Well, here we are again..in another camp season. It started yesterday and has gone so smoothly so far! The preceding days leading up to camp this year were so different from last. Last year was craziness and last minute details...this year was like, "oh, it's here already?" Always, at the beginning of camp, I look around and think, "man, this is such an awesome place for my kids to grow up at. How cool would it be to grow up here?" And, then I look around at all our awesome young staff and am so thankful for these Godly examples for my little ones of following after God. I just think that my kids look up to them so much and these are the kind of young adults I hope for my children to emulate one day. So, it's all good!
I must tell you that I started my systematic theology book, and it was not what I expected. By started, I mean I read the first chapter on "what is systematic theology?" I really, honestly, was expecting it to be slow and, dare I say-possibly "boring"? (I'm sorry Shane) But, I love the way Grudem presents this material. He presents it with life and charisma. He's serious and excited about doctrine, and he easily gets you on track to be excited about it, too.
So, what is "systematic theology?" It is studying what the Bible, as a whole, teaches us about any given topic. It's taking a subject and studying all the passages in the Bible on that subject and them summarizing ALL of them to find out what we believe on that given topic and relating it to the present day. As a matter of face, Grudem strongly believes that life application must occur while studying systematic theology or you are not studying it properly. He says, "all doctrines should be seen in terms of their practical value for living the Christian life."
I have heard the argument that we do not need to study "doctrine" ("what the whole bible teaches us today about some particular topic") or "theology"...that we only need to study the Bible. I do believe that most people who say this do not understand that studying doctrine IS studying the Bible. Men like Grudem have gone through the scriptures, taken them as a whole, and laid them out for us. Point blank, that's a lot of work, and I'm glad it's already been done for me, laid out "carefully organized by topic"! Furthermore, I like how he points out that most of use systematic-theological statements without even knowing it. "..Every time a Christian says something about what the whole Bible says, he or she is in a sense doing 'systematic theology'.."
I guess what I loved the most about this chapter was that I could "feel" his passion for making doctrine easily accessible and understandable for all people. He spoke about theology with an excitement I haven't seen much. At the end of this chapter, I had a hard time putting the book down..I just wanted to learn more! Not at all how I thought it would be.
"..Studying systematic theology will help us grow more as Christians. The more we know about God, about his Word, about his relationships to the world and mankind, the better we will trust him, the more fully we will praise him, and the more readily we will obey him."
"The study of theology is not merely an intellectual or mental exercise. It is a study of the living God and of the wonders of all his works in creation and redemption. We cannot study this subject as if our hearts and lives are uninvolved! We must love all that God is, all that he says, and all that he does...Our response to the study of the theology of Scripture should be that of the Psalmist who said, 'How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!' In the study of the teachings of God's word, it should not surprise us if we often find our hearts spontaneously breaking forth in expressions of praise and delight like those of the psalmist..." Not what I expected from the first chapter of my systematic theology book!!! But, even now, as I write it, it stirs my heart for more....
"The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart." Psalm 19:8