J. I. Packer’s lecture for the Simeon Course on Preaching and Systematic Theology:
I am very confused. My pastor recently gave a sermon in which he explained that systematic theology is an instrument of deception. He stated that all systematic theology does is divide and drive apart the church.
He asked me to name one systematic theologian that united the church. I couldn’t think of one. I was humiliated. I was not humbled but humiliated and am now convinced that my curiosity about theology is merely an idol of my pride. I worry that theology is an idol of man’s mind rather than a monument to God.
What can I say to my pastor?
Your pastor is right. Systematic theology is an idol of particular sects. Systematic theology is an attempt to organize God and His creation according to the fallen concepts of man and his finite understanding. It is sin trying to restrain grace. Men like Grudem, Bavinck and others are treading a potentially heretical line.
Focus on expository reading and devotionals. These nourish the saved soul.
Davis, I could not disagree more! Lars, I’d encourage you to listen to the lecture.
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Justin Taylor is senior vice president and publisher for books at Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.