Why Systematic Theology?

Systematic Theology

I chose to include categories of systematic Christian theology on this site for the following reasons:

  • It is essential in categorizing what we as Christians believe and why.

  • It is a way to differentiate what we believe as opposed to various non-Christian cults

  • It is a way of identifying heresy throughout the history of the church

  • It is a way to categorize non-essential secondary issues and lay out the history of debates and positions, who held them and why

  • It is a way to get a historical perspective on all teachings from the Apostles, Early Church Fathers, and saints from medieval to recent times and compare and contrast between them.

Most of what I will post under these categories will be from Norman Geisler’s 4 volume Systematic Theology Series. He is one of the most respected theologians and apologists of our time and does a very good job of systematically categorizing most of what is taught in seminary without over complicating it.

Systematic theology is a valuable weapon of warfare that also incorporates apologetics to defend the faith. Without it, it becomes hard to distinguish truth from falsehood, Christianity from cult, and simple interpretation from heresy.

With all of this said, I would also like to give a warning. Systematic theology is a double edged sword. It can have the tendency of creating Pharisees and producing legalism. Doctrines of tradition are created much like the Pharisees had which were used to condemn Christ. Jesus is quoted in numerous passages condemning them for this.

 “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Mark 7:9

It is a very fine line and a dangerous one, when it comes to rebuking people for their teachings. I have seen many teachers rebuked on counts of heresy merely because they said things that contradict doctrines like hyper-calvinism. Many secondary issues are treated as essential ones and then the H word is thrown around and peoples reputations are ruined. This is why it is important to distinguish between essential and non-essential Christian doctrines. Essentials are what divide us from cults. Non-essentials only divide us denominationally or doctrinally. It is a faithful saying “In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, and in all things charity”

Systematic theology also has another very dangerous fine line; philosophy. Many of the conclusions that are arrived at about the nature of God or the way he works are by using philosophy. Virtually every seminary student has to take multiple courses in it. Most of the greatest theologians throughout history had highly philosophical minds. Philosophy can be a great force for good, but it can also blind someone with tremendous pride. The charge of heresy is used to attack many teachers simply because what they said contradicted a theological position that was mainly arrived at by philosophical methodology. There are a few problems with this:

  • Systematically categorizing all the positions on a debated issue only puts on the record every possible explanation that man has arrived at via interpreting scripture and using philosophy.

  • This DOES NOT necessitate the conclusion that those are the only possible explanations. When studying systematic theology, an issue is stated, all the arguments for and against are given based on the top proponents and critics, and the one that has the most support from Christian tradition are held up as orthodoxy and whatever deviates many times will get the charge of heresy. The problem with this is that most of the time, the Saints throughout history that are quoted as supporting the argument are always the greatest theologians who usually had the most highly philosophical minds. Now, I am not against this for the most part because combining Christian teaching with philosophy has done a great deal of good for the history of the church. But as stated previously, this can easily produce legalism and Pharisees. This brings me to the last point.

  • I have noticed that most of the greatest theologians who have had the most impact upon Christian teaching and thought did not have the greatest impact for evangelism or for creating revival. I have also noticed today that some of the least educated teachers, including ones who never went to seminary, are having the greatest impact for the kingdom of God, while the most highly educated ones are throwing charges of heresy at them. Now, I will make it clear that I am absolutely in favor of identifying false teachers and calling them out. The charismatic movement today is riddled with heretical teachers and practices. This is the fine line today that is very hard to deal with. But the problem I see is this; Scripture makes it clear that God mostly uses the most unequipped people when it comes to preaching and evangelism:

 “For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise…” 1st Corinthians 26-27

The system that the church has created today for the most part involves a structure where you cannot be a preacher unless you went to seminary and proved that you can reason very philosophically. This was never Gods method of calling preachers. I am not against seminary. If anything I have come to the conclusion that if it is a God ordained system that he only allows it to have a basic structure just so heresy doesn’t take over the church. But I don’t see most of these individuals as being equipped to really preach the gospel and many of them use philosophy in their sermons. Most listening to these sermons do not recognize it because they haven’t studied systematic theology, but I easily do. Everyone else just either comes to the conclusion that whatever was said was just some deep spiritual truth that they don’t understand, or they just leave confused and unchanged.

I will openly say that Southern Baptist Churches are the worst offenders at what I am talking about. It is a paradox though. The Southern Baptist Convention and Churches of the like are the greatest defenders of Christian truth and doctrine and have the least amounts of heresy coming out of them. But they are not impacting the Kingdom of God as much as non-denominational churches. Yet non-denomination churches have higher rates of heretical movements. Yet they are winning more souls and creating better disciples. It is my conviction that there is enough accountability today in the form of internet sites and social media which track heresy and spread the word about it, that non-denominational churches do better not having an organization like the Southern Baptist Convention overshadowing them. It is an organization that does much good, but it is overflowing with Pharisees. These Pharisees spend much of their ministry condemning mostly non-educated preachers who actually have an anointing and are bringing many people to Christ.

I am starting to come more to the conclusion that you could be a great apologist and defender of the Christian faith yet not even be a born again Christian. Many of them are doing it out of pride. It is much like people who radically defend a political position on the right or the left. It’s only a passion and conviction yet not a change of heart. I have seen some people condemned as heretics for positions they held which were also held by CS Lewis, which was one of the greatest defenders of the Christian faith in history. I spent quite a while going through many of his books and I must say that I came out with only a few good quotes and a few good spiritual truths. I could hardly understand the rest. He was so highly philosophical that unless you have a highly philosophical mind you can barely understand what he is saying. Yet he held positions that would be condemned as heresy if they were espoused by anyone of any lesser reputation. Philosophy is doing a lot of harm today in the Church and it needs to be recognized and called out. This verse is all but ignored in the world of Pharisees today:

“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Colossians 2:8

I am still going to post many teachings of systematic theology on this site. But over time I will edit them with a lot of commentary of my own views and interpretations. I believe God has given me a unique gift of interpretation which enables me to provide a very different perspective than a lot of what is taught today.