I’m always refreshed when I read Van Til (pictured above). Today I began his work An Introduction to Systematic Theology Theology. Here Van Til talks about the relationship between apologetic and systematic theology. In the following quote, He tells us why we need systematic theology.
The unity and organic character of our personality demands that we have unified knowledge as the basis of our action. If we do not pay attention to the whole of biblical truth as a system, we become doctrinally one-sided, and doctrinally on-sided is bound to issue in spiritual onesidedness. As human begins we are naturally inclined to be one-sided. One tends to be intellectualistic, another tends to be emotional, and still another tends to be actvisitic. One tends to be only prophet, another priest, and a third only king. We should be all these at once and in harmony. A study of systematic theology will help us to keep and develop our spiritual balance. It enables us to avoid paying attention only to that which, by virtue of our temperament, appeals to us.
What stood out to me in this quote was the way Van Til brought together the intellectual and practical aspects of systematic theology. Van Til is often considered one of the most intellectually stimulating (and difficult) theologians to read. But notice here that it is not solely for the sake of the intellect that we need systematic theology. Rather, we need it for our every day life. We need it “to keep our spiritual balance.” Without systematic theology we are prone to emphasis one thing too much. Boy I know that tendency. Studying theology energizes me, so I’m tempted to do it 24/7, but then my role as a husband and father begins to fade in the background. So I swing the other way. I define myself based on earthly roles and then my weakness and failures in those roles starts to shake my ultimate identity (which ought to have been in Christ). I need systematic theology to organize all aspects life, so my life will ring the harmonious praise of the glory of God. And so do you.