Traditionally, theology has been grouped into four sub-disciplines. Courses at CLS are therefore divided into these areas of study.”
Areas of Study
Exegetical Theology is concerned with the practice of biblical interpretation and the study of the text of the Scriptures in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). Courses in exegesis begin with a look at principles of interpretation (hermeneutics), and then move on to look at various books of the Old and New Testaments in detail, examining the meaning of the text both for the original hearers and for us today.
Systematic Theology deals with the doctrine (teaching) of the Church as it is derived from Scripture. It is called “systematic” because it organizes the doctrine presented in the Scriptures in an orderly fashion. It is sometimes called “dogmatic theology,” which asserts that it arises from the clear teaching of God and not from human speculation. Courses in this discipline also include Lutheran Confessions (covering both the history behind the documents in the Book of Concord and the teaching which the Book of Concord confesses) and Ethics.
Historical Theology looks at the movement of Christian thought from the post-apostolic era to the present day as it is reflected in both theological controversies and world events. It deals not merely with “what happened when,” but with the way in which theological issues affected the events of the world, and the way in which the events of the world led to particular formulations of Christian teaching.
The term “Practical Theology” is a bit of a misnomer, in that it seems to imply that much of theology is not “practical”! Properly understood, this discipline relates to the development of skills necessary for the communication of the Gospel to the Church and to the world. This discipline includes courses which deal with such topics as leading worship, preaching, counseling, evangelism, stewardship, and pastoral practice.