Theology is the study of God. Over the two-thousand-year history of the Church it has become necessary to designate different approaches to that study. There are three main traditional ways of doing theology—systematic, dogmatic and Biblical. Systematic theologians attempt to draw key doctrines into a workable, consistent framework. Once the framework has been established, other issues and concerns are added as they fit. Dogmatic theology is concerned primarily with the defense of individual doctrines. It uses traditional teachings of the Church as its foundation and emphasizes a propositional approach to the Bible. Biblical theology (the name isn't intended to imply that other approaches are unbiblical) is a more organic approach based on a narrative reading of the Bible. By identifying themes in Scripture, Biblical theologians seek unifying elements that present a complete perspective on God and His activities in the world and through His people. While all three approaches are worthwhile and have been used by the great theologians of the Church, the books in our selection reveal our predilection for Biblical theology.
Each of these methods is primarily concerned with understanding the character and nature of God. Study of the doctrine of God Himself is called theology proper, and includes Trinitarian concerns, discussions of the attributes of God and the roles of each Person of the Godhead in salvation and redemption. Theology proper is the root of all theology. Without it we can understand nothing about salvation, the sacraments or proper worship, since all these things were designed by God to display His glory and as forums for His interaction with mankind.