What Is Systematic Theology?

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Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

As Dr. Wayne Grudem explains it, “systematic theology is any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic.”

This highly organized, topical approach to exploring Scripture is so important that most seminaries require at least one systematic theology course in their degree programs (sometimes called “doctrines” courses). Many of these courses utilize Grudem’s work.

We’ve adapted this post from Dr. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology online course to help answer the question “what is systematic theology, and why should I care?”

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11 Things to Know about the Doctrine of the Trinity

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Trinity

To contemplate the Trinity is to lift up your heart and to “set your mind on the things above” (Col. 3:2).

It’s easy to turn doctrinal discussions into strictly intellectual affairs, but as Dr. Fred Sanders teaches in The Triune God course, we need to do so “in a way that enlists the reader’s strict and holy attention for what is essentially a spiritual exercise.”

Any discussion of trinitarian doctrine is an attempt to more deeply understand the character and nature of God.

If we’re interested in discovering (and maintaining) an orthodox understanding of the Trinity, there are some principles we need to understand.

These 11 things you need to know about the doctrine of the Trinity are adapted from his course:

1. The revelation of the Trinity comes with the revelation of the gospel.

The doctrine of the…

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How Did We Get the Old Testament?

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Old Testament

The Old Testament is thousands of years old, and contains accounts stretching back to the beginning of time. This ancient collection of books provides the foundation of both Judaism and Christianity.

So where did it come from? How did these age-old traditions, stories, and commandments make their way to modern times? These are important questions.

John Walton and Andrew Hill answer these questions in their Old Testament Survey online course. The following post is adapted from their unit on the background, history, archaeology, and formation of the Old Testament.

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Guide to the Attributes of God

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Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Between the things God says and does, what other people say about him, and the life of Jesus, the Bible gives us numerous descriptions of God’s character. These passages are often sorted into “attributes of God,” a biblical framework we can use to talk about what God is like and how we know that. Exploring the attributes of God helps us prepare for evangelism, learn church doctrine, and most importantly, understand who God is.

There are several different methods for categorizing God’s attributes. This post will use the most common classification system, adapted from Wayne Grudem’s online systematic theology course.

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What Is the Soul? Is It Different from the Spirit?

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Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Religious or not, most people believe they have some form of a soul. Whether they loosely believe in a concept like “the human spirit,” or they believe part of them will live on when their body expires, these beliefs about body, spirit, and soul all come from somewhere. You might be surprised to learn that much of what people believe about the soul or spirit doesn’t come from the Bible.

The Bible doesn’t neatly define the concepts of spirit and soul for us, so in order to know what it’s saying, we need to piece together all the clues it gives us. In his online systematic theology course, Dr. Wayne Grudem has done just that to reveal how the Bible answers, “What is the soul?” and “What is the spirit?”

The following post is adapted from Grudem’s course.

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Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: How Is One God Three Persons?

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Trinity

If you ask the average Christian to define the Trinity, more often than not they’re going to give you a similar response: “The Trinity is one God in three persons.” While there will likely be some slight variations in how it’s stated, two words will almost always be present: “God” and “persons.”

It’s easy to understand why “God” would be part of every definition. The whole Trinitarian discussion revolves around what we can know and understand about God. When we discuss the Trinity, we’re discussing God.

But did you ever stop to wonder why “persons” is the accepted term for the distinctions of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not three “manifestations,” “modes,” or “beings?” The truth is that the term “person” wasn’t landed on haphazardly. Theologians have labored throughout church history to accurately define the Trinity.

What follows…

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Counterpoints eBook Sale 2018 (Our Biggest Yet)

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philosophy-pic_image

Creation and evolution. Homosexuality. Hell. eBooks exploring these and 31 other key topics are on sale: See the deals. Save up to 76% on these Counterpoints books and get expert dialogue on vital Christian issues—so you can draw your own informed conclusions.

The deals end May 8, 2018, at 11:59pm ET.

 

What’s special about the Counterpoints series?

Counterpoints volumes offer you expert dialogue on vital Christian issues.

Each Counterpoints volume—for example, let’s take Four Views on Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design—contains multiple contributions, each representing a key position within evangelical Christianity. Each contributor presents their own perspective, but also responds to their fellow contributors. In the volume on creation, evolution, and intelligent design you will find:

cases from Ken Ham (Young Earth Creationism), Hugh Ross (Old Earth [Progressive] Creationism), Deborah B. Haarsma (Evolutionary Creation), and Stephen C. Meyer

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What the Bible Tells Us About the 10 Plagues of Egypt

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The fifth plague

One of the Bible’s most dramatic scenes plays out in a showdown between God and an Egyptian Pharaoh, resulting in 10 nightmarish plagues. The Hebrew nation that God formed to worship and represent him was enslaved in Egypt, and he was demanding their release through his servant, Moses.

As Pharaoh continues to resist Moses, God inflicts upon Egypt a series of plagues. As the standoff drags on, the plagues become more severe, eventually escalating to the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn sons.

Why did God choose the plagues he did? And why did he harden Pharaoh’s heart, ensuring that Egypt would experience the entire series of plagues? These are some of the questions that Dr. Gary E. Schnittjer, professor of the Old Testament at Cairn University, tackles in his online course, The Torah Story. The following post is…

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Understanding the Creation Story from Genesis

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The creation of Adam

How did the world begin? Was the world a cosmological mistake or an intentional creation? What existed before the universe as we know it? Questions like these have generated tons of discussion (and arguments) in the historical, scientific, and religious communities.

While most people are familiar with the creation story found in Genesis, there’s a richness that’s often lost. In The Torah Story online course, Gary E. Schnittjer, Cairn University’s professor of Old Testament, plumbs the depth of the creation story while answering important questions like:

How did the author of Genesis receive the creation story? How does the narrative style of the creation story provide the backdrop for the rest of the biblical story? What does the creation story reveal about God? How are humans different than the rest of creation? What is mankind’s responsibility to creation?

This…

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Shoes on the Danube Bank: Message from Bill Mounce

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Shoes on the Danube Bank

We received this photograph and brief message from Bill Mounce on April 30, 2018.

I am in Budapest, Hungary teaching a class on the Pastoral Epistles for the Cru Seminary. These shoes represent all the Budapest Jewish people, adults and children, who were executed by the Arrow Cross Militiamen, fell into the Danube, and floated downstream. In total 3,500 people were murdered. Difficult to see.

***

Bill is the founder and President of BiblicalTraining.org, serves on the Committee for Bible Translation (which is responsible for the NIV translation of the Bible), and has written a commentary on the Pastoral Epistles and many other works including the best-selling biblical…

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What Is the Economic and Immanent Trinity?

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Trinity

If you’re interested in the doctrine of the Trinity, then you’ve probably heard the terms economic Trinity and immanent Trinity from a lot of modern theologians. But what exactly do those terms mean? And more importantly, do they help us understand the Trinity better?

In The Triune God, Dr. Fred Sanders explains the terms and their origins, and suggests how they might actually create more confusion than clarity.

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Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray bring a fresh perspective on Jesus in new book with Zondervan

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Jesus through Eastern Eyes to release February 2020

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich., Apr. 11, 2018 — Ravi Zacharias, president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, and Abdu Murray, North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, have signed on to publish a co-authored book, Jesus through Eastern Eyes, with Zondervan in February 2020.

In the West Jesus is usually seen through one lens: that of Western reasoning and linear thought. As the world becomes smaller and more people are brought to our door, a broader view of Jesus is needed—one that can be grasped by Easterners and can penetrate the hearts and imaginations of postmodern Westerners.

In Jesus through Eastern Eyes, Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray will capture a revitalized gospel message through an Eastern lens, revealing its power and sharing the truth about Jesus in a compelling and winsome light. Incorporating…

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