A scene from the Leben der heiligen Altväter (1482)

3 Reasons to Make Systematic Theology Part of Your Bible Study


“Oh dear,” he muttered, his features rearranging themselves into a mask of poorly-concealed dismay.

All I had said, in response to him asking what subject I taught, was “systematic theology.” But those two words, those eight syllables, obviously worked like some kind of incantation on my new acquaintance. I’m not sure what grey specter of deadening soul-bane my words had conjured in his mind, but I know this wasn’t the first party I had spoiled this way.

It’s not exactly the most inviting phrase, systematic theology. It apparently hits the average ear with the grace of a diagnosis. And these are Christian ears I’m talking about: people who trust God, love the Bible, and want to grow in their knowledge of the God and his ways. Apparently even to such fellow-believers, “systematic theology” sounds about as inviting and urgent as phrases like grammatical analysisdifferential equations, or recreational domestic taxidermy.

I admit it’s a prickly-sounding set of syllables. But if you are one of the people I just described—a Christian who trusts God, loves the Bible, and desires growth in knowledge of God and his ways—I think you should warm up to systematic theology.

Here are three reasons to make systematic theology a part of your Bible study:

1. To get an overview of the Bible.

By overview, I don’t mean a survey of what’s in each book, or of the timeline of salvation history. Those are good, too. But what systematic theology offers is a way of surveying the essential content of the entire Bible on the most important topics.