- In what ways (if any) has this chapter changed your understanding of what systematic theology iss? What is your attitude toward the study of S.T. before reading this chapter? What is your attitude now?
Well, since I’d already read this chapter I feel like I’m “cheating” with this answer. Not much has changed on this reading. However, on my first go, I had no idea what systematic theology was. I had no idea that there were other types of theology. I just knew that I wanted my theology to be based on the Bible. My attitude was pretty lukewarm. I was keen to learn because of my friend’s recommendation. But apart from that, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I think as well, there was an element of excitement. I love learning, and I love a challenge, getting a big book and turning page 1 is a bit of a geek-thrill.
2. What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church.
Good question. My first thought is that any church that stops studying this, would probably get caught up in false doctrine somewhere along the way. But probably they would also really struggle to train up leaders and disciples.
What?! You say. Since when do we need “Systematic Theology” in order to train disciples. Well, if part of the disciple-making process, according to Jesus, is teaching. Then having a systematic understanding of the Bible (AKA Jesus’ commands) really does make the process easier.
Where I think this gets confusing and needs a balance, has to do with the fact that Jesus never went ahead (according to what we know in Scripture) and started giving theology classes to his disciples. He lived it. But if a correct approach to studying S.T. is used, meaning that application and worship are coming out of study, we’re on the right tracks.
I remember hearing an Andy Stanley talk, where he criticised the argument that says “None of the disciples went to Bible College and yet they started a movement – why do we need all this study?!”. Stanley points out that, until Paul (one of the most scripture-educated people of his day) came along, Christianity wasn’t making much headway outside of Jerusalem. Good point.
Back-foot back on the defence again though, Paul did say that he counted all that knowledge and past-goodness as garbage compared to knowing Christ. But hey! If Christ is revealed in His words, teaching and the Bible. We’d be wise to study it carefully, thoroughly and…well, systematically.
But what about those in countries where there are no resources to study this (classes, books, freedom)? Well, what country do you live in now. What resources has God given you. Remember, if you have been given much, you have been trusted with much, and you’ll need to prove to be good stewards.
….so to recap without S.T. in a church for generation could cause: 1) False doctrines/teaching, 2) Struggle in fulfilling discipleship, 3) a slip in godliness – I added this in just now. Grudem pointed out that throughout the Bible sound doctrine is often connected with Godliness. I agree.
In terms of ‘is it the case in my church?’ …Hmmmm. We don’t teach it specifically. But there are key individuals in the Church who have made the effort to learn it, and do study the Bible diligently. Furthermore, one of the plus-sides to CofE, is that Vicars go through Bible School for a season in order to be ordained. I think with that in mind I am blessed to be part of a Church that values and lives out sound doctrine!
3.a Doctrines from the contents page I’m attracted to/think would be useful now?
BROADLY: Future, Man, Church and SPECIFICALLY: Purity and Unity of the Church, Church Government, Sin, Conversion, Canon of Scripture.
3.b Dangers of studying S.T. for me?
All head knowledge – no application. All head knowledge – no love (God & man). Pride. Idolising the finish line.
4. Pray – I’ll go away and do that now!