Systematic Theology

Dictionary.com

Systematic

adjective
  1. having, showing, or involving a system, method, or plan: a systematic course of reading; systematic efforts.
  2. given to or using a system or method; methodical: a systematic person.
  3. arranged in or comprising an ordered system: systematic theology.
  4. concerned with classification: systematic botany.
  5. pertaining to, based on, or in accordance with a system of classification: the systematic names of plants.

Theology

See the following: Theology Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


Etymonline.com

1670s, “pertaining to a system,” from French systématique or directly from Late Latin systematicus, from Greek systematikos “combined in a whole,” from systema (genitive systematos); see system. From 1789 as “methodical,” often in a bad sense, “ruthlessly methodical.” Related: Systematical (1660s); systematically.


Discussion/Explanation

From Google’s dictionary:

“noun: systematic theology – a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious truths in a self-consistent whole.”

This fairly well gets at the gist of this area of study. The point is not to represent the theology of the Bible as a redemptive whole (which is more the realm of Biblical Theology) but to connect things together from the various books of the Bible.

This area of study is much more preoccupied with organizing the information of the Bible into various categories. It is through such efforts that you get subareas like angelology, demonology, pneumatology (study of the Holy Spirit), eschatology (study of the end times, and so on. It addresses individual topics one by one.

It is considered systematic in that it links the various pieces of information found throughout the Scriptures on the particular topic together.

Systematic theology is also one of the main four branches of theology which include exegetical theology, practical theology, and historical theology.


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Practical Theology

Dictionary.com

Practical

adjective

  1. of or relating to practice or action:
    practical mathematics.
  2. consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action:
    a practical application of a rule.
  3. of, relating to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work:
    a habitual dreamer, who can’t be bothered with practical affairs.
  4. adapted or designed for actual use; useful:
    practical instructions.
  5. engaged or experienced in actual practice or work:
    a practical politician credited with much legislation.
  6. inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities:
    looking for a practical person to fill this position.
  7. mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.
  8. matter-of-fact; prosaic.
  9. being such in practice or effect; virtual:
    Her promotion to manager is a practical certainty.
  10. Theater. practicable(def 3).

Theology


Etymonline.org

Practical

early 15c., practicale “of or pertaining to matters of practice; applied,” with -al (1) + earlier practic(adj.) “dealing with practical matters, applied, not merely theoretical” (early 15c.), or practic (n.) “method, practice, use” (late 14c.). In some cases directly from Old French practique (adj.) “fit for action,” earlier pratique (13c.) and Medieval Latin practicalis, from Late Latin practicus “practical, active,” from Greek praktikos “fit for action, fit for business; business-like, practical; active, effective, vigorous,” from praktos “done; to be done,” verbal adjective of prassein, prattein “to do, act, effect, accomplish.”

Practical joke “trick played on someone for the sake of a laugh at his expense” is from 1771 (earlier handicraft joke, 1741).

Theology

mid-14c., “the science of religion, study of God and his relationship to humanity,” from Old French theologie “philosophical study of Christian doctrine; Scripture” (14c.), from Latin theologia, from Greek theologia “an account of the gods,” from theologos “one discoursing on the gods,” from theos “god” (from PIE root *dhes-, forming words for religious concepts) + -logos “treating of” (see -logy). Meaning “a particular system of theology” is from 1660s.


Discussion/Explanation

Here we have a two-word term once more which requires looking at each word individually. We have looked at the term theology before such that the focus now will be on what practical means in this context.

In practical theology, we see much of the use we see in the first several definitions given from Dictionary.com. To be more specific, practical theology involves the study of the application of theological insights. It involves what we’ve learned from God’s Word, the Scriptures, lived out and practiced in our daily lives.

This area of study includes several sub-areas of study just as the other main branches of theology do. These include pastoral studies, homiletics, Christian education, ethics, church duties, and more.


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A Woman’s Conduct – 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Part 2)

[Begin Part 2]

In the previous post, we dealt with verses 9 to 10 from 1 Timothy 2. In this post, we move onto verses 11-15.

If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, go back and do so now as it sets the stage for what comes next.

Once again, context is important whether it be cultural, historical, etc., we must consider such things in order to understand the message most clearly and concisely. Just as in our day there are stereotypes, stereotypes existed back at the time of writing 1 Timothy as well.

In those times, females were considered inferior academically and education systems were set up for men. This was true in both Greek culture of the time as well as Jewish. With these things in mind…

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness.” (v. 11)

This statement was revolutionary. Paul writes that women are to learn as well. Women are, after all, created in the image of God just as much as men and should therefore reflect that Godliness, that Christ-likeness alongside men. You do this best by learning more about God and growing closer to Him through it such that you inevitably reflect Christ-likeness to those around you.

Earlier in 1 Timothy 2 and here Paul uses the term translated in most versions to “quietly” to describe the manner for receiving instruction. In the Greek, this term is referring to respect and not silence. This carries over into the term of “submissiveness” which refers “to arrange yourself in rank under” in the Greek. This sort of action is a willful decision and not something anyone is given the right to force upon the woman. Again, if it is her intent to follow God, she is to show this intent through her actions and to do so by her own will. This passage is speaking specifically to women in the church but elsewhere in the Scriptures we find that all followers are called to do likewise before the God-ordained leadership of the church.

In verse 12…

“But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

This has got to be one of the most controversial parts of this passage.

I think the sermon linked below words this quite well so I will quote:

“This command by Paul is not a prohibition against women teaching in the church, nor is it a prohibition from general instruction in the Bible. It is, however, a prohibition againsts women authoritatively proclaiming God’s Word in the context of the public worship of the Church.”

What does this mean? Remember that the context here is in reference to corporate worship. The context indicates that this prohibition is meant for the confines of corporate worship. It is not saying the prohibition should go beyond corporate worship. If it did, there would be clear conflicts then with other areas of Scriptures in which women were recorded teaching men various things about the faith – all of which took place outside corporate worship.

Official instruction in corporate worship is set for people like Paul and the elders of the church. In fact, we see Pauls talk about the elders in the very next chapter.

One of the distinctions of verse 12 is in the apect surrounding “teach”. It isn’t speaking of all teaching activities. Specifically in the Greek, it is written in the present infinitive which translates “to be a teacher”. Taken in the context of the rest of the verse we see this means a woman is not to hold a position of an authoritative teacher over a man in corporate worship. I want to note that this isn’t saying anyting about a woman’s ability.

“For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.” (vv. 13-15)

That “For” at the beginning of verse 13 is just like a “because” which tells you that what comes next refers to what came before – verse 12. Verse 13 begins the rationale Paul gives for verse 12. In it we, see Paul going back to creation.

I think it’ll be best to lay this out in points to make it easier to follow. Here we go:

  1. “For it was Adam who was first created,” is not a mark of superiority in Adam but it is a point about being the first born – a position that has always carried with it spiritual responsibility within the family. Paul is refering to the created order in humanity before the fall had even taken place. In this we see Adam was created to be the head and Eve his helpmate. It was adam, therefore, who was given spiritual headship and authority, not Eve.
  2. After this first bit, the focus shifts to mostly Eve; however, Paul is not blaming Eve here for the fall. We should pay particular attention to the word “deceived” here.
    1. Eve was clearly deceived here.
    2. Adam was not deceived meaning he transgressed fully aware of what he was doing!
    3. Adam’s failure makes it all the more clear why God went to him rather than Eve after what had happened in the garden. Not only was he supposed to be the spiritual head but he knowingly transgressed God’s rule.
    4. “Eve stepped out from under the protection and leadership of Adam and Adam violated his leadership role and followed Eve.” – from the linked sermon
  3. Nowhere is it said that women are some how lesser or inferior in intelligence or capability in this passage.
  4. Verse 15 isn’t trying to suggest that women are somehow saved through childbirth. Not only does the original text not support the idea, but it doesn’t make any sense in light of the rest of Scripture where we know that salvation comes through God’s grace and by faith in Jesus Christ.
    1. Women have a distince role that only they can play: motherhood.
    2. It is through women that children are brought into the world and this includes those who would be devout followers of God.
    3. It is also through women that the most righteous seed would come forth, Jesus Christ.
    4. As a result, “…women would have the privelege of leading the race out of sin to godliness.” – quoted from near the end of the linked sermon

As you can see, things aren’t always what they may first appear. You have to be diligent and look carefully as to what is and isn’t said. Context, of all kinds, must also be considered in order to accurately understand what is written in its original environment and how it would have been received by the people it was written too originally. Many of us have done this very same exercise in our English, history, and reading classes growing up. I recommend being consistent and to do the same in the Scriptures.


If you have any questions, please listen to the sermon first. What I have written here is in large part a summary of key points. There are more examples and further explanation in the message. Just click the “here” link below to be taken to the page to hear it for yourself.


This post is based upon notes & study connected to a spoken message that can be found here.

Why Study Koine Greek?

Why would you want to study a particular version (Koine) of Greek that no one speaks anymore?

The straightforward answer is because it is the language in which the New Testament (NT) was written. In addition, there was written a Koine Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the Septuagint.

Koine (sounds like coin-ay) effectively means common so we have “common” Greek and this was the common tongue in the time of Jesus and the Apostles as well as beyond. Any time you study languages, you will come across the term lingua franca which is used to refer to the common language of a time. For NT times, this was Greek.

  1. With the above in mind, you have to study Koine Greek if you want to be able to read the NT in its original language and grasp a deeper understanding of the text.
  2. What was written in Greek may not have a direct counterpart in English. This is a great reason for the different translation approaches used between the different English translations of the Bible. Read the Greek to get to the source.
  3. The culture in which the original text written in Greek is different from our own present-day culture. This is important for understanding difficult texts that our present-day culture hates or is confused about. 1 Timothy 2:9-15 is a great example. People have often responded to such a passage by siding with worldly culture and thereby rejecting the Scripture (at least on the target passage), or you get those who read it without seeking to understand the full context and thereby conclude, improperly, to take on abusive, error-filled practices. This point also serves to re-emphasize point 2.
  4. Revival. Historically, the early church did all its worship in Greek. This became a problem as the western church and the eastern church grew further and further apart. Eventually, the west broke entirely and did things in Latin and the people largely spoke their own native tongue at this point. This brought about a period of spiritual darkness that stuck around until the Reformation. We are in danger of the same sort of spiritual darkening if we fail to continue to seek out the Greek, the original text of the NT Scriptures. Thankfully, we do have many good English translations today, but we wouldn’t have had them without the Greek; if we forget the Greek, we can endanger ourselves to those who would push forward altered translations of the Bible.
  5. For the one studying Greek (or any language for that matter), their minds become sharpened. As you learn Koine Greek, you come to understand the Scriptures as those did in the times that it was written and beyond. You also become sharper at noticing key details in the text that can have profound implications to its interpretation. For one, this helps to notice what was originally being said in a given text when in the English it may look like something contradictory is being said when compared to another area of Scripture. Such a scenario speaks to the difficulties of translation and emphasizes the benefit of understanding the original language in which it was written.

I’m sure I could make more points but already you can see how each point made easily feeds into the others. Also, many of these reasons to study Greek would also apply to study Hebrew which is the original language of the Old Testament Scriptures. Sure, you could just stick to the Greek Septuagint but that work is a translation of the original Hebrew. Once again, it is good and profitable to get to the original language.

Now, with all that said, I am not trying to say that every Christian must learn Greek, Hebrew, or whatever other languages. I would highly recommend it though. Between Greek and Hebrew, most English speakers will find Greek relatively easier to learn as there are clear similarities between the two languages.

Other languages used in the time of Christ and thereafter include Aramaic and Latin which can also prove useful.


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Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is a discipline of exegetical theology, one of the 4 that are part of what is called the “Encyclopedia of Theology” – Exegetical, Historical, Systematic, and Practical Theologies (Hagenbach).


Etymonline.com

biblical

1734, “pertaining to the Bible,” from Bible + -ical. Related: Biblically. Earlier adjective was Biblic (1680s). Related: Biblicality.


Discussion/Explanation

Biblical theology is considered by some to be the capstone of exegetical theology. However, it is not exegetical theology itself.

The reason for calling it the capstone is because it presupposes everything else within exegetical theology. To be clear, this means it is keeping in mind the Hebrew and Greek behind our modern translation, historical context, textual criticism, translation approach, the history and canonicity of the Bible, and hermeneutics. Everything done within exegetical theology is taken into account when engaging in biblical theology studies.

Biblical theology is, therefore, the area of theology of the entire Bible. It looks at the Bible as a whole and does not subdivide based upon Old Testament and New Testament. As a result, it naturally traces the entire story of the Scriptures in which you can see God’s progressive revelation.

Now, I do want to point out that biblical theology is not practiced in every corner of Christianity today. There are many who would do everything else found within the exegetical branch and then ignore the capstone and/or use the term biblical theology in an entirely different way – usually to state whether or not a particular theology or theological approach is biblical. With this in mind, the use of the term “biblical theology” can often seem unclear.


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Protestantism

In Christendom today, there are often considered to be three primary branches – Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestantism (debating aside whether or not this is an accurate representation of current-day Christianity). Let’s first get started with the usual…


Dictionary.com

Protestantism

noun
  1. the religion of Protestants.
  2. the Protestant churches collectively.
  3. adherence to Protestant principles.

Protestant

noun

1. any Western Christian who is not an adherent of a Catholic, Anglican, or Eastern Church.
2. an adherent of any of those Christian bodies that separated from the Church of Rome during the Reformation, or of any group descended from them.
3. (originally) any of the German princes who protested against the decision of the Diet of Speyer in 1529, which had denounced the Reformation.


Etymonline.com

1640s, from French protestantisme or else formed from Protestant + -ism.


Discussion/Explanation

Protestantism and Protestant are terms inherently embroiled with everything involving the Reformation or Protestant Reformation. To see more on this particular and important historical time, see the page on the Protestant Reformation.

I would be a Protestant as I continue in the tradition and theology of Protestants everywhere who separate themselves from Catholicism (in particular). Protestants do not talk about the Eastern Orthodox much as it was from the western, the Roman Catholic, church that the Protestants separated from historically.

Protestantism today is spread throughout the globe. The United States of America was largely founded by those seeking a place to call their own (many of whom Protestants) who came here to escape various hardships as well as religious persecutions from where they came.

I would highly recommend checking out the link above to find out more as you will come to see much of what has made Protestantism different from the “Christianity” that came before.


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Polemics

Dictionary.com

noun (used with a singular verb)
1. the art or practice of disputation or controversy:
a master of polemics.
2. the branch of theology dealing with the history or conduct of ecclesiastical disputation and controversy.


Etymonline.com

1630s, “controversial argument or discussion,” from French polémique (16c./17c.), noun use of adjective meaning “disputatious, controversial” (see polemic (adj.)).


Discussion/Explanation

From the definition, you may start getting the idea that polemics is akin to apologetics. While they are related in the defense that they give, there is a significant difference.

Apologetics is focused outward whereas polemics is focused inward.

“In polemics, unlike apologetics, we are making an inward defense of our faith, rooting out false teachings and false teachers within the body of the church. A polemicist duty is to point out false teaching and teachers while warning others in the body of Christ about said teaching or teacher.”   — Richard Haas

Polemics is effectively an internal or within the church defense. It is the act of engaging and dealing with those who would rise up from within to lead others astray. Call such people the proverbial “wolf in sheep’s clothing” as the target of the polemicist. This is yet another hat particularly emphasized for leaders of the church but one that should be exercised by believers in general.


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Poimenics

Dictionary.com

  1. pastoral theology – the branch of theology dealing with the responsibilities of members of the clergy to the people under their care.

Etymonline.com

– – this term isn’t in their database – –

pastoral:

“of or pertaining to shepherds,” early 15c., from Old French pastoral (13c.), from Latin pastoralis “of herdsmen, of shepherds,” from pastor (see pastor (n.)). The noun sense of “poem dealing with country life generally,” usually dealing with it in an idealized form and emphasizing the purity and happiness of it, is from 1580s.


Discussion/Explanation

As you can see, this one is quite straight-forward in meaning. Poimenics and pastoral theology are both used interchangeably though I’d say I see the second more often these days.

As the definition states, this is an area of study that studies the Bible’s instructions for clergy in how they serve the body, the people of the church under their care.


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Parable

Dictionary.com

noun
1. a short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
2. a statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.


Etymonline.com

mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., “saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else,” from Old French parable “parable, parabolic style in writing” (13c.), from Latin parabola “comparison,” from Greek parabole “a comparison, parable,” literally “a throwing beside,” hence “a juxtaposition,” from para “alongside” (see para- (1)) + bole “a throwing, casting, beam, ray,” related to ballein “to throw” (from PIE root *gwele- “to throw, reach”).

Replaced Old English bispell. In Vulgar Latin, parabola took on the meaning “word,” hence Italian parlare, French parler “to speak” (see parley (n.)).


Discussion/Explanation

Parables are told in various area of the Bible. Among the most famous are those told by Jesus Christ.

Examples of these particular stories would be:

Parable of the Sower – Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:2-20, and Luke 8:4-15

Weeds Among the Wheat – Matthew 13:24-30

Growing Seed – Mark 4:26-29

You’ll notice Christ’s parables are found among the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). An example of a parable elsewhere in the Bible includes:

Eagles and the Vine – Ezekiel 17:1-24

Each story or parable tells a story that is meant to teach (much as you saw in the definition from dictionary.com).

An interesting point about Christ’s parables is that he also did it without always explaining the story and this was on purpose. His parables all involve spiritual matters and they were meant to instruct those who would listen and want to understand. The stories weren’t simply for anyone who wanted to hear a story. Each had a point and a purpose.


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Messiah

Dictionary.com

noun
  1. the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people.
  2. Jesus Christ, regarded by Christians as fulfilling this promise and expectation. John 4:25, 26.
  3. (usually lowercase) any expected deliverer.
  4. (usually lowercase) zealous leader of some cause or project.
  5. (italics) an oratorio (1742) by George Frideric Handel.

Etymonline.com

c. 1300, Messias, from Late Latin Messias, from Greek Messias, from Aramaic (Semitic) meshiha and Hebrew mashiah “the anointed” (of the Lord), from mashah “anoint.”

This is the word rendered in Septuagint as Greek Khristos (see Christ). In Old Testament prophetic writing, it was used of an expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. The modern English form represents an attempt to make the word look more Hebrew, and dates from the Geneva Bible (1560). Transferred sense of “an expected liberator or savior of a captive people” is attested from 1660s.


Discussion/Explanation

Messiah has counterparts, as can be seen above, in Late, Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. It is in the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Old Testament (OT) – that we see the related term from which we get Christ.

Regardless of which translation used, it remains a term that marks the deliverer, the anointed one foretold to come and save His people. As Christians, we know the Messiah to be Jesus. We call Jesus the Christ or Jesus Christ as this designates the same thing, the same truth about Jesus. The works of the New Testament (NT) were written in Greek which is why we see the term “Christ” so often whereas the OT commonly used “Messiah” as it was written in Hebrew.


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