The importance of biblical theology came up in a discussion on Facebook and, since it is a passion of mine and a worthy topic, I shall sketch a few ideas here.

First, a little insight from the American Heritage Dictionary (emphasis mine):

bib·li·cal also Bib·li·cal (bĭb'lĭ-kəl) adj.
  1. Of, relating to, or contained in the Bible.
  2. Being in keeping with the nature of the Bible, especially:
    1. Suggestive of the personages or times depicted in the Bible.
    2. Suggestive of the prose or narrative style of the King James Bible.
  3. Very great in extent; enormous: a natural disaster of near biblical proportions.
the·ol·o·gy (thē-ŏl'ə-jē) Pronunciation Key n. pl. the·ol·o·gies
  1. The study of the nature of God and religious truth; rational inquiry into religious questions.
  2. A system or school of opinions concerning God and religious questions: Protestant theology; Jewish theology.
  3. A course of specialized religious study usually at a college or seminary.
Claim: Jesus, not biblical theology, transforms us.
  • Which Jesus? We only know the true Jesus from false one through the Bible. Biblical theology is simply an understanding of God and God's things that coheres with the Bible.
  • Some misuse the Bible by quoting verse after verse in support of their assumptions, but the mere use of Bible verses does not constitute a biblical theology. To be considered biblical, a theology must cohere with the whole of Scripture. Such a theology requires that we receive critique from our brothers and sisters and from non-believers. True biblical theology recognizes the Bible as the voice of God, not as a resource book.
Claim: Much of our "theology" is shaped by cultural assumptions.
  • This is all too true. The best way to uncover our cultural assumptions is to learn God's truth alongside believers from other cultures. This requires mutual submission (Eph 5:21). We must be willing to speak and to listen honestly. We must be willing to change.
Claim: Biblical theology starts with the Bible, but Jesus is its Master.
  • Yes, Jesus is Master, but any attempt to pit Jesus against the Scripture creates a false dichotomy, for Scripture is the very voice of God. Every part of the Bible points to Jesus the Messiah (John 5:39). Because the Bible is the Word of God, it is also our master. We cannot and must not use our theology to rule our understanding of Scripture. Rather, Scripture rules our theology. Scripture interprets our perceptions, experiences, and perspectives, showing us what is true and what is false in them. Learning Scripture with our brothers and sisters is the best way for this critique of our assumptions to take place. In the context of time, our understandings are partial; we need one another and the Spirit to correct errors and fill in gaps. An increasingly clear and accurate understanding of Scripture is the best way to know whether the God we know and worship is the one true God and whether the Jesus we follow is the one whom he sent (John 17:3).

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