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…
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.
7 Places We Find Jesus in the Old Testament
While we know Jesus is the fulfillment of the Jewish story and we want to better understand how the two Testaments relate, we’re often unsure how the Bible’s many stories, characters, and events relate to each other—especially to Jesus. Some are tempted to force the Bible’s many pieces together, making superficial jumps from the Hebrew Scriptures to Jesus’ story. But most are left wondering:
Does Jesus and his story connect to the Old Testament? If so, where is Jesus in the Old Testament? How does the Old Testament inform our understanding of Jesus—his life and teachings, death and resurrection?
Christ from Beginning to End answers these questions, helping Christians better understand how to…
What Is the Economic and Immanent 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.
Ravi Zacharias and Abdu Murray bring a fresh perspective on Jesus in new book with Zondervan
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…
12 Ways Evangelism Is Changing
You’ve heard it said the twenty-first century is markedly different from the twentieth. It’s not only because we have terrorism scares, self-driving cars, and Facebook. Church attendance is decreasing, religious Nones are increasing, and the way people view and interact with truth has changed.
Yet many Christians and churches are evangelizing as if we are still living in the twentieth century—and failing to make the unbelievable news about Jesus more believable.
Although the essence of evangelism is the gospel—the message that Jesus Christ is Lord—the task of evangelism is our human effort of proclaiming this message. This task used to primarily mean quoting Scripture, or explaining the believability of the Christian faith through clever arguments.
10 Reasons Why People Reject the Gospel
If the gospel is the “good news about Jesus,” then why do so many people reject it? If Christians bear this “good news,” how can they better share it using methods that are effective in today’s post-Christian world?
Evangelism in a Skeptical World offers actionable advice for making the unbelievable news about Jesus more believable. It also explains why people often reject this news in the first place, equipping Christians to make it more enticing to non-Christians they know.
Here are at least ten reasons why people often reject the gospel, and what you can do about it.
1) The gospel doesn’t fit their plausibility structure
Plausibility structures “are accepted beliefs, convictions, and understandings that either green-light truth claims…
What Is Evangelism?
For example, is the stay-at-home mom who helps run the play group at her church doing evangelism if she incorporates Bible stories into the craft activities? Can a play group become an evangelistic play group?
Or does evangelism only occur in more “conventional” tactics: witnessing on the street, leading large crusades? Are those the only ways the gospel of Jesus Christ can be communicated, the only way people can evangelize?
In other words: What counts as evangelism? What is evangelism?
This word evangelism carries a lot of baggage, tradition, and emotion. Furthermore, most people have been poorly equipped with evangelism methods that are no…
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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