Systematic Theology and Why is it Important?
Systematic Theology is likely a phrase that most church goers have heard. Perhaps they heard it mentioned in a Sunday school class from a seminary student. However, they are probably not entirely familiar with what it means. It is possible that only a few lay leaders in the church could define with precision, what Systematic Theology is and explain its importance. And yet, even though few could define it, it is an essential tool for the church. If learned from, it will aid in building our knowledge, sanctification, and unity as a church.
The first works of Systematic Theology were written in the 8th century. Later, during the Reformation theologians such as John Calvin wrote books covering several theological subjects such as predestination, God’s sovereignty, and the atonement. Over the generations, these truths have withstood the test of time and have provided the church with a solid foundation, leaving a legacy that has endured to the present day.
The term “theology” comes from two Greek words: theo which means God and -ology which means the study of some area of knowledge (For instance, biology is the study of life—bios being the Greek word for “life”.) Systematic Theology is called “systematic” because it draws together the teaching of the whole Bible on these doctrines—verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book—into a “system,” so that the entire content of the theology is nothing more nor less than the truth of the Bible.
Systematic Theology could also be defined as a collection of biblical doctrines that follow a consistent and logical order. An example of this could be the doctrine of sin, which would include the definition of sin, details of its nature, and its consequences. Systematic Theology is of great importance because it organizes truth in a systematic way, although the phrase is not found in the pages of Scripture its meaning is nonetheless important.
Systematic Theology has several benefits for the individual Christian and collectively for the whole church. The diligent study of Systematic Theology will promote personal knowledge, godly living, and unity for the church.
The first way that Systematic Theology feeds the Christian is by building him or her up in knowledge and understanding. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Those who are wise will be marked by a desire to learn the truth and spend time growing in understanding.
Second, knowledge will promote godly character and Christlikeness, or otherwise known as sanctification. There is a direct connection between solid doctrine and godly living. Although Systematic Theology is not to be used as a replacement for reading the Scriptures, it can rightly inform the believer of what God’s Word teaches and be an additional resource. Even though Systematic Theology is not simply a practical how-to-live manual, readers can draw practical conclusions and applications. Psalm 82:4-5 declares that those who do not have knowledge and understanding walk in darkness, on the other hand knowledge of biblical theology and truth allows Christians to walk in the light (John 12:35; Ephesians 5:8).
Finally, Systematic Theology has the potential to unite the church and help it fulfill the Great Commission. It would be easy to think that learning Systematic Theology is only for the pastor or teacher, but it really is important for every believer in Christ. It benefits the church to know, discuss, and apply doctrinal teachings. The church can respond and truly thrive when its members are informed and convicted of the truth, this naturally will overflow into ministry and provide God glorifying fruit. The church has the potential to affect the world positively is to carry out the great commission as Matthew 28:18-20 records Jesus’ words—which includes “make disciples.” Making disciples demand that they be taught the whole truth of the whole Bible—that is Systematic Theology.
Since Systematic Theology is beneficial for every believer, it is of great importance to know how to teach it to our youth. Adventure Club is specifically designed to teach the key subjects and topics of Systematic Theology to children. The topics range from Bibliology which is the study of the Bible to Eschatology which is the study of end times. The topics are in a logical order and generally follow the arrangement and structure of well-known academic textbooks of Systematic Theology.
If one turns to any lesson in one of the three Adventure Club Teacher’s Books, they will see that there is a Lesson Title, a Catechism Question, and a Central Truth followed by a Commentary for the teacher. For instance, in Year 2, Lesson 30, one finds: Lesson Title, “Glorification”; the Catechism Question, “What is glorification?”, and the Central Truth (which provides the answer to the catechism). “Glorification is the transformation of the bodies and souls of believers to be like Christ.” Also, there are: the Scripture Text, the Memory Verse, and Bonus Verse/s which teach and reinforce the Central Truth. The Commentary is directed to the teacher to help him or her to teach this Central Truth to the students. The Commentary section of the Teacher Books have bolded key terms which are defined in the index (Adventure Club 2nd Edition).
The Grace Curriculum team is confident that if faithfully taught this program will serve its leaders and students well. We hope to equip each one for personal growth, aiding them with the teaching tools so they can pass the truth onto the following generations.