"I'm in love, I'm in love, and I don't care who knows it." (Thirty bonus points for whoever gets that reference) I haven't been working at all on this break, so I've had nothing to do for the past three days. Since I'm always ticked that I don't have time to read, I've decided to redeem the time (Webster reference). I bought Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology book over the summer but have really only cracked it once. Now, I've decided to dive in.
That is where we meet my new love: Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is exactly what it sounds like: a system of theology. Think really good topical preaching. Instead of going through the Bible (like I have been doing), it goes through different topics and looks at what the whole of Scripture has to say about that one topic. Obviously there's some overlap, but that brings me to why I love it so much. Working out theology systematically forces you to answer all the questions. Because you are looking at the whole of Scripture, you must look at all the Bible has to say at a particular topic. In that way, it protects us from reductionism. Reductionism (as Mark Driscoll explained it to me) is the fault of only looking something in view of part of Scripture. The one topic that he talked about a lot was not reducing Christ to only his deity or only his humanity. It really is cool because so many holes in my view of God are because I'm not looking at everything that the Bible has to say about him.
I will heed Driscoll's advice here. He warns against an overuse of systematic theology because it takes away from the story of the Bible. We lose the narrative of God's history of redemption when we only look at individual facts and truths about given topics. So I want to be sure that I am not putting too much emphasis on a book like this. However, that does not change the beautiful ability of systematic theology to give me a full view of Scripture. So I will continue to sing its praises while remembering that it cannot be the end of my study.
Another favorable aspect of this book (I'm sure it is done in other works of systematic theology, but this is my only reference point) is that it shows false views of certain topics and where they come from. An example is the chapter on creation, which I'm reading right now. After Grudem explained how God relates to his creation (namely that it shows His character and He declares it to be very good, but that He is distinct from it and rules over it), He explained materialism, pantheism, emanation, dualism, and deism, which are all false views of God's relation to creation that contradict the account of the Bible but have shown up over the years.
Now you might be asking yourself, "Why in the world do those things matter to me?" I'm glad you asked. (Another Webster reference) These are all views that not only non-Christians, but professing Christians have of God and how he relates to creation. Since they are all forms of reducing Scripture to just some of what it says, they all have Scriptural backing and evidence. Having a solid view of the truth along with a clear understanding of the lies that culture tells, gives us the ability to recognize those lies when they show up. I can't tell you how important this is. I have had so many instances that someone says something and I think to myself, "That doesn't sound right." But then they show me a Bible verse and say, "Look, it says it right there." Having a knowledge of where they are going to point gives us the ability to ask important questions. Not shove their faults in their face and yell at them, but ask good questions to make sure that we have a clear understanding. It is a way to love our brothers and sisters around us (as well as people who are apart from God). Because if God is totally and completely good, then a clearer understanding of Him increases the joy we have in him and the awesomeness and outrageousness (may not be words, don't care) of his love for us. The clearer we see him, the better he looks and the more we are blown away by him.
Anyway, that is my endorsement for systematic theology. And since I'm reading Wayne Grudem's book right now, I'll go ahead and advocate him too. I'm blown away at how humble this guy is in writing. He's so ready to show the other side of discussions and present evidence not only for what he believes but what other people believe as well. He mixes standing for explicit truth and having loving disagreement about some doctrine beautifully. It's been such an encouragement for me to be taught by someone like that. Also, he puts things in here that I don't think are the norm for this kind of book. At the end of each chapter he has application of what we have just learned and how that shows up in our lives and the way we understand the world. Then he has questions to ask ourselves about how these beliefs show up in the way we live our lives. And my favorite thing is that he ends with a hymn to meditate on what we just learned. I just love it.
So there it is, my full endorsement for Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology. I hope some of you will take my advice and dive into this study of God and His revelation to us. It has already increased my joy in knowing Him so much (and I'm only like two hundred pages into it). I'd love to be able to discuss some of these things with you guys.
Before I leave I'd like to leave you guys with some resources. Most of them are sermons from Passion but there are a few on here that deal with Holy Hip Hop (or Christian Rap). I'm going to put a few interviews on here as well as some Lyrical Theology to give you a taste of what I have come to love. (Yes this is basically just a post of me endorsing things.)
John Piper's message at Passion 2011: "Getting to the Bottom of Your Joy"
Quickly I need to say some words about this. Piper's message (like last year) is one that I believe is foundational. This was huge for me and really got to the bottom of a lot of things in my life. It also showed me a lot of what my life was like from the ages of 15 to 19. I had the goal of people thinking highly of me. Jesus became a way to get to that end. I was still at the bottom. Now Jesus has become the bottom of that joy. This probably won't make sense until you watch it. So watch and listen closely. This is very important stuff.
Here is the link to the audio of Piper's message at Desiring God
Unfortunately the videos from Passion are no longer up on the internet. Piper's is the only audio up for now.
Here are a few interviews about Holy Hip Hop:
John Piper interviewing Lecrae at Passion 2011
Thabiti Anyabwile on Holy Hip Hop
Lecrae's interview with the 700 club about his life and Christian Rap
Here are some examples of Lyrical Theology and the gospel being preached through rap:
Shai Linne preaching the gospel
Lecrae- Don't Waste Your Life
Flame- Joyful Noise
Timothy Brindle- Liberation
Trip Lee- Satisfaction
You can also look at other artists. These are some of the guys who I listen to: Lecrae, Trip Lee, shai linne, timothy brindle, Tedashii, Flame, and Dayton told me I need to start listening to PRO so I'll put him on here too.
I've just mixed Systematic Theology and Holy Hip Hop. Hopefully nobody freaks out on me. I hope you guys use these resources and they give you a greater picture of and pleasure in Jesus.
Soli Deo gloria