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260: Theology Survey

Instructor: Pastor Matt Postiff, Ph.D., Th.M. 734-975-8949


Survey of Christian Theology, with attention given to defining different types of theology (e.g., biblical, systematic), as well as important issues in each of the major areas of theological study.


The student should be able to express his or her Christian beliefs on the basis of the Biblical text.


Each student will write a personal doctrinal statement covering all the major areas of theology. The goal of the statement is to be a fairly complete expression of the student s beliefs, backed with Scripture behind every assertion. The statement should not be minimalist. This homework will be assigned doctrine by doctrine and examined in class and by the instructor.

The outline of the statement should follow these headings (with particular items to include noted in parentheses):

1.       The Holy Scriptures (dispensations)

2.       The Godhead and God the Father (creation)

3.       Jesus Christ

4.       The Holy Spirit (spiritual gifts)

5.       Man

6.       Sin

7.       Salvation

8.       Sanctification

9.       The Church (polity, ordinances)

10.   Angels, Satan, and Demons

11.   Eschatology (rapture, kingdom, second coming, resurrection, judgments, eternal state)


Review McCune, Systematic Theology, I:3-34 and the entire 3-volume set.

Review Ryrie, Basic Theology, 632p.

Review Several church, organizational, and personal doctrinal statements. For example:

Our FBC Statement of Doctrine

Pastor Postiff s personal doctrinal statement, available via email upon request., pages 85–96.



In Class Discussion

Assignment for Next Class


Types of Theology

Demonstrate how to do the doctrinal outline.

Doctrinal outline


Go over doctrinal outline.

Particularly Bible and God.

Write sections on Bible and God.


Go over Bible and God sections.

Go over outline of Jesus and Holy Spirit.

Write sections on Jesus and Holy Spirit.


Go over Jesus and Holy Spirit sections.

Go over outline of Man and Sin.

Write sections on Man and Sin.


Go over Man and Sin sections.

Go over outline of Salvation and Sanctification.

Write sections on Salvation and Sanctification.


Go over Salvation and Sanctification sections.

Go over outline of Church and Angels.

Write sections on Church and Angels.


Go over Church and Angels sections.

Go over outline of Eschatology.

Write section on Eschatology.

Touch up other sections.


Go over Eschatology section.



Notes for First Class:

Theology is the study of God. Our ultimate goal is to know, love, and fear God more (Matt. 22:37-40).

Whether or not you have studied the Bible this way before, it will help you integrate the various truths of the Scriptures into a coherent system. If you are familiar with the broad outlines of theology already, it will help you to see our understanding of certain issues, reinforce your own understanding, and perhaps introduce you to new subtopics.

Types of Theology

1. Biblical Theology. Generally, this is a theology that conforms to the Bible. Technically, the term is used to refer to the organized expression of the teaching of a particular book or books of the Bible. It is laid out in a fashion that recognizes the historical progress of revelation, i.e. that earlier books did not have as complete of a theology as afforded by the collection of them together with later books.

2. Systematic Theology. Study of the Bible by major areas correlated together as a whole, gathering and summarizing all the relevant Biblical material on each area. Systematic theology is the organized study of the doctrine in the Bible. It is possible because God cannot lie or contradict Himself. We believe the Scripture presents a coherent system of truth, not simply a brush pile of various truths (thanks to Dr. Rolland McCune for that phrase).

3. Dogmatic Theology. A body of doctrines formally and authoritatively affirmed. Generally such a body of truth is expressed by a church or denomination as a standard for churches and ministers.

4. Historical Theology. Studying theology as it developed over history. Mainly this means studying what others have said about theology.

5. Contemporary Theology is the study of the present state of theology or theology as done by various constituent groups, including liberal theology, ecumenical theology, feminist theology, etc.

6. Comparative theology is the study and comparison of various religions.

We are mainly concerned with the first two areas Biblical and Systematic theology, with some interaction with Dogmatic theology of various types. Our interest will not lie in the study of doctrine as it developed over time (historical theology) nor with contemporary versions of theology because truth does not change with time, and no new truths have been discovered lately!

Source of Theological Study

There are two main sources of theology. The lesser is called general revelation or natural revelation. These terms refer to the knowledge of God that can be derived from God s creation, whether it is nature or the conscience of man. These concepts are derived from Romans 1:19-20 and 2:15-16 as well as Psalm 19:1-6.

The greater source of theology is called special revelation. This term refers to the knowledge of God that is obtained through God s miraculous activity, whether it is visions and dreams, direct speech from God, or the Bible. See Psalm 19:7-11.

We make a value differentiation between the two types of revelation because general revelation can easily be confused if it is interpreted apart from the Bible. Furthermore, many things are not revealed in nature that are revealed in the Bible. For instance, a person cannot be saved from pondering nature. Salvation comes through the means of the Scriptures (Romans 10:17, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:23).

The Ability to Study Theology

We call this information about God revelation because it has to do with something revealed that is otherwise hidden. 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 teach us that apart from God s disclosing (revelatory) activity, we could not know the things of God.

We need what is called illumination from God in order to be able to accept and understand the truths that God wants to communicate to us. Illumination is not to be confused with intelligence or a high I.Q. or some other natural ability. Illumination comes from a special work of God through the Holy Spirit that enables us to understand the things of God.

The one without this illumination (the natural man) not only does not accept the things of God, he is unable to understand those things.

Assignment #1 Due February 13, 2011

Produce an outline of the 11 doctrinal areas at heading level 1. Then, indented under each one, a list of topics that you believe should be included in that area. We are not writing the statement yet. First we must think through what to write on. For instance (don t give all of this out!):

Other Resources from Pastor Postiff:

  1. Outline
  2. Theology, Queen of Sciences
  3. Bible
  4. God
  5. Man
  6. Sin
  7. Jesus Christ
  8. Salvation
  9. Church
  10. Sanctification
  11. Angels
  12. Holy Spirit
  13. Future

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