Systematic theology doesn’t always get a good press, even in the church! Many people think of it as a distraction from the Bible and from loving and serving Jesus Christ. Indeed, there’s a caricature of systematic theology as the imposition on Scripture of ‘Greek’ philosophical categories, which are supposed to corrupt the simple truth of God’s Word. This is a shame (to say the least) because doing systematic theology well can be an edifying and God-honouring help in interpreting the Bible and equipping believers to know, love and serve God.
There are great resources in systematic theology for Christian life and Christian ministry. But, with a variety of systematic theology ‘options’ available, and many a massive tome to discourage potential readers, how can we best get oriented for this task? The six theological ‘keys’ to Scripture presented in this book are a great starting-point, and – in dependence on our forebears in the faith and with the Holy Spirit’s help – they should also help to keep us ‘on track’ as faithful readers of the Bible and followers of Christ.
Read this quote from the great English evangelical preacher Charles Simeon (1759-1836):
Can you think of a time when systematic theology has helped you in knowing God or in living the Christian life?
Which of the six theological keys in this book sounds most interesting to you? Why? (p. 14)
How could you incorporate more of a theo-logical approach to Scripture alongside a chrono-logical approach in (a) your Bible reading; (b) [if appropriate] your Bible teaching? What potential benefits can you foresee?
I recommend for further reading Kelly Kapic’s excellent volume A Little Book for New Theologians: How and Why to Study Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2012). Kapic is especially strong in showing the inseparable connection between theology and life. The book really is ‘little’ – only 120 pages and pocket-size – and would be an excellent add-on for someone in your group who wanted to take their study a bit deeper, or indeed for you as a group leader.