New Millennium Research Paper

Pages: 6 (1762 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  Level: College Freshman  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Systematic theology asks questions in a sublunary manner. It develops answers cast in a similar way: What are the features of God? What is the nature of sin? Who are the chosen people of God? How is systematic theology used currently? The contemporary world is fertile grounds for use of systematic theology. Competent systematicians bear witness to the history of the discipline and speak to the modern world. Shirley C. Guthrie was involved in the business of systematic theology due in part to his work in Christian Doctrine. This is indeed shown in today's systematic theology. There are a multitude of examples of systematic theology which use the Bible as a selective quarry to strengthen structures of thought not essentially Christian or biblical by definition -- structures the systematician typically uses to weed out biblical ideas and texts that he or she finds not in tune or in order with the system.

Guthrie and others developed their theological mindset during the unstable times of the church, rather than in the stable environment of the academy. Systematic theology became part of their work to reflect meaning of traditions in the church. They attempted to individually explain faith in their respective times to wrestle with falsehoods and attempted to clear up the doctrines that the church holds on to. The fact that the majority of scholars like Guthrie who continues to turn to the patristic scholars is a reflection of the effectiveness of systematic theology.

Researching what was written is today not merely a historical exercise. Rather, theologians from the past are researched and explained for people to use their thinking for contemporary debates. The likes of Origen and Augustine instinctively wrote systematic theology encompassing the best of all the intellectual worlds in which they worked. The roots of systematic theology began to draw out its own way during and after the Reformation period, as debates in the academic field were in need of precise arguments.

With the development of the university in time came along with it the development of systematic theology. Systematic theology became a discipline as the need for a proper line of theological enquiry arose. The state of play presently is radically removed from the state of theology during the patristic, medieval, reformation, and even Victorian ages. The modern university and modern theological college set up systematics as a distinct specialization separate from other theological disciplines.

Systematics differs based on denomination, geographical location, and historical position. Recent attempts by Protestant theologians shine a light to this. The recently completed work of Wolf hart Pannenberg differs vastly in procedure and results from the systematic theology presented by the conservative evangelical Wayne Grudem.Grudem's work can be described as being systematic, with appropriate biblical references, diagrams, and drawings from hymns of the church to delve into how doctrine is set in its context.

This kind of interpretation of information results in a textbook of belief for the uninitiated. The structure is clear with logical progression, and all-inclusive arguments to defend each point. There are everyday instances that can be applied to Christian life, and a no-fuss 'system'. Oppositely, Pannenberg provided a creative analysis of theological ideas.

Pannenberg presents ideas of struggles of interaction between the word and the world. His expert coverage of all major concepts gives readers a good way to understand his material. His work deals with many modern concerns. Although his work is feasible and readable, it does not show the new Christian the realm of theological texts.

Perhaps Guthrie offers something which stands between the two. He places theological reflection tightly within the community of God along with referencing of theological texts. Guthrie stands between the conservative evangelicalism of Grudem and the main line Protestantism of Pannenberg. Guthrie's skill in showing theological perspective is seen throughout her work.

The beginning of Christian Doctrine elaborates on what theology is and how it should be studied. In Guthrie's words, theology is "a word about God." Theology to him is "the quest for the ultimate truth about God, about ourselves, and about the world we live in." He begs to ask readers to understand themselves in order to understand theology.

Christian Doctrine determines that in order to understand one's self one must understand one's individual, personal, religious, and social backgrounds. Guthrie states: people cannot understand theology if they hide their beliefs from others and apologize for their beliefs. (Guthrie) He shows this by providing different alternatives for the reader to delve into. The book is intended for readers to deepen their faith, but not provide all the answers.

Guthrie shares three objective factors to be taken into consideration if one is to understand the truth of God. The truth in his words is to be experienced through knowing of Jesus through the Bible and church. So the three factors: Jesus, Bible, and church, are to be evaluated together. He also says creeds and confessions are subject to change throughout the course of one's life. A reference to this would be in Paul's letters. He sees creeds and confessions as a starting to point to understand one's faith.

General revelation as interpreted by Guthrie refers to God's self-disclosure to people through acts of creation. It can also be interpreted as the natural knowledge of God. Two forces on systematic theology have begun to form a significant movement within the discipline. On the one hand, an increasing dissatisfaction with traditional liberalism has led many to be more drawn to an orthodox faith with historic content. On the other hand, the forces of post-modernity have made theologians re-consider the foundations and authority for their beliefs and many like Guthrie affirm to interpreting God's word through personal experience vs. historic content.

This is a great starting point to discuss with non-believers to show that faith is not as linear and rigid as non-believers would expect it to be. Guthrie points to the idea that one finds God in creation. He says that one cannot see the truth by merely observing the world. Having faith and belief in Christ helps sort through the misleading information present around the world; Christ is understood through the Bible.

In this connection, albeit slowly, systematic theology is beginning to draw more insights from theologians around the world; in understanding the attributes of God, one is able to see these various attributes. Part II of Christian Doctrine discusses these themes as well as ending with the section concerning discussion of the doctrine of predestination, which is considered the most controversial doctrine in the Protestant church. Guthrie states that predestination does not predetermine everything that happens. Predestination is simply salvation through being God's elect.

Many non-evangelical theologians like Guthrie promote theology. Systematic theology in the third millennium will begin to reflect its theology in its practice. That is, if the gospel is really for all nations, Jew and Gentile alike, then the teaching of this gospel must also reflect that fact, but also preach to save those by offering teachings of Christ and God. As mentioned in the book, "God does not desire to exclude anyone."

Universalism states that God chooses all and rejects none. Although Guthrie accepts this he also believes that Christians are God's chosen people. Because of this it is the duty of Christians to being non-Christians into the religion to grant them their salvation. He refers to Pelagianism in the sense that choice determines salvation. If people choose Christianity they will be saved.

There are of course difficulties presented by many of the accompanying issues. For example, the danger of non-realist language is used to full extent by the nonrealistic theologians mentioned above such as Guthrie. That is, because one can never access the reality that lies beyond language, one can never know whether there really is a God there or not. For Guthrie, it is therefore not worth trying to find out whether there is or not. To him, religious life can be concerned only with living a good life within the community of which one is apart of and following the Christian faith.

Scriptural authority remains to one of many key issues for students of theology. Revelation, together with its relationship to experience still remains enigmatic. In regards to this experience, the field of theology opens up ever expanding avenues of thought and research. Yet perhaps the most basic question to theology remains near the top of the agenda, and reminds us what it is all about. It brings it back to the issue of the Trinity.

Who is God? What sort of God is this God in whom we believe? Creation in Guthrie's words is what we believe. He feels religion deals with why people exist vs. science that explain how people exist. However, it is probably fair to say that in the wider theological scene, the most pressing question that faces people is who the God in who people believe in is. Scriptures as he reveals himself, rather than as we construct him.

Sin as seen through Guthrie is the act of going… [END OF PREVIEW]

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