Why Buy a Systematic Theology?
There is often a moment in the Christian life where we realize that there is a whole body of theological understanding which has escaped us. A deeper level of understanding which we have not yet explored. Sometimes when we have these revelations, we develop what I call a theological itch. We suddenly want to know more about the things we don’t know. We have questions about certain theological doctrines, or just generally want to understand our bibles better. Perhaps we want to have more in-depth conversations with our pastors. I have had several conversations with people who had various degrees of theological itch. My advice to them is always them same. Invest in a good systematic theology. I understand that many people do not know exactly what a systematic theology is and what it does. And some people when they hear the words systematic theology think only of boring reading, complicated words, and dead European theologians whose names are impossible to pronounce.
Let me briefly encourage those who have the theological itch and who have perhaps never invested in a systematic theology. There are all sorts of categories of theological writings, and systematics is but one of these categories. Systematic theology, as the name suggests, serves to systematize and explain the major doctrines of the bible. They are not focused on explaining the storyline of the bible, but rather by taking a specific question and answering it by means of all the scriptures. For example, most systematic theologies will tackle such topics as the nature of Scripture, the character of God, the covenants of the Bible, Christology, pneumatology (Holy Spirit), soteriology (salvation), end times, heaven and hell, creation, and much more. One of the most helpful aspects of systematic theologies is that they aren’t intended only to be read from start to finish. Instead, they serve as a useful reference tool. You may want to know more about the Lord’s supper. What it is and why is it significant? What do other churches think about the Lord’s supper? A systematic theology would be the perfect place to take questions like these.
Do you have a theological itch? A desire to deepen your knowledge of God’s word and to give yourself a more cohesive view of the doctrines of scripture? Consider buying a systematic theology or two. You will find that good systematics are rich and often a joy to read. They can make clear what has often confused us in the scriptures. They can help us to better see the beauty and clarity of God’s word. If you want to know where to start, I would recommend reading Kevin DeYoung’s article which reviews the major systematic theologies available and gives helpful advice on which ones to buy.