My target posting rate for this project is a chapter a week. That’s what we’ll aim for, but I am interested in applying it all as well, so I might go slower. And that’s not the only reason there might be delays, if you’re the praying type and you can spare a petition for me. Pray that I stay on it this time round! Best to start something like this dependent on God, not just for commitment levels, but also for brain capacity. Anyway enough about my weakness… the Preface.
In short it captures the distinct features that Grudem, no, lets go with Wayne. (Make it sound like I know him well,) the distinct features of this particular study of Systematic Theology has. I think they’re all worth mentioning and I want to unpack a few of them.
- A clear Biblical basis for the doctrines. From what I’ve covered so far, in previous studies/attemptes, this guy uses a lot lot lot of scripture to ground the doctrines he unpacks. Which is reassuring. He quotes Bible passages in length and I honestly don’t mind that! Because of his value for the Scriptures he includes a memory verse for each chapter. A memory verse that I’m going to try and memorise. This’ll be quite straight forward for the first few weeks, but maintaining that for a while will increase in difficulty. All the best.
- Clarity in the Explanation of doctrines. As an advertisement for this book, what I’ve read before also lives up to this standard. It is very simple to read and follow. Not like other books I’ve read: Piper, Lewis and Willard all fantastic fantastic fantastic reads – but do require a bit of extra brain grease to fully engage. This one although clever and deep is also easy to read.
- Application to life. You’ll notice I bold and underlined this one too, that’s because it’s really important to me. I don’t just want to study this, to grow in head knowledge, but also grow in love of God, love for the Church and the world. (Corny?) Maybe, but if this study doesn’t increase my love then it’s just a clanging symbol. (I think another Paul said that once). But it’s not just love I want to grow in, Obedience and Humility are virtues that I’m hoping to grow in too. That’s why I’ll be doing the applications, and at the moment the intent is to record how it was – here. “Learning by doing – what a novel idea” – Propaganda: Board of Education
- Focus on the Evangelical world. Wayne says that you can only go so far in reasoning on theology without an agreed bases for authority. Therefore in this book he focuses on dealing with arguments from the parts of the Church that believe the Bible is true and authoritative. I agree and get the reasoning. As someone who loves reading the Bible, it will be so helpful getting the different scripture arguments for different interpretations and viewpoints. For example end times & beginning times.
- Hope for progress in doctrinal unity in the Church. One of my personal values for the Church today is unity, I believe Jesus cared massively about this. And I think as a Church we miss this too much. Even without realising. What value we place on those who can critique a book, a service or a sermon. How quick do we compare our churches to another based solely on style. I don’t think Wayne’s goal here is to get everyone thinking the same as him – he even says he expects people to disagree on points, but the fact that we can discuss these things with honesty and humility allows us to learn from each other and be united.
- As a Church we need to grow in this area. On one hand I don’t agree with this statement. I see a lot of “intellectual” churches (perhaps because I work among University students) whose sermons are very theologically sound and thought through – but who’s love has gone a bit cold and passion and emotion has been outweighed by thought. But this outbalance, one way or another, actually demonstrates that we need to grow in this. If we are to worship God with all our heart and mind…we need to know truth and not just knowledge-facts, but freedom-bringing, change-initiating, Christ-exalting TRUTH.
Wayne then goes on to thank some people I don’t know.
There we go, Wayne’s (No, I’m going to stick with Grudem – I tried it, I did and it just feels weird!) systematic theology preface. But wait, there’s more. Before we go any – further. I want to give some of my own reasons/attempted distinctives in this blog. So excuse a blog with two lists but brace yourself for more of this. (I’ll soften the blow with a couple of pictures..)
- Personal Satisfaction – I recently read Gary Thomas’ book Sacred Pathways, which talks about the different ways individuals connect with God. It’s very much like the concept of the five love languages, but for a relationship with God. And there’s like 9 of them. Anyway for me 1 of my top ways to connect with God is as an Intellectual. No, that doesn’t mean I’m super bright – but I find that as I am learning and reading and listening and picking new things up – that’s when I feel close to God. It is my sacred pathway. For some it’s walks in nature, or tradition or….you get the point, read the book it’s fantastic! Really freeing for Churches and congregants to get. Highly recommend it. Anyway to return to the question (RTTQ) why do this – because it’s one of the ways I worship God naturally.
- Ministry – in the olden-day, misguided sense and use of the word – my work with Church and Navigators. I want this blog to train people. To be an informal means for them to pick up some of the basics without reading/buying the shoebox of a book (1000+ pages) I got because I’m…(see last post!) Hopefully some of these posts will also be professional/formal enough to easily be turned into worksheets/resources to be printed for group studies.
- Evangelism. That the gospel I present, argue and live out is more truthfully Biblical than it is culturally-(westernis-ed-ly)-relevant-slightly/majorly-distorted.