Systematic Theology – Prolegomena (1)

SystematicThis is the first in a series of posts where I’m going to cover the range of topics within systematic theology. Like most entries into the field, we have to get a few things out-of-the-way at the get go. This opening discussion is commonly called prolegomena and simply means “the things we talk about before we talk.” Today we’re going to cover some of the necessary points before we can really get started.

Traditionally, prolegomena is concerned with methodology, biases, etc. Those things are important, but this is a blog… not a book. Simply put, I’m a Protestant, Reformed, Evangelical, American, Niceno-Constantinopolitian Christian. That should get you close enough to my biases and basic methodology to get started. I will attempt to convey a multitude of views, and I will attempt to represent them accurately and fairly.

Where We’re Going

Something that requires a little more detail is the structure that this series will follow. I’m a firm believer that the proper way to discuss the Trinity and to understand it is to begin with the person of the Father, and to study the divine nature as that nature which the Father bears, and which he shares with the Son and Spirit. This will be explained in more depth when we get to what is commonly called Theology Proper but which I call Paterology. Furthermore, I do leave room for a subtopic of Triadology which I call Ousiatology, that is study of the divine nature. With these topics in mind, here are the main doctrinal heads which I intend to treat (with sub-topics along the way)

  • Prolegomena – Methodology and Assumptions
  • Paterology – The Person and Nature of God the Father
  • Triadology – The Trinity and the divine relationships
  • Christology – The Person and Work of God the Son
  • Pneumatology – The Person and Work of God the Holy Spirit
  • Bibliology – The Nature, Role, Use, of Scripture
  • Protology – The Father’s work of creation, through the Son, by the Spirit
  • Hamartiology – The event, immediate effects, and ongoing impact of the Fall and Sin
  • Soteriology – The election of the Father, justification by the Son, and sanctification in the Spirit
  • Ecclesiology – The nature, role, authority, and purpose of the Church
  • Eschatology – The intermediate state, the end of this age, resurrection and glorification, and the cosmic renewal

The Bible and Its Use

Obviously, as Reformed Evangelical, the Bible is the ultimate normative norm, which is itself not normed by any norm. This means that my intention is to take what God has revealed to us in Scripture in a non-systematic way, and arrange its teachings in a systematic and internally consistent way. However, these posts are not exegetical works. It is my purpose to describe the teachings of the Christian Church from a Reformed understanding, not necessarily to defend them. I will indicate proof texts where appropriate, but will not spend much time explaining how those proof texts prove what I’m saying. This is not to undervalue the importance of this activity, but simply to recognize the limitations of this project.

The assumption, and this will be further unpacked in the Bibliology section, is that the Bible is inerrant and infallible in everything it teaches. It is also assumed that it is authoritative, perspicuous, and sufficient for the edification and sanctification of God’s people.

Size isn’t Everything

Finally, it will become obvious as we progress that there will not be equal space dedicated to every topic. This will occur for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it will be because I am more interested in or have more expertise in a given area. Sometimes it will be because the topic is more or less important. Sometimes it will be because the content of revelation is more limited in a given area. Sometimes it will be because a given topic is more complex or more commonly misunderstood at large. Sometimes there will be no clear reason. However, unless I explicitly state a reason for the relative size I am not intending to communicate anything specific with the size of a given topic.

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