An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 283 of 297
something like "counsel's opinion"
now.  Hence it passed to the sense of
authoritative decrees (Plato), and
is applied both in the LXX and New
Testament to decrees issued by the
state (Dan. 2:13; 3:10; Luke 2:1); and in
Acts 16:4 to the decrees issued by
the Christian Church' (Blunt and Benham).
A dogma is not a doxa, not a subjective human opinion, not an
indefinite, vague notion, nor is it a mere truth of reason, whose validity
can be made clear with mathematical or logical certainty; it is a truth of
faith, derived from the authority of the Word and Revelation of God, a
positive truth, therefore, positive not merely by virtue of the positiveness
with which it is laid down (e.g. 'I dogmatically affirm ... '), but also by
virtue of the authority by which it is sealed.  'Dogmatics is the science
which presents and proves the Christian doctrines, regarded as forming a
connected system' (Bishop Martensen).  If dogmatics stayed here, all would be
well, but at this point we enter into the region of controversy, and into the
subject has come the question of tradition, the question whether the Church
gave us the Bible, or whether the Bible comes first?  Roman Catholic and
Protestant positions are opposed on many such items, but into these we do not
intend to enter.  The citation of Bishop Martensen given above will receive
the hearty approval of all true Bereans, who will be satisfied to 'search and
see whether these things be so', not in the traditions or creeds, or the
Fathers, but in the Holy Scriptures (Acts 17:11).
Theology.  (Theos God and logos word or doctrine).  Theology is the doctrine
which God has given concerning Himself, the science which treats of the
existence and character of God, and the relations in which we stand to Him.
The source of theology is regarded as twofold, natural and supernatural.
Theology is further subdivided as exegetical, a system that aims at 'bringing
out' (exegesis) the meaning, and dogmatic, which gathers up and exhibits in
systematic form the results of exegetical theology.
Polemic theology defends the doctrines of systematic theology;
practical theology leads to a walk that is worthy.
Symbolics has no reference to symbols, such as candles, pictures,
images etc., it is a portion of historical theology that deals with the
origin, nature and contents of all the public confessions, and summaries of
the articles of the faith.  The 'symbol' is a common shibboleth, an
ecclesiastical standard, and symbolics is concerned with creeds, articles,
canons and confessions, of which the thirty-nine articles of the Church of
England and the Westminster Confession are perhaps the most widely known
Apologetics.  This word does not suggest an 'apology' in the more
modern sense of the word, but rather a 'defence' of the faith as apologia is
used in the New Testament (Phil. 1:7,17).
'Dogmatics is Christian doctrine as adapted to Christian thinkers,
implying friendliness on their part.  Apologetics is Christian doctrine
in a form adapted to heathen thinkers, and presumes hostility on their
part' (Sack, Polemik).
Apologetics include 'the evidences of Christianity', 'the credibility of the
Gospel History', 'proofs of the Resurrection' etc.