Systematic theology is any study that answers the question, “What does the whole Bible teach us today?” about any given topic. It differs from...
historical theology—a historical study of how Christians in different periods have understood various theological topics
philosophical theology—studying theological topics by using the tools and methods of philosophical reasoning
apologetics—providing a defense of the truthfulness of the faith for the purpose of convincing unbelievers
Christian ethics—any study that answers the question, “What does God require us to do and what attitudes does he require us to have today?” with regard to any given situation
Teaching doctrine (what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic) is important because teaching is an explicit part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19–20). We should study systematic theology with prayer (Ps. 119:18), humility (1 Pet. 5:5), with our reason, with help from others (1 Cor. 12:28), and with a rejoicing heart of worship (Rom. 11:33–36).
Think About It: What is likely to happen to a church or denomination that gives up learning systematic theology for a generation or longer? Has that been true of your church?
Memorize It: Students have repeatedly mentioned that one of the most valuable parts of any of their courses in college or seminary has been the Scripture passages they were required to memorize. Consider memorizing Matthew 28:18–20 to remember the importance of teaching doctrine in responding to the commission Jesus has given us, his followers.
Sing it! Theology done right should lead us into worship. I’ve made a practice of concluding my lectures by singing with my students. “O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley begins by wishing for “a thousand tongues” to sing God’s praise. Verse 2 is a prayer that God would “assist me” in singing his praise throughout the earth.
This content was adapted from my book, Systematic Theology. If you'd like to explore the topic of systematic theology more, I've written this book to help readers better understand doctrine and grow in their faith.