What is the purpose of theology for the Church? Systematic theology provides an inroad into this question by offering both a method for doing theology and an explanation for the purpose of that method. However, the very notion of 'system' has its basis in a specific understanding of knowledge grounded in rational demonstration of facts, and it is easy to assume that this tradition in theology is primarily a product of Enlightenment thinking.Timeless Truth in the Hands of History addresses the historical debate over when systematic theology began. Much of the debate has centered on the definition of 'system' and revolves around the use, or lack thereof, of external philosophical categories or language in theological discourse. Heide's approach is to examine the works of prominent theologians and philosophers at various times labelled systematic, providing an outline of the methodological history of systematic theology and at the same time providing a survey of the the ways in which philosophical and theological discourse have been connected to the term 'system'.Heide shows that system in theology has deeper roots than the Englightenment. The practice of theology has never been totally devoid of external philosophical reference points or programmatic intentions, and these have played a role in theology since the church's inception. Certain elements of systematic thought (e.g., logic, non-contradiction, organisation) have been a part of theological investigation and construction since at least the second century. However, these may not be the same influences that have marked post-Enlightenment systematics. Heide argues that one of the primary characteristics of pre-Enlightenment theology was its intentional focus on the life of the church - theology, like the Scriptures, was often written for specific circumstances. The influence of the Enlightenment was to shift the intention and context of much of theology in that theological knowledge was studied and displayed for the sake of knowledge itself - in the realm of what was to become academic theology, the church was at best an afterthought.Revealing and explaining the historical contexts in which philosophical ideas have influenced theology, from Irenaeus and Origen to Hegel and Kierkegaard, Timeless Truth in the Hands of History is an invaluable addition to the library of all students of theology, philosophy of religion and the history of ideas.