As observed in the introduction to these studies on theology, it is important to have a heart fully captured by God, which stimulates the desire to study Scripture, or His inerrant Word (without error, infallible), to get to know and love Him personally, and to better articulate a true understanding of Him to those who do not know Him. To more deeply know and understand God beyond this through the study of Theology is a desire only He can place in our hearts. Systematic Theology, a sub-discipline of Theology, studies Scripture in such a way to understand what God says throughout the Bible on any particular subject. For example, when we look up all Scriptures on anxiety, we are in essence employing a very basic form of systematic theology. This is the process by which we form doctrines or a set of teachings/understandings uniformly accepted by the church. As seen in the introduction, the Doctrine of the Trinity is one such doctrine. By looking up all Scriptures on what God says about how He exists (Father, Son, Holy Ghost), we can surmise that He exists in the form of the Trinity.
There are other ways to investigate theology, as in the case of Biblical Theology (another sub-discipline of theology), which looks at the Bible through the lens of the chronological unveiling of God’s revelation (i.e., history), or in the case of apologetics (another form of studying theology), which seeks to defend the Bible/religious doctrine through logical reasoning and debate. Even other fields not directly related to Theology, such as science or philosophy, can add to these studies synergistically.
We must relate our understanding to today’s culture, and articulate it in “contemporary” ways for others to discern. Referring back to Systematic Theology, it is useful and relevant as it applies to life, because it allows us to understand our faith, thereby articulating to those outside the faith, our belief systems based on what the entire Bible says about any particular subject. The Bible is inerrant, thus the summation of our amalgamation of Scripture on a particular topic should be both consistent and coherent; Scriptures may take different perspectives, but they are consistent and have the ability to coexist infallibly. We study Systematic Theology to gain a broader understanding of who God is, attain healing through understanding God (who is knowable, but not exhaustively knowable), and gain more passion for reaching out to those who do not yet know Christ.
If I had not made use of the study of systematic theology, I would not then understand how to apply Scripture most accurately to counsel clients. As pastoral counselors, we must make use of the knowledge and wisdom of the Scriptures to help others along the path of healing. This is not just a “you” statement, but also an “I” statement… meaning, I would have nothing of value and authenticity to say had I not made use of it in my own life.
For example, when we study the Doctrine of Christ, we get an accurate understanding of who Jesus is, His nature, how He relates to God the Father and God the Spirit, how He lived (as an example to us), and how He relates to us. If we do not have a true heart understanding of who Christ is, how can we achieve healing from concerns of mental health? If we do not know the healer, how can we expect to be healed? If we do not study and learn, we cannot recognize the significance of what Christ bore for us on the cross – the blood and sweat dripping into His eyes from a crown of thorns thrust into His brow, lesions and lacerations covering more of His body than unbroken skin, nails the size of railroad ties plunged into His wrists severing muscles, veins, ligaments… this is what He did for us– to provide His adopted sons and daughters eternal life, the forgiveness of sins, and future resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. This is who He is. This is our God…
May the power of the resurrection of Christ be with our prayers.
I don’t know about you, but pondering on these things gives me a heart of gratitude. Gratitude is a posture that can completely change our perspective and outlook on life. It can change the way we view past traumas, how we see present circumstances, and how we think of the future. However, how is it that we can live a life of gratitude if we cannot or will not comprehend the magnitude of who Christ is, what He came to achieve, and what He accomplished through the cross? How can we maintain a posture of gratitude, which will positively impact our mental health, without continuously reminding ourselves of our blessings? The things that are most on our minds will dictate our actions, reactions, choices, words, and behaviors. Are we a people who allow the enemy of our souls to push, shove, and decide our future by controlling how we will think, live, and act? Are we a people who bow to the enemy and allow him to destroy our lives through the destruction of our mental health? Surely not… surely we are a people who rise up and stand firm in the Lord.
Stay tuned for some definitions in our next blog that will help us go further into our study of theology!