Systematic Theology. It’s a term that sounds about as appealing as a root canal. Even worse, if you’ve ever seen a systematic theology in print, it is inevitably either one incredibly thick volume or multiple only-slightly-less-thick volumes. Who could possibly read books like that? Who would want to?
Whether we know it or not, we all want to. Well, at least all of us who want to know what the Bible has to say on a given subject. Ever wondered which church has the truth? Or if you’re confident your church definitely has the truth, have you ever wondered about where all those other churches and traditions get their strange ideas? Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about the theological controversies, political issues, and societal problems that people wrestle with today? Then you have wanted to find the answers those thick systematic theology books try to provide.
Simply put, a systematic theology tries to present everything the Bible has to say on a given subject, and it tries to organize those subjects according to some logical system of arrangement. Different theologians have organized the subjects of theology along different lines. The Medieval Scholastic Theologian Thomas Aquinas organized his Summa Theologica using Aristotelian categories. John Calvin organized his Institutes of the Christian Religion (the first systematic presentation of Protestant theology) by following the major divisions of the Apostles’ Creed. The Apostles’ Creed itself is a brief but systematic presentation of theology organized along Trinitarian lines. Many other systematic theologies have followed a logical arrangement which begins with God, proceeds to man, addresses how God accomplishes man’s redemption, discusses how the redeemed should live in the world, and explores how redemption will finally be completed. While theologians may argue about which system of arrangement is best, they are all helpful insofar as they aid the reader in finding the desired theological topic.
Of course, Accordance makes it easy to find the relevant sections of a systematic theology no matter how it’s organized. Simply search the Title field for your topic and you’ll likely find a helpful discussion. If you still want more, try searching the Content field for a word or phrase related to your topic.
If you have a number of works of theology, you can use the Search All window to search all of them at once. That way, you can compare the conclusions of different theologians from different backgrounds and traditions.
One final advantage of having systematic theologies in Accordance is that you can take them with you on your laptop, iPad, or iPhone and read them anywhere. It’s much easier than lugging around those thick books and multi-volume sets!
A pastor I know describes systematic theology as “just a fancy term for the process of getting to know God.” In other words, the value of systematic theology is that it helps us develop a more complete picture of who God is so that we can enjoy a more complete relationship with Him. Think of that the next time you turn to a systematic theology for information, and it becomes impossible to think of it as a dry and academic exercise.
Article Author: David Lang