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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Historical Theology

Etymonline.com

Historical

early 15c., “of or pertaining to history, conveying information from the past,” with -al (1) + Latin historicus “of history, historical,” from Greek historikos “historical; of or for inquiry,” from historia (see history). For sense differentiation, see historic. Meaning “narrated or mentioned in history” (as opposed to what is fiction or legend) is from 1843. Related: Historically.

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

Historical theology is one of the 4 main branches of theology that is often closely tied with studies of church history. Why?

The answer to this question – because the focus of historical theology is to study the development of doctrine historically. Those that followed directly beyond the apostles largely spent their time reiterating what was already written by the apostles. Some of the biggest developments of this time were in the form (or liturgy) of early worship gatherings and an emphasis on the deity of Christ (even more so than what is described in the NT).

Much of historical theology focuses on such developments in their historical context. Our current understanding of God’s Word has come to us because of the many events that have occurred from then to now.  Chief among these events were challenges to the faith that often came in the form of heresies. Through such heresies, it became clearer the difference between the fact and fiction, the truth and falsehoods surrounding the faith.

Besides chronological developments and doctrines, we also see territorial developments and denominational developments as we study historical theology. This grants us understanding as to how such groups and divisions have come to be and inform us on how to view them today.


There was nothing to give from Dictionary.com this time around.


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Exegetical Theology

Dictionary.com & Etymonline.com

— see Exegesis —     also    — see Theology


Discussion/Explanation

It is all that explains and interprets the Holy Scriptures in the study of theology.

This area of study involves the study of ancient languages like Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic in order to study the Scriptures from primary sources – the original/early manuscripts of the Bible.

This also includes archeology and study of the canon of Scripture. Archeology in the study of ancient cultures and people surround the original writings. Canon in the study of the process involved in bringing the various books of the Bible together into the Bible as we know it today which was also against a historical background.

Exegetical theology therefore also includes criticism of the Scriptures and, by relation, the interpretation. This probably becomes obvious to you as you stop to think about what would be logically involved in the above-mentioned elements.

In the end, this is a very important branch of theology as it directly connects to historical theology in its studies and therefore directly impacts practical theology. Biblical theology becomes closely tied with the work carried out in exegesis such that it isn’t uncommon for people to argue biblical theology to be little more than part of exegetical theology (more on this later).


Source/Link for Additional Reading:

http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/E/exegetical-theology.html


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Theology – part 3

Theology can be said to have 4 broad categories or areas of focus within it. These would include:

  1. Exegetical Theology
  2. Historical Theology
  3. Systematic Theology
  4. Practical Theology

Exegetical Theology. It is looking at the Bible as such; it “…includes all that belongs to the explanation and interpretation of the Holy Scriptures (1).” This is the area of theology focused on things such as Greek text, Hebrew text, textual criticism, hermeneutics, exegesis, biblical theology, and more. This area always begins with looking at the text of Scripture itself and the interpretation of its content.

Historical Theology. This traces the history of Church doctrines and their development. This area of theology naturally traces doctrinal differences, the Church’s understanding of the Scriptures, and the Church’s response to heresy. As this area closely follows the Church through history, you also see the rise & fall of territorial and denominational differences.

Systematic Theology. This theology can be described as the “child” of the previous two. From dictionary.com, it is “…a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious truths in a self-consistent whole (2).” It includes apologetics, dogmatics, ethics, and polemics. This is where various studies of the faith come together into a greater, cohesive framework. Dispensationalism and Covenantalism are theologies of the systematic sort as they seek to tie various scriptures together, albeit, with different approaches (giving implications of differences in other areas of theology as well).

Practical Theology. If systematic theology is the “child”, practical theology is the “grandchild” of the first two areas. As the name implies, you get to see Scripture lived out. This includes areas of study within homiletics, liturgy, poimenics, catechetics, church order, and missions. All of these involve the methodologies employed as the gospel is shared in preaching, worship, outreach, and more.

With each of these broad areas, there are sub-areas as you have now seen. Some of these have already been addressed in previous posts as part of this series, and I have therefore linked them for your convenience. Expect to see some of these other terms in future posts for your reading convenience.


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Sources:

  1. http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/E/exegetical-theology.html
  2. dictionary.com