In this “TAST” series of blog posts, I want to go beyond critiquing traditional systematic theology and start laying a groundwork for an alternative approach, which I’m labeling “systemic theology.”
Toward a “Systemic” Theology:
Restoring a Biblical Approach to Spiritual Development
One of the key pillars of Salt & Light is our belief that God is restoring the five-fold ministries — apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists — with which He blessed and led the early church. As part of that restoration, we need to continually reevaluate our tools and traditions against the light of God’s Word, to ensure we are partaking fully of all that He wishes to bless us with.
One area that is ripe for re-examination is “systematic theology“, which has long been a — often the — central focus of spiritual training and leadership development. The troubling fact is that systematic theology per se is an invention of the “Roman” era of Christianity, when Biblical truth and practices were being interpreted in the context of Greek culture and learning. As such, despite the many wonderful and helpful systematic theologies that have been developed since then, they are all tainted by the same syncretic weaknesses that plagued that era.
The purpose of this series of blog posts is to articulate a Restorationist approach to Spiritual Development, and contrast that with the traditional model centered on systematic theology. Specifically, my goal is to identify ways in which the practice and presuppositions of systematic theology may need to be reformed in order to recover a more holistic, Biblical perspective — what I’ve labeled a “systemic theology.” Not that we will achieve all that here, but this is an essential first step; I hope to flesh out the details of a actual ‘systemic theology’ in a future series.
The approach I plan to take is to explore the implications of each of the five-fold ministries for how we view the process of spiritual development, and contrast that with the medieval model. The key themes (as best I understand them right now) are:
- Apostleship: Relational vs. Structural
- Prophecy: Narrative vs. Propositional
- Pastoring: Transforming vs. Guarding
- Teaching: Heart vs. Head
- Evangelism: Kingdom vs. Church
I need to confess up front that I am not a bible scholar, theologian, or church historian, so you should obviously take anything I say with a grain of salt (and test it against the Holy Spirit and Scripture). However, I have had the privilege of sitting under the teaching of several of the leading evangelical and charismatic preachers of our age, so I have at least some knowledge of whereof I speak. So, please accept (and critique!) this as the offering of someone who is fully aware of his own limitations and imperfection, yet desperate to understand God’s will for us and our churches.