Thursday, December 29, 2011

Getting Systematic

My kind uncle just gave me some invaluable advice as I seek to be a resource for young people through my writing.  He encouraged me to look into Systematic Theology: "Don't assume you already know the faith well enough...  You don't.  Neither do any of us."

Now Systematic Theology gets a bad rap for all the wrong reasons.  "It's not practical." people whine.  "It's not readable." people moan.  "It's boring!" people chant.  "I hate it!"  OK, I've never heard anyone say that.

You know what I have to say to all of that?  Let's not be stupid.  Systematic Theology can best be defined as exactly what it sounds like, the systematic study of God and his word.  It's rightly dividing God's truth into categories or systems, so as to better explain them.

Now why should we be systematically studying God and his word in a world where experience is everything?  Because if we will be attempting any experience, like breathing for example, and we don't know the faintest about how to breath (like the system for breathing), um, we're going to die.

If we don't know what the Bible teaches about God, man, and creation, our theology will be dead.  And I don't want my theology to be dead.

Some contend that Systematic Theology is scientific in it's approach, and is informed by the enlightenment, and should therefor be replaced by a more spiritual approach.  Hogwash!  We need to know the doctrines that make life make sense.  Does gravity have a better explanation than what science has given us?  We could light scented candles sit in a dark room and ask the Holy Spirit to help us understand and explain gravity, but if you're really listening, he's probably going to go pick up a text-book.

So I rant.  And I rant as one who knows so very little about Systematic Theology.  But I know I have been a huge beneficiary of it.  So now it's time to get my hands dirty, time to read, time to study, and my hope it's time to find the roots of my faith so that I can better help youngsters interpret their experiences.  Here's the Marion Webster's Definition: it's "a branch of theology concerned with summarizing the doctrinal traditions of a religion (as Christianity) especially with a view to relating the traditions convincingly to the religion's present-day setting."

In case you're wondering, I'm starting with Knowing God, by JI Packer, a sort of Systematic Theology for the lay person.  Or if you're like me, the person who eventually always lays down to read.  It's a gravity thing.

No comments: