As I continue to read through Nichol’s work on Systematic Theology, I am blown away by his pastoral concern for the people in the pews. This anecdote is revealing and reflects how I believe that theology should be taught in the churches. If you want to understand why I am developing this blog site, this is it!
In Ephesians 4: 13-15 Paul nurtures all Christians: “till we all attain.” Jude speaks of “the faith once delivered to the saints,” not “the seminary students,” or “the bishops and elders.” Now I’ll tell you a secret. Over the years the quality control of my systematics lectures has been the secretary who typed them. Soon after I began teaching systematics in 1979 the Lord provided as my secretary a recently converted, single young woman. Being a new convert, she was especially hungry to learn. She typed many transcripts of those early lectures. Though I didn’t tell her this at the time, she was my quality control. If, after she typed the transcript of a lecture, she said, “Pastor Nichols, I really got blessed by that.” Then I said to myself, “that material passes the test.” If, however, she came to me scratching her head, saying: “Pastor Nichols, I didn’t understand that. It didn’t make any sense. It went over my head.” Then I said to myself, “that’s not good yet, I must edit and clarify it. I must try to present it so that she can benefit from it.” That’s how I approach systematics. I refuse to be ashamed of it or intimidated away from it. Systematics is for secretaries. It is for housewives. It is for Christian young people in high school and college. It is for mechanics. It is for fishermen and carpenters. Should that shock us? The Master was a carpenter. He chose some fishermen as apostles. Some may despise that if they like. They can scream that it is unscholarly until they are blue in the face. I refuse to be impressed. I make no bones about it. My special design is to produce a systematic theology that I address to all church members.
Nichols, Gregory G. Lectures in Systematic Theology: Doctrine of God. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Greg Nichols 2017. Kindle version.
As I was reading through the introduction to Dr. Greg Nichols monumental Lectures In Systematic Theology: Doctrine of God I came across this very helpful paragraph on the proper method of conducting systematic theology in a way that would do justice to the Scripture’s position of authority in the life of the church, and, at the same time, recognize that Christ has given the Church gifted pastors and teacher that prayerfully and faithful expound the truths found in the Bible for the edification of God’s people. (Ephesians 4:11-15)
II. The Proper Method of Conducting Systematic Theology
I use “proper” to depict that which is most prudent and most likely to achieve a God-honoring result. The proper method involves two components, “biblical exegesis” and “historical theology.” I use “biblical exegesis” to refer to careful exposition of every key biblical text that addresses a given topic. I use “historical theology” to depict diligent study of church creeds and theological and exegetical works that address a given topic. Systematics must couple these two things.
Nichols, Gregory G. Lectures in Systematic Theology: Doctrine of God. Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Greg Nichols, 2017. Kindle.