What Is 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
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…
How Did We Get the 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
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?
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.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: How Is One God Three Persons?
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 the Bible Tells Us About the 10 Plagues of Egypt
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…
Understanding the Creation Story from Genesis
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?
Who wrote the Gospel of John?
The Gospel of John provides no explicit internal evidence concerning its author. John, the disciple, is nowhere identified by name.
But the Fourth Gospel might provide us with clues concealed in the enigmatic figure of the “Beloved Disciple.”
This title occurs in five passages:
John 13:23: “One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.” John 19:26: “When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, ‘Woman, here is your son.’” John 20:2: “So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!’” John 21:7: “Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” John 20:20: “Peter turned…
Who was John the Baptist?
The New Testament places a very high estimate on John the Baptist and his ministry.
John was the greatest figure yet produced under the old covenant, according to Matthew 11:11.
Jesus said of him in Luke 7:28, “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John.”
And Hebrews 11:39 tells us he epitomized all the Old Testament saints who stood at the threshold of the new order without entering in.
His great importance lies in the fact that he bridged the old era and the new and was the link between the two.
Let’s take a closer look at his life, as well as his relationship to Jesus.
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Craig Keener on reading, writing, and biblical scholarship
Craig S. Keener is the F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is the author of more than twenty books, including Miracles and Spirit Hermeneutics. His commentaries include the 4-volume Acts: An Exegetical Commentary, published by Baker Academic, and Revelation in the NIV Application Commentary, among others. He is also co-editor, along with John Walton, of the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible.
We recently collaborated with Dr. Keener to produce an online course on the book of Revelation. We were able to sit down with Dr. Keener for an extended interview about how he writes and conducts research, what it means for him to be a scholar at this moment in history, his advice to younger scholars, and much more.
Take a look:
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SIL International and Zondervan Academic Working Together to Aid Global Bible Translation Efforts
Zondervan Academic providing dozens of academic resources, including online courses, to support efficient and accurate Bible translation work around the world.
Grand Rapids, Mich., March 8, 2018 — Zondervan Academic is pleased to announce their support of SIL International®, a faith-based nonprofit organization committed to serving language communities worldwide. Zondervan Academic is providing to SIL some of the world’s top biblical resources to support efficient and accurate Bible translation work around the world.
SIL has developed Translator’s Workplace, a product built on the Logos Bible Software platform, so that those in a Bible translation role who are part of a private, managed group can access resources to aid their translation efforts. Translator’s Workplace acts like a library with unlimited loaning and loan periods. Zondervan Academic, which already distributes many of its titles digitally through Logos, has granted permission to Logos…