06.23.2019: Systematic Theology Ch. 1; Science Notebook Ch. 8

Today’s soundtrack is Alter Bridge: Blackbird, a soaring, hopeful, hard rock album.

This morning, I put the finishing touches on my summer reading schedule, which will take me through from today until the first of September. By that date, if I can keep up my pace, I will have made it through Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook, Silvanus Thompson’s Calculus Made Easy, and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. Rather than taking the time to reprogram the Randomizer, I’ve gone low-tech this round (but I’ll still use the Randomizer to determine each day’s album). Without further ado, let’s get to it!

Low-tech, yet effective

Science Notebook: Chapter 8
Solutions and Fluids

This evening, I’ll start by reading the eighth chapter of Everything You Need to Ace Science in One Big Fat Notebook, “Solutions and Fluids.”

In the last science post, we learned about compounds. An interesting property of a single compound (called a substance) is that even though external forces may change its form, its essence doesn’t change. For example, water is always water, no matter whether it’s boiled into steam, frozen into ice, or in liquid form.

So we see that a compound that is chemically bonded can’t be separated. But if we mix several substances together that don’t bond, we get a mixture. There are to types: heterogeneous and homogenous. In the former, the two substances can touch each other, but don’t combine; in the latter, the molecules are mixed together; they dissolve into each other, forming a solution, which is “made of a solute and a solvent” (p. 85). The former dissolves into the latter. Think of powder in a drink.

How easily a solute is absorbed into a solvent is referred to as its solubility. Factors that affect a solution’s solubility include temperature, pressure, and “the concentration of other solvents in a solution” (p. 86). A solution’s concentration is how much solute is present in the solvent. Interestingly, “solid solutes are more soluble in water at higher temperatures” (p. 86), but gas solutes are “more soluble in liquids at colder temperatures” (p. 86). Also, a solvent’s molecules can move more freely at lower pressure, so solute is more easily absorbed.

Summary:

  1. A substance is a singular compound that can’t be separated
  2. A bowl of beef-barley soup is a homogeneous heterogeneous mixture
  3. If the force exerted remains the same, pressure increases as area decreases
  4. The deeper you go in the ocean, the greater the pressure gets
  5. The concentration of a solution is how much solute is present in the solvent
  6. The word “fluid” describes anything that can flow

Systematic Theology, Chapter 1
Introduction to Systematic Theology

Systematic theology is “any study that answers the question, ‘What does the whole Bible teach us today?’ about any given topic” (p. 21). This kind of theological study is systematic in that it is “‘carefully organized by topics'” (p. 24) and “that it treats topics in much more detail than most Christians do” (p. 24). This study excludes philosophical theology, recognizing that “even though historical and philosophical studies do contribute to our understanding of theological questions, only Scripture has the final authority to define what we are to believe” (p. 22). As Charles Hodge is quoted as saying, “‘The Scriptures contain all the Facts of Theology'” (p. 22).

Rather than just looking at what a single book in the Bible says about a certain topic, as one might do in a study of biblical theology, systematic theology investigates the whole Bible, then synthesizes the ideas found throughout, without splitting apart Old Testament theology and New Testament theology, then gives a summary statement. So we are looking at whole Bible theology “as it should be understood by present-day Christians” (p. 23); and as the Bible was written in a practical way, those who study systematic theology should apply their learnings to their lives, and will then find their “Christian life enriched and deepened” (p. 23).

In this book, we will look at many doctrines, which are “what the whole Bible teaches us today about some particular topic” (p. 25). We will learn about seven major doctrines, each of which has smaller doctrines within:

  1. The Doctrine of the Word of God
  2. The Doctrine of God
  3. The Doctrine of Man
  4. The Doctrines of Christ and the Holy Spirit
  5. The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  6. The Doctrine of the Church
  7. The Doctrine of the Future (p. 25)

Grudem notes that systematic theology, the study of “what God wants us to believe and to know” (p. 26), is not the same as the study of Christian ethics, which “answers the question, ‘What does God require us to do and what attitudes does he require us to have today?’ with regards to any given situation” (p. 26), though there is of course some overlap, since the Bible is applicable to life, and therefore influences our ethics. But the study of Christian ethics would require “another textbook” (p. 26).

To study systematic theology, there are two presuppositions at the start: “(1) that the Bible is true and that it is, in fact, our only absolute standard of truth; (2) that the God who is spoken of in the Bible exists, and that he is who the Bible says he is: the Creator of heaven and earth and all things in them” (p. 26).

Why should we study theology at all? It certainly isn’t to improve on the Bible; the Bible is sufficient. The reasons are threefold:
Firstly, because we only have a limited time on Earth, and we cannot feasibly read through the entire Bible every time we have a theological question – so a theological study will help us know where to look for doctrines on various topics, so that we are able “to teach ourselves and others what the whole Bible says, thus fulfilling the second part of the Great Commission” (p. 28).
Secondly, because there is sin in our hearts, we have wrong ideas about God – we are rebellious, and each of us encounters “biblical teachings which for one reason or another we do not want to accept” (p. 28). We are prone to ignore what we don’t want to see, and to cherry-pick verses that support our favourite beliefs, whether or not they’re theologically accurate, or taken out of context. The study of systematic theology can help us through this by presenting the doctrines and their biblical bases, allowing us to be “confronted with the total weight of the teaching of Scripture” (p. 28).
Thirdly, a study of systematic theology will help us grown in our Christian lives. We will learn more about God and the Bible; we will learn to trust and love him more deeply.

There are four keys to proper study of theology.
First, we must study systematic theology prayerfully, asking God to open our hearts to hear the truth without rejecting the parts that are hard for us, and also recognizing that it is the Bible, not any theology book written by man, which is the ultimate authority. Further, we need the Holy Spirit to open our eyes so that we may understand. We must continuously be in prayer, lest we disbelieve or wander into doctrinal error. We must also prayer that we do not become prideful in our study; rather, we must study with humility.
Second, as we study, we should seek to draw deductions and make conclusions, finding ways that the doctrines can be applied to our lives – but we must ensure that our conclusions do not contradict other parts of the Bible, since though our conclusions can be in error, the Bible will always be true. We should seek help from others that God has placed in our lives as we study theology; we should talk with other Christians about what we are learning and ask them to help us understand doctrines that we are unclear on.
Third, we should practice systematic study ourselves. Using a concordance, we can look up the verses related to a certain topic. Next, we can read the verses in their contexts, make notes, and summarize the verses into “one or more points that the Bible affirms about that subject” (p. 36).
Finally, we should study “with rejoicing and praise” (p. 37)! We are learning about the loving, eternal, compassionate, holy God!


That’s all for today!

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