See How All Major Doctrines Relate to Each Other

The new Theology Guide in Logos 8 will do something most people consider it impossible to do: it will change theologians’ minds.

Theologians have long known that Logos is a good tool for the study of Scripture, but to some of them that’s all it was. Now, theologians, Logos can guide your studies, too.

Search for “Image of God,” for example, in the new Theology Guide, and you’ll get quick access to all the major tools of the Lexham Survey of Theology—and there’s a lot of them.

Let me explain how they work.

Think of the Lexham Survey of Theology (LST) as three things:

1. The LST is a mind map

The LST is a “mind map” of all the major topics in systematic theology. It organizes them in a visual hierarchy that captures their interrelationships.

I’ve been working on this project for many months, and during that time I’ve found that the map has been repeatedly helpful. I’ve got a copy hanging in my office, and I consult it not only for the project but for other writing and Bible teaching I do.

For example, I’m writing up a little discipleship book on bibliology for a church. When I began the work, I looked at the mind map for “The Doctrine of Scripture and Revelation” and I got a quick overview. The mind map oriented me to the “branches” of the doctrine, and—I noticed this especially—it helped me make sure to cover all the bases.

I’m writing for new Christians, and it was helpful for me to be reminded of something simple, that the Bible mentions “Unwritten Special Revelation” such as “Theophanies” and “Dreams.” People who have no idea what Christianity teaches need to distinguish Scripture, written special revelation, from these other sources. New believers coming out of different religions need to know the special place Scripture holds in the Christian faith. The LST mind map reminded me to cover ( briefly) those other topics. (I happened to write the LST article on Theophanies—I probably should have remembered it.)

2. The LST is a set of written introductions to all the major topics of Christian theology

The LST provides a brief (300–1000-word) introduction to each of its 234 theological topics, written by a multi-denominational group of Protestant theologians. Contributors were asked to be objective, sympathetic, reverent, and scholarly. Each introduction includes a brief definition and an article-length description of the orthodox (small-“o”) approach to that doctrine.

We asked scholars such as Fred Sanders, Gerald Bray, John Frame, and Fred Zaspel to write these pieces for us. And they came through. Sanders produced eight, one for each major locus of theology. Bray did a full 25—one for each subpoint below the top level. Frame did 15, all of them in bibliology.

One thing I particularly enjoyed as I edited these pieces was the impulse so many writers felt to end on a homiletical note. I like theological writers who care about the church and relate the Bible’s teachings to human needs. One example was Jonathan Warren, whose prose was a delight to this editor, and who found the perfect quotation to finish out his article on Jesus’ impeccability (the doctrine that Jesus could not sin).

The Presbyterian W. G. T. Shedd (1820–1894) develops this patristic line of thought to distinguish between temptability, which depends upon “constitutional susceptibility” to sin, and impeccability, which depends upon the absolute indefectibility of Christ’s human willing. To say that his temptability requires his peccability is not true “any more than it would be correct to say that because an army cannot be conquered, it cannot be attacked.”

I found that precious—worth remembering and repeating. And I ran into many insights like these while editing submissions.

We asked writers to orient readers to the historical and contemporary conversations on their assigned doctrine. Particularly (but not only) in controversial areas of theology, we instructed them to lean toward the objective and descriptive—though no one was asked to pretend that he or she had no viewpoint.

We also asked contributors to hand-pick a a list of key Bible passages, a list of recommended resources, and links to related concepts within the Lexham Survey of Theology.

To sum up: each LST article includes, in order:

  • A definition: A brief summary of the doctrine at hand
  • A description: An article-length description of the orthodox (again, small-“o”) approach to that doctrine follows the definition.
  • Key passages: A list of key Bible passages chosen by the contributors
  • Recommended resources: A list of resources recommended by the contributors
  • Related concepts: Links to related concepts, chosen by the contributor

3. The LST is an index to your systematic theologies

I’m not the kind of writer who says, “This is huge” very often.

This is huge.

The LST links directly to a growing list of systematic theologies in Logos Bible Software. It functions as an index to what numerous theologians say about any given theological topic: Jesus as Mediator, The Kingdom of God, Life After Death, General Revelation, Providence and Miracles, Covenants, Unity in the Trinity, Plurality in the Trinity, Original Sin—and 225 more.

If you are studying Union with Christ, you can look it up in index after index or let the LST do it for you.

The Lexham Survey of Theology does for systematic theologies what the Bible reference system (“3:16”; “40:1”) has done for commentaries, journals, and other biblical studies resources. (Did I say “huge”?)

The Theology Guide

The Lexham Survey of Theology is the ideal tool for entering study of a given doctrine of the Christian faith. It’s where I personally will start from now on.

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Explore the Theology Guide, available in Logos 8 Silver and up. Shop packages now

 

Mark L. Ward, Jr. received his PhD from Bob Jones University in 2012; he now serves the Church as an Academic Editor at Lexham Press, the publishing imprint at Faithlife. His most recent book is Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

 

Comments

  1. Leigh M. Johnson says:

    Hi Mark,
    Not sure if I’m seeing it correctly or not. In the Lexham Survey of Theology all of the attributes of God listed in the Table of Contents under “Attributes Describing God in His Activity toward Creatures” appear to be shown in the graphic under the heading “Attributes Describing God in Himself”.

    Also, will they develop the map to include further subcategories? For instance, under God’s Grace there could be Common Grace, Prevenient Grace, etc.

  2. Holy mackerel Mark…. I hope the articles are easy to understand. I found the quote mentioned from W.G.T. Shead quite a mouthful. The many abilities… written did not quiet my troubled mind…. Theology is troubling enough without using big words.

    Please keep it simple for my sake…!

  3. Just upgraded to Logos 8 from 7 with the full feature upgrade. When I open the Theology Guide I get nothing. All the sections are grayed out and unavailable. So I’m confused by your article and the video on how to use the tool.

    • Matthew Boffey says:

      Hi Jim, I’m sorry to hear about this. I spoke with our team, and we need a bit more info from you to help you sort this out. If you reach out to customer service with this question, they can look into this for you and get it resolved. You can reach them at customerservice@faithlife.com or 800-875-6467.

      Best,
      Matthew

  4. Could Logos put together a collection of Systematic Theologies for purchase that are referenced by the Lexham Theology Guide?

    • Matthew Boffey says:

      Hi Michael, thanks for your question—it’s a good one. I’ll pass this onto our team who puts together libraries and bundles.

  5. Francis Rouvinez says:

    Shedd’s analogy is valid — an invincible army can still be attacked — and this raises the question of what it means that Jesus was tempted. His analogy would suggest that it just means that He was attacked spiritually. The question is whether Hebrews 4:15 implies that Jesus’ ability to sympathize with us means that He was not indifferent to temptation. If He was then in what sense can He can sympathize with those who are not? The other aspect of this is God’s own sinlessness: is God sinless because He cannot do evil? I think systematic theology would answer (correctly imo) that God is able to but won’t. He “can’t” sin only means that His holiness will never accommodate evil. So, returning to Jesus, this can give insight into what it means that He (probably) felt temptation (and so is able to sympathize) yet was without sin. He is after all not just a model of sinlessness but also of resisting and overcoming.

  6. Francis Rouvinez says:

    Shedd’s analogy is valid — an invincible army can still be attacked — and this raises the question of what it means that Jesus was tempted. His analogy would suggest that it just means that He was attacked spiritually. The question is whether Hebrews 4:15 implies that Jesus’ ability to sympathize with us means that He was not indifferent to temptation. If He was indifferent then in what sense can He can sympathize with those who are not? The other aspect of this is God’s own sinlessness: is God sinless because He cannot do evil? I think systematic theology would answer (correctly imo) that God is able to but won’t. He “can’t” sin only means that His holiness will never accommodate evil. So, returning to Jesus, this can give insight into what it means that He (probably) felt temptation (and so is able to sympathize) and could sin yet in his obedience, holiness, and righteousness would not and did not. He is after all not just a model of sinlessness but also of resisting and overcoming.