Systematic Theology and Social Ethics
Systematic Theology is a collective term for at least two fields: Dogmatic Theology as a reflection of the Christian faith and its doctrine, and Ethics/Social Ethics as a reflection of the orientation of Christian understanding of life and the social systems of the Christian lifestyle. Sometimes this discipline is further sub-divided into the fields of Apologetics, Ecumenism, Fundamental Theology, and Philosophy of Religion.
Within the field of theology, the purpose of Systematic Theology is to represent the traditional statements of the Christian faith in the forum of critical dispute about meanings of the concept of legitimacy and in the context of our present-day society. Hence, Systematic Theology can be seen to be an essential adjunct to the objectives of theology down through history. The historically grounded texts often do not limit their claim to veracity on what actually happened in the past, but assert that they convey a truth which will be valid “until the end of the world” and thus for all eternity.
Systematic Theology actively sponsors this concept of a truth that is valid for all eternity and thus also applies to our current age. It opens up the texts of Christian tradition as a specific form of human conceptualisation of self, world and God and modifies and rephrases this claim to legitimacy to make it appropriate for the present. Systematic Theology does this by showing how and to what extent the texts help with understanding the human self and the world within our contemporary environment and are also applicable to modern lifestyles.
Systematic Theology is in a permanent position of critical discourse with theories of the concept of the self and the meaning of life at every point of time that we designate the present. One of its central purposes is to promote on-going critical ecumenical dialogue with the other Christian churches, but it also considers and analyses examples of non-Christian texts and traditions as well as texts and traditions which take a critical stance towards Christianity and which express other forms of basic orientations and requirements with regard to what they consider to be the “truth”. In a critical and self-critical dialogue with these positions, Systematic Theology attempts to establish the fundamental legitimacy of the Christian faith.
Hence, Systematic Theology has to rely on hermeneutics in order to reflect on, translate, mediate and justify the reality of the claim of the Christian tradition in the face of the present.