Subscribe via RSS Feed

Review Essay, Keeping the Balance

The primacy of systematic theology If preachers are going to give their hearers a better understanding of Christian truth as a whole, they must be committed to the task of systematic theology. The systematic theologian, viewing the Bible as a coherent whole, endeavours to understand and proclaim the divine plan, purpose and mind revealed by it as a coherent whole. Systematic theology deals with “the subject matter of revelation and arranges it logically and coherently for the benefit of the church”. No one can ignore the task because it is really unavoidable—any reflection of God, drawn from whatever source and leading to whatever results, is a form of systematic theology. Since we are going to do it anyway, we might as well do the best job we can!

How theology mars preaching Downs goes on to consider how bad theology can mar our preaching. “It is clear from the New Testament that preaching, which is after all the communication of theological truth, can be ruined if the theology that feeds it is wrong”. Post-Enlightenment Christianity has seen the rise of destructive errors like liberalism, which has helped “empty churches and lives”. Bad theology that hasn’t had its “controlling principles” in the Word of God has had a catastrophic effect on preaching.

Theology can also serve to mar preaching by undermining people’s confidence in the perspicuity of scripture or their ability to grasp Christian truth. When the pulpit becomes a platform for theologians to parade their learning and expertise, ordinary Christians may begin to feel ill-qualified to understand either the Bible or Christian theology. “The subtle threat is to display learning rather than to teach and edify”. “The test of true preaching …is whether it is motivated by love”.

Another way theology can mar preaching is when a preacher fills out the meaning of a passage by importing ideas from elsewhere rather than explaining what is actually there (exegesis). Part of the process of being transformed by the renewing of our minds is “the ongoing experience of grasping the meaning of individual parts of Scripture”. If talks are continuously failing to explain the passage they are based on, even though they may contain truth, their long-term effect can be to “weaken the ability of listeners to construct a right understanding of God”.

Pin It
Page 42 of 49« First...102030...4041424344...Last »

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Category: In Depth, Spring 2006

About the Author: W. Simpson, PhD (University of St. Andrews, Scotland), is a physicist and writer with an interest in theology, currently engaged in scientific research in the middle-east.

  • Connect with

    Subscribe via Twitter 1363 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), is the president-dean of Jakes Divinity School and associate pasto...

    Is Christianity the White Man’s Religion? Introduction by Antipas L. Harris

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Craig Keener on Racial Reconciliation in the Bible

    Dan Reiland is executive pastor of 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Ch...

    Leader’s Authority