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The Branches and Sources of Theology

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1 The Branches and Sources of Theology

2 The Branches of Theology
1. Exegetical Theology Greek ex = out and hegeomai = to lead Exegesis is a “drawing out” of a text’s meaning, rather than reading a meaning into it. Exegetical theology involves studying the grammar and syntax of the biblical languages.

3 The Branches of Theology
2. Biblical Theology The study of the theological themes of particular portions of the Bible. Descriptive: seeks to understand the biblical theology in its own context. Normative: seeks to apply the original meaning to us today.

4 The Branches of Theology
3. Bible Doctrine The collection of all the passages of the Bible that address particular topics. Asks the question, “What does the Bible say about X?” Though systematic in its approach, it is not the same as “Systematic Theology.” Various Topics

5 The Branches of Theology
Historical Theology The study of the development of doctrine throughout history. Can be divided into two types of study: diachronic and synchronic.

6 The Branches of Theology
Historical Theology Diachronic: Ancient Christology Medieval Christology Modern Christology Synchronic: Doctrines of the Ancient Church Doctrines of the Medieval Church Doctrines of the Modern Church

7 The Branches of Theology
5. Dogmatic Theology The study of theology in the context of the creedal system of a given denomination. For many mainline groups (e.g., Lutheran, Reformed, Catholic) Dogmatic Theology is Systematic Theology.

8 The Branches of Theology
6. Philosophical Theology The study of theological questions about which philosophy also inquires. Is there a God? Why does evil exist? What is the soul? The primary emphasis is on a dialogue with philosophy, not biblical exegesis. René Descartes

9 The Branches of Theology
SS THEOLOGY 7. Systematic Theology Begins with the data of Exegetical Theology, Biblical Theology, and Bible Doctrine; Factors in the data of Historical and Dogmatic Theology; Dialogues with Philosophical Theology; and Draws from / expresses itself in the language of cultural experience. A sailor needs to read more than his charts; he needs to read the ocean!

10 The Branches of Theology
8. Practical (Applied) Theology The study of practical issues in actual ministry settings. Examples would range from how to conduct marriage counseling, to a theological strategy for dealing with poverty in the inner city, to whether polygamy is legitimate. Practical Theology is the necessary fruit of theological reflection.

11 Our Course’s Approach Systematic Theology Practical . Theology
Dogmatic Theology Philosophical Theology Historical Theology Biblical Theology/Bible Doctrine Exegetical Theology

12 The Sources of Theology
Reason: Is it Rational? Human reason can have an important role in doing theology. Some theologians think reason alone can discover theological truth. Reason as a theological source is based upon the image of God in Man. God has given humans a capacity to arrive at rational conclusions. ?

13 The Sources of Theology
Conscience: Is it Right? The faculty within humans that approves or disapproves of theological conclusions. All people have a conscience (Rom. 2:14-16). Some theologians hold the conscience is the primary source and judge of theological ideas. The conscience of believers is guided by the Holy Spirit.

14 The Sources of Theology
Experience: Is it Meaningful? Many people today hold that religious experience is the best way to test religious truth. We are emotional creatures. Our feelings, based on our experiences, cannot be completely discounted. Religious experience can be a way to truth—though never our sole guide.

15 The Sources of Theology
Tradition: Is it Attested? For many theologians (especially Catholics, Orthodox and high-church denominations) tradition (usually in official dogmatic pronouncements) serves to evaluate all theological sources. The faith of the Church in the great creeds, and the whole deposit of historic orthodoxy, can help us evaluate and express biblical theology.

16 The Sources of Theology
Community: Is it Collaborative? In this view, the community is not so much a source of theological data but the location. Theology is an “in-house” project. It is done by believers for believers. Our theology must always be in dialogue with that of Spirit-filled believers worldwide.

17 The Sources of Theology
Scripture: Is it Biblical? Scripture is the primary source for theology and the norm by which we evaluate theological propositions. “Thus we arrive at the Bible – the Source by which reason, church, and religious experience can be evaluated theologically.” (J. W. Montgomery, “The Theologians Craft”, p. 283) However, Scripture is not self-interpreting. We do need other sources alongside of the Bible.

18 Tension helps keep our theology tight!
A Useful Diagram Scripture Tradition The “Wesleyan” Quadrilateral Reason Experience Tension helps keep our theology tight!

19 Eight Areas of Theology
1.Theology Proper 2. Bibliology 3. Christology 4. Anthropology 5. Soteriology 6. Pneumatology & Angelology 7. Ecclesiology 8. Eschatology

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