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Introductory lecture


Historical Theology


Introductory Lecture


Biblical Theology

-it attempts to grasp the specific “angle of vision” of a biblical writer or school of writers;

ultimately of the testament (newer or older) as a whole, seeing the uniqueness, unity and
comprehensiveness of the biblical witness to God’s self-disclosure and self-bestowal in
Jesus Christ.

-e.g., the theology of Paul, John, “Hebrews”, Jeremiah, Deuteronomist.

-e.g., who is Jesus Christ according to each of the gospel writers?




Systematic Theology


Critical Task:[1]

(a) it examines contemporary beliefs about God in the light of Christian sources, especially

(b) it assesses beliefs with respect to their importance.

E.g., (i) dogma — the “building blocks” of the Christian faith, departure from which is apostasy.

(ii) doctrine — what a denomination regards as important and a test of fellowship.

(iii) opinion — something deemed advisable but not essential.


Note: There is no universal categorization.  Consider the matter of the Virgin Birth.


Constructive Task:

(a)    it attempts to grasp the truth of God whole and apprehend it in its interconnectedness; i.e., it seeks to grasp the unity and the coherence of the truth of God.


(b)   it attempts to relate the faith of the church to the contemporary world, in the vocabulary and thought forms of the world.

Here it must carefully distinguish “adapting” from “adopting.”


(c)    it attempts to preserve catholicity, catholicity consisting of identity plus universality.

Defining the faith preserves identity; defending the faith preserves universality.




Historical Theology


It presupposes that God has never left himself without witnesses throughout the centuries.  Therefore

(a)    we must ask how the gospel has been articulated, spoken in the thought-forms of each era in such a way as either to elucidate the gospel or to obscure the gospel.

(b)   we must probe the place of tradition.

(c)    we must ensure that the dead are allowed to vote.

(d)   we must understand that while history doesn’t repeat itself exactly, there are very significant overlaps; e.g., there are no new heresies.


[1] See Olson and Grenz, Who Needs Theology?, pp.68ff.