What is Systematic Theology?
A venerable systematic theology guide that I’ve used for years is by Millard Erickson. He has a chart that says you move from exegesis to Bible doctrine.
And there are a number of books out there that are more focused on bible doctrine. Systematic theology is the act of bringing all things together. You comb through scripture, find all the verses that talk about something, and then arrange them so that they are logically and thematically related.
But Biblical theology is zeroing in on the theology of a specific book of the Bible. Historical theology is to take one doctrine and comb through Western historical writing from the early church fathers to this day.
Dr. Kevin Zuber Explains Doing Theology
In Charles Ryrie’s book Basic Theology, he says everybody is a theologian. If you read the Bible, you’re doing theology. You’re processing the information, and you’re doing so from a particular worldview. You already have theological presuppositions you might not even be aware of.
Those need to be confirmed, challenged, enhanced, and articulated more clearly. You do that by reading scripture and putting things together. I like to say that everybody is a philosopher because everybody has a philosophy/worldview. Doing theology is putting things together related to God and His creation. You’ll do it well, or you’ll do it poorly, so you have to have the right source. You do theology by looking at a text of scripture, figuring out what’s being said, how it relates to the context, and what it says about the topic.
Dr. Kevin Zuber Explains His Theological Beliefs
I don’t want to be defined by how I disagree with others. That’s going to be a very long list. I think in my soteriology, I believe that God saved sinners. He chose me in eternity past. Christ died for me, and the Holy Spirit is the One that applies the saving work of Christ to me. I don’t like the once saved, always saved idea. That’s sort of like a get-out-of-hell-free card. I don’t think you can lose your salvation.
God is the One who initiated it by sovereign election. I try to illustrate that when I baptize people in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit because I believe in believers’ baptism.
Perseverance in Light of The TULIP Structure
Perseverance is a promise made by God that He will complete His work. He has begun a good work and will perform it until the day of Christ. I always said perseverance as a doctrine is helpful only in the sense that you get up every morning and say, ‘Today, I will persevere.’
It’s an admonition for us to keep going, and if we look to the past, God has brought about my perseverance again. It’s all God’s; He is the One that saved sinners. I think the point is that God is outworking you. Philippians 2:12-13 says, ‘So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to [a]desire and to work for His good pleasure.’ So it’s interesting that Paul uses that order. The admonition comes first.
We decide to persevere each day. There’s an element of promise that God has made in the future. This is why I read the Bible every day. This is why I pray. I’m the one He called upon to do it, but God is doing that in me.
The Formation and Completion of The Essential Scriptures
Somebody asked me how long it took me to write the book. It took about 40 years. The book that is the standard for us is called Biblical Doctrine, which ironically is more of a systematic theology compiled by the professors and pastors at Grace Seminary. I wanted to make my book dovetail with that because we use it as a supplementary text. So if we’re studying out of Biblical Doctrine, we can use my book as a guide.
Incorrect Theology Dr. Kevin Zuber Has Seen
Most people have a strange view of the Trinity. Along with that, they don’t know how the two natures of Christ work. For example, in Matthew 24:36, Jesus says, ‘But about that day and hour, no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.’ So people wonder how that works. Some say He decided to forget, showing their incorrect view of Kenosis (Jesus emptying Himself). We get it wrong by thinking we already know how a Divine Human would work. The point is, He doesn’t toggle back and forth between divine nature and human nature.
Nature doesn’t have a person, a person has a nature, and He has two natures. If you ask how it works, read the text. That’s how it works. You can’t get into the inner workings because we’d have to possess God’s knowledge.
Another issue is election. They typically have the Arminian notion of God looking down the corridors of time and seeing who will believe. Until I say, wait a minute. In that case, history happens twice, and God learns something the first time. Much of it has to do with reading the Bible with preconceived notions they don’t even know they have.
Why Read The Essential Scriptures by Dr. Kevin Zuber?
There’s a wide spectrum audience when you’re preaching or teaching, and I also understood that for the book. It’s not written for high-level systematic theologians. It might remind them of the texts that got them where they are. A golden parachute didn’t deliver them to you in particular; they’re in the scriptures.
It’s also for the person that hears soteriology or angelology for the first time so that they would have an introductory definitional grounding on those things. It’s also meant to help people understand how you get from the text to those doctrines. I’m showing how it’s done; It’s not exhaustive, but that’s how I teach. I intersperse exposition and preach to my classes, always have. I know I don’t know everything, so I tried to make sure I put about a quarter or less of what I know into the book just so I’m safe.
About Dr. Kevin Zuber
Kevin D. Zuber is (since 2018) Professor of Theology and Chairman of the Theology Department at The Master’s Seminary in Los Angeles, California. Previously he was a professor at Moody Bible Institute for seventeen years and prior to that he served in pastoral ministry for eighteen years in Iowa, Arizona, Indiana and Illinois. Over the years, Kevin has ministered around the world, teaching graduate and undergraduate classes in North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe. He is a graduate of Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary, and he holds a Ph.D. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity school. Kevin is married to Diane, and they have two sons, David and Christopher.
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