On Systematic Theology: Reading Scripture Resulting in Biblical Theology Resulting in Systematic Theology
We, the church, have found ourselves, at least some of us, with seemingly strong theological conclusions, however, we have hardly any idea how we developed these conclusions. Like the saying of any good math teacher, “Show your work even though the answer may be in the back of the book. The answer is not the answer unless you show your work.” How do we teach theological conclusions or systematic theology and not teach someone how to unearth that conclusion? Simple, we tend to preach and teach someone else’s conclusions. This has a lasting effect on the church which results in an unequipped body. This must change. There is a way to preach and teach the Bible by which you feed the sheep and delicately show them how to read the Scriptures.
If you pick up any systematic theological textbook it will basically give you the conclusions or answers to the theological questions they have either discovered or taken from someone else. So, you find yourself in this situation: you begin a conversation with someone who is an unbeliever and you are discussing a topic of theology. Furthermore, this person is well educated and directs some logical reasoning back at your conclusion. Then you realize that you have no idea how to explain “your work” on coming to that conclusion. There you stand with no explanation for the hope that is within you.
The church, by that I mean every believer, [should] be brought to a point they can write or explain theological conclusions with their Bible (but not proof-texts). This means that they are being equipped and they are equipping others to continue to study the Bible. This will happen in the home, the office, the grocery store, etc. Moreover, this may be one reason why people are not sharing the gospel or discipling their children because they do not know how. Thus, I think catechisms are the lazy way to teach our children, and we are severing these truths from the word of God. This does not mean that we abandon the confessions and systematic theology books; rather we use them to check our work. If we are way off in our conclusions, we must work harder to find out why—namely, through the study of the Scriptures and prayer.
Therefore, the church needs men and women dads and moms who can rightly divide the WORD, not a catechism or systematic theology book. However, this takes work. Are you willing to work hard to find the treasures found in Scripture? Let me state why this is going to be difficult. First, there are many things you have learned that you will have to unlearn. Next, in a sense you may be working backwards. This becomes very frustrating, but it will pay off as we begin to discover the treasures within God’s word. Lastly, it will be hard because we are lazy (and too busy) and undisciplined in our walk with the Lord. When we discover Jesus, we will be changed. We need to SEE Jesus, so to see him is to find him revealed in written form i.e. the Bible.