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SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY THEOLOGY PROPER PART 1 of 3

Written by: Hillebrand, Randall    Posted on: 05/04/2005

Category: Theology

Source: www.hillebrandministries.com

OUTLINE:

  I.  Theology Proper: Definition of

II.  Existence of God: Theories
     A.  God exists
         1.  Cosmological Argument
         2.  Teleological Argument
         3.  Anthropological Argument
         4.  Moral Argument
         5.  Ontological Argument
     B.  God does not exist
         1.  Atheism
         2.  Agnosticism
         3.  Evolution
         4.  Materialism
         5.  Polytheism
         6.  Idealism and realism
         7.  Pantheism
         8.  Deism
         9.  Positivism
        10.  Monism
        11.  Dualism
        12.  Pluralism

III.  Revelation of God
      A.  Types of Revelation: Definitions of
          1.  Revelation as a general term
          2.  General revelation
          3.  Progressive revelation
          4.  Specific revelation
      B.  Purpose of God's revelation
          1.  General revelation
          2.  Specific revelation

IV.  Essence and attributes of God
     A.  His essence (The nature or properties of God)
         1.  Aspects
             a.  Listed
             b.  Contrasted to man
         2.  Aspects expanded
             a.  Spirit
             b.  Self-existent
             c.  Immense
             d.  Eternal
             e.  Immutable
     B.  His attributes (Qualities or characteristics of God)
         1.  Aspects
             a.  Listed
             b.  Contrasted to man
         2.  Aspects expanded
             a.  Omnipresence
                 1) Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
             b.  Omniscience
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2.  Comfort from this doctrine
             c.  Omnipotence
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
             d.  Holiness
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
             e.  Righteousness
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
             f.  Goodness
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
             g.  Sovereignty
                 1)  Proof of this doctrine
                 2)  Comfort from this doctrine
     C.  Godhead's triune nature

V.  Names of God
     A.  Names 
     B.  Thoughts relating to the names of God from Psalm 23
     C.  Other thoughts on the names of God
     D.  Other names for God
     E.  Symbolic designations of God

VI.  Decrees of God
     A.  Definition of God's decrees
     B.  Scriptural proof of God's decrees
     C.  Characteristics of God's decrees
         1.  Eternal
         2.  Good
         3.  Wise
         4.  Unconstrained
         5.  Complex
     D.  Purpose of God's decrees
     E.  Realms of God's decrees
         1.  Material and physical realm
         2.  Moral and spiritual realm
         3.  Social and political realm

INTRODUCTION:

WHY STUDY SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY?

     The study of systematic theology helps believers to systematize what the Bible teaches on a specific subject.  In your time at Kiev Christian University you will study the following areas of systematic theology:

  * Theology Proper (The study of God)
  * Anthropology (The study of man)
  * Bibliology (The study of the Bible)
  * Pneumatology (The study of the Holy Spirit)
  * Christology (The study of Christ)
  * Soteriology (The study of salvation)
  * Ecclesiology (The study of the church)
  * Eschatology (The study of end time events)

When you can see what the Bible teaches on these subjects within their proper context and dispensation, you will be able to better understand the Bible and these areas of theology.

     Also, you will be able to better understand how to live your life in a more Christlike manner.  I say this because every person has a theology (theo = God; -ology = study of).  Even an atheist has a theology.  It is just that their theology and our theology is different.  Theology from an atheistic point of view is that God does not exist.  Therefore, the spiritual realm does not exist; we are nothing more than the result of evolution and biological processes; we have no soul; there is no heaven or hell; there will be no future judgment.  This is the theology of the average atheist.  This theology directs them in life.

     What about you?  What is your theology?  How does what you believe about the Bible (correct of incorrect) direct your life?  Your decisions?  Your future?  This is why theology is crucial to our lives, because we all have a theology by which we live.  So as we study together this semester, we need to ask God to make these biblical truths real in our personal lives; and as we rely on them on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis, we will have victory over our flesh and the devil.  So when we are confronted with the happenings of everyday life that seem to contradict the truths we understand about God, we can call upon the truths of His inerrant and infallible Word for stability and direction.

BODY:

  I.  Theology Proper: Definition of

      "The word theology comes from the Greek word theos, meaning "God," and logos, meaning "word" or "discourse," hence, theology is a discourse about God. Theology is generally taken as a broad term covering the entire field of Christian belief (the study of Christ, the Holy Spirit, angels, etc.). Hence, the designation given to the study of God the Father is theology proper."

      (From The Moody Handbook of Theology, Theology Proper: Doctrine of God, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.)


II.  Existence of God: Theories
    A.  God exists
        1.  Cosmological Argument

            "Logically speaking the cosmological argument for the existence of God is inductive and a posteriori: the evidence is examined, and based on it a conclusion is drawn that God exists. The term cosmological comes from the Greek word cosmos, meaning "world." This argument is based on the fact that a cosmos, or world, exists. Because something cannot come from nothing, there must be an original cause that is the reason for the world's existence. A man wears a Bulova wristwatch. Although he has never seen a watchmaker, the fact of the existence of the wristwatch suggests there is a Swiss watchmaker who made the watch. The cosmological argument says that every effect must have a cause.19-1"

        2.  Teleological Argument

            "As in the previous case, the teleological argument is inductive and a posteriori. Teleological comes from the Greek word telos, meaning "end." The teleological argument may be defined thus: "Order and useful arrangement in a system imply intelligence and purpose in the organizing cause. The universe is characterized by order and useful arrangement; therefore, the universe has an intelligent and free cause."19-2 The world everywhere evidences intelligence, purpose, and harmony; there must be a master architect behind all this evidence. The psalmist sees the magnificence of God's creation in the universe and recognizes that it testifies to His existence (Ps. 8:3-4; 19:1-4). God's harmony is observed throughout the universe and world: the sun being ninety-three million miles distant is precisely right for an adequate climate on earth; the moon's distance of two hundred forty thousand miles provides tides at a proper level; the earth's tilt provides the seasons. A conclusion is clear that God, the Master Designer, has created this magnificent universe. The alternative, that the world happened "by chance," is no more possible than a monkey being able to create a work of Shakespeare on a typewriter by haphazard play on the keys."

        3.  Anthropological Argument

            "The anthropological argument, which is also inductive and a posteriori, is based on the Greek word anthropos, meaning "man." Contrary to the secular humanist who sees man simply as a biological being, the biblicist sees man as created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). The image of God in man is spiritual, not physical (cf. Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). Man is not simply a physical being, but also a moral being with a conscience, intellect, emotion, and will. Chafer states: "There are philosophical and moral features in man's constitution which may be traced back to find their origin in God. . . . A blind force . . . could never produce a man with intellect, sensibility, will, conscience, and inherent belief in a Creator."19-3"

        4.  Moral Argument

            "The moral argument is related to the anthropological argument (some combine the two) and can be seen as a further consideration of that argument. The moral argument acknowledges that man has an awareness of right and wrong, a sense of morality. Where did this sense of moral justice come from? If man is only a biological creature, why does he have a sense of moral obligation? Recognition of moral standards and concepts cannot be attributed to any evolutionary process. The biblicist recognizes that God has placed a sense of moral justice within the human race in contradistinction to all other creation. Romans 2:14-15 indicates that Gentiles who have had no revelation of the law have an inner, moral witness placed there by God."

        5.  Ontological Argument

            "The ontological argument, distinct from the preceding arguments, is deductive and a priori; it begins with an assumption and then attempts to prove that assumption. It is less significant than the preceding arguments. The term ontological comes from the Greek present participle ontos (from the verb eimi) and means "being" or "existence." The ontological argument is philosophical rather than inductive. The argument reasons: "If man could conceive of a Perfect God who does not exist, then he could conceive of someone greater than God himself which is impossible. Therefore God exists." The argument rests on the fact that all men have an awareness of God. Because the concept of God is universal, God must have placed the idea within man. Anselm (1033?-1109) was the first proponent of this view. In the thinking of some, this argument has limited value, and few would affirm the usefulness of the ontological argument."

        NOTE:  Can you conceive of a being greater than God?  Try to do that right now.  Have any of you done it?  No.  Therefore, since it cannot be done, it was not man that produced the thought that a nonexistent God does exist.  It must have been placed in us by God Himself.

        (Points 1-5 above were taken from The Moody Handbook of Theology, Theology Proper: Doctrine of God, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.)

    B.  God does not exist (NOTE: Give basic info., then have studts. fig. out
        issues)
        1.  Atheism
            Atheism comes from the Greek word atheos which means, "No God."

            How can people know this?  For people to know this information they would have had to have been in existence when the world come into existence.  Also, they would have to be able to know all things and be in all places at one time to be able to know if there is a God or not.  Therefore, people cannot make such an emphatical statement when they are so limited in their knowledge.  They don't even know about their own neighbors, let alone what is going on in their village or city, state or country, or in the entire universe.  Pride is the main issue with an atheist.  As Psalm 14:1 and 53:1 say, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" (See Rom. 1:18-20)

        2.  Agnosticism

            The term agnosticism simply means, "not knowing." 

            This is a view which states that people cannot be sure if there is a God or not.  Therefore, people who hold this view do not know if God exists for sure.  Agnostics would not understand creation as a declaration of God and His work as Psalm 19:1-4 states.  It is a middle of the road view; not taking either extreme.

        3.  Evolution

            This is a belief system in which people believe that from inanimate, non-living matter, animate, living things developed.

            This view denies Genesis chapters 1 and 2, unless of course a person is a theistic evolutionist.  Theistic evolutionists believe that God, as the "first cause," started the evolutionary process from which everything developed.  If evolution were true, unintelligible, inanimate matter had to act decisively with a purpose, so that life could evolve from the most basic matter into basic life forms which later developed into the more complex life forms which have or still do exist.  This belief system cannot answer the primary question: "Where did the basic ingredients of life (matter) come from?  What was the first cause?"  Hebrews 11:3 states that "faith" is the basic ingredient needed for a person to understand that God is the Creator of all things.  First Corinthians 2:14 further adds that the unsaved man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.  Therefore man in his depravity developed a theory of how things came into being that did not include a supreme being.  This theory also denies that sin had to enter the world first before death.

        4.  Materialism

            This doctrine teaches that everything that exists is material (physical).  Therefore, experiences are the result of the reality, activities and laws of the material world, and nothing beyond that.  In other words, if you cannot see it, it does not exist.

            This doctrine denies the spiritual aspects of the world (i.e., God, the work of the Holy Spirit, angels, Satan and his demons, etc.) as well as consciousness.  A materialist would believe that what a living thing experiences (i.e., emotions, feelings, thoughts, pain, etc.) are the result of physical events and/or the physiological changes in a creature and/or it's brain.  The Scriptures are clear though that man is made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:27; 5:1; 9:6; James 3:9), who is a spiritual being (John 4:24).

        5.  Polytheism

            This belief system teaches that there are many (poly) gods (theos), and not just one as the Bible teaches.

            The Bible on the other hand is clear that there is only one God (Deut. 6:4; 1 Cor. 8:5) who is triune in nature (cf. Gen. 1:1; 1:2; 1:26; 16:7,13; Isa. 48:16; Mat. 28:19).  The one and true God consists of three persons, God the Father (cf. John 6:27), God the Son (cf. John 20:28), and God the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 5:3-4).

        6.  Idealism and realism

            Idealism teaches that ultimate reality is the product of one's mind, an individual mind or a infinite (divine) mind, therefore reality does not lie in the physical realm.  In this belief system, what people see as material objects in our world only exist because the mind (individual or infinite) perceives them.  Otherwise they do not exist.  So, if a mind does not perceive of God, then God does not exist, which we know is false (Gen. 1:1).

            Realism on the other hand teaches that everything that the mind perceives is reality, which aligns with the Word of God.

        7.  Pantheism

            Pantheism teaches that God is everything and that everything is God. 

            One pantheistic view is that matter has power and from it life originates.  It also assumes that life, through the process of reincarnation, will eventually return to and be absorbed into God.  Pantheism is different than omnipresence in that the doctrine of omnipresence states that God is everywhere, not in everything.  This doctrine also confuses God as the Creator with His creation.  They are separate entities.  God created everything out of nothing (cf. Heb. 11:3).  He did not in this action also create Himself, which of course would be an impossibility.

        8.  Deism

            Deism comes form the Latin word, "Deus," which means God.  This belief system states that God is an impersonal God who is not interested in mankind.  Deists believe that God created and then separated Himself from His creation.

            This belief system is contrary to the teaching of Scripture.  The Bible is clear that God is a personal God as He intervened in the lives of Adam and Eve, Noah, the Patriarchs, the nation of Israel, and most assuredly in the history of mankind when He sent Christ to die for sinners.  We see prophetically as well that God will continue to intervene by means of the rapture, tribulation period, millennial kingdom, and in eternity.

        9.  Positivism

            Positivism is a form of agnosticism.  Positivism views the world from only phenomena which can be observed.  Since those who hold to this thought believe that the existence of God cannot be examined, they therefore do not believe in God.

            Once again we see a philosophy that denies the existence of God because God cannot be observed in a manner that suits the physical senses of man.  As we know from 2 Corinthians 5:7, man must "walk by faith, not by sight."

        10.  Monism (Form of Pantheism)

              This doctrine teaches that everything -- the whole of all that is real -- makes up one inseparable essence which we call God.  Therefore, since everything is one, then everything and everyone are individual parts of the whole of reality and of God, and they do not live separate existence from one another.  They all act together as one unit and not separately.

              This theory of course does not agree with the Scriptures.  Everything is separate from one another.  People will be judged separately based upon their deeds (cf. Rev. 20:15ff), God is separate from man as plant and animal life are different from human life (cf. Gen. 1-2).

        11.  Dualism

              Dualism teaches that there are two eternal and opposing principles (good and evil) or beings (God and Satan) in the universe.

              The problem with this theory is that though God and goodness are eternal, Satan and evil are not.  Satan was a created being, and evil was the result of his fall into sin (cf. Ezek. 28:11ff).

        12.  Gnosticism (Form of dualism)

              Gnosticism comes from the Greek word, "gnosis," which means knowledge.  This belief system has its roots in Greek philosophy.  Its primary premise is that the spirit of a person is good and the persons material nature is evil.  Gnostics believe that they have a special, higher knowledge that others do not have which leads them to salvation (i.e., Christian Scientists).

              In this system it is believed that the true, supreme God, is totally spirit and totally incapable of creating anything sinful like man.  From Him though, other lessor gods came forth.  One of those gods was the god of the Old Testament, a demiurge (a deity who created the material world and is the originator of evil).  This god was not totally spirit in nature, but a combination of spirit and matter, therefore he was able to create the material world.  As a result of this lessor god coming into existence and creating the material world, there is now conflict between him (who is evil) and the Supreme God (who is completely good and righteous).

        13.  Pluralism

              This doctrine teaches that there is more than one kind of ultimate truth.  Therefore, no one person or religion can say that what they hold as truth (i.e., salvation, way to God, etc.), is the only way.  It is ultimate truth for that person or religion within their cultural, though their truth is not ultimate truth for others who live in a different culture and have a different paradigm.  Truth then is subjective, and not objective reality which corresponds between what is real and one's beliefs.

              If this is true, then the religions of Islam, Hinduism, Orthodoxy, the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc., and biblical Christianity, though they do not correlate with each other, but instead contradict and oppose each other, would all be true and different ways to God within their proper cultural context.  Therefore, there would be no ultimate truth such as the Bible or salvation through Jesus alone (cf. John 14:6).

        NOTE: Metaphysics comes from the term that literally means, "what comes after physics."  Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy which investigates what constitutes the ultimate structure of reality.


III.  Revelation of God
      A.  Types of Revelation: Definitions of
          1.  Revelation as a general term
              "Means 'unveiling' and describes the unveiling or disclosure of
              truth from God to mankind that man could not otherwise know."
          2.  General revelation
              "The truths God has revealed about Himself to all mankind through nature, providential control [lit., "foreseeing"; God is preserving all that He created as He exercises His sovereign control; in other words, "order"], and conscience [which He has given us to distinguish between what is morally right and wrong]." (cf. Psalm 19:1-2)

          3.  Progressive revelation
              "The piecemeal [step-by-step] divine unveiling of truth throughout the ages until the completion of the Bible. God did not reveal truth about Himself all at once but revealed it in "many portions and many ways" (Heb. 1:1).

        4.  Specific revelation
            "The divine revealing of truth through Jesus Christ and through the Scriptures. In contrast to general revelation which is available to everyone, special revelation is available only to those who have access to biblical truth." (cf. Matt. 5:17; John 1:1-4,18; Php. 2:5-8)

        (Points 1-4 above were taken from The Moody Handbook of Theology, Theology Proper: Doctrine of God, Electronic Edition STEP Files Copyright © 1997, Parsons Technology, Inc.)

    B.  Purpose of God's revelation
        1.  General revelation
            Through this mankind can learn that:
            a.  There is an order in nature
            b.  There is a cause for creation
            c.  There is a God
        2.  Specific revelation
            Through this mankind can learn:
            a.  That God exists
            b.  That God has a plan for mankind
            c.  What God is like
            d.  What God desires mankind to know about Him
            e.  What God desires mankind to know about other things (past,
                present and future)

        As a result of God's specific revelation, we learn about the essence
        and attributes of God.



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