition of the Church to deduce objective truth. Examples would include Hodge, Barth, Grudem, Erickson, Oden, Reymond • The Inductive Approach: This is a method that uses human experience as the starting point. Examples would include Schleiermacher, Tracy, Kung Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  3. TYPES OF THEOLOGY: • The Reductive Approach: This is a method that seeks to translate Scripture into a modern idiom. Examples would include Bultmann, Cone, Gutierrez, Fiorenza • The Regulative Approach: This is a method that views the Bible “as being primarily and essentially . . . narrative or story.” Examples would include Lindbeck, Frei, Hauerwas, Pinnock Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  4. TYPES OF THEOLOGY: • There are three types or ways of doing theology according to George Lindbeck, The Nature of Doctrine: • Cognitive/Propositionalist, or the Traditional Way, which emphasizes cognitive aspects, truth as captured in propositions • Experiential/Expressive, or Expressively Symbolic, which focuses on feelings, attitudes, experience- not propositions • Hybrid, combines two methods listed above; replace by Lindbeck’s Regulative or Cultural-Linguistic approach Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  5. TYPES OF THEOLOGY: • Per Donald Bloesch, A Theology of Word and Spirit • A Theology of Restoration • Pieper, Hodge are representatives • This affirms a “conscious return to known theological roots and foundations,” Toon, 157 • It is similar to Niebuhr’s “Christ Against Culture” Model • A Theology of Accommodation • Schleiermacher, Harnack, Herrman are representatives • This “attempts to present the Christian faith in modern concepts and symbols,” Toon, 158 • It is similar to Niebuhr’s “Christ of Culture” Model Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  6. TYPES OF THEOLOGY: • Per Donald Bloesch, A Theology of Word and Spirit, cont. • A Theology of Correlation • Tillich, Kung, Tracy are representatives • “Human reason finds its goal and fulfillment in divine revelation,” Toon, 159 • It is similar to Niebuhr’s “Christ above Culture” Model • A Theology of Confrontation • Calvin, Barth, Kuyper are representatives • Human questions and symbols are subordinate to the kerygma • It is similar to Niebuhr’s “Christ Transforming Culture” Model Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  7. A COVENANTAL APPROACH • Makes use of many different perspectives and borrows from all types of theology • The covenant theologian has experienced the grace of God, as in subjective types of theology • The covenant theologian seeks to understand what God has revealed, as in objective types of theology (confronting non-Christian thinking with the demand for transformation as well) • By beginning with the presupposition of the self-contained God and the self-attesting Scripture, the covenant theologian avoids the rationalistic bent of much of evangelical theology • By applying the principle of the covenant, I will be your God and you will be my people, the covenant theologian is very interested in correlating the truth of God’s word to the needs of God’s covenant people at a given place and in a given time, as in reductive types of theology Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  8. A COVENANTAL APPROACH • We begin with the God of the Bible • Who has made himself known to us • This is axiomatic and presuppositional • We trust his Revelation • “Scriptural authority comes from God. In its total extent and in all its parts Scripture is the inspired, and thus also the infallible and authoritative Word of God. What Paul says, God says.” Spykman, Reformational Theology, 123 • Reason is subordinated to Scripture • Experience is validated by Scripture • We do not begin with any a-priori concepts regarding the nature of God or his method of dealing with his creatures • This avoids the problems of the Greek antinomies: One and Many; determinism/indeterminism • God is not the product of philosophical speculation, a static, emotionless, unmoved-mover Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  9. A COVENANTAL APPROACH • This method employs the following disciplines and questions in its effort to ascertain individual truths and their systematic formulation • Historical-Grammatical Exegesis • What does the text actually say? • What bearing does the analogia Scripturae have on the text? (Interpret the difficult in light of the clear) • What did it mean to its original audience? • What is its application to us in our culture? • Biblical-Theological Constructs • What, in the redemptive-historical flow, is the import of this teaching? • How does it relate, eschatologically, to the Kingdom of God and the rule of Christ? Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  10. A COVENANTAL APPROACH, cont. • Historical Reflection • How has the Church viewed this teaching in the past? • What bearing does the common consent of the church have on the text and its teaching? • What current challenges, reflections are important to this teaching? • Systematic Development and Formulation • How does this truth relate to all other biblical-theological truths? • What bearing does the analogia fidei (“the analogy of faith,” or the use of the general theological meaning of Scripture as guide to the interpretation of a particular text) have on the text? Interpret Scripture in light of the theology of the church • How does this truth relate to all other truth, from whatever source? • Generally, various doctrinal formulations are discussed under the rubric of “theological loci.” • Practical Application • How does the Church faithfully live this truth today in this culture? • How do we apply God’s truth to concrete situations of covenantal living? Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  11. SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY: SCIENCE? • Scientific study: the God-given impulse to seek knowledge; to exercise dominion over the realm of nature • Cultural Dominion-an exercise in image-bearing, committed to the creature as image-bearer of God • The task given to Adam, to cultivate the garden, provides insight. CULTUS: • Refers to religion, worship • Refers to tilling soil, bringing forth fruit • Humanity’s task: the exploration of creation, at once religious and scientific. Scientific inquiry, at root, should be a religious activity Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  12. KINDS OF KNOWLEDGE: • Archetypal Knowledge • Original, Transcendent, Intuitive, Immediate, Comprehensive • “God alone knows himself (‘archetypal knowledge of God,’ cognitio Dei archetypa)” A. Kuyper, Principles of Sacred Theology, 215 • Ectypal Knowledge • Derivative, Immanent, Discursive, Mediated, Partial • “there is no created being that can know aught [sic] of Him, except He himself reveals something from His self-knowledge and self-consciousness in a form that falls within the comprehension of the creature” A. Kuyper, PST, 215-16 Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  13. ECTYPAL (Creaturely) KNOWLEDGE • Ectypal knowledge is perfectly adapted to the creature’s environment • It is sufficient for its intended purposes • The opportunity for Adam to expand the base of knowledge was implicit in the command to have dominion • THUS: The knowledge that God has given concerning himself in Nature, Providence, Experience, and most importantly, Scripture are all within the scope of our legitimate investigation Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  14. THE ANTITHESIS • Concept offered by Dutch Calvinists • It seeks to provide a way of viewing the entire cosmos as belonging to God • But, short of the eschaton, all creation is under siege by the forces of evil • The antithesis is critical to all theological enterprise • It runs through every part of the created order • It affects every issue arising in creation • It reminds us of the danger of relying upon reason Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  15. THE ANTITHESIS • “The antithesis represents a spiritual warfare between good and evil which knows no territorial boundaries. It is not geographically, locally, or spatially definable. The enmity between these two hostile forces does not coincide with two parts of reality, as though one sector of life were holy and the other unholy, or one bloc righteous and the other unrighteous. It is a directional antithesis which runs through all the structures of life. Sin is totally pervasive. Grace, too, lays its claim on all reality. The antithesis may therefore not be dualistically misconstrued as though it drives a wedge between soul and body, faith and reason, theology and philosophy, church and world- with the former viewed as good and the latter as evil.” Spykman, Reformational Theology, 66 Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  16. THEOLOGY AND COVENANT • The Children of the Palingenesis (“regeneration”) • Believe on Jesus Christ and are part of His Kingdom • Will think with new hearts and minds • Will engage faithfully in Theology as a Science • Theology is simply a part of their Heavenly Father’s creation and, like all other parts, is a fruitful area for investigation and exploration: a proper venue for the exercise of dominion • The Children of Darkness (unregenerate) • Believe there is no God to whom they are accountable (in their estimation) • Will rule out theology according to their own, autonomous definition of science Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  17. REVELATI0N AND REASON • Scientific Investigation employs Logic, the use of Reason: Induction and Deduction • Scientific Investigation employs the use of the senses, perception • Reason and the Senses are part of our image-bearing, part of the created order. Frame, Doctrine of the Knowledge of God, 29 • Both have validity, enabling us to analyze the data of creation, to think and ponder its implications • Both are subordinated to Revelation in a truly covenantal methodology Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  18. REVELATI0N AND REASON • SCRIPTURE IS NOT PLACED UNDER THE SCRUTINY OF OUR REASON • Reason is subject to Scriptural authority • There are truths concerning God that transcend our reason and our senses • “It will readily be inferred what as Christians we mean by antinomies. They are involved in the fact that human knowledge can never be completely comprehensive knowledge. Every knowledge transaction has in it somewhere a reference point to God. Now since God is not fully comprehensible to us we are bound to come into what seems to be contradiction in all our knowledge. Our knowledge is analogical and therefore must be paradoxical. We say that if there is to be any true knowledge at all there must be in God an absolute system of knowledge. . . . Yet we ourselves cannot fully understand that system.” C. Van Til, The Defense of the Faith, 44. Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  19. THEOLOGY AS SCIENCE: • It is a Practical Science; it has more than mere Ontology (existence) • Theology has Teleology; it has purpose and direction • The end of theological inquiry is not merely mental equilibrium • The goal of scientific inquiry is “knowledge that responds in doxology- how Great is the Knowledge of the Lord.” - Norman Shepherd • Per John Frame, all proper theology is engaged theology. Theology done in abstraction does not fit w/the covenantal character of Scripture. Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  20. THEOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHY: • The relationship is as follows: • The “most fitting prolegomena” to theology is “Christian philosophy” • The “noetic point of departure for both is Scripture,” Spykman, Reformational Theology, 101 • There is a real danger in the juxtaposition of theology with non-Christian philosophy as in much modern theology. That is, to do theology based on non-Christian presuppositions or to do theology employing a methodology not governed by Scripture is inherently unacceptable for the Reformed theologian Intro to Systematic Theology 3

  21. Introduction to Systematic Theology