Guest writer Adam B. Shaeffer holds an MA in Spiritual Formation from Talbot School of Theology and a PhD in Theology from Durham University. He is already a big fan of Logos 8.
The Theology Guide is a powerful tool that taps into the new Lexham Survey of Theology (LST). The guide draws from the LST, but the associated ontology (which works behind the scenes like a new dataset) is where the rubber meets the road.
I’ll get into the LSTO (Lexham Systematic Theology Ontology) in a later post, but this week I’d like to work through the guide itself and discuss my favorite of its features.
The Lexham Survey of Theology
The LST is a new resource that provides a brief introduction to the major topics of systematic theology.
The 234 topics addressed in the LST are grouped into eight categories including:
- The Trinity
- Scripture and Revelation
- The Works of God
- The Holy Spirit and Salvation
- The Church
- The Last Things
You’ll notice from the image above (which is included within the LST) that there are second-, third-, and fourth-level headings under these doctrines that emphasize the connections and relationships between the topics discussed.
The editors aimed to provide entries that were objective, scholarly, sympathetic of all major perspectives, and reverent.
Each topic features a definition, an article-length description of the topic, key biblical passages discussing that topic, a list of recommended resources, and links to related concepts. As we go on you’ll see that these features of topic compose the elements of the Theology Guide.
When you enter a topic into the search bar, you’ll receive suggestions matching the topics covered in the LST. Select one to open the Guide to that topic.
The topic section displays the graphic representing where the topic fits within the hierarchy, the definition, and the beginning of the article. Clicking More opens the LST to the full article entry, which has been enhanced with links throughout each article to the Factbook, your preferred Bible, Timeline, etc.
This quick snapshot of the topic lets you know if you’ve chosen the right topic for your study. I love this quick overview section of the Guide.
The recommended reading section corresponds to the same section within the LST. One of the first things you’ll notice is that some resources are clickable (though they may have a lock icon indicating they’re not included in your library), and some are not.
This is because the authors of the LST included resources they have found helpful in discussing that particular topic regardless of whether the resource is available in Logos or not. While this may be a bit frustrating for those who want to quickly read all they can on a topic, I love that Logos still includes them. I believe it demonstrates the heart behind the Guide, which is the same heart behind Logos software: equipping the Church to grow in the light of the Bible.
The systematic theologies section is my favorite part of the guide. It taps into the LSTO (which I mentioned earlier) to reveal the sections from systematic theologies that address your topic. As of this writing, Logos has gone through five systematic theologies by hand to annotate them according to the 234 topics addressed in the LST:
- Berkhof, Systematic Theology
- Packer, Concise Theology
- Ryrie, Basic Theology
- Hodge, Systematic Theology
- Strong, Systematic Theology
What’s especially impressive is that this time-consuming task was not a one-time process; Logos plans to annotate many of the 300+ systematic theologies they offer in the same way.
So, this Guide isn’t finished yet. What is already an impressive and helpful tool will only grow in its usefulness as time goes on.
Theologically Related Passages
The final section of the Guide is the theologically related passages section. This corresponds to the key verses section of the LST, displaying the text of the verses listed in your preferred Bible.
As I’ll get into in my next post, these passages are searchable using the LSTO in some powerful ways. For now, I recommend diving into the guide and the LST to see what it’s all about. This should whet your appetite for next week’s article, which will give you a power-user tool to get the most out of this impressive resource.
If there are any topics you think should be addressed that haven’t been, or if you’d like to suggest systematic theologies that should be prioritized for future inclusion in the LSTO, consider joining the Faithlife Survey of Theology group.