In many ways, the good news of Jesus is like the engine of a car: purpose, fuel, strength, direction, and more are all interconnected by design. If you’re curious, read on and check out the video below. You may see major muscle movements (biblical, systematic, and practical theologies) and related nuances of the Gospel you’ve never considered for your greater joy in Christ.
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been looking at multiple angles of Introductions to the 8 “P”s of the Gospel that run from Genesis to Revelation. Before we begin a detailed look at the first of the “P”s next week, I ask you to consider the video below for a everyday illustration of how these specific aspects of the Gospel relate to each other and why this is essential to understanding God’s Word biblically, systematically, and practically for living by faith in the Body of Christ.
Many of you may already know the different approaches of biblical theology, systematic theology, and practical theology, but just in case I’ll summarize them quickly.
Biblical theology studies the truths of Scripture as they unfold chronologically from creation (and even before time) to the new earth and eternity. Most Protestant theologies on the subject fall into one of two camps: 1) dispensationalism (God had/has different plans of salvation, particularly regarding one for ethnic Israel and another for the born-again of the Church) and 2) covenant theology (God has always had only one plan to save His people for Himself through the work of Christ on the cross in their place, to which the Old Testament points forward and the New Testament points back). Denominations that do not claim either camp generally do not study Scripture as a progressive revelation of truth.
Systematic theology studies Scripture in topics that are peppered throughout: God and Man, Christ and Salvation, Ecclesiology (God’s people), Eschatology (end times), etc. Most Protestants and Catholics have their own systematic theologies that emphasize their own teachings. Students of Scripture are most likely to disagree in this discipline by citing isolated proof-texts on specific points of their own systematic theology, especially when they neglect biblical theology.
And practical theology, as you might imagine, studies God’s Word for its daily application, especially in the work of God’s people as the Body of Christ. If any theology tends to bring people together most often, it’s practical theology. But, of course, popularity doesn’t necessary mean that a theology is true. Practical theology without biblical and systematic theology can quickly result in passages taken out context to twist Scripture into what we want it to say.
Sadly, biblical theology alone can be difficult to understand; systematic theology by itself often comes across as intellectually detached and complicated; and practical theology without the other two can be too easily satisfied with a shallow look at Scripture that emphasizes hopeful applications over the actual truth in its context.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve read several publications of all three approaches to studying God’s Word, and I value all of them. But in my search for Truth and Life, I found myself wanting a holistic approach that revealed the consistent flow of biblical theology, the topical depth of systematic theology, and the daily application of practical theology on the umbrella message of Scripture: Love (Matthew 22:36-40, Romans 13:8-10, Galatians 5:14, James 2:8, etc.).
The following video uses the illustration of a car’s engine to point to the systematic and practical nature and flow of 8 Biblical “P”s that unfold from Genesis through Revelation. The first four and a half minutes look strictly at physical systems of a bike and car, but I encourage you to note how they illustrate spiritual truths that begin at 4:30 in the video.
If you found the video helpful, I encourage you to join me in a deeper exploration of Scripture in this part of “Theology Thursdays”.