Systematic Theology TH 200
This paper is an attempt to assemble a comparative analysis of the various contemporary theologies presented by Paul Enns and Millard J. Erickson. In order to do a comparison we first need to understand the individuals involved and how theology is defined by each of these individuals. Generally speaking the term theology comes to us from Greek words meaning “the study of God”. According to the online Wikipedia, Paul P. Enns is an evangelical Christian pastor, biblical scholar and writer who serves as a full-time minister at Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida, and as adjunct professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is notable as one of the translators of the updated New American Standard Bible and as the author of The Moody Handbook of Theology. Enns defines theology as “coming from the Greek words theos, meaning “God”, and logos, meaning “word”; hence, a word or discussion about God. Theology is normally taken in the broad sense to signify the entire scope of Christian doctrines.” (Erickson, pg 725) Millard J. Erickson is a Christian theologian, professor of theology, and author. He has written the widely acclaimed systematics work Christian Theology as well as over 20 other books. Currently, Erickson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. He was professor of theology and academic dean at Bethel University seminary for many years. He also taught at Baylor University. He earned a B.A. from the University of Minnesota, a B.D. from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary, an M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Erickson, an ordained Baptist minister, is a fairly conservative evangelical and only moderately Calvinistic. He is accommodating of alternate views on a number of issues, but one of the most vocal opponents of the most liberal side of evangelicalism. Erickson is also a prominent critic of open theism and postmodern Christianity, including the Emerging Church movement.
Erickson defines theology as “that discipline which strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily upon the scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life”. (Erickson 3, pg 21) Liberal theology is characterized by an emphasis on human reason and scientific method and moving away from historic Christian doctrine. Frederich Schleiermacher, a German Protestant theologian,”emphasized that religion was not to be found in philosophical reasoning or in doctrinal affirmations… rather , religion was to be found in feeling in which the person could experience God”. (Erickson, pg 587) He rejected the diety of Jesus Christ and taught that Christ was merely a good example of overcoming sin. In liberal Christian teaching, which is not Christian at all, man’s reason is stressed and is treated as the final authority. Liberal theologians seek to reconcile Christianity with secular science and modern thinking. In doing so, they treat science as all-knowing and the Bible as fable-laden and false. Genesis’ early chapters are reduced to poetry or fantasy, having a message, but not to be taken literally (in spite of Jesus’ having spoken of those early chapters in literal terms). Mankind is not seen as totally depraved, and thus liberal theologians have an optimistic view of the future of mankind. The social gospel is also emphasized, while the inability of fallen man to fulfill it is denied. Whether a person is saved from his sin and its penalty in hell is no longer the issue; the main thing is how man treats his fellow man. “Love” of our fellow man becomes the defining issue. As a result of this “reasoning” by liberal theologians, the following doctrines are taught by liberal quasi-Christian theologians:
1) The Bible is not...
Bibliography: 1. Enns, Paul, “The Moody Handbook of Theology”, 2008.
2. Erickson, Millard J., “Introducing Christian Doctrine”, Second Edition,2001.
3. Erickson, Millard J., “Christian Theology, Bake Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49506.
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