Why You Should Study Systematic Theology: Starting the Journey

How could something so simple be so complex?

For Christmas, my daughter received the Mega Bloks Power Rangers Samurai HQ Battle set. One box, one nice picture but open it up to find 518 small Lego-like pieces with a whole lot of assembly required. The directions contained over seventy steps each with multiple items to put into the right place. I’ve seen online classes with less content. We spent about three hours together building this set, and I loved every minute of it. Every time I picked up one of those little pieces, I tried to envision how that piece fit into the big picture. The little pieces actually built four larger structures, which then fit together seamlessly to make the one whole. And of course along the way, I found the need to customize the way the fighting surface attached to the wall to make it more secure.

Believe it or not, the study of systematic theology has much in common with properly constructed Lego sets, or puzzles if you are not a Lego person. Every little piece represents a decision on a particular theological belief. Those decisions impact other surrounding decisions that join together creating an understandable whole. So for example, your belief about the interpretation of the baptism of the Holy Spirit will affect your understanding of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and your understanding of the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross will affect your view of salvation. Not everything in systematic theology fits together as cleanly as the Mega Bloks set, but that is to be expected when finite human beings attempt to understand an infinite Divine God.

I hope you will join me on this journey through a series of 12 posts as I seek to show how Systematic Theology or systematic study of the Bible will enrich your understanding of God and your Christian walk. Before I begin, let me give the caveat that preaching should consistently be text-driven through books of the Bible, but I also believe that Systematic Theology has a place for the church and the pastor.

We study Systematic Theology to understand the Bible. The more we know about the Bible the more our actions should please God.

Editor’s Note: This is the first article in the series “Why You Should Study Systematic Theology” by Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications at Southwestern.