Recently a PhD student here at Southern recommended John Webster for my reading. He is professor at the University of Aberdeen and in recent years he has become an emergent voice in the area of systematic theology. I just read an excellent essay, published in the International Journal of Systematic Theology in 2009, entitled, “Principles of Systematic Theology” (IJST 11.1 : 56-71).
Systematic theology, according to Webster, “is the rational work of the children of Adam who are only slowly learning what it is to be the children of God” (71).
While necessary, our systematic categories are not exhaustive since “God’s life is infinitely abundant, [and] we are not yet fully the friends of God, [therefore] a theological system is no more than one staging-post on the mind’s ascent to paradise” (67).
So, when we do theology we should do it “repentantly, under the guidance of the prophets and apostles and the tutelage of the saints, and with prayer for the Spirit’s instruction” (66).
In short, then, “systematic concepts are simply windows through which we may glimpse the biblical landscape and its ultimate horizon in God” (70).
Read the essay online, which is available as a full PDF.
(UPDATE: I just realized it’s only available if you have an online subscription, which as a seminary student through our library I do. Sorry!)