Questions and Answers on Theology

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These questions and answers are from the Student Catechism.

1.  What is theology?

Theology is, literally, discourse about God; broadly speaking, it is the study of all things in their relationships to God.

2.  Why should we study theology?

We should study theology because it brings satisfaction to the soul, because it matters what we believe, because lay people want answers, because God will help those who are theologically prepared, because studying theology will help us to know God better, and because it will help us share our faith.

3.  What is systematic theology?

Systematic theology is the systematic presentation of the doctrines in the Bible.

4.  How does systematic theology differ from biblical theology?

Biblical theology presents the teaching of Scripture in biblical terms and in an historical anner.  Systematic theology presents the teaching of Scripture in contemporary or philosophical terms and in a logical manner.

5.  What is historical theology?

Historical theology is the branch of theology that shows the progress and development of doctrine through church history.

6.  What is practical theology?

Practical theology is the application of truth found in the other branches of theology.

7.  What are 6 divisions of practical theology?

Six divisions of practical theology are Homiletics, Evangelism, Liturgics, Pastoral theology, Ecclesiology, and Catechetics.

8.  What are four branches of systematic theology?

Four branches of systematic theology are:

Dogmatics, which is the treatment of doctrine;
Ethics, which is the study of how Christians should live;
Apologetics, which defends the Christian faith against attacks from the outside;
Polemics, which defends true Christian doctrine from attacks from within the church.

9.  What is the traditional order of theological subjects?

The traditional order of theology is: Revelation, God, Man, Sin, Christ, Salvation, Holy Spirit, Church, Last Things.

10.  What are the Greek-derived terms for these subjects?

The Greek-derived terms are: Bibliology, Theology proper, Anthropology, Hamartiology, Christology, Soteriology, Pneumatology, Ecclesiology, Eschatology.

11.  What is theology in a “nutshell”?

Theology in a nutshell is the story of our relationship with God which was broken by sin, but restored by Christ.

12.  What are the four sources of theology?

The four sources of theology are the Scriptures, Tradition, Reason, and Experience.  These are called “The Wesleyan Quadrilateral.”

13.  What is the primary source of theology?

The primary source of theology is the Bible. As Wesley said, “I allow no other rule, whether of faith or practice, than the Holy Scriptures.”

14.  What is Tradition?

Tradition, in a sense, is the history of the interpretation of Scripture.  The early councils and creeds are a very important part of this source of theology.

15.  How does Tradition help us develop theology?

Tradition helps to keep our theology consistent with the core doctrines the church has always taught. Insights from various strands of tradition can contribute to a well-balanced theological system.

16.  How does Reason help us develop theology?

Reason helps us to observe and interpret what God has revealed.  It helps us arrange truth in a logical manner, draw inferences, and synthesize Scripture and tradition.

17.  How does Experience help us to develop theology?

Experience helps us confirm and clarify certain doctrinal positions.  Doctrines such as original sin, prevenient grace, salvation by faith, and entire sanctification can be verified and clarified to an extent by Christian experience.

Mark Bird
Mark Bird is Professor of Theology and Apologetics at God's Bible School and College.