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Lesson 41 of 50 - Theology (part one of ten)
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Theology (part one): Introduction; Study of God

Introduction to Theology

Theology is not only for the advanced Bible student or the elite scholar.  Every person has a theology because it simply means words or thoughts about God.  Our word theology comes from two Greek words qeoV theos meaning God and logoV logos meaning word, discourse, study, or a thought expressed through words.  So, everyone has theo-logos or theology, but not every one has developed a biblical or correct theology. 

Theology is the categorical study of scripture and part of I.C.E. teaching: isagogical, categorical, exegetical.  Theology collects similar scriptural teaching, organizes it and uses the information to interpret an area of study.  Systematic theology involves collecting, arranging, comparing, exhibiting and defending the facts from any and every source concerning God, his plans and his activities.  Systematic Theology is not an end in itself; its purpose is to classify and clarify the truth as presented in the God-breathed scriptures.

Some Types of Theology

Augustinian Theology

Lutheran Theology

Revealed Theology

Catholic Theology

Oxford Theology

Biblical Theology

Practical Theology

Black Theology

New Theology

Rational Theology

Dogmatic Theology

Calvinistic Theology

Armenian Theology

Natural Theology

Evangelical Theology

Mercersburg Theology

Pentecostal Theology

Barthian Theology

Pastoral Theology

New England Theology

Polemic Theology

Fundamental Theology

Exegetical Theology

Systematic Theology

Ten areas of theology that the study of Christian theology is broken down into are:


Theology - The Study of God

Transcendence and Immanence
These are two characteristics of the God of the Bible.  Transcendence refers to God as being prior to and existing outside the created world.  To describe God as transcendent means God’s existence, his person and his nature, are not connected to the created world.  God exists unchanged before, during and after the universe, or any created thing, existed.  Immanence refers to God’s ability, desire and practice of being involved in the universe.  This includes his general indwelling of every part of creation.  God is everywhere simultaneously and is present at every point in space (but, this does not mean he exists as every point in space.)  As transcendent, God is beyond time and space and is not affected by creation.  As immanent, God is aware, present and involved in the created world.  The Biblical God is both transcendent and immanent.  He exists outside the universe but is active in the universe.

There are seven major world views of concerning God:


Theism is an ancient philosophical concept that needed to be identified when the philosophy of deism began to be embraced in the 1600’s.  Deism simply believes that God created the universe like a clockmaker.  God wound it up and is letting it run.  In deism God is entirely transcendent or outside the created world.  Deism describes God as the first cause who created the world and established immutable, universal laws that can not be altered even by divine intervention.  Theism on the other hand is the belief in the existence of one God who is transcendent and yet immanent.  Theism embraces an infinite God who has personhood and interacts with people.

Knowing God
God reveals himself in two ways:


General Revelation
General revelation of God is made known to man through creation (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:18-23).  General revelation surrounds and is available to all men (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17) everywhere (Psalm 19:2) and at all times (Acts 17:24-28).  General revelation is in the conscience of all men (Romans 2:14-15).  A person does not have to be a Christian, or even religious, to received general revelation from God.

Here are three basic ways general revelation comes to men:


Paul used all of these arguments in Romans 1:18-23; 2:14-15 and Acts 14:14-18; 17:24-28 to cause the pagans to reevaluate their theology.  Romans 1:20 says, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made so that me are without excuse.”  These invisible qualities of God’s eternal power and divine nature are seen in creation:


Besides the physical universe and the nature of man, God’s general revelation can also come to man through history, art and music.  Mankind must use what is revealed in general revelation for rational thinking, scientific development, government, social justice, marriage, family and much more.  It is just as Paul says to the philosophers in Athens when he quotes the Cretan poet Epimenides who wrote around 600 BC:

“For in him we live and move and have our being”                                       Acts 17:28

Special Revelation
Comes only to believers and mainly through the written scriptures of the prophets and the apostles.  Special revelation reveals information not discovered in creation.  It may be confirmed in creation once it is known but special revelation will never be understood apart from God revealing it in some supernatural way.  Society is not responsible to obey or understand special revelation.  Special revelation is given to believers, who along with the church (or, Israel in the Old Testament), are responsible for the information.

Some things revealed only by special revelation are the plan of salvation, the means of salvation, the deity of Jesus, the Trinity, many of God’s purposes, eschatology, and more.  These things can never be discovered by the mere philosopher, professor, scientist or theologian apart from the scripture or some other form of special revelation.

In the past God spoke to mankind in a variety of ways.

                “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,
but in these last days he has spoken to us by his son.”                             Hebrews 1:1

Some of the other forms of special revelation were:


Attributes of God
Since God reveals himself and can be known by man, we can then describe the true God by identifying his personal attributes or his character.  The essence of God can be identified as:

A list of the attributes of God can range from less than nine to over thirty items depending on how the list is broken down and which attributes are considered synonymous.   Below is a general list of attributes of the Godhead.  For a being to be considered God the being must possess each and every one of these characteristics.  Some characteristics are unique with God, like omnipresence, since no other being can be everywhere at all times.  Some characteristics are shared with some creatures, like truth or life, with the difference being God possesses these characteristics in an eternal, infinite state while the creature possesses a limited, finite level of this characteristic.  These are the things that God is:


Names of God
There are many names for the one true God in the Bible.  In most cases God is the one who assigns himself the name in order to reveal his character and describe himself to man. 


Paterology is the study of God the Father.  Pater, or pathr, is the Greek word for father.  The fatherhood of God as creator is true for all men, but the New Testament develops a richer and deeper relationship with God as Father for the believer in Jesus Christ.  The word for Father is used fifteen times in the Old Testament but 245 times in the New Testament.  This concept was clarified by Jesus in his reference to God as his Father concerning his own relationship with God (see Matthew 11:25-27).  The Aramaic term Abba, a term originally used by young children for their fathers indicating an intimate and familiar relationship, was used by Jesus to address God (Mark 14:36).  The identification of God as Father goes further than Jesus’ own relationship with God when he teaches his disciples to pray by saying “Our Father” (Matthew 6:9).  It should be noted in passing that teaching his disciples concerning God’s fatherly relationship to them and their familiarity and intimacy with God as Father should not detract from their understanding of his awesome holiness and flawless righteousness because in the Lord’s Prayer Jesus followed, “Our Father in heaven” with “hallowed be your name.”  The Father/Son relationship for man with God is based on the redemptive work of God through Jesus.  John says, “To all who received him (Jesus), to those who believed in his name, he (God the Father) gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:12, 13).  Jesus and the apostles taught that God our Father demonstrated his Fatherly care and relationship with each believer in these ways:


Paul begins all his epistles identifying God as the Father (Rm.1:7; 1Co.1:3; 2Co.1:2; Gal.1:1; etc.).  All human fathers receive the concept of fatherhood from God himself (Ephesians 3:14,15).  God is the Father of glory (Eph.1:17), the Father of spirits (Heb.12:9) and the Father of lights (James 1:17).  After his resurrection Jesus told Mary that he was “ascending to my Father and your Father” (John 20:17).

The word Trinity is not in the Hebrew or Greek scriptures and was not used by the early church.  So the word Trinity is not a biblical word but it is clearly a biblical concept.

In the Old Testament the unity of God is the focus as is seen in the great Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4:

                “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

The word “LORD” is YHWH and the word “God” is Elohim (which is plural).  The word “one” is the same Hebrew word used of Adam and Eve and “one” flesh in Genesis 2:24.  Concerning Adam and Eve this word “one” did not refer to one person but one union, one character, even, one flesh.   Yet, Adam remained a separate person as did Eve.  There were still two people but one union.  The Old Testament does not explicitly teach the concept of the Trinity but it certainly supports it and clearly does not deny it.  Some examples of Old Testament support for the Trinity are found in these verses:


The Old Testament does not explicitly teach the doctrine of the Trinity but with the revelation of the New Testament it is easy to see the distinction and activity of the three members of the God head through out the Old Testament.  The New Testament continues to teach there is only one true God (1 Cor.8:4-6; Eph. 4:3-6; James 2:19) but the first book in the New Testament, Matthew, opens and closes with the Trinity.  At Jesus’ baptism in Matthew 3:15-17 the second member of the Trinity is being baptized and is identified as the Son by the voice of the first member of the Trinity, the Father, from heaven.  This is followed by the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit, descending on Jesus.  The book of Matthew then closes with Jesus telling his disciples, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (Matt. 28:19)  Notice the mention of three persons but only one name mentioned as a unity in the singular form.

Many other places in the New Testament the Trinity is identified: 1 Corinthians 12:4; 2 Corinthians 13:14; Luke 1:35; Hebrews 9:14

Each of the members of the members of the Trinity demonstrate or are described in scripture as having the attributes of being God.


Divine Attributes of the Trinity




Holy Spirit


Jeremiah 17:10

Revelation 2:23

1 Corinthians 2:11


Jeremiah 23:24

Matthew 18:20

Psalms 139:7


1 Peter 1:5

2 Corinthians 12:9

Romans 15:19


Psalms 90:2

John 1:2; Rev. 1:8, 17

Hebrews 9:14


Revelation 15:4

Acts 3:14

Acts 1:8


John 7:28

Revelation 3:7

1 John 5:6


Romans 2:4

Ephesians 5:25

Nehemiah 9:20


Psalms 102:25

Colossians 1:16

Genesis 1:2; Job 26:13

Creator of Man

Genesis 2:7

Colossians 1:16

Job 33:4

Makes Divine Decisions

Matthew 3:17

Ephesians 4:11

1 Corinthians 12:11

Gives Divine Words

Matthew 10:17-20

Luke 21:12-15

Luke 12:11-12


Revelation 16:11

Luke 22:65

Matthew 12:31

Diagram of the Trinity
False views of the Trinity Diagram

The members of the Godhead have identical essence but are separate persons.  In salvation each member of the Trinity serves a different function:  The Father planned salvation (Isaiah 14:27; John 4:34; 5:17; 12:44; 1 Cor. 8:6; Eph. 3:11); The Son executed salvation (John 4:34; 5:17; Heb. 10:7); The Holy Spirit reveals salvation (John 16:8-11).  Jesus Christ, or the second member of the Trinity, is the only visible member of the Trinty.

In an attempt to state the doctrine of the Trinity in words Charles Ryrie says:

“A definition of the Trinity is not easy to construct.  Some are done by stating several propositions.  Others err on the side either of oneness or threeness.  One of the best is Warfield’s: ‘There is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal an coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence.’  The word “Persons” might be misleading as if there were three individuals in the Godhead, but what other word would suffice?  The word “substance” might be too materialistic; some would     prefer the use the word “essence.”  Many will not know the meaning of subsistence, but a dictionary can remedy that (‘necessary existence’).” (Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, 1999, p.61)

Jesus may have said it best when he said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30).  The use of “I and the Father” shows the two separate persons of the Son and the Father.  The statement that they “are one” uses the plural verb for the two persons but the neuter form of “one” which avoids referring to “one person” by not using the masculine.  Instead, the use of neuter form of “one” refers to the nature or the essence and means the two persons are one nature and have the same attributes.


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