But, unfortunately, systematic theology often gets a bad rap. It’s not unusual to find even pastors and professors dismissing dogmatics as an inferior version of the real stuff you get from exegetical or redemptive-historical theology. Of course, those are crucial too (and every good systematic theology will be built on both), but systematic theology is just as crucial, no matter the objections.
Objection 1: Systematic theology is not even possible. While it’s certainly true that we cannot know God as God knows himself, we can nevertheless know God truly. Theologians have long made the distinction between archetypal knowledge (which only God has) and ectypal knowledge (that which we can know about God through his revelation to us). God wants to be known.
Objection 2: Christianity is a life, not a doctrine. Of course, Christianity is a life, but it is a life predicated upon a doctrine. The gospel is good news. To fill up that news with content is to immediately move in the direction of systematic theology. If you want your Christianity to be about nothing but Jesus, you still have to answer the question: Who was Jesus and what about him are you all about? Positing an answer is going to require systematic theology. Continue reading