Systematic Theology Sucks

Two weeks ago, in my post Don’t Make God Boring, I mentioned my dislike for an area of study called systematic theology. Systematic theology is a theological discipline that attempts to present God and Christian faith in an organized and logical structure. Some people have dedicated their entire adult lives to the pursuit of delineating a comprehensive systematic theology of God. I think they’re missing the point. Here’s why:

It’s Not in the Bible: If having a systematic theology was important, don’t you think God would have included it in the Bible, all in one place? Paul would have been an ideal person to do this, but he didn’t. Instead, he addressed practical matters of faith and life.

It’s a Product of Modernism: The modern era pushed spirituality aside, relegating it to Sunday morning. Modernity espoused logic and reason, embracing objective truth and only accepting the quantifiable. Out of this mindset, sprang the pursuit of a systematic theology: let’s organize God.

It’s Boring: In college, the most irrelevant class I took was Systematic Theology. Even though they simplified it for non-theologians, it was largely incomprehensible and completely boring. The God they alluded to was not the God I follow or read about in the Bible.

It’s Impersonal: Systematic theology reduces God to a sterile intellectual pursuit. However, my faith is anything but that: I pray directly to my Father in Heaven, follow the person of Jesus, and move to the specific promptings of the Holy Spirit. These are all intimate interactions, not theoretical musings; these are personal actions, not conceptual constructs.

While some people may embrace God as a comprehensive, systematic theology, I pursue him as living, accessible, and personal. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

2 thoughts on “Systematic Theology Sucks”

  1. [A blog reader emailed me a thoughtful response to the post. With her permission, I’m adding it here, along with my rely. – Peter]

    If I may represent an Opposing Point Of View to Theology Sucks! Systematic Theology was one of my favorite courses–One example: it rehabilitated God–my impression of His character previously was questionable, judged by event outcomes that were spun to ensure a view of His absolute control and power, fiat and right to use control and power however he pleased. Two concepts gave feet and bones (skeleton) to my Christianity – # 1 that Scripture is Absolute Truth, and, #2 Theology!,

    One small, anecdotal example of the cataclysmic change in my faith from learning the Theology of God. It shifted God from feeling He could strike any minute to me understanding that God is constrained by His character and can not act outside of His character. Although doctrinally, I accept God is Free (again a theological discussion that was defragged through understanding theology).

    Please note this is a slap-dash, incomplete, time-constrained, anecdotal, attestation to the power of theology.

    And yes, I am a child of Modernism, which possibly makes this construct of God communicate to me. But possibly the difference may be, you already had a living, healthy, functioning God who didn’t need rehabilitation?

    Blessings and peace

    Claire Andrus

    1. Claire, thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts and experience.

      It seems that Systematic Theology brought you to a better understanding of God, whereas it confronted mine.

      I’m glad to know that you appreciated it and benefited from it.

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