Building Systematic Theology

Building Systematic Theology cover art
Instructor: Dr. Richard L. Pratt, Jr.
Lessons: 4
Forums: 4
Discipline: Theology
Course Group: Introduction to Theological Studies

Throughout the history of the church, faithful Christians have used systematic theology to communicate the teachings of our faith. Systematics has proven to be a helpful tool for expressing ideas clearly, and for organizing them in ways that increase our understanding of Scripture. At times, this approach to theology has been misused, but when employed in submission to Scripture, systematic theology provides Christians with a reliable method for understanding and teaching biblical truth.

Course Goals:

  • Explain the history and justification of systematic theology.
  • Describe the method and uses of systematic theology.

97 min.

Lesson 1: What is Systematic Theology?

Compares New Testament theology with systematic theology, surveys historical developments, and explores the values and dangers of systematic theology.
98 min.

Forum 1: What is Systematic Theology?

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Is Christian theology rooted in Scripture alone?
  • Should we use general revelation in systematic theology?
  • Why is logical coherence important?
  • How can we focus on multiple themes in Scripture?
  • Does systematic theology impose Aristotelian thinking onto the Bible?
  • Does systematic theology incline us toward speculation?
  • Why is a traditional emphasis important in systematic theology?
  • Why do some Christians prefer modern thinking over traditional thinking?
  • Are we held accountable to the past?
  • What role does the Old Testament play in systematic theology?
  • Should we do theology pastorally instead of systematically?
  • Should we use systematic theology in preaching and pastoring?
  • Does the focus of systematic theology differ from the focus of the Bible?
  • What modern questions is systematic theology answering?
  • What happens when culture influences systematic theology?
  • Is it right to use systematic theology to discipline and teach the nations?
  • How can we relate ancient cultural situations to modern situations?
  • Are some modern cultures more similar than others to ancient culture?
  • Do the differences between modern and ancient culture make the Bible irrelevant?
  • How did the early church use Neo-Platonic language?
  • Does modern theology emphasize the spiritual over the material?
  • What is the difference between Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism?
  • Does traditional systematic theology overemphasize rationality?
  • What is the role of the Holy Spirit in systematic theology?
  • Do systematic theologians sometimes avoid the Holy Spirit's ministry?
  • Should we focus on the past or present when we do theology?
  • How do we guard our hearts when we interact with modern culture?
98 min.

Forum 1: What is Systematic Theology?

A companion video to lesson 1 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Is Christian theology rooted in Scripture alone?
  • Should we use general revelation in systematic theology?
  • Why is logical coherence important?
  • How can we focus on multiple themes in Scripture?
  • Does systematic theology impose Aristotelian thinking onto the Bible?
  • Does systematic theology incline us toward speculation?
  • Why is a traditional emphasis important in systematic theology?
  • Why do some Christians prefer modern thinking over traditional thinking?
  • Are we held accountable to the past?
  • What role does the Old Testament play in systematic theology?
  • Should we do theology pastorally instead of systematically?
  • Should we use systematic theology in preaching and pastoring?
  • Does the focus of systematic theology differ from the focus of the Bible?
  • What modern questions is systematic theology answering?
  • What happens when culture influences systematic theology?
  • Is it right to use systematic theology to discipline and teach the nations?
  • How can we relate ancient cultural situations to modern situations?
  • Are some modern cultures more similar than others to ancient culture?
  • Do the differences between modern and ancient culture make the Bible irrelevant?
  • How did the early church use Neo-Platonic language?
  • Does modern theology emphasize the spiritual over the material?
  • What is the difference between Neo-Platonism and Aristotelianism?
  • Does traditional systematic theology overemphasize rationality?
  • What is the role of the Holy Spirit in systematic theology?
  • Do systematic theologians sometimes avoid the Holy Spirit's ministry?
  • Should we focus on the past or present when we do theology?
  • How do we guard our hearts when we interact with modern culture?
88 min.

Lesson 2: Technical Terms in Systematics

Begins with a general orientation toward technical terms, explores the formation of technical terms as well as the values and dangers of technical terms.
87 min.

Forum 2: Technical Terms in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Are theological technical terms an unnecessary hindrance?
  • How can pastors help their congregations understand technical terms?
  • Should we all encourage Christians to learn theological technical terms?
  • Should we use technical terms when we teach and preach in church?
  • Why did God make language ambiguous?
  • How can we be confident that our understanding of Scripture is correct?
  • Do problems arise when technical terms are translated into new languages?
  • Are some concepts identified by multiple technical terms?
  • Should we vary our language in order to communicate to different people?
  • How can we communicate to diverse groups without using technical terms?
  • Does the Bible have its own theological technical terms?
  • How can we tell when the Bible is using multiple terms to refer to a single concept?
  • How important is it to understand the differences between biblical writers?
  • How are theological technical terms created?
  • Is there a continuing need to create new technical terms in theology?
  • Do we risk changing our concepts when we create new technical terms?
  • Should we work with Christians in other cultures to develop technical terms?
  • Is it wrong to assign new meaning to biblical terms in order to use them as technical terms?
  • How can we make sure that we understand biblical terms rightly?
  • Can believers from other cultures help us understand biblical concepts?
  • Do we really need a complex system of theology in addition to Scripture?
  • Is it wrong to get theological technical terms from extrabiblical sources?
  • How can technical terms answer deep questions about the Bible?
  • Is it sometimes more efficient to avoid technical terms?
  • How do we help believers work with technical terms and concepts?
87 min.

Forum 2: Technical Terms in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 2 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • Are theological technical terms an unnecessary hindrance?
  • How can pastors help their congregations understand technical terms?
  • Should we all encourage Christians to learn theological technical terms?
  • Should we use technical terms when we teach and preach in church?
  • Why did God make language ambiguous?
  • How can we be confident that our understanding of Scripture is correct?
  • Do problems arise when technical terms are translated into new languages?
  • Are some concepts identified by multiple technical terms?
  • Should we vary our language in order to communicate to different people?
  • How can we communicate to diverse groups without using technical terms?
  • Does the Bible have its own theological technical terms?
  • How can we tell when the Bible is using multiple terms to refer to a single concept?
  • How important is it to understand the differences between biblical writers?
  • How are theological technical terms created?
  • Is there a continuing need to create new technical terms in theology?
  • Do we risk changing our concepts when we create new technical terms?
  • Should we work with Christians in other cultures to develop technical terms?
  • Is it wrong to assign new meaning to biblical terms in order to use them as technical terms?
  • How can we make sure that we understand biblical terms rightly?
  • Can believers from other cultures help us understand biblical concepts?
  • Do we really need a complex system of theology in addition to Scripture?
  • Is it wrong to get theological technical terms from extrabiblical sources?
  • How can technical terms answer deep questions about the Bible?
  • Is it sometimes more efficient to avoid technical terms?
  • How do we help believers work with technical terms and concepts?
86 min.

Lesson 3: Propositions in Systematics

Begins with a general orientation, explains the formation of propositions as well as the values and dangers of propositions.
60 min.

Forum 3: Propositions in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • What is a proposition?
  • Why are propositions so important to systematic theology?
  • What can we lose if we focus only on propositions?
  • Do Protestant churches tend to overemphasize propositional truth?
  • Why is important not to abandon propositional truth?
  • What genres does Scripture use to teach theology?
  • Can systematic theology be done with other types of statements than propositions?
  • What are some examples of factual reduction?
  • What is factual collation?
  • Is proof-texting a responsible practice?
  • Should preachers ever reduce biblical texts to propositions?
  • Are propositional statements less manipulative than emotional appeals?
  • Do propositions contribute both to unity and to disunity in the church?
  • What perspectives on propositions are most beneficial for Christian living?
60 min.

Forum 3: Propositions in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 3 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • What is a proposition?
  • Why are propositions so important to systematic theology?
  • What can we lose if we focus only on propositions?
  • Do Protestant churches tend to overemphasize propositional truth?
  • Why is important not to abandon propositional truth?
  • What genres does Scripture use to teach theology?
  • Can systematic theology be done with other types of statements than propositions?
  • What are some examples of factual reduction?
  • What is factual collation?
  • Is proof-texting a responsible practice?
  • Should preachers ever reduce biblical texts to propositions?
  • Are propositional statements less manipulative than emotional appeals?
  • Do propositions contribute both to unity and to disunity in the church?
  • What perspectives on propositions are most beneficial for Christian living?
104 min.

Lesson 4: Doctrines in Systematics

Begins with a general orientation, explains the formation of doctrines as well as the values and dangers of doctrines.
86 min.

Forum 4: Doctrines in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How can we ensure that doctrine doesn't divide us unnecessarily?
  • If Christians all read the same Bible, why don't we all affirm the same doctrines?
  • How confident should we be that traditional doctrines are correct?
  • How might the church's expansion in Africa and South America impact its doctrinal emphases?
  • How do systematic theologians' positive and negative goals impact their theological emphases?
  • Are traditional doctrines relevant to the modern church?
  • How does the metaphor of a brick wall for systematic theology relate to the web of multiple reciprocities?
  • How can we do systematic theology if we aren't trained in logic?
  • How do we handle statements in Scripture that seem to be illogical?
  • Does the Old Testament have statements that appear to be contradictory?
  • What is the law of non-contradiction?
  • How can we use the law of non-contradiction when we apply the Bible to our lives?
  • What's the difference between induction and deduction?
  • What is the "inductive gap"?
  • How does the Holy Spirit help us to bridge the inductive gap?
  • How can we discern doctrinal emphases from doctrinal differences?
86 min.

Forum 4: Doctrines in Systematics

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:
  • How can we ensure that doctrine doesn't divide us unnecessarily?
  • If Christians all read the same Bible, why don't we all affirm the same doctrines?
  • How confident should we be that traditional doctrines are correct?
  • How might the church's expansion in Africa and South America impact its doctrinal emphases?
  • How do systematic theologians' positive and negative goals impact their theological emphases?
  • Are traditional doctrines relevant to the modern church?
  • How does the metaphor of a brick wall for systematic theology relate to the web of multiple reciprocities?
  • How can we do systematic theology if we aren't trained in logic?
  • How do we handle statements in Scripture that seem to be illogical?
  • Does the Old Testament have statements that appear to be contradictory?
  • What is the law of non-contradiction?
  • How can we use the law of non-contradiction when we apply the Bible to our lives?
  • What's the difference between induction and deduction?
  • What is the "inductive gap"?
  • How does the Holy Spirit help us to bridge the inductive gap?
  • How can we discern doctrinal emphases from doctrinal differences?