Theology 101 Notes: Introduction
I'm going to post our notes from the NCC core discipleship group Theology 101. This set is from our first night and is an introduction to the course topics.
I'd be interested in any feedback or suggestions you might have.
“Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church” Ephesians 4:14-15, NLT
TOPICS AND SCHEDULE
Introduction (June 11)
- Information, Definitions
Doctrine of the Bible (June 1)
Doctrine of God (June 25)
- Sovereignty and Providence
Doctrine of Man (July 9)
- Sin and its effects
Doctrine of Christ and Redemption (July 16)
- The person of Christ
- Covenant and atonement
- Resurrection and ascension
- Common grace
- Regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification
- The Arminian/Calvin debate
Doctrine of the Church (July 23)
- Sacraments- communion and baptism
- The role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts
Doctrine of the Future (July 30)
- Return of Christ
- Final Judgment
- Heaven and hell
- Differing eschatological views
“Theology” is derived from two Greek words:
- Theos (God)
- Logos (speech or reason)
Therefore, theology in its simplest terms is rational discussion about God.
In secular Greek, the word theologia referred to the discussions amongst the philosophers about divine matters. Plato called the stories of the gods “theologies.” Aristotle considered theology to be the greatest of all scientific studies since its subject, God, was the highest reality. Mark Batterson would echo Aristotle’s thoughts in his claim that every “-ology” is a branch of theology.
B. B. Warfield promoted a classic definition as follows: “Theology is the science of God and his relationship to man and the world.” In greater detail, it is the discipline which 1) presents a unified formulation of truth concerning God and his relationship to humanity and the universe as this is set forth in divine revelation and that 2) applies such truths to the entire range of human thought and life.” (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)
Theology: the contents of the Christian faith as set forth in orderly exposition by the Christian community. (Renewal Theology, J, Rodman Williams)
Theology: the attempt to reduce religious truth to an organized system (Evangelical Dictionary of Theology)
Systematic theology: any study that answers the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today?” This definition indicates that systematic theology involves collecting and understanding all the relevant passages in the Bible on various topics and then summarizing their teachings clearly so that we know what to believe about each topic. (Bible Doctrine, Wayne Grudem)
Doctrine: What the whole Bible teaches about some particular topic. (Bible Doctrine, Wayne Grudem)
Major Doctrine: one that has a significant impact on our thinking about other doctrines or that has a significant impact on how we live as the Christian life. (examples: authority of the Bible, deity of Christ, justification by faith)
Minor Doctrine: one that has very little impact on how we think about other doctrines and very little impact on how we live the Christians life. (examples: differing views of the future, forms of church government, forms of communion and baptism)
Paradox: a seemingly contradictory statement that may nonetheless be true (example: the doctrine of the trinity)
Biblical Theology: historical development of theology throughout Scripture.
Historical Theology: study of Christian doctrines as they have been considered at different points in church history.
Philosophical Theology: a study of theological topics largely without the use of the Bible. Instead, philosophical tools, resources, and methods are used to organize theological thought. (example: Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology)
Narrative Theology: a 20th-century development of theological thought predicated on the idea that the Bible should be considered as narrative more than a system of theological truth.
Dogmatic Theology: a study of theology as set forth in the creeds, dogmas, and pronouncements of the church.
Apologetics: a defense of the Christian faith for the purpose of instructing believers or convincing unbelievers.
Ethics: the application of God’s Word to real life situations, problems, and questions.
THREE SOURCES OF AUTHORITY
Presupposition: an assumption that forms the beginning point of any study.
- Bible is true and is absolute standard of truth
- The God of the Bible exists, and he is who the Bible says he is.
“Faith seeking understanding” (Anselm)
WHY STUDY THEOLOGY?
“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”
Ephesians 4:11-16, NIV
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”
Hebrews 5:13-14, NIV
- Clarification (Ephesians 4:14)
- Correction (1 Timothy 1:3, 2 Timothy 4:3-5, Hebrews 5:13-14)
- Declaration and Unification (Ephesians 4:13)
- Obedience (Psalm 119:11, Matthew 28:19-20, 1 John 2:3)
- Growth (Ephesians 4)
- To love and glorify God (Matthew 22:37, Philippians 1:9-11)
HOW SHOULD WE STUDY THEOLOGY?
- Biblically (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
- Guided by the Holy Spirit (John 14:17, John 16:13)
- Humbly (2 Timothy 2:23-25, 1 Peter 5:5, James 1:19-20)
- With discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14, Ephesians 1:17-19)
- In community (Proverbs 11:14, 1 Corinthians 12:27-28)
- Prayerfully (Psalm 119:18)
- With application to life (1 Timothy 6:3, Titus 2:1)
- With a familiarity of church history (context and perspective)
- With worship and praise (Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Psalm 19:18, Psalm 119:14, Psalm 119:103, Psalm 119:111, Psalm 119:162)