Making Peace With Systematic Theology

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It has been 4 years since I left the thought of systematic theology ever being something ‘important’ to academic studies as well as the Christian faith. It’s not that it had no place of importance but I sort of thought that it’s place was not among those being the most important. Donald Miller commented on the influence that systematic theology had on reading the bible. Too many times have Christians elevated propositional truth over against reading scripture in the form of story and appreciating it as that.

That and the emergent/emerging conversation added fire to my ambiguity towards systematic theology.

But now, going through another theology class and listening to the lecture, my fascination with systematic theology has come to life again. Deep inside I always appreciated the input that systematic theology has been on my mind and heart in reading the bible. It was when I used it rigidly in commanding my interpretive reading of the text was when I abused what was important to reading scripture.

There is a need for propositional statements because they serve as summaries of the whole in which we gather together and combine to give meaning. To say that God is love is not a misleading of explanation. It is a summary of what is found in scripture. It is a statement that is evident when one reads the bible. But love also must be explained by a lens that understands that God cannot be compounded by just one definition. So which brings us to the idea that defining God is a synthesis of ideas gained from reading the whole text witnessing to who God is.

I think, now that I’ve made peace with systematic theology, it might be an area I wish to pursue in. After all, I fell in love with theological studies because of systematic theology in the first place.

2 thoughts on “Making Peace With Systematic Theology

  1. Hi there,

    On my part, it really depends on how systematic theology is done. The whole “proposition vs narrative” debate, to my mind, is a false category altogether, a rhetorical product made in response to the Emergent movement.

    Systematic theology as practiced by people like Rowan Williams, Robert Jenson and John Webster is not the same as that practiced by, say, Wayne Grudem or Norman Geisler. I still dont know how to articulate the difference but when you read them, you’ll find out.

    1. Good observation joshua. I guess leaning too much on the proposition vs narrative debate goes into the wrong direction altogether. I dont really like Grudem’s approach…but I haven’t really read Rowan Williams, Robert Jensen and Webster. I do know some other systematic theologians who fare better as opposed to Grudem, the likes of Vanhoozer and Volf would be among the few.

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