I remember my first seminary class. I had no idea what the professor was blathering about. Every theological term he used was a foreign concept; I thought I was abducted by an alien and sent to another universe.
By the end of the semester, I started to grasp half of what the theologian was communicating. Finally, by the third year of seminary, I was fluent in this esoteric language. My goal now is to help other average Joe Christians to comprehend the study of Systematic Theology by breaking down each term and simplifying it’s meaning. With that said, here are 3 general areas of doctrine that are important to discover from the Bible.
General Areas of Systematic Theology
1. Prolegomena – This word literally means pro-before + legein-to say–to say beforehand. In theology, it involves the study of how God reveals himself. For example, in the New Testament, Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
This phrase doesn’t literally mean that Jesus is God’s biological son, but that He is co-equal in power as the Anointed Messiah. The Old Testament example of this phrase was a messianic title given to the one with all authority, glory, and sovereign power. Therefore, when you read the OT in light of the NT, your prolegomena interprets Son of God differently than your previous supposition.
2. Christology – This theological term means the study of Jesus. It raises many questions, such as: Who is Jesus? Is Jesus God? Did Jesus ever claim to be God? How can Jesus be both God and man at the same time? Was Jesus peccable (able to sin) or impeccable (not able to sin)?
A biblical understanding of Jesus Christ is crucial to our salvation because it helps us quantify grace and justification. For example, since Jesus was God in the flesh, He laid down his life for the human race. This is grace because we deserve to be punished for our sins, but Jesus took the bullet for us out of love.
Moreover, He lived a perfect life, obeying the 10 commandments and the whole law of God. You and I broke every single commandment. Let’s be honest. Have you ever lied? Stolen? Coveted your neighbors possessions? We are guilty by the law, but Christ imputes or gives us His righteousness when He died on the cross. Remember that justification by grace alone in Christ alone is an important doctrine–it influences our perception of how and why we are saved.
3. Pneumatology – This theological term comes from two Greek words, pneuma meaning “wind” and logos meaning “word.” It’s the study of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the name of the third person in the Trinity and Jesus promised the Apostles that he would send Him on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after the resurrection.
John 14:26 promises us that all Christians will receive Him: “But the helper, the Holy spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”
Some view God’s spirit as a mystical or impersonal force, but this is not what the Bible teaches. The Holy Spirit teaches, convicts, empowers, and leads us to transform more into the image of Christ. He is a personal trainer and co-equal with God the Father and Jesus the Son.
If Systematic theology is studied with the right motive, then it can be a helpful conduit to plug into the majestic complexity of God. However, it is never intended to replace God’s Word. It is only a supplementary guide as you read through the Bible. For more information on other theological disciplines: Soteriology, Anthropology, Demonology, Angelology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Hamartiology, please visit here.