Reading Grudem's Systematic Theology – Chapter 1, Introduction of Systematic Theology

Last week we kicked off our reading of Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology by looking at the preface. Today we are moving on to Chapter 1. In this chapter, Dr. Grudem defines for us what a systematic theology is in relation to other theologies and also highlights some of the reasons we should study it. I have included the personal application questions from the end of the chapter and I have also provided the key terms brought out in the text. For discussion please answer the personal application questions in the comments section.

Best regards,

Tony

Questions for Personal Application

  1. In what ways (if any) has this chapter changed your understanding of what systematic theology is? What was your attitude toward the study of systematic theology before reading this chapter? What is your attitude now?
  2. What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church?
  3. Are there any doctrines listed in the Contents for which a fuller understanding would help to solve a personal difficulty in your life at the present time?
  4. What are the spiritual and emotional dangers that you personally need to be aware of in studying systematic theology?

Chapter Vocabulary defined from the text.

Systematic Theology – any study that answers the question “What does the whole Bible teach us today?” about any given topic. (Kindle, 417)

Historical Theology – a historical study of how Christians in different periods have understood various theological topics. (Kindle, 421)

Philosophical Theology – studying theological topics largely without the use of the Bible , but using the tools and methods of philosophical reasoning and what can be known about God from observing the universe. (Kindle, 422)

Apologetics – providing a defense of the truthfulness of the Christian faith for the purpose of convincing unbelievers. (Kindle, 423)

Old Testament Theology – teaches what the Old Testament teaches about a particular topic. (Kindle, 438)

New Testament Theology – teaches what the New Testament teaches about a topic. (Kindle, 443)

Biblical Theology – many times a summation of Old and New Testament theology, Biblical theology gives special attentions to individual authors and section of Scripture and it attempts to show the historical development of the Scripture. (Kindle,  445)

Doctrine – what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic. (Kindle, 504)

Christian Ethics – any study that answers the question, “What does God require us to do and what attitudes does he require us to have today?” with regard to any situation. (Kindle, 523)

Presupposition – Ideas or ideas that we use a basis or starting point for further understanding. (Kindle, 535)

Major Doctrine – a doctrine that has significant impact on out thinking about other doctrines or that has a significant impact on how we live the Christian life. (Kindle, 616)

Minor Doctrine – a doctrine that has very little impact on how we think about other doctrines, and very little impact on how we live the Christian life. (Kindle, 617)

Paradox – a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true. (Kindle, 736)

Contradiction – a statement or proposition that contradicts or denies another or itself and is logically incongruous. (http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/contradiction)

Dogmatic Theology – the articles of faith that the Church had officially formulated. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogmatic_theology)

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2 thoughts on “Reading Grudem's Systematic Theology – Chapter 1, Introduction of Systematic Theology

  1. Here are my answers to the personal application questions.

    1. In what ways (if any) has this chapter changed your understanding of what systematic theology is? What was your attitude toward the study of systematic theology before reading this chapter? What is your attitude now?

    This chapter has helped me get a better grasp on what a systematic theology is. The key ideal that really hits home is that it is a study about what the whole Bible says about a particular topic. I think this is helpful to the Christian because it a does some of the “leg” work for you. I think that it why it is important to read scholars who have a strong background and an established reputation because the student is submitting themselves to the efforts made by the scholar. My attitude going in was positive. Dr. Grudem is well respected and I am looking forward to benefiting from the scholarship and effort represented by this text.

    2. What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church?

    If a community’s or fellowship’s understanding about what the Bible teaches about a particular topic is represented by systematic theology then it is most vital to study it. In its absence I think there is a risk of replacing sound Biblical understanding with tradition and denominational standards. This seems most dangerous because of the understanding that God leads us and guides us as we seek Him in the Scriptures. It seems that if we fail to do so, we will fail to discern His guidance for us and our community of believers. This has not been true of the churches I have attended recently, however there have been churches that I have attended in the past that did not put a great emphasis on doctrinal standards.

    3. Are there any doctrines listed in the Contents for which a fuller understanding would help to solve a personal difficulty in your life at the present time?

    I think I am looking forward to the chapters on Prayer and Sanctification. It seems like these are two issues I have long dealt with. I have had some periods in my walk of intense zeal and intense falling away. I hope to find a better understanding of sanctification so I can better understand my part in the relationship with God.

    4. What are the spiritual and emotional dangers that you personally need to be aware of in studying systematic theology?

    I think the key thing is to be open and to leave any preconceived notions at the door. I think true understanding only comes by the Spirit of God through the Scriptures. My hope is that the Spirit will use this book to illuminate and provide understanding of the Scriptures and their relationship to doctrines that make up the faith.

    Grace and Peace,

    Tony

  2. 1. In what ways (if any) has this chapter changed your understanding of what systematic theology is? What was your attitude toward the study of systematic theology before reading this chapter? What is your attitude now?

    It has completely changed my understanding of what systematic theology is. Systematic theology is not something I have every really studied or thought I would be interested in studying. I’m excited to get into this book and learn all that I can.

    2. What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church?

    Seem extremely dangerous for a generation to give up learning systematic theology. It also is dangerous for an individual not to learn on their own. In my own church it seems that the individuals are accepting what they are being told without any real study themselves.

    3. Are there any doctrines listed in the Contents for which a fuller understanding would help to solve a personal difficulty in your life at the present time?

    Sanctification – it is something that I definitely need to have a clearer understanding of.

    4. What are the spiritual and emotional dangers that you personally need to be aware of in studying systematic theology?

    I am just going to do this with an open mind and a prayerful heart and attitude. I want to study and learn what God has for me.

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