Building Blocks of Faith: Systematic Theology

In the intricate tapestry of religious scholarship, one strand stands out boldly: systematic theology. This profound branch of theological study weaves together the very essence of faith, providing a comprehensive framework to explore, understand, and articulate the beliefs that underpin diverse religious traditions.

But what exactly is this field of theology, and how does it differ from other theological disciplines such as Biblical theology? What resources are available to those seeking to deepen their understanding of this field? Moreover, what role does this degree play in illuminating the mysteries of faith? In this exploration, we will unravel these questions, laying the foundation for a journey into the fascinating world of systematic theology.

What is Systematic Theology?

Systematic theology, or systemics, is a structured approach to comprehending religious beliefs, distinctly separate from biblical theology. It involves organizing and articulating fundamental doctrines, frequently found in theology books. Pursuing this liberal arts degree offers a comprehensive education in this intricate field. Essentially, it’s the systematic exploration of faith, providing a methodical framework for delving deeper into religious convictions.

Looking for other liberal arts degrees? Check this video out:

Is There a Degree in Systematic Theology?

Yes, there are degree programs in this field. These programs offer in-depth studies in the field, providing students with a structured curriculum to understand core principles. Unlike biblical theology, which focuses on specific books or themes within the Bible, systematic theology degree programs encompass a broader scope, exploring comprehensive doctrines and beliefs. For example, students may use books in this field by Wayne Grudem as essential resources in these programs, offering systematic insights into various aspects of faith. These programs equip individuals with the knowledge and skills to engage in systematic theological analysis and contribute to the ongoing discourse within religious communities.

Some degree programs in this field include:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA): This undergraduate program provides a foundational understanding of its principles.
  • Master of Divinity (MDiv) with a focus on Systematics: This graduate-level program offers advanced studies in this field, preparing students for leadership roles in religious organizations.
  • Master of Theology (ThM): This is a postgraduate degree for those seeking a deep specialization in this field.
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): This doctoral program is for individuals interested in rigorous research and scholarship within this branch of theology.

These programs vary in length and depth, catering to students with different educational and career goals within this field.

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Biblical Theology Vs. Systematic Theology

Systematic theology and biblical theology are two distinct but related approaches to understanding and studying the Christian faith.


  • This field focuses on the approach that seeks to organize and synthesize theological beliefs into a coherent and systematic framework.
  • It aims to answer questions like “What does the entire Bible teach us about a specific doctrine or topic?”
  • This branch often relies on a wide range of biblical passages, drawing from both the Old and New Testaments.
  • It is concerned with presenting a comprehensive and structured understanding of Christian doctrine.

Biblical Theology:

  • Biblical theology, on the other hand, focuses on understanding the theological themes and developments within the Bible itself.
  • It examines how theological ideas progress and develop throughout the biblical narrative.
  • Biblical theology seeks to answer questions like “What did the Apostle Paul mean when he wrote about justification by faith in Romans?”
  • It is more concerned with the historical and contextual aspects of the Bible’s teachings.
  • Biblical theology often considers the different theological emphases found in various sections of the Bible.
  • While systematic theology aims for a comprehensive view, biblical theology dives deep into specific biblical texts and their historical contexts.

In summary, while systematic theology provides a systematic framework for understanding Christian doctrine, biblical theology delves into the theological themes and developments within the Bible itself. Both approaches are valuable for gaining a well-rounded understanding of the Christian faith, and individuals pursuing a systematic theology degree often study both to enrich their knowledge.

Some of the most popular systematic theology books widely used in academia and by individuals seeking to deepen their understanding of Christian doctrine include:

  1. “Systematic Theology” by Wayne Grudem:

This comprehensive work covers a wide range of topics, offering a clear and accessible presentation of Christian doctrine.

  1. “Christian Theology” by Millard J. Erickson:

Millard Erickson’s book provides a thorough exploration of Christian theology, delving into key theological concepts and their biblical foundations.

  1. “Institutes of the Christian Religion” by John Calvin:

Written by the influential theologian John Calvin, this classic work remains a foundational text for Reformed theology and systematic theology as a whole.

  1. “Reformed Dogmatics” by Herman Bavinck:

Herman Bavinck’s four-volume set offers a comprehensive Reformed perspective on systematic theology and has been highly influential in Reformed circles.

  1. “Christian Theology: An Introduction” by Alister E. McGrath:

Alister McGrath’s introductory book provides a concise overview of key theological topics, making it accessible to beginners while still informative for advanced readers.

  1. “Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief” by John M. Frame:

John Frame’s work offers concepts in this field that integrates a Reformed perspective with insights from philosophy and apologetics.

  1. “Basic Theology: A Popular Systematic Guide to Understanding Biblical Truth” by Charles C. Ryrie:

Charles Ryrie’s book is known for its simplicity and accessibility, making it a popular choice for those new to this field.

  1. “Systematic Theology: Roman Catholic Perspectives” edited by Francis Schüssler Fiorenza and John P. Galvin:

This book provides a Roman Catholic perspective on this field, offering insights from within the Catholic tradition.

These books vary in their theological perspectives and styles, allowing readers to explore different approaches to Christian doctrine. They are commonly used in this degree programs and by individuals seeking a deeper understanding of their faith.

Man Wearing Cassock Hugging a Holy Bible asking questions about systematic theology

Frequently Asked Questions About Systematic Theology

Who uses systematics?

It is primarily used by theologians, pastors, seminary students, and scholars within the Christian faith. It serves as a framework for understanding and articulating key theological doctrines and beliefs.

What does systematic theology cover?

This field covers a wide range of theological topics, including the nature of God, the Trinity, Christology, soteriology, eschatology, ethics, and more. It aims to provide a comprehensive and organized understanding of Christian doctrine.

What is systematics in the Catholic Church?

The main points include the study of God’s nature and attributes, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the Church, sacraments, eschatology, and moral theology. These areas collectively form the core of Christian systematic theology.

What are the main points of systematics?

The main points include the study of God’s nature and attributes, the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, the Church, sacraments, eschatology, and moral theology. These areas collectively form the core of Christian systematic theology.

What is the best definition of systematic theology?

This is the disciplined study and organization of Christian beliefs, grounded in Scripture, tradition, and reason. It seeks to provide a coherent and systematic understanding of theology, addressing fundamental questions about the Christian faith and its doctrinal components.

Now, if you’re looking for a degree similar to systematics, you can check out the philosophy degree:

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