People have talked about four disciplines within theology: systematic, exegetic, historical, and practical. Exegesis is foundational as it draws “out” of Scripture while the other three are helpful by systematically discussing topics; recognizing worth in, and drawing upon, the historic church and theologians; and then focusing on proper application of God’s Word in pastoral care. Anyway, my dear husband had a stellar idea for systematic Bible studies.
Typically my pastor-husband offers straight-forward Bible studies where you, ya know, study the Bible directly, in context, verse by verse and passage by passage. However, he thought a very particular systematic Bible study could be exactly what many pastors and congregations need at times.
Basically, it would be an extensive collection of topics that could be done in individual sessions and not just one after another. The table of content would read like the subjects of Pieper: topical and rather exhaustive. Each session would address a single locus of theology and briefly examine how it fits within the broader framework of God’s revelation and why it matters for us to confess it rightly.
I am not saying put together a Bible study on Pieper. I am saying, wouldn’t it be great to have a study on angels at your finger tips, as well as one on whether God permits man to sin? Image of God, cause of sin, etc.? There’s so much good stuff in God’s revelation to explore!
It could be a group effort—perhaps would need to be unless you plan this to be your life’s world, but I think it’d be great. Not buying individual Bible studies but a big ol’ topical goldmine of seemingly random Lutheran goodness!
Systematic Bible studies would study the Bible by topic, hopefully intertwining God’s teachings as He has in Scripture, always restoring focus to Christ and God’s work on our behalf. Ok, ok, devotional work like that would be interesting, too. 😉
If it’s already available and you’ve tried it out, let us know here. Otherwise dream away about the Lutheran content that could further bless our congregations and the world, and write away!
3 Responses to Systematic Bible Studies
Good Morning, Mary.
As I have been reading your blog posts for a while now, I have come to appreciate your always cheery and practical approach, also to Scripture. In that connection, your idea of “Systematic Bible Studies” is a good one–like the (former) “Lutheran-cyclopedia” but with specifically Scriptural focus. It is a good, useful idea (though not an assignment I would personally relish).
I would only underscore something you already know well, but which bears repeating: that the real subject of every Bible study is always Jesus–that is, it is Jesus who fulfills (= “fills full”) every Scripture. This is very Lukan, of course–see Luke 4:21, Luke 16:31, Luke 24:44-49, Acts 8:35–but I contend also, most Lutheran. It is what we have always meant by the “soteriological function of doctrine”–what Paul means by “taking every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
In short, no matter where a Bible study ever begins, it should never end short of the Gospel of Jesus’ cross and resurrection.
Thank you for all you write!
Absolutely! Thank you for your comment! Everything in Scripture fits within the broader framework of the Triune God at work for us through the Incarnate Christ/ the Word!!
(As a theological aside, isn’t it pretty awesome that there is the Word of God, which is Jesus, yet the Word is also the Trinity’s united voice toward us? Truly fills me with awe.)
Agreed–I think that’s basically what Jesus is saying in John 16:12-15–and Yes, awe is the only meaningful response. Imagine what it would be like, to “eavesdrop” on that great “intra-Trinitarian” conversation?