Introduction to Christian Belief

Systematic theology, though having once fallen on hard times in both the evangelical church and in the academy (for different reasons in each group), is now making a comeback. It should, for it is both possible and necessary.

Systematic theology, then, for our purposes, is the study of all facts about God and his work, from any and every source, but revealed primarily in the Bible, and brought together in a coherent and inter-related manner in order to instruct, encourage and guide the saints in godliness.1 There are several reasons for studying, organizing, and presenting the major teachings of Scripture. Here are two:

  • For the development of one’s own understanding of God, truth, and the Christian faith. Peter admonishes us to grow in the knowledge (not just cognitive, but at least including that) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). In this way you will promote truth, avoid errors, and give yourself great opportunity to live an ethical and holy life. In short, the goal is that we live a life honoring to the Lord, worshiping him in truth (John 4:24), serving his church properly and in truth (Eph 4:15), and finding ourselves salt and light to our fellowman (Matt 5:16; Rom 13:8).
  • For explaining, defending, and applying Biblical truth in a non-Christian context. Again Peter tells us to always be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope which is in you (1 Peter 3:15). How much better if the answer is thought through and really reflects a balanced summary of biblical teaching!

1 For the most part this introduction will refrain from all technical discussion and the historical development of these doctrines. It is purely intended for the beginner. After they have studied the introduction, however, it would be a good idea to advance to further discussion on each of these topics. Also, the reason the author has continued to use such words as “bibliology,” “eschatology,” etc. is so that the student can learn what they mean so that he/she will be better prepared to advance to more detailed discussions where these words appear frequently.

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