Thiessen - Lectures in Systematic Theology

Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology The best systematic theology I have seen. Excellent and extensive. Probably Chafer’s larger Systematic is the only one more extensive than this. Balanced.

Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology The best systematic theology I have seen. Excellent and extensive. Probably Chafer’s larger Systematic is the only one more extensive than this. Balanced.

About Henry Clarence Thiessen (1887-1947)

Evangelical biblical scholar and educator. Born in Hamilton, Nebraska, Thiessen served as a Baptist pastor in Pandora, Ohio (1909–1916), and then became an instructor (1916–1923) and principal (1919–1923) of Fort Wayne Bible School. He then attended Northern Baptist Seminary (Th.B., 1925) and taught there as an assistant professor (1925–1926) and earned successive degrees from Northwestern University (A.B., 1927), Northern Baptist Seminary (B.D., 1928) and Southern Baptist Seminary, where he studied under A. T. Robertson (Ph.D., 1929). He was then dean of the College of Theology at the Evangelical University in New Jersey (1929–1931); professor at Dallas Theological Seminary (1931–1935); and then successively associate professor of Bible and philosophy (1935–1936), professor of New Testament literature and exegesis (1936–1946) and first dean of the Graduate School (1946) at Wheaton College. He accepted a call to become president of Los Angeles Baptist Seminary with the hope of finding relief from the asthmatic attacks that had troubled him in Illinois. Thiessen authored the widely used Introduction to the New Testament (1943) and Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology (1949; rev. ed. 1979). A conscientious and exacting scholar with a dispensational orientation, Thiessen’s area of expertise was the New Testament. (taken fromEncyclopedic Dictionary of Bible and Theology)

Outline of the Book Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

ISBN 0-8028-3529-5
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data
Thicssen, Henry Clarence.
Lectures in systematic theology.
Bibliography: p. 405. Includes indexes.
1. Theology, Doctrinal. I. Doerksen, Vernon D. II. Title.
BT75.T39 1979 230 79-17723
This present version is edited by David Cox [email protected]
Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

Note from David Cox
In my copy of this work, all the footnotes were lost. For checking on footnotes, see If I can get to it, I will try to remake this work with the correct footnotes at some future date. If somebody else does this, please send me the new module so I can post it here.

Contents of Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

Preface to the Revised Edition ix (below)
Preface to the First Edition xi (below)
I. The Nature and Necessity of Theology 1
II. The Possibility and Divisions of Theology 7


III. The Definition and Existence of God 23
IV. The Non-Christian World Views 32


V. The Scriptures: The Embodiment of a Divine Revelation 43
VI. The Genuineness. Credibility, and Canonicity of the Books of the Bible 50
VII. The Inspiration of the Scriptures 62


VIII. The Nature of God; Essence and Attributes 75
IX. The Nature of God; Unity and Trinity 89
X. The Decrees of God 100
XI. The Works of Cod: Creation 111
XII. The Works of God: His Sovereign Rule 119


XIII. The Origin. Nature. Fall, and Classification of the Angels 133
XIV. The Work and Destiny of the Angels 144


XV. The Origin and Original Character of Man LSI
XVI. The Unity and Permanent Constitution of Man 158
XVII. Background and Problems 168
XVIII. The fall of Man: Fan and Immediate Consequences 178
XIX. The Fall of Man: Imputation and Racial Consequences 185
XX. The Fall of Man; The Nature and Final Consequences of Sin 191


XXI. The Purpose. Plan, and Method of God 199
XXII. The Person of Christ: Historical Views and Preincarnate State 206
XXIII. The Person of Christ: The Humiliation of Christ 211
XXIV. The Person of Christ: The Two Natures and the Character of Christ
XXV. The Work of His Life: His Death 21′)
XXVI. The Work of Christ: His Resurrection. Ascension, and Exaltation 743
XXVII. The Work of the Holy Spirit 251
XXVIII. Election and Vocation 257
XXIX. Conversion 7fifi
XXX. Justification and Regeneration 275
XXXI. Union with Christ and Adoption 282
XXXII. Sanctification 287
XXXIII. Perseverance 294
XXXIV. The Means of Pare 300
XXXV. Definition and Founding of the Church 309
XXXVI. The Foundation of the Church, the Manner of the Founding, and the Organization of Churches 315
XXXVII. The Ordinances of the Church 323
XXXVIII. The Mission and Destiny of the Church 330
XXXIX. Personal Eschatology and the Importance of the Second Coming of Christ 337
XL. The Second Coming of Christ: The Nature of His Coming and the Purpose of His Coming in the Air 344
XLI. The Second Coming of Christ: The Purpose of His Coming to Earth and the Period between the Rapture and the Revelation 355
XLll. The Time of His Coming: Premillennlal 364
XLIII. The Time of His Coming: Pretribulational 370
XLIV. The Resurrections 380
XLV. The Judgments 387
XLVI. The Millennium 395
XLVII. The Final State 400
Bibliography 405

Preface to the Revised Edition

For thirty years Dr. Thiessen’s Lectures in Systematic Theology has been used as a standard reference work in Bible institutes, colleges, and seminaries across the nation and throughout the English-speaking world. The broad acceptance enjoyed by this text has come in part, no doubt, because of Dr. Thiessen’s careful and extensive use of Scripture and his dispensational approach to theology. In light of current theological trends and emphases and more recent studies in the various divisions of biblical doctrine, an update of his material seems warranted.

In order to retain his basic style and arrangement, the overall organization and the chapter divisions remain essentially intact, except for the addition of a chapter on the Holy Spirit and a section on personal eschatology.

Several of the portions, such as those on inspiration, election, foreknowledge, creation, demons, imputation of sin, and pretribulationalism, have been rather extensively revised. The remaining sections have been carefully reviewed with appropriate changes, deletions, and or additions. Citations from many of the older authorities have been deleted in favor of more recent source material, and a selected bibliography has been added. The reader will note the inclusion of many additional Scripture references. Whereas the original work employed the Amencan Standard Version, this revision uses the New Amencan Standard Bible.

A revision of this nature could not be done without the help of many parties. I gratefully acknowledge my indebtedness to my colleagues on the faculty of Talbot Theological Seminary for their encouragement and helpful suggestions; to my family for their prayerful support; to my wife, Josephine, and my mother, Mrs. Ruth Doerksen, for their labor of love in typing and proof-reading the manuscript in its various stages; to the Lockman Foundation for permission to quote extensively from the New American Standard Bible; and to my father. Rev. David Doerksen, for instilling in me from childhood a love for biblical theology.

La Mirada, California, 1979

Preface to the First Edition Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

Those who are acquainted with Dr. H. C. Thiessen’s An Outline of Lectures in Systematic Theology in syllabus form will welcome the appearance of the more complete work in book form. Dr. Thiessen was called from his labors while engaged upon the task of writing the book. The actual completion and editing of it since his departure has fallen to my lot at the request of Mrs. H. C. Thiessen.

The first one-third of the book is exactly as he wrote it. Those familiar with the syllabus will notice that it has been completely rewritten and differently arranged. No doubt he would have done the same with the rest of the book had he lived to complete it. He had made a complete outline of chapters and the best I could do was to follow the outline and draw upon the material of the syllabus. Quotations from sources other than those in the syllabus are mostly those which he had written on the blank pages of his own desk copy of the syllabus. In the main I have used only those which in my judgment strengthened the argument, or helped to make the meaning clear. If they were merely interesting sidelights they were rejected.

Due credit has been given in the footnotes to all the authors quoted. I am deeply indebted to all of them, but especially to Augustus Hopkins Strong, Systematic Theology (Philadelphia: The Griffith and Rowland Press, 1906) for the section on Problems Connected with the Fall, which Dr. Thiessen followed quite closely in his syllabus.

Mainly it was my task to edit the material, check quotations, round out statements, write a paragraph or a short section hem and them, arrange in chapters according to the outline in hand and thus prepare these pages for the publisher.

No work of man is ever perfect, but extreme care has been taken to make this work as accurate as possible. Every Scripture reference, unless it was as familiar as John 3:16, has been checked. But there was not sufficient time to check all the quotations from various authors. Since the syllabus had gone through three editions I took for granted that they were correct, for the instances chosen at random and examined proved to be so.

Deep gratitude is expressed to Dr. Milford L. Baker, president of the California Baptist Theological Seminary, and Dr. H. Vernon Ritter, librarian in the same seminary, for their kindness and cooperation. This seminary had acquired Dr. Thiessen’s library upon his decease, but with Christian courtesy and generosity they allowed us to take these or any other books out of their library and use them as long as we needed them. Dr. Ritter personally took time to locate a great many of the books for us so that full literary credit could be given for the quotations used. Thanks are also extended to Dr. Richard W. Cramer, chairman of the Division of Biblical Studies and Philosophy at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, Calif., who prepared the Index of Subjects, Index of Authors and Index of Greek Words; to Miss Goldie Wiens, teacher at Shafter, Calif., for the preparation of the Index of Scriptures. My sister. Miss Kate I. Thiessen, a high school teacher in Oklahoma, typed the entire manuscript.

I quote from Dr. Thiessen’s Preface in the mimeographed syllabus as follows:
“It is hoped that the present edition will set forth the truth more clearly and logically, and that the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit will be glorified through its perusal.”

As in previous editions, the American Standard Version of the Bible has been used throughout, as the better translation of the Hebrew and Greek idiom, except as otherwise noted.

The book is sent forth with the prayer that it will be blessed of God and useful in the training of men for the effective ministry of the Gospel.

Detroit, Michigan, 1949

Sample from the Book Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

4. Immutability. By the immutability of God we mean that in essence, attributes, consciousness, and will God is unchangeable. All change must be to the better or the worse. But God cannot change to the better, since He is absolutely perfect; neither can He change to the worse, for the same reason. He is exalted above all causes and even the possibility of change. He can never be wiser, more holy, more just, more merciful, more truthful, nor less so. Nor do His plans and purposes change. Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

The immutability of God is due to the simplicity of the essence of God. Man has a soul and a body, two substances; God has but one, therefore He does not change. It is due also to His necessary and self-existence. That which exists uncaused, by the necessity of its nature, must exist as it does. It is due also to His perfection. Any change in His attributes would make Him less than God; any change in His {128} purposes and plans would make Him less wise, good, and holy. But immutability does not mean immobility. Some seem to hold that because God is immutable He cannot act. We know, however, that He is immutable and also that He acts; and so the two must be compatible.

The Scriptures teach the immutability of God. James says that He is “the Father of lights, with vhom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (Jam. 1:17). Malachi represents God as saying: “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal. 3:6). See also Psa. 33:11; 102:26-27; cf. Heb. 1:12. He changes not with regard to His power (Rom. 4:20, 21), His plans and purposes (Isa. 46:10; Rom. 11:29), His promises (1Ki. 8:56; 2Co. 1:20), His love and mercy (Psa. 103:17; Mal. 3:6), and His justice (Gen. 18:25; Isa. 28:17).

Thiessen-Lectures-in-Systematic-Theology Sample Image

(Note that the Book of the Bible reference is bolded and this work is full of verse references.)

But how, then, shall we harmonize the Scriptures that say God does not repent (e. g., Num. 23:19; 1Sa. 15:29; Psa. 110:4) with such other Scriptures that represent Him as repenting (e. g., Gen. 6:6; Exo. 32:14; 2Sa. 24:16) ? In this way: God’s immutability is not like that of the stone that does not respond to changes about it, but like that of the column of mercury which rises and falls according as the temperature changes. His immutability consists in His always doing the right and in adapting the treatment of His creatures to the variations in their character and conduct. God says: “If that nation, concerning which I have spoken, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them” (Jer. 18:8; cf. Joe. 2:13). In other words. God’s threats are sometimes conditional in nature, as when he threatened to destroy Israel (Exo. 32:9-10, 14) and Nineveh (Jon. 1:2; 3:4, 10). Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

Β. The Moral Attributes

By the moral attributes of God we mean those necessary predicates of the divine essence that involve moral qualities. Under this head we shall consider the holiness, righteousness, and justice) goodness, and truth of God. The sovereignty of God is not an attribute, but a prerogative of God arising out of the perfections of His nature. It will, therefore, not be treated in connection with the attributes, but in a separate chapter (Ch. XII) under the title, “The Works of God: His Sovereign Rule.” Let us now turn to a brief study of each of the moral attributes.

1. Holiness. By the holiness of God we mean that He is absolutely separate from and exalted above all His creatures, and that He is equally separate from moral evil and sin. In the first sense His holiness is not really an attribute that is coordinate with the other attributes, but is rather coextensive with thern all. It denotes the perfection of God in all that He is. In the second sense it is viewed as the eternal conformity {129} of His being and His will. In God we have purity of being before purity of willing. God does not will the good because it is good, nor is the good good because God wills it; else there would be a good above God or the good would be arbitrary and changeable. Instead, God’s will is the expression of his nature, which is holy.

Holiness occupies the foremost rank among the attributes of God. It is the attribute by which God wanted to be especially known in Old Testament times. See Lev. 11:44-45; Jos. 24:19; 1Sa. 6:20; Psa. 22:3; Isa. 40:23; Eze. 39:7; Hab. 1:12. It is emphasized by the bounds set about Mount Sinai when God came down upon the mountain (Exo. 19:12-13, 21-25), by the division of the tabernacle and temple into the holy and most holy places (Exo. 26:33; 1Ki. 6:16), by the prescribed offerings that must be brought if an Israelite would approach God (Lev. 1-7), by the institution of a special priesthood to mediate between God and the people (Lev. 8-10), by the many laws about impurity (Lev. 11-15), by the set feasts of Israel (Lev. 23), and by the isolation of Israel in Palestine (Num. 23:9; Deu. 33:28). In the New Testament holiness is ascribed to God with less frequency than that in the Old, but it is not entirely wanting. See Joh. 17:11; Heb. 12:10; 1Pe. 1:15-16; Rev. 4:8. Because of the fundamental character of this attribute, the holiness of God rather than the love, the power, or the will of God should be given first place. Holiness is the regulative principle of all three of them; for His throne is established on the basis of His holiness (Psa. 47:8; 89:14; 97:2). Thiessen – Lectures in Systematic Theology

We should learn three important things from the fact that God is holy. First, that there is a chasm between God and the sinner (Isa. 59:1-2; Hab. 1:13). Not only is the sinner estranged from God, but God is estranged from the sinner. Before sin came, man and God had fellowship with each other; now that fellowship is broken and impossible. Secondly, that man must approach God through the merits of another, if he is to approach Him at all. Man neither possesses nor can acquire the sinlessness that is necessary to access to God. But Christ has come and made such access possible (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:18; Heb. 10:19, 20). In God’s holiness lies the reason for the atonement; and what His holiness demanded, His love provided (1Pe. 3:18). Thirdly, we should approach God “with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28, 29). Right views of the holiness of God lead to right views of sin. Job (Job 40:3-5) and Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5-7) are striking examples of the relation between the two. Humiliation, contrition, and confession flow from a Scriptural view of the holiness of God.

2. Righteousness and Justice. By the righteousness and justice of God we mean that phase of the holiness of God which is seen in His treatment of the creature. Repeatedly these qualities are ascribed to God (e. g., 2Ch. 12:6; Ezr. 9:15; Neh. 9:33; Psa. 89:14; Isa. 45:21; Dan. 9:14; Joh. 17:25; 2Ti. 4:8; Rev. 16:5). In virtue of the former He has instituted a moral government in the world, imposed just laws upon the creatures, and attached sanctions thereto. In virtue of the latter He executes His laws, involving the bestowal of rewards and punishments. The distribution of rewards is also called remunerative justice, and is mentioned in such Scriptures as the following: Deu. 7:9, 12, 13; 2Ch. 6:15; Psa. 58:11; Mat. 25:21; Rom. 2:7; Heb. 11:26. The infliction of punishment is also called punitive justice, and “is mentioned in such Scriptures as these: Gen. 2:17; Exo. 34:7; Eze. 18:4; Rom. 1:32; 2:8-9; 2Th. 1:8.

But there is a difference between “remunerative and retributive merit.” Shedd says:
Divine justice is originally and necessarily obliged to requite disobedience, but not to reward obedience . . . God cannot lay down a law, affix a penalty, and threaten infliction, and proceed no further, in case of disobedience. The divine veracity forbids this . . . Hence, in every instance of transgression, the penalty of law must be inflicted, either personally or vicariously; either upon the transgressor or upon his substitute . . Justice may allow of the substitution of one person for another, provided that in the substitution no injustice is done to the rights of any of the parties interested. Op. cit., I 370-373.

In other words, justice demands the punishment of the sinner, but it may also accept the vicarious sacrifice of another, as in the case of Christ.

3. Goodness. In the larger sense of the term, the goodness of God includes all the qualities that answer to our conception of an ideal personage; that is, it includes such qualities as His holiness, righteousness, and truth, as well as His love, benevolence, mercy, and grace. It is probably in this broad sense that Jesus said to the young ruler: “Why
callest thou me good? none is good save one, even God” (Mar. 10:18). In the narrower sense, however, the term is limited to the last four qualities named. Let us examine the elements that make up this narrower conception of the term.

(1) The Love of God. By the love of God we mean that perfection of the divine nature by which He is eternally moved to communicate Himself. It is, however, not a mere emotional impulse, but a rational and voluntary affection, having its ground in truth and holiness and its exercise in free choice. This love finds its primary objects in the several persons of the trinity. Thus the universe and man are not necessary to the exercise of God’s love. Philosophers frequently deny feeling to God, saying that feeling implies passivity and susceptibility of impression from without, and that such a possibility is incompatible with the idea of the immutability of God. But immutability does not mean immobility. True love necessarily involves feeling, and if there be no feeling in God, then there is no love of God.

The Scriptures frequently testify to the love of God. They speak of Him as “the God of love” (2Co. 13:11) and declare Him to be “love” (1Jn. 4:8, 16). It is His nature to love. He is in contrast with the gods of the heathen who hate and are angry; and of the god of the philosopher who is cold and indifferent. The Father loves the Son (Mat. 3:16) and the Son loves the Father (Joh. 14:31). God is said to love the world (Joh. 3:16), His ancient people Israel (Deu. 7:6-8, 13), and His true children (Joh. 14:23). He also loves righteousness (Psa. 11:7) and judgment (Isa. 61:8). These things are so well known that we need not emphasize them. We turn now to the special manifestations of His love.

(2) The Benevolence of God. By the benevolence of God we mean the affection which He feels and manifests towards His sentient and conscious creatures. It is due to the fact that the creature is His workmanship; He cannot hate anything that He has made (Job 14:5), only that which has been added to His work. Sin is such an addition. The benevolence of God is manifested in His care for the welfare, and is suited to the needs and capacities, of the creature. “Jehovah is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. . . Thou openest thy hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing” (Psa. 145:9. 15. 16). See also Job 38:41; Psa. 36:3; 104:21; Mat. 6:23. It also extends to men as such: “He left not himself without witness (Act. 14:17) ; even to men as sinful: “He sends the sunshine and the rain upon both good and bad” (Mat. 5:45).

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(3) The Mercy of God. By the mercy of God we mean His goodness manifested towards those who are in misery or distress. Compassion, pity, and loving kindness are other terms in Scripture that denote practically the same thing. Mercy is an eternal necessary quality in God as an all perfect being; but the exercise of it in a given case is optional. To deny the freeness of mercy is to annihilate it; for if it is a matter of debt, then it is no longer mercy. Tt requires a special revelation before we can say that it will be exercised in a specific case. The Scriptures represent God as “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4) and as “full of pity and merciful” (Jam. 5:11). He is said to be merciful toward {132} Israel (Psa. 102:13), toward the Gentiles (Rom. 11:30, 31), and toward all that fear Him (Exo. 20:2; Luk. 1:50) and seek His salvation (Isa. 55:7; Luk. 1:72).

(4) The Grace of God. By the grace of God we mean the goodness of God manifested toward the ill-deserving. Grace has respect to sinful man as guilty, while mercy has respect to him as miserable. The exercise of grace, like that of merer, is optional with God. He must be holy in all His actions; He may or may not show grace to a guilty sinner. Only by a special revelation can we know whether or not and under what circumstances grace will be shown. The Scriptures show that the grace of God is manifested tcward the natural man: (a) In His forbearance and longsuffering, His delay of the punishment of sin (Exo. 34:6; Rom. 2:4-5; 3:25; 9:22; 1Pe. 3:20; 2Pe. 3:9, 15) and (b) in His provision of salvation, the Word of God, the convicting work of the Spirit, the influences of God’s people, and prevenient grace (1Joh. 2:2 Hos. 8:12; Joh. 16:8-11; Mat. 5:13-14; Tit. 2:11). This is the common grace of God.
They also show that His grace is especially manifested towards those who respond to prevenient grace: (a) In their election and foreordination (Eph. 1:4-6), (b) their redemption (Eph. 1:7, 8), (c) their salvation (Act. 18:27), (d) their sanctification (Rom. 5:21; Tit. 2:11. 12), (e) their preservation (2Co. 12:9), (f) their service (Heb. 12:28), and (g) in their final presentation (1Pe. 1:13). This is God’s special grace.

4. Truth. By the truth of God we mean that God’s knowledge, declarations, and representations eternally conform to reality. The truth of God is not only the foundation of all religion, but also of all knowledge. The conviction that our senses do not deceive us, that consciousness is trustworthy, that things are what they appear to be, and that our own existence is not merely a dream, rests ultimately upon the truth of God, i. e., that we live in a world that is true. Many philosophers still ask with Pilate: “What is truth?” (Joh. 18:38). Wm. James despairs of discovering absolute truth. Others assert that what is meant by the term is merely the uniformity of natural law. They hold that the efficiency of God is necessarily and always so exercised that we may trust in the regular sequence of events; in other words, that there is no distinction between purpose and act in God.

But both our nature and the Scriptures teach that God is true. We are forced to believe that natural law has a personal Lawmaker: both the regularity of the laws of nature and their evident purposefulness testify to an intelligent author. The Scriptures declare that He is {133} “the only true God” (Joh. 17:3). John says, “We know Him that is true” (1Jn. 5:20). The Greek word here used means genuine, real. See also Jer. 10:10; Joh. 3:33; Rom. 3:4; 1Th. 1:9; Rev. 6:10. In its exercise toward the creature, the truth of God is known as His veracity and faithfulness. His veracity relates to what He reveals of Himself and to what He says. His revelations of Himself in nature, consciousness, and the Scriptures are true and can be depended upon. See Psa. 31:5; Jer. 5:3; Joh. 3:33; Rom. 3:4; Heb. 6:18. His faithfulness leads Him to fulfill all His promises, whether expressed in wofdior implied in the constitution He has given us. See Deu. 7:9; Psa. 36:5; Isa. 25:1; 1Co. 1:9.

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