How Should We Study Systematic Theology?

Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology, which my family and I are reading, suggests some guidelines to observe in studying systematic theology (or doing any Bible study). One of the guidelines lists steps to follow in studying a topic. Here I’ll state the other guidelines that it suggests and then list the steps.

Guidelines to Observe in Studying Theology

– We should pray that God will help us understand what we read from the Bible.

– We should share what we learn with humility and love towards others.

– We should use our reasoning abilities to draw conclusions from the Bible but must make sure that what we deduce from a passage doesn’t contradict what another passage teaches

– We should get help from other people and from books (including systematic theologies).

– We should study theology with praise. I’ll comment further on this below.

Steps to Follow in Studying a Topic

1. Find all the verses relevant to the topic by using a good concordance (looking up in it words important to the topic) and the relevant sections in systematic theology books.

2. Read, make notes on, and try to summarize the points made in the verses.

3. Summarize in one or more points what the verses say about the topic.

4. Read as a check the sections about the topic in systematic theology books.

Studying Theology with Praise

In our family reading of Grudem’s Systematic Theology, I usually read excerpts from his presentation and we discuss them. However, struck by his exposition on studying theology with praise, I had my wife read the whole section. It includes several Bible verses in which the Psalmist expresses his delight with the word of God, although not the one which as a boy I often quoted in Scripture showers, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105, KJV), and concludes with Paul’s expression of joy in Romans 11:33-36 over the doctrine on which he has just finished expounding:

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! Jow unsearchable are his judgments and how unscrutable his ways!
“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?
“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?
“For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (ESV)

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