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#58567 Sun May 14, 2023 12:39 PM
Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 75
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Joined: Dec 2021
Posts: 75
The four categories are not the only ones found in reference works, and my definition or meaning of them may be individualistic or personal, so I'll give the four and how I understand and apply them.

Biblical theology - Based on explicit statements of Scripture in context grammatically and historically with word definitions carefully determined by Lexicons yet ultimately the author's usage.

Systematic theology - Biblical theology arranged into a logical system that can be defended

Theoretical theology - Based on speculative or abstract reasoning (theological construction)

Practical theology - That area of Biblical theology that affects daily life and degree of success, contentment and joy.

My evolving approach to understanding God's word began when I was in fundamentalism and I read The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner. Even though it was so strange and new to me, I found myself taking it seriously. Why? Because I found it to be so clear, basing all 5 Points squarely and explicitly on direct statements of God's word. This to me is Biblical Theology. When the LORD told Moses, "What thing soever I command you, that shall ye observe to do: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it." that is Biblical Theology , staying strictly with what God has stated. I find it repeated in the NT, for New Covenant believers, " teaching them to observe all things WHATSOVER I COMMANDED YOU" and Paul's instruction, "in us ye might learn not to go beyond the things which are written". In Prov 30:6 we are warned against adding to God's word and in Rev. 22:18-19 is a warning against adding to or taking away from God's word in Revelation and I believe the principle holds true for the entire word of God. This I take to be Biblical Theology and to be serious about it, at least basic study in hermeneutics is a must. I have used two textbooks on that and still will go to them on difficult points: Principles of Interpretation by Clinton Lockhart and Biblical Hermeneutics by Milton S. Terry. This Biblical Theology of course requires checking the respected Greek-English Lexicons and various commentaries out of the past, but the clear use of a word by the human author is the highest authority. This is Biblical Theology to me and is the prayerful foundation of the others.

I view Systematic Theology as the name states; it is an organized system of biblical teachings put together based on a clear Biblical Theology that puts the faith of Jesus Christ into an easier presentation for defending the faith once delivered to the saints in the 1st century, and I believe this faith written in scripture to have been completed before 70 AD, for all the NT books. Sound church confessions and catechisms may be seen as simple systematic theology, and should be taught in churches today.

Theoretical theology to me is to take Systematic Theology and add more human reasoning and conjecture that may seem solid and accurate, but goes beyond the clear statements in God's word. I'll give an example of what I mean. I love R. L. Dabney's theology and that of A.A. Hodge, but when it comes to baptizing infants and including them into church membership, I noticed a change from basing their belief on strict biblical statements to conjecture and theory. While seeing their reasoning, I prefer the direct statements of Scripture; believer's baptism by immersion prior to being added to the congregation. On the Baptist side of theology, I also admire John Gill and find him excellent. But, when he begins to give his reasons for "eternal justification", I see him theorizing and not placing his doctrine on the clear statements of scripture. I put the views of eschatology found in groups such as dispensationalism, Covenent Theology and New Covenant theology. As a New Covenant believer, I may be closer to New Covenant theology since I embrace the 1644/46 First London Confession of Faith as best describing my understanding of God's word. In this class of theoretical theology I also place such ideas as infralapsarian, sublapsarian and supralapsarian views; or dogmatism on traducianism or creationism as to origin of the soul. When I think of "theological constructions", I am thinking of this sort of conjecture which includes so much in churches of today. Of course the Trinity is a theological construction but a necessity for defending the clear, explicit teaching of scripture about the One True God.

Practical theology I see in two aspects, the spiritual which includes the believer's standing as in Eph 2:1-10 as well as our standing and blessing in Eph 1:3-14. I add to that our comfort as in Phil 3:12-16 as well as from the OT; Psa 103:6-15, etc.

The second aspect is 'earthly', our life here and now within ourselves and with relation to others. The book of Proverbs is FULL of wise advice and definite instruction to us. I know that many of the proverbs are found in cultures all around the world, and I attribute that to God's law that was given to ALL mankind apparently at the creation, Rom 2:14-16. All men have a consciousness of a God, a Supreme Being to whom they are accountable, hence all the religions and false gods. The degree of sin that corrupts a civilization, can erase that law in the heart to the same degree as the culture is corrupted. The book of Proverbs has the blessing of God to his people making it more than just wise words, which some are found in other cultures, the book of Proverbs are God's words to us through man's hand. Studied and applied prayerfully, the Proverbs are more powerful than any 'self-help' book you'll find in any bookstore! I include the book of Ecclesiastes as long as we keep the Epilogue clearly in our mind:

"Besides being wise, the Teacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs. The Teacher sought to find pleasing words, and he wrote words of truth plainly. The sayings of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings that are given by one shepherd. Of anything beyond these, my child, beware. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." (Eccl 12:9-14 NRSV)

I know to many, SOME of my views are rank heresy and seem to be disbelief, so I post this to explain how I understand scripture and my approach to understanding the teachings of God, including scripture used to understand the difficult and controversial ones of our day.


Joined: May 2016
Posts: 499
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Joined: May 2016
Posts: 499
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The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination by Loraine Boettner and Martin Luther’s Bondage of the Will were game changers for me!

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