About this Class
Introduction to Systematic Theology from a Wesleyan perspective.
Most of the PowerPoint slides that Dr. Seamands used as he was teaching the class are available for you to download. There are a few slides he mentions that are not included. The main points in the outline generally follow the headings on the slides. PPT's 7 and 8 are not covered in the audio lectures because of time, but they are included for your benefit.
Christian ministry is not asking Jesus to join me in my ministry as I offer him to others, it’s my joining with him in his ongoing ministry and mission as he offers himself to others through me. Ministry is Trinitarian, continuing Christ’s ministry. Theology is faith seeking understanding. Theology is not faith. Faith seeks understanding and understanding stimulates faith. (Ppt 1)
The critical task of theology uses careful analysis and judgment to determine what is a valid Christian belief. The constructive task of theology focuses on constructing unified models of diverse biblical teachings and relating biblical models of contemporary culture. (Ppt 1)
God wants us to experience his love for us so that our lives and ministry result from the overflow of his love out of our lives to others. Theology is imminently practical and leads to living. Theology should bring us closer in relationship with God resulting in praise, practice and passion. (Ppt 1)
God’s omnipotence includes the idea that he has chosen to limit himself in some ways. God’s self-limitation results from the love of God. When God’s love is separated from his holiness, it degenerates into sentimentality. God’s love and holiness are distinct but inseparable. God’s wrath is an expression of his love for us because he takes himself and sin seriously. The opposite of love is indifference. Wrath is how we experience God’s love when we resist his will. (Ppt 2)
For the chart that Dr. Seamands mentions on peoples' concept of God, please see the book Healing of Memories by David A. Seamands, chapter 7.
God the Trinity is the central mystery of the Christian faith and life. It requires us to have faith because it is beyond what we can understand. Augustine’s psychological analogy of the Trinity stresses the oneness of God by comparing him to the process of knowing, which involves memory, understanding and will. The social analogy comes from the eastern church and uses, “father,” “mother,” and “child” to stress the “threeness of God. The Christian worldview says that their reality is based on differentiated unity without fragmentation. It’s relational. (Ppt 2)
John says in his gospel that at Jesus’ baptism, the Spirit descended on Jesus and remained on him. This paves the way for the relationship we can have with the Spirit. The Trinity is actualized by self-denial, not self assertion because self-surrender is at the very heart of God. The Trinity tells me that mystery, relationship, self-giving love and mission is at the heart of reality. (Ppt 2)
God creates out of nothing. Creation is a direct act, bringing into existence something that is not God. Creation does not come from a pantheist or dualist origin. God creates through Christ. Creation has its foundation in the relationship between the Father and the Son. God in creating chooses to share power in relationship. There often seems to be a relationship between creativity and suffering. (Ppt 3)
The church councils that met in the 4th century focused on clarifying the deity and humanity of Jesus, resulting in the statement that Jesus is both divine and human and has one nature. Part of the mystery of the incarnation is how we perceive space and time. The message of the incarnation is that God identifies with the human lot and understands us from the inside out. (Ppt 4)
The incarnation reveals what God is like and what we are meant to be. The revelation comes in a personal form. Only as principles are embodied in a person do they become power. The work of Christ on the cross is our faith in microcosm. (Ppt 4-5)
The dominant theme of the early church fathers was preaching the cross as the victory of God over the forces of evil. The Christus Victor theory emphasizes how all of creation is freed from bondage when Satan is defeated. The satisfaction theory deals with the problem of guilt. Be careful to not drive a wedge between God and Jesus. The grief of the father is as important as the death of the son. Christ’s death is a victory over the power of evil. (Ppt 5)
The cross addresses both the problems of sin and human suffering. Jesus identifies with us because the events of the crucifixion portray every variety of human suffering. Mockery, shame, betrayal by friends, physical death. Jesus not only suffers personally, but vicariously. Jesus is there with us in our suffering and carries it. He also redeems it. (Ppt 5)
The resurrection confirms and establishes the essential divinity of Christ. Lord signifies the unconditional claim of God of the whole universe, moral lordship, community lordship. Because of the resurrection, we have intimate personal communion with our risen Lord. (Ppt 6)
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are the programs intended for?
The Foundations program is intended for everyone, regardless of biblical knowledge. The Academy program is intended for those who would like more advanced studies. And the Institute program is intended for those who want to study seminary-level classes.
Do I need to take the classes in a specific order?
In the Foundations and Academy programs, we recommend taking the classes in the order presented, as each subsequent class will build on material from previous classes. In the Institute program, the first 11 classes are foundational. Beginning with Psalms, the classes are on specific books of the Bible or various topics.
Do you offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program?
At this time, we offer certificates only for the classes on the Certificates page. While we do not offer transfer credit for completing a certificate program, you will be better equipped to study the Bible and apply its teachings to your life.