•  — Edited

    Hello Everyone. I just recently began TH101 and one of the assignments asks that I post here about something that has made an impact from the lesson plan. These first nine lessons have been full of information, so it is difficult settling on any one thing. With the assignment in mind, I will focus on lesson 3. Lesson three asks "What Is Evangelical Theology?" It then sets about trying to answer that proposition. Bebbington gave four characteristics of evangelism: 1. Biblicism - belief is centered on Scripture; 2. Crucicentrism - salvation is centered on Christ's finished work on the cross; 3. Conversionism - because of the nature of sin, there is a need for personal conversion; and 4. Activism - believers spread the Word to nonbelievers through evangelism and missions. With this core components in mind, Christians have a shared spiritual life (pietism). Pietism has roots within each spiritual life, the believers' spirituality and their call to discipleship. This then leads us to six core evangelical beliefs: 1. Biblical Authority - Scripture is the center of everything. It is the ultimate authority; 2. Human Sinfulness - every human is a sinner and in need of salvation; 3. High Christology - Jesus is God. He is Divine. As such, only He could provide the substitutionary atonement; 4. Personal Conversion - because every human is a sinner and, because Jesus has provided a way of atonement, each of us must be born again (accept His freely given gift); 5. The Literal Return of Christ - Jesus is King of King and Lord of Lords. He will return to judge the world one day; and 6. The Importance of Christian Community - Christians should be connected with other believers through local assemblies. Some Evangelical churches add to this core list (for instance, baptism, the last supper, etc.) but at its core, most evangelicals share at least this list of six beliefs.
    1. Lesson 43 discusses the phenomena of the text, particularly the literary structures. In short, these structures are genres. For example, there was a standard way throughout the ancient near eastern region to write a letter (epistle). By following the proper form, the writer displayed competence to the reader. Obviously, this technique is part of the human process and does not require God providing a paranormal experience to provide inspiration. With that conclusion in mind, let's look at three examples Dr. Heiser discussed; namely, Covenants, Lawsuits, and Poetic Parallelism. Covenants (contracts) were a large part of Old Testament theology. These covenants were deliberately structured and matched the contracts of those in surrounding nations. They all have preambles. They all have parties to the covenant. They all have a covenant ritual. And, they all have a method of either rewarding or cursing the parties. Lawsuits were/are a very human activity that was applied in the Bible to God's relationship to Israel. Parallelism is poetry used across the ancient near eastern nations. The Jewish writers mimicked the genre to be understood by the readers. Again, this is a very human thing. To understand inspiration, we must incorporate the role of the author and the law into our understanding. The argument Dr. Heiser is making is this--The Holy Spirit used very basic human elements to help guide biblical inspiration. None of these processes require the writer to enter a trance to produce God's desired outcome. God met humanity where we were and, through the Holy Spirit, inspired the biblical books.
    2. The writing assignments are coming hot-and-heavy now! Lesson 45, like several of the assignments before it, covers the phenomena of the text; particularly, the Bible's ancient content. Scripture has numerous instances where the content is very ancient and primitive in nature. Subject matter, such as areas of medicine and science (astronomy, cosmology, biology) are not accurate. For instance, ancient Hebrews believed the seed of emotions and intellect were in the bowels. These people didn't even have a word for "brain." They just did not understand how the body or the physical world were structured. They had no knowledge of genetics or chromosomes or DNA. For example, they did not understand that infertility could also be a male problem. Moreover, they did not recognize that the earth orbited the sun. The argument is this: If God were dispensing the information to the writer, wouldn't He accurately craft the material to prove the truth of the Bible to future generations? It would be hard to argue the existence of God if primitive Hebrews were Scripturally accurate prior to the science being discovered. Because the Bible does not do this, we need to account for the human input and how the books were produced.
    3. This is my 750 word essay for the certificate: Early in the course, we discussed four definitions of “Systematic Theology.”  Considering that it is a term thrown about by academics, we would do well to understand the definition.  In order of the presentation, here are the definitions: 1.      Systematic Theology is the science of God and the relationships between God and the Universe (Augustus Strong); 2.      Systematic Theology is a Christian study that reflects on and articulates about the God-centered life and beliefs that Christians share as followers of Jesus Christ.  This is done in order that God may be glorified in all that Christians are and do (Stanley Grenz, Roger Olson); 3.      Systematic Theology is that discipline which strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith based primarily upon the Scriptures, placed in context of culture in general, worded in the contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life (Millard Erickson); and 4.      Systematic Theology is the study of the fundamental ideas of the Christian faith (Alister McGrath). These definitions seem complex and perhaps not easily understood.  Packed within these efforts are methodologies and subject matters.  At the end of the day, if we could funnel the definitions into plain English, we should find that Systematic Theology is study done in service to the church to help it accomplish its mission for God.  In essence, we are all theologians as we think about God and His work, through disciplined study. Once we decide to delve into disciplined study, we have an initial path to choose.  Much like sitting in our car at a 5-way intersection, we must decide our direction for that day.  Most scholars contend that these approaches alone are not truly systematic theology; rather, such study requires the best of all of these paths.  The five types of theology are: 1.      Biblical Theology – this is an attempt to study God and His works by focusing almost exclusively on the text of Scripture.  Here, we use the Bible to focus questions, answers, and terminology; 2. Historical Theology – this is an attempt to understand what the church has taught about a particular topic over history.  For instance, we can look at the evolution of the “Doctrine of Atonement” in the early church, the medieval period and, finally, the Reformation; 3. Philosophical Theology – this is an attempt to understand God using the tools of philosophy and reason.  For instance, we can look at “proofs” of God’s existence, or the problem of evil; 4. Ethics – this is an attempt to explain how Christians should behave and respond to cultural challenges.  Ethics gives us applications and implications for our beliefs; and lastly 5. Apologetics – this is an attempt to defend the Christian faith by demonstrating the beliefs are reasonable and true. Once we choose our path, we have one more decision to make; namely, which starting point to take.  Remember, we said Systematic Theology is broader than any of the five paths alone as it incorporates the best of all these disciplines into a unified whole.  There are three recognized starting points for our study: 1.      Natural Theology – this is an attempt to study God using reason, science, and philosophy.  William Paley famously argued that science cannot explain everything!  One of the best examples I have ever heard occurred during a Greek Philosophy class during my undergrad training.  We were studying the nature of consciousness and how science could not truly explain it.  The brain is composed of individual cells that individually have no conscious parts whatsoever.  Yet, when combined with other unconscious cells, consciousness erupts.  Unconscious + unconscious = conscious. Science cannot explain how this happens; 2.      Tradition or Authority – this begins with the beliefs that have been handed down over the ages.  Those who have gone before us state these positions are true.  The doctrines of the Catholic Church are an example of this approach.  Perhaps the weakness to this approach is its circular reasoning.  How do we know the tradition is correct?  The church says so.  How do we know the church is correct?  The tradition says so; 3. Scripture – often considered a safe starting point because all of the verses therein have been interpreted many times and understood.  The counterargument, of course is, how do we know every single verse has been interpreted correctly. To take our first steps in theological study, we appear to be in a bit of pickle.  What is the proper starting point?  Do we start with reason or science, tradition or authority, or scripture?  Why do we choose any of these positions?  Should we accept any of them?  At the end of the day, we must be able to defend our stance.  This is ultimately why I am enjoying the study of theology.  I love the challenge of determining what settles my beliefs. The path that I am currently taking helps me understand why I believe what I believe.
  • I'm working through TH101 as my first step towards the Certificate in Theology. The instructions state "Write a 750-word response on any topic covered for each course in the certificate program. Post your response to the appropriate Faithlife group in the comments section." I don't see any posts in this group that look like they are fullfilling this requirement, so I thought I'd check to see if this is the right place. I find it hard to imagine that no one has posted their essay yet. --Keith
    1. This is the correct place. Someone posted theirs under the Discussions tab, but posting it here works just fine.
  • In Segment 14: How to do Theology On Step One: Identify the Issue the last paragraph is this: We have here a Möbius strip, which is a single strip of paper which is twisted once and connected so that we have a three-dimensional figure which has only one surface. You can place your pencil on it and trace all the way around, and it will cover both sides and come back to the beginning. The point is, on a Möbius circle, there is no starting place and no ending place. In the same way, these questions, this dialogue and theological discussion, may begin anywhere in the process. This is in the transcript but the video he did not say this. Likewise, in step two we have this paragraph: I have here an optical illusion. If you look at it from one perspective, it looks like a bird; from another, perhaps like a rabbit, if you’re creative enough. As you look at this, the difference between it is not the symbols, not the markings, but your perspective—how you interpret it. You emphasize certain things. When you look at the points, you see the bird. When you look the other direction, you see a rabbit. Again, it's in the transcript but the video he did not say it. Could you remove those paragraphs from the transcript please? Or is there another video where he says it but it's not in my software?
    1. Hi Hamilton, I always thought (maybe wrongly) that the transcript was what the professor said in the video. I usually don't read the transcript I watch the video so if these illustrations are input by Logos I have missed them all. Maybe I should be reading the transcript instead of watching the video. Thanks for your response.
    2. , the transcript should match the video. I haven't had time to look into the specifics of this issue yet, but my guess is that Dr. Sanders wanted to show an image that we didn't have the rights to display. We probably edited out that section of the video after getting it transcribed and mistakenly didn't cut it from the transcript. I'll put updating the transcript resource on my to do list.
    3. Thanks Miles, I thought I read in the past the video and transcript should match which is why I reported it.
  • Question for Miles: Using this course as an example but there are other courses too, but the Appendix is the Pro Screen casts and NT101 has them in the little outline before each topic to show where they belong, but other courses such as this do not. How do we know where to play the screen cast to align with the course? Those screen casts are awesome but for OT101 I added them to the end of the reading plan because I didn't know where to put them as I made the reading plan. There has to be a simple way to know where they go. Any input on this?
    1. You can ignore this Miles, it appears the products pages have what I am looking for.
  • started a discussion

    DiscussTH 101


    Jerry Carter


    According to Strong: Theology is the Science of God and how he relates to the universe, this is good but limited. Theology would include, really looking at God and his work and how this would impact the goal of life in the light of this. We understand in theology, God desires to be known that he speaks and can be known. Correct beliefs about God are essential in true theology. My thought on the subject, is that we must be bible centric believers, our experience must line up to the scripture not the scriptures to our experience . A true understanding of God is essential and he has given us the self revelation of himself in the bible. My understanding of the course is the difference between biblical theology and systematic theology. Biblical theology uses the bible alone for theology, systematic theology allows for the use of resources outside of the bible for study, this is helpful. The definition from Pocket Dictionary of Biblical Terms describes it this way: Biblical theology is the discipline that attempts to summarize and restate the teaching of a biblical text or a biblical author without imposing any modern categories of thought upon the text. Rather, the goal is to understand the theology of a biblical book or author in its original historical context.

    Differences with biblical theology. Now I’d like to define systematic theology more fully. Systematic theology is different from biblical theology in a couple of respects. First, it’s open to contributions from outside the biblical text. For example, resources of philosophy, science, and tradition are drawn into systematic theology. Moreover, systematic theologies are structured by logical or dogmatic categories and often draw heavily on historical theology. It is interesting, for example, that systematic theologies sometimes are organized precisely around creeds. There are systematic theologies organized around the Apostles’ Creed or around the 39 Articles of the Anglican Church, or so on. So systematic theology can have different kinds of structures and be organized in different ways because of its content.

    The third thing I want to say is that systematic theology is culturally specific. It has a role in worldview formation and transformation that biblical theology doesn’t always have. It’s much more focused on questions from surrounding culture. It addresses and tries to respond to things that might be in a specific context. That means systematic theology will change from time to time, from place to place.

    So there are significant differences between these disciplines. Biblical theology is historically oriented, constrained by the biblical text and language and categories. Systematic theology has a broader set of resources as well as is structured in ways that reflect how it is culturally situated. How to do theology and the approach to theology is a strong point of this course. You can put it in broader context in a very simplified way by comparing the premodern world—the world before Descartes—with the world of modern, and then the postmodern world. In the premodern world, truth was something that was revealed, it was received—that is, God spoke and told us things, and we believed it. The truth was real and substantive. We believed in a real world, but our ability to find it through reason was extremely limited. The greatest truth, the most important truths, were those that were given to us by God or by a supreme being. The modern world doesn’t deny truth, but it, in a sense, dethrones God as the ultimate source of truth; now we discover truth through reason. We discover truth rather than having a revealed truth. Then, in the postmodern year, when they reject that, they go further and they say, “No, we don’t really discover truth; in fact, what we do is create truth.” I’ll explain a little bit about that in a moment.

    Ronn Johnson, Carl Sanders, and Michael S. Heiser, TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013). God desires to be known and can be known through general revelation, creation, history and conscience and special revelation through the bible, miracles, dreams and visions, angels, and the Lord Jesus Christ. This past Sunday, a young man in the youth group of the church I pastor, came to me and said he was struggling with thoughts of atheism. I remembered Dr. Ronn Johnson's example of Carl Sagin, you may remember Carl Sagan, the now deceased scientist who said in an interview that he didn’t believe God existed. And the interviewer asked, “Well, what would you say if you were wrong and you stood in front of God someday?” and he made that famous, if not horrific, statement, “I’ll look Him in the baby-blues and tell Him that He never gave me enough evidence.” Well, now Mr. Sagan knows better because it’s very possible—I don’t mean to play it out as though I know what happened, of course—but it’s very possible that standing in front of God, God could have said, “Carl, hold up your hand; look at it. It’s waterproof, it moves by thought, it heals itself. You’re telling me you didn’t see a creator in something that you held onto the steering wheel every day with?” You see why, again, revelation is a moral issue. God is taking His time to explain things with us in some amazing ways. This example I also used, it removed the doubts from the young man. Thank you for this course. Dr. Heiser taught me so much about how we got the bible and that it is a human and divine book, so good. Dr Sanders is always a good teacher and did a great job in the limited space he had on theology. Over all the team teaching of the course made it very interesting and has all ready been helpful in a practical way in pastoral care.

    Ronn Johnson, Carl Sanders, and Michael S. Heiser, TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

    Ronn Johnson, Carl Sanders, and Michael S. Heiser, TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

    Ronn Johnson, Carl Sanders, and Michael S. Heiser, TH101 Introducing Bible Doctrine I: Theology, Divine Revelation, and the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2013).

  • Officially started this course today for the certificate program.
    1. a joyful science
      "It is to be noted further that when it is conceived and executed correctly and resolutely, yet also freely and modestly, theology is a singularly beautiful and joyful science, so that it is only willingly and cheerfully or not at all that we can be theologians." Barth, K., Bromiley, G.W. & Torrance, T.F., 2004. Church dogmatics: The doctrine of reconciliation, Part 3.2, London; New York: T&T Clark. logosres:chrchdog4p32;ref=KD.KD_IV.3.2_p._951;off=169881 https://ref.ly/logosres/chrchdog4p32?ref=KD.KD+IV.3.2+p.+951&off=169881
      1. has joined the group.