Classifications of Theology
As RC Sproul titled his book, everyone is a theologian. Everyone has their thoughts about God. Even atheists have ideas about who God is and/or how they believe He should act. Due to this, you can technically say there is as diverse as there are people on earth.
None of us have the perfect idea of who God is and all of us, even very doctrinally solid Bible teachers and theologians disagree on some aspects of theology. Our differences in theological understanding can categorized as primary, secondary, and tertiary differences. Primary differences are serious differences in which a disagreement can mean that a person is not believing in a Christian doctrine. These differences are a Biblical reason to separate. Examples include views on the Trinity, original sin, the deity of Christ, the resurrection, justification, etc. Secondary issues are what typically causes the development of denominations. These are not salvific issues but may be serious enough to be unable to worship together on a regular basis…until we are together in New Jerusalem and all of out theologies have been perfected. Secondary issues include differing views on baptism, communion/Lord’s Supper, sign gifts, how the church is organized or overseen, eternal security, etc. Tertiary issues are differences within a denomination and/or a church. Sadly, churches have split over these differences. Some examples include eschatology, style of music, instrument types, how to decorate the church, and other petty issues that people let come between them.
There are many different theologies that range from heretical to Biblical and even theologies that build on one another but may focus on a specific aspect. Some of the different types of theologies actually overlap. I will attempt to give a very brief fly-by of a few of the different classifications of theology and/or theological studies. Please keep in mind this is far from an exhaustive list.
Biblical TheologyBiblical theology is a study of God within a given period of time or history within the Bible. Click To Tweet
Biblical theology is a study of God within a given period of time or history within the Bible. This type of study reveals who God is as God has laid out in His Word. Throughout the Bible, God reveals Himself layer by layer as Donkey from Shrek remarked, like pealing an onion. (Sorry to get a little silly.)
- Edenic – the theology in Eden
- Noahic – the theology revealed during Noah’s lifetime
- Mosaic – the theology revealed during Moses and the Exodus
- Pauline – the theology revealed by Paul’s writings
Historical TheologyHistorical theology is the theology of a certain time period or movement derived from the Bible… Click To Tweet
Historical theology is the theology of a certain time period or movement derived from the Bible but developed over the centuries of the Christian church. These are the theologies that came about with the maturing of the church and addressing heresies that arose wishing their periods.
- Ancient Church
- Medieval Church
Dogmatic TheologyDogmatic theology is developed from a creedal system. Click To Tweet
Dogmatic theology is developed from a creedal system. This is typically from a denomination or theological movement.
Contemporary theologies are ones that have developed within recent times. Click To TweetContemporary theologies are ones that have developed within recent times. They are often influenced by the philosophies that began to erupt during the Renaissance through today. These theological systems tend to be more man-focused rather than God-focused and skeptical concerning the inerrancy and sufficiency of the Bible.
Systematic theology is derived from the Bible as a whole and organized in specific topics.
- Bibliology – the doctrine concerning the Bible
- Theology proper – the doctrine concerning God the Father
- Christology – the doctrine concerning Christ
- Pneumatology – the doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit
- Angelology – the doctrine concerning angels, Satan, and demons
- Anthropology – the doctrine concerning man
- Hamartiology – the doctrine concerning sin
- Soteriology -the doctrine concerning salvation
- Ecclesiology – the doctrine concerning the church
Many of these theologies intermingle, over-lap, and even build upon one another. While I do plan on touching on most of them from time-to-time, when discussing theology, I plan to go about it in a systematic way.
I know all this information seems daunting to try to learn all at once. Some of these I had never even heard the proper names for until I compiled this list. There is no test at the end, no one is handing out report cards, there is no time limit, it isn’t a race. The study of God is a life long joy of the Christian. Look forward to learning new words and understanding what you hear others talk about but do not stress about the mountain ahead. Admire the view and take one more step.The study of God is a life long joy of the Christian. Click To Tweet