The call to love God with all of one’s being is an invitation to “come and see,” to follow Him with abandon, to yield back to God a disciplined and educated mind, and to live out the Gospel in service and sacrificial love to a watching world.
All God-honoring ministry begins there.
Yet, answering God's call to ministry requires finding that unique place to prepare that can inspire hearts of devotion, challenge minds toward scholarship, and open a world of opportunity to love neighbors in diverse and unique mission settings.
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary/Leavell College is that place. Preparing here is the right choice.
Love for God, a deep heart-and-soul kind of love, begins by knowing what God says about Himself. At NOBTS, one course above all others helps master level students form a solid biblical view, and love, of God—systematic theology.
“Though all seminary classes contribute to shaping the student’s heart and mind for ministry, systematic theology classes focus on the beliefs we hold about God, his ways, and his world,” said Dr. Adam Harwood, professor of theology and director of the Baptist Center for Theology and Ministry at NOBTS.
When beliefs about God line up with scripture, the rest of life falls into place.
“What we believe about God, scripture, people, sin, salvation, the church, and the future inform our walk with God and our Christian ministry,” Harwood said. “Systematic theology courses provide tools and perspectives that aid students in refining their views and realigning their beliefs to scripture for the rest of their lives.”
Often called “the queen of the sciences,” theology grounds other fields of study in communicating the truths of the faith.
“Theology is the knowledge and wisdom that God teaches us about Himself,” said Tyler Wittman, assistant professor of theology.
Good theology, Wittman said, “centers our minds and hearts on God who is the source of all goodness, beauty, and truth.”
Systematic theology provides believers a “fluency” in their faith in order to care for “Christ’s sheep” by seeing all that the Bible teaches about God together as a coherent whole, Wittman said.
“In one sense, I love handing down what little understanding I’ve received,” Wittman said. “In another sense, I love shaping folks catechetically because my heart is burdened by the widespread biblical and theological illiteracy in our churches. I want people to know that ‘truth is the better friend.’”
God uses any obedient follower, formally educated or not, Harwood said, but scripture calls believers to be “good stewards of the opportunities and resources God provides.”
Just as a well-qualified surgeon is sought out when surgery is needed, the well-trained servant of Christ is vital, Harwood said, adding, “Wouldn’t we want the same level of training for those who care for our souls?”
The biblical teaching that God needs nothing from anyone or anything else first ignited Dr. Tyler Wittman’s love of systematic theology.
“God’s Godness really excited me – God is bigger than anything we can imagine; God is ‘bigger’ than comparative words like ‘big’ or ‘bigger’ are capable of depicting,” Wittman said. “That’s a profoundly arresting and comforting thought.”
Rather than squeezing God into a “box” or forcing beliefs into “preconceived molds,” systematic theology brings together biblical teachings about God in coherent and complete ways, Wittman explained.
“Theology becomes systematic when we discern how truths relate to one another like the many threads of a spider’s web, such that disturbances in one doctrine reverberate in others,” Wittman said. “Doctrines are not neatly compartmentalized in this understanding, but are parts of an organic whole.”
Theology provides a starting place for an all-in love of God that involves heart, soul and mind.
- This series originally appeared in Vision magazine. To read the full issue online, visit https://issuu.com/neworleansseminary/docs/visionwinter2020-21.