Theology Proper (also called Paterology, meaning the study of the Father) is the area of Christian Systematic Theology that investigates what the Bibles teaches regarding God the Father, the first Person of the Triune Godhead. Theology Proper is complemented by Christology (the study of Jesus Christ) and Pneumatology (the study of the Holy Spirit) as a complete study of the God of the Bible.
What is Paterology? What is Theology Proper?
The areas of God the Father typically studied in Theology Proper include the arguments for the existence of God, defining God (being/ontology), the attributes of God, and the works of God. Theology Proper includes a biblical definition of God while also providing information to show some of the many contrasting views of God that exist (often called worldviews). These include a wide variety of ideologies, ranging from atheism (belief in no God), to agnosticism (uncertainty of God's existence), to other religions that portray God defined differently, whether as a single God (such as in Islam or Judaism), multiple gods (as in Eastern religions), or pantheism (all is god).
The books of the Bible are the primary source for Theology Proper in Systematic Theology. However, information from General Revelation (the natural world) is also often discussed as it reveals significant information regarding God's intimate involvement in the design of the universe, animal life, and human life (Psalm 19). Special Revelation includes the Bible, in addition to other unique ways God has communicated (such as in the form of a cloud to Moses, visions, dreams, miracles). In addition, the importance of Progressive Revelation is often emphasized, as the Bible chronologically reveals more information about who God is over time as part of His perfect, sovereign plan.
Of vast importance within Theology Proper is an understanding of Trinitarianism (study of the Trinity). While other areas of Systematic Theology focus on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, Theology Proper is usually the area in which Trinitarianism is included. Since God is both one (Deuteronomy 6:4) and exists in three Persons, it is important for those who study God from a biblical perspective to understand how the concept of the Trinity relates to one's understanding of God in general.
When discussing the attributes of God, Theology Proper generally uses a division between those attributes that are communicable (able to be shared) and those that are non-communicable (those unique only to God). Examples of communicable attributes include God's kindness, love, and compassion. Examples of non-communicable attributes include God's perfection and sovereignty.
Those who seek to grow in their relationship with God, or who are investigating the teachings of Christianity, desire to learn more about who God is. Theology Proper is the area of theology that provides much of this information, specifically as it relates to God the Father.
What is the Trinity?
Is Trinitarianism biblical? What exactly is Trinitarianism?
Can the existence of God be proven?
The attributes of God, what are they?
How does systematic theology work?
Truth about God