Systematic Theology Module 1: Prologomena (Doctrine of First Principles)

Course Introduction:

The first two lectures of this course provide an introduction to the whole of all seven modules. The remainder of this first module is devoted to the first of the seven sections of systematic theology—what we call “the doctrine of first principles,” which covers the first doctrinal truths that are necessary for studying theology. We’ll begin to take up the doctrine of first principles in our third lecture and in the remaining lectures of this course.

Below, you’ll find the overall structure for this series of 7 modules, across the whole spectrum of Systematic Theology.

Prolegomena (Doctrine of First Principles) - This Module
Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
Anthropology (Doctrine of Man)
Christology (Doctrine of Christ)
Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
Eschatology (Doctrine of Last Things)

Please review the details of the course materials in the PDF link below.

Module 1 - Lesson 1 - Methodology

Have you ever put together a jigsaw puzzle? If so, then you know that a completed puzzle usually makes a picture of something, perhaps a beautiful landscape with mountains and pastures, forests, rivers, and with lots of details like trees and animals and blue sky and clouds above it all. But when you first open the box you discover lots of little pieces of various shapes, each one having only a tiny part of the picture printed on them. Every piece is important, but your goal, of course, is to figure out how the pieces fit together in order to form the whole picture.

Module 1 - Lesson 2 - Creeds and Confessions

It was the year 325 AD. The Christian emperor Constantine had invited leading ministers from throughout the world to gather for a meeting in the city of Nicaea, which was located in what is now northwest Turkey. The purpose of the meeting, which became known as the Council of Nicaea, was to settle an important theological dispute that had risen in the churches within the Empire. At the heart of the controversy were questions about the deity of the Son of God, and His relationship to the Father.

Module 1 - Lesson 3 - Scripture

When it comes to religion, there is true religion and false, or counterfeit, religion. The believer’s aim is to study deeply all of the details of what is true to such a degree that as soon as you come across what is false, you recognize it immediately. It would be a waste of time and not at all spiritually edifying to use your time and energy in studying falsehood. We need to know, see, and cling to the perfect truth God has revealed to us. As we saw in the first lecture, true theology is the doctrine of living unto God through Christ. In this present lecture, we now turn to the theme that we’ll be covering throughout the rest of this first module on systematic theology. That theme is the doctrine of first principles.

Module 1 - Lesson 4 - Revelation

Imagine walking into a large room with bright lights. In the middle of the otherwise empty room, you see in front of you a very large white sheet that has been draped over something, forming what looks like a large mound in the middle of the room. The sheet functions like a veil, covering what is hidden. Then two men walk into the room, and, grasping opposite ends of the sheet, they lift it off, thereby unveiling what is underneath. When they do so, you discover that hidden underneath the sheet are large tables full of gold, silver, and precious gems.

Module 1 - Lesson 5 - Inspiration of Scripture

We rightly speak of the Bible as the voice of God and the Word of God. That is because every word is inspired by God. The word “inspired” or “inspiration” means God-breathed. Just as we expel breath from our mouths, so, ultimately, God Himself is speaking in the Scriptures. God is the ultimate source of every word in the Bible. Since God is the author, the Scriptures are also inerrant, which means without errors, and infallible, which means it is never wrong, never able to fail.

Module 1 - Lesson 6 - Properties of Inspired Scripture

As Christians, the Lord has provided for us perfect instructions in His Word, the Bible. That Word answers the question, “Who is in charge?” God’s Word carries God’s authority, and those authoritative Scriptures are both clear and fully sufficient, providing all that we need to know of God’s will. Appeal to the Bible, therefore, settles all disputes and controversies within the church. In this first module on systematic theology, we are covering the doctrine of first principles, with special reference to the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. In the previous lecture, we considered the doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture. We now turn to some of the other properties of Scripture that flow from its inspiration.

Module 1 - Lesson 7 - The Canon of Holy Scripture

When we think about the Bible, we usually think of it as one large book, and that is obviously true. But in another sense, it is also a small library comprised of 66 different books written by various human authors with diverse backgrounds over the course of many centuries, all of which are inspired by God Himself, the ultimate author of every word.

Module 1 - Lesson 8 - Preservation and Translation of Scripture

There is nothing more valuable in the entire world than the Bible. And no one considers it more precious than God Himself. After all, it is His own Word. He graciously gave the Scriptures to instruct and to spiritually enrich men, leading His people to salvation and edification. But it was not only intended for those who first received the Scriptures. Remember what Jesus said in John 17:20. God intended for His Word to be passed down from generation to generation, century after century, and He also intended for it to be taken to every tribe and country all around the world.

Module 1 - Lesson 9 - Interpretation of Scripture

A written document must be interpreted properly in order to be understood correctly. As we’ve seen in previous lectures, the Bible is far more important than any other book in the world, so interpreting it is a far more solemn task—one that requires careful diligence in rightly dividing the Word of truth, as we see in 2 Timothy 2:15. One of the first questions that we ask, when reading a passage of Scripture, is, “What does this passage mean?” It is essential that believers understand accurately what the Bible teaches. Well, where do we learn how to approach the interpretation of Scripture? The answer is from the Bible itself.

Module 1 - Lesson 10 - The Continuity of Scripture

We cannot restrict ourselves merely to one section or part of God’s Word. We need the whole Bible to have the whole revelation of who God is. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible presents one God, one way of salvation, one people of God, all in one glorious story about the one and only Savior Jesus Christ. The whole Bible, therefore, is the Christian Scriptures. Not only must we maintain the doctrine that the Scriptures alone are God’s authoritative standard, but we must also affirm that all of the Scriptures constitute that standard.