Systematic theology

Systematic theology

Systematic theology is a discipline of Christian theology that attempts to formulate an orderly, rational, and coherent account of the Christian faith and beliefs. Inherent to a system of theological thought is that a method is developed, one which can be applied both broadly and particularly. Systematic theology draws on the foundations of the sacred texts of Christianity, and also looks to the development of doctrine over the course of history, philosophy, science, and ethics to produce as full a view and as versatile a philosophical approach as possible.

History of systematic theology in Christianity

The setting out the varied ideas of the Christian religion (and the various topics and themes of the diverse texts of the Bible) in a single, coherent and well-ordered presentation is a relatively late development. In Eastern Orthodoxy, an early example is provided by John of Damascus's 8th-century "Exposition of the Orthodox Faith", in which he attempts to set in order, and demonstrate the coherence of, the theology of the classic texts of the Eastern theological tradition. In the West, Peter Lombard's 12th-century "Sentences", in which he collected thematically a large series of quotations from the Church Fathers, became the basis of a medieval scholastic tradition of thematic commentary and explanation - best exemplified in Thomas Aquinas's "Summa Theologica". A Protestant tradition of thematic, ordered exposition of the whole of Christian theology (Protestant Orthodoxy) emerged in the 16th century, with Philipp Melanchthon's "Loci Communes" and John Calvin's "Institutes of the Christian Religion".

In the 19th century, primarily in Protestant circles, a new kind of systematic theology arose: the attempt to demonstrate that Christian doctrine formed a more tightly coherent system grounded in some core axiom or axioms. Such theologies often involved a more drastic pruning and reinterpretation of traditional belief in order to cohere with the axiom or axioms. Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher, for instance, produced "Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsatzen der evangelischen Kirche" in the 1820s, in which the core idea is the universal presence amongst humanity (sometimes more hidden, sometimes more explicit) of a feeling or awareness of 'absolute dependence'; all theological themes are reinterpreted as descriptions or expressions of modifications of this feeling.

Contemporary usage

There are three overlapping uses of the term 'systematic theology' in contemporary Christian theology.
* In evangelical circles, it is used to refer to the "topical" collection and exploration of the content of the Bible, in which a different perspective is provided on the Bible's message than that garnered simply by reading the biblical narratives, poems, proverbs, and letters as a story of redemption or as a manual for how to live a godly life. One advantage of this approach is that it allows one to see all that the Bible says regarding some subject (e.g. the attributes of God), and one danger is a tendency to assign technical definitions to terms based on a few passages and then read that meaning everywhere the term is used in the Bible (e.g. "justification" as Paul uses it in his letter to the Romans is different from how James uses it in his letter). In this view, systematic theology is complementary to biblical theology. The latter traces the themes chronologically through the Bible, while the former examines themes topically. The latter reflects the diversity of the Bible, while the former reflects its unity.
* The term can also be used to refer to theology which self-avowedly seeks to perpetuate the classical traditions of thematic exploration of theology described above - often by means of commentary upon the classics of those tradition: Damascus, Aquinas, Calvin, Melanchthon and others.
* Normally (but not exclusively) in liberal theology, the term can be used to refer to attempts to follow in Schleiermacher's footsteps, and reinterpret Christian theology in order to derive it from a core set of axioms or principles.

In all three senses, Christian systematic theology will often touch on some or all of the following topics: God, Trinitarianism, Revelation, Creation myths and Divine providence, Theodicy, Theological anthropology, Christology, Soteriology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology, Bibliology, Hermeneutics, Sacrament, Pneumatology, Christian life, Heaven, and interfaith statements on other religions.

Notable systematic theologians

Early Church Fathers

* St. Augustine of Hippo
* Origen

Roman Catholic

* Maximus the Confessor Reviews of his writings reveals an obvious understanding of Papal Primacy of the Bishop of Rome, even though the Great Schism of the 4 Sees from the Holy See of Rome had not yet occurred in his lifetime.
* St. Anselm of Canterbury
* St. Thomas Aquinas
* Peter Lombard
* Bonaventure
* Duns Scotus
* Catherine of Sienna
* Desiderius Erasmus
* Francisco Suarez
* Luis de Molina
* John Henry Newman
* Dietrich von Hildebrand
* Hans Urs von Balthasar
* Frans Jozef Van Beeck
* Yves Congar
* Louis Bouyer
* Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
* Bernard Lonergan
* Jean Daniélou
* Luigi Giussani
* Edward Schillebeeckx A schizmatic theologian. (The body of knowledge contained in his collected works prevents him from being classified as one who is capable of accurately conveying the teachings and ideas as handed down by the Magisterial Authority of the Catholic Church)
* Hans Küng A schizmatic theologian. (The body of knowledge contained in his collected works prevents him from being classified as one who is capable of accurately conveying the teachings and ideas as handed down by the Magisterial Authority of the Catholic Church)
* Karl Rahner
* Avery Cardinal Dulles
* Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)

Protestant

* John MacQuarrie, Anglican (originally Reformed, Church of Scotland)
* Oliver O'Donovan, Anglican
* Hans Wilhelm Frei, Lutheran, later Anglican
* Rowan Williams, Anglican
* Paul S. Fiddes, Baptist
* Wayne Grudem, Baptist (Reformed, Charismatic)
* Augustus H. Strong, Baptist
* J. Rodman Williams, Charismatic
* Stanley M. Horton, Pentecostal
* Lewis Sperry Chafer, Presbyterian (Dispensational)
* Martin Luther, Lutheran
* Gustaf Aulén, Lutheran
* Robert Jenson, Lutheran
* Wolfhart Pannenberg, Lutheran
* Paul Tillich, Lutheran
* Johann Gerhard, Lutheran
* Martin Chemnitz, Lutheran
* John Frame, Reformed
* James Hal Cone, Methodist
* John Gill, Particular Baptist
* Charles Hodge, Presbyterian
* Karl Barth, Reformed
* Louis Berkhof, Reformed
* Donald G. Bloesch, Evangelical Protestant
* Emil Brunner, Reformed
* Jonathan Edwards, Reformed
* Charles Hodge, Reformed
* Kevin Vanhoozer Reformed
* John Calvin, Reformed
* Colin Gunton, Reformed
* Gordon Clark, Reformed
* Cornelius Van Til, Reformed
* Albrecht Ritschl, Evangelische Kirche
* Adolf von Harnack, Evangelische Kirche
* Jürgen Moltmann, Evangelische Kirche
* Friedrich Schleiermacher, Evangelische Kirche
* Theodore Beza] , Reformed
* John Knox, Reformed
* Thomas F. Torrance, Reformed - Church of Scotland
* Thomas Oden, Wesleyan
* Iain Paul, Reformed - Church of Scotland

Orthodox

* John of Damascus
* Symeon the New Theologian
* Gregory Palamas
* Sergei Bulgakov
* John Meyendorff
* Georges Florovsky
* Dumitru Stăniloae
* Alexander Schmemann
* John Zizioulas
* Vladimir Lossky

Other

* Emanuel Swedenborg, New Church

ee also

*

Resources

* St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430). "De Civitate Dei"
* Barth, Karl (1956-1975). "Church Dogmatics". Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
*Berkhof, Hendrikus (1979). "Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of the Faith". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
* Berkhof, Louis (1996). "Systematic Theology". Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
* Calvin, John (1559). "Institutes of the Christian Religion".
* Chafer, Lewis Sperry (1948). "Systematic Theology". Grand Rapids: Kregel
* Chemnitz, Martin (1591). "Loci Theologici". St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1989.
* Erickson, Millard (1998). "Christian Theology" (2nd ed.). Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998.
* Fruchtenbaum, Arnold (1989). "Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology". Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries
* Fruchtenbaum, Arnold (1998). "Messianic Christology". Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries
* Geisler, Norman L. (2002-2004). "Systematic Theology" (four volumes). Minneapolis: Bethany House.
* Bloesch, Donald G. (2002-2004). "Christian Foundations " (seven volumes). Inter-varsity Press.
* Frame, John. "Theology of Lordship"
* Grenz, Stanley J. (1994). "Theology for the Community of God". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
* Grider, J. Kenneth (1994). "A Wesleyan-Holiness Theology" (ISBN 0-8341-1512-3)
* Grudem, Wayne (1995). "Systematic Theology". Zondervan.
* Hodge, Charles (1960). [http://www.ccel.org/h/hodge "Systematic Theology"] . Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
* Jenson, Robert W. (1997-1999). "Systematic Theology". Oxford: Oxford University Press.
* Melanchthon, Philipp (1543). "Loci Communes". St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1992.
* Miley, John. "Systematic Theology". 1892.
* Newlands, George (1994). "God in Christian Perspective". Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
* Oden, Thomas C. (1987-1992). "Systematic Theology" (3 volumes). Peabody, MA: Prince Press.
* Pannenberg, Wolfhart (1988-1993). "Systematic Theology". Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
* Pieper, Francis (1917-1924). "Christian Dogmatics". St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
* Reymond, Robert L. (1998). "A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith" (2nd ed.). Word Publishing.
* Schleiermacher, Friedrich (1928). "The Christian Faith". Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
* Thielicke, Helmut (1974-1982). "The Evangelical Faith". Edinburgh: T&T Clark.
* Thiessen, Henry C. (1949). "Systematic Theology". Grand Rapids: William B. Erdsmans Publishing Co.
* Tillich, Paul. "Systematic Theology". (3 volumes).
* Turretin, Francis (3 parts, 1679-1685). "Institutes of Elenctic Theology".
* Van Til, Cornelius (1974). "An Introduction to Systematic Theology". P & R Press.
* Watson, Richard. "Theological Institutes". 1823.
* Weber, Otto. (1981-1983) "Foundations of Dogmatics". Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

ee also

*Biblical exegesis
*Biblical theology
*Christian apologetics
*Christian theology
*Conservative Christianity
*Constructive theology
*Feminist theology
*Hermeneutics
*Liberal Christianity
*Liberation theology
*Philosophical theology
*Philosophy of religion
*Political theology
*Process theology
*Queer theology

External links

* [http://www.blackwellpublishing.com/journal.asp?ref=1463-1652&site=1 International Journal of Systematic Theology] (academic, ecumenical)
* [http://www.thetheologyprogram.com The Theology Program] (Studies in Systematic Theology featuring audio and video aids)
* [http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=SJT Scottish Journal of Theology] (academic, ecumenical)
* [http://www.resourcesforchristiantheology.org/ Resources for Christian Theology] (British, Protestant)
* [http://faith-theology.blogspot.com/ Faith and Theology] (systematic theology weblog)
* [http://www.monergism.com/systematic.html Library of Systematic Theology] (conservative Calvinist)


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  • Systematic theology — Theology The*ol o*gy, n.; pl. {Theologies}. [L. theologia, Gr. ?; ? God + ? discourse: cf. F. th[ e]ologie. See {Theism}, and {Logic}.] The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Systematic theology — Systematic Sys tem*at ic, Systematical Sys tem*at ic*al, a. [Gr. ?: cf. F. syst[ e]matique.] 1. Of or pertaining to system; consisting in system; methodical; formed with regular connection and adaptation or subordination of parts to each other,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • systematic theology —    This term (from the Greek systēma, meaning organized body ) refers to that branch of theology that seeks to present Revelation in a coherent and organized way. Because theology involves a variety of factors (biblical, philosophical, historical …   Glossary of theological terms

  • systematic theology — noun : constructive theology : a branch of theology that attempts to reduce all religious truth to statements forming a self consistent and organized whole …   Useful english dictionary

  • systematic theology — noun Date: 1836 a branch of theology concerned with summarizing the doctrinal traditions of a religion (as Christianity) especially with a view to relating the traditions convincingly to the religion s present day setting …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • systematic theology — noun a form of theology in which the aim is to arrange religious beliefs in a self consistent whole …   English new terms dictionary

  • systematic theology —  Систематическая теология …   Вестминстерский словарь теологических терминов

  • Theology — The*ol o*gy, n.; pl. {Theologies}. [L. theologia, Gr. ?; ? God + ? discourse: cf. F. th[ e]ologie. See {Theism}, and {Logic}.] The science of God or of religion; the science which treats of the existence, character, and attributes of God, his… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Systematic — Sys tem*at ic, Systematical Sys tem*at ic*al, a. [Gr. ?: cf. F. syst[ e]matique.] 1. Of or pertaining to system; consisting in system; methodical; formed with regular connection and adaptation or subordination of parts to each other, and to the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • theology — (n.) mid 14c., from O.Fr. theologie philosophical treatment of Christian doctrine (14c.), from L. theologia, from Gk. theologia an account of the gods, from theologos one discoursing on the gods, from theos god (see THEA (Cf. Thea)) + logos… …   Etymology dictionary

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