Original Research

Systematic Theology – An experiential approach: Core assumptions of my ‘Invitation to Systematic Theology’

Klaus Nürnberger
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 39, No 1 | a1863 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v39i1.1863 | © 2018 Klaus Nurnberger | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 April 2018 | Published: 30 August 2018

About the author(s)

Klaus Nürnberger, Department of Systematic Theology, University of Pretoria, South Africa


Nürnberger’s ‘Faith in Christ Today: Invitation to Systematic Theology’ is meant to serve the proclamation of the Word of God in modern times. Based on ‘experiential realism’, as used by science, it restricts itself to immanent reality, avoids the reification of idealised abstractions and biblical metaphors and follows an emergent-evolutionary hermeneutic. God’s self-disclosure manifests itself as (1) creative power in the cosmic process as explored by science, (2) benevolent intentionality as proclaimed on the basis of the Christ-event and (3) a motivating and transforming vision in the community of believers. Classical doctrines are reconceptualised in action terms, rather than ontological terms. Christology: The ministry, death and elevation of Jesus of Nazareth as God’s messianic representative manifest God’s redemptive intentionality. Trinity: The God manifest in Christ is identical with the God of Israel and the Creator of the universe and the divine Spirit transforming and empowering the community of believers. Eschatology: The thrust of God’s vision of comprehensive optimal well-being moves through time like a horizon opening up ever new vistas, challenges and opportunities.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: The task of Systematic Theology is to offer as comprehensive and consistent a presentation of the Christian faith as possible under current circumstances. This involves the retrieval of the biblical message from its ancient conceptualisations and to repackage it in current world view assumptions. To reach a readership informed by modern science, technology, commerce and the consumer culture, Nürnberger’s Systematic Theology applies the approach of experiential realism as practised by the positive sciences: restricting its analyses to immanent reality and avoiding metaphysical constructs. It follows a consistent emergent-evolutionary hermeneutic and works on an interdisciplinary basis, using insights from modern physics, biology, neurology and sociology. God is conceptualised as the transcendent Source and Destiny of experienced reality. The core of the Christian message is God’s suffering, transforming acceptance of the unacceptable, which involves us in its dynamics. It is geared to transformation rather than perfection. It is applied to all aspects of reality, including, for example, entropy, death and natural evil and so on. In this way, the author hopes to help Christians to regain their intellectual integrity and the credibility of their message.


method in theology; conceptual vs experiential realism; evolutionary hermeneutics; creation as cosmic evolution; Christology as narrative; resurrection as elevation; spirit as emergent reality; Trinity as theodicy; eschatology as vision


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