Out of all the works that a Christian can read, systematic theologies could easily be most daunting. Nearly the only people you find reading them are pastors and seminary students. Their stigma keeps others away. But after I read a few systematic theologies myself, I’ve had a change of heart. I think that all Christians can benefit from some systematic theology—and it doesn’t have to be a challenge.

Let’s use John Frame’s Systematic Theology as an example.

Olive Tree Makes it Easy

Like commentaries, a systematic theology title can be a big book, or even span multiple volumes. Trying to carry that around with other books can quickly become unwieldy. Getting a digital version alleviates this problem. We think this is reason enough to use Olive Tree for your Bible study library. But there are more than a few other great features!

Portability aside, Olive Tree also makes systematic theology titles easy to use. First, we’ve turned Bible references into links. Instead of needing a Bible nearby to lookup references, you can tap on the verse and quickly read it—in context.

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The same is true for footnotes and end notes. No more flipping back and forth. No more notes clogging the bottom of the page. Keep reading, uninterrupted. And if you want to read the footnotes, just tap like this:

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Lastly, using systematic theologies in the app allows you to search so much easier. Searching a physical book is near impossible. There may be an index in the back, but they aren’t the most convenient. Instead, with Olive Tree you can search for a word or phrase, finding every occurrence.

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You Don’t Have to Read it Cover to Cover

One common misconception is that you need to read a systematic theology cover-to-cover. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, there are some that you may want to read straight through. But you won’t do that with most of them—even in seminary.

Many theology titles are best used as a reference work alongside a Bible dictionary or encyclopedia. Let’s say you’re studying a topic like the Trinity. If you consult your Bible dictionary, you may only get a few paragraphs or a page or two of information. What do you do if you want to dig a little further?

Open your favorite systematic theology and find its section on the Trinity. You’ll get any and everything you wanted to know, and nearly (if not every) supporting passage in Scripture. If we look at Frame’s Systematic Theology, you’ll see he dedicates three entire chapters to the subject of the Trinity.

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Systematic theology titles are also useful if you have a friend who has questions about a particular doctrine. Instead of trying to explain it all myself, I’ll have them read a section out of a systematic theology. Then we can follow up our discussion in a more focused manner. More often than not, the systematic theology will do a better job of explaining things than I ever could.

Great for Small Groups or Sunday School

Finally, systematic theology titles can be great for small group or Sunday school curriculum. While many are formatted like textbooks, some are written well for this use. Frame’s is one of them & Grudem’s being another. At the end of each chapter, Frame’s Systematic Theology provides 3 things: key terms discussed in the chapter, study questions, and memory verses. With this information in hand, one could easily put together a lesson and facilitate a discussion on each chapter.

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While theology can delve into the deep, it can still be accessible to everyone.

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