I finished my most-recent RTS (Reformed Theological Seminary) course last month and celebrated by re-reading some of my notes from my previous classes.
This summary of What is Theology? from one of my first seminary classes was particularly encouraging for me to re-read and I thought that you might enjoy it, too.
WHAT IS THEOLOGY?
Definitions of Theology
- The study of God
- The knowledge of God (Kuyper)
- The application by persons to all areas of human life (Frame)
- Starting Points / General Questions / Fundamental Assumptions for Five Types of Theology
- Exegetical Theology: the immediate focus and emphasis of a particular biblical text / What does this teach us about God, the world, ourselves? / The Bible is inspired by God and given by God to teach us.
- Biblical Theology: the historical progression of God’s self-revelation and redemptive plan / How did God’s self-revelation and redemptive plan unfold over the course of history? / God has progressively revealed himself and his plans over time.
- Systematic Theology: particular subject areas or questions of interest to us / What does the whole Bible teach about this subject? / The Bible is a coherent unity and relevant to all of life.
- Historical Theology: the historical development of Christian doctrine / What have Christians believed and taught about this subject? / We can learn from the wisdom and learning of Christians in the past. ** Odd one out because not authoritative per se **
- Practical Theology: the needs and activities of church ministry / How should we do church ministry in light of God’s Word? / The Bible is authoritative and sufficient for church ministry.
- How are the various types of theology related to one another?
- Exegetical must ultimately draw from other passages in its exegesis. Thus it will draw on systematic theology.
- It must also draw from where it is in God’s overall progressive story which employs biblical theology.
- Systematic must employ exegesis of its passages.
- Additionally systematic theology will lead into the doctrine of progressive revelation which is the key point in biblical theology.
- Biblical theology employs exegesis of texts and questions of a topical nature as in systematic theology. It has implications that draw from other texts too, which utilizes systematic theology.