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Friday, September 02, 2005 

Reformed, Biblical Theology

Enjoying: Year two of classes began on Monday.
Listening: Yellowcard Gifts and Curses I am amazed these guys have a violin player.

As you have probably noticed, blogging has slowed down for me as school has approached/begun. Yesterday morning, Pastor John exhorted us to focus, and testified from his own life how he himself is not very good at many things, but is very good at one thing, and has built his life around this one thing. I think I am prone to spreading my life all over, and I don't want blogging to become typical of this. Therefore, at least while school is in session, there will either be fewer posts, or they will be more targeted to what I am learning or thinking about from classes (which may still be as broad and tangential as ever, you know...).

Going over my notes from Hebrew yesterday, my prof is very excited and adamant about the importance of Biblical Theology. As noted above, this will undoubtedly mean you the reader of this glorious blog will be hearing a good bit about BT in the future.

While I myself love Biblical Theology, I have often thought it a reaction to overdue emphasis (perceived, it seems) on dogmatics and systematic theology. However, I do not think it need be so, and here - in two arguments - is why.

1. Biblical Theology and systematic theology are both subdivisions of theology. However, they, nor any other aspect of theology, are independent, but rather are all interrelated and connected, building off of, investing in, and thriving off other disciplines. Lord willing, very soon I hope to post (probably at Thunder Speak) a chart of how I conceive of the sub - disciplines relating to one another. But one thing that is certain, at least in the Reformed tradition, is that at least two tributaries flow into the river of dogmatics, and these are exegesis (Exegetical Theology) and Biblical theology.

In times past, the distinction employed by Reformed writers on these sub-domains was not very distinct at all. I think in the earlier days of the Reformation, especially when a Reformed heremeneutic - consisting of literal-grammatical readings couple WITH redemptive-historical matrices, sola Scriptura that did not rely AS heavily on the Fathers, etc. - was more pronounced and needed, dogmaticians and systematics showed their exegesis and biblical theology on the way to presenting systematically. This formed a hard foundation of text and exegesis and redemptive reasoning culminating in a rich, beautiful crust of systematic doctrine, which was nearly impenetrable.

Over time, however, as the "groundwork" of exegesis and BT became more and more accustomed and anticipated, only the crust of systematic theology remained in Reformed books. When the Enlightenment landed like a Nazgul spreading death and decay, punching a hole through systematic crust - earlier insignificant due to the vast amount of biblical reasoning that lay underneath - produced only air and holes. This has given rise to the recent interest, and, for those who are chronologically snobbish, invention, of biblical theology. Hence, if the dogmaticians of the Reformed faith hadn't gradually began to leave out the necessary but painfully taxing work of biblical exegesis that undergirded their dogmatics, we wouldn't be experiencing the Renaissance of BT that we see around us in academia.

(On a side note, I also wonder about denominational influence. I think that while especially the mainline denominations would have been and were informed of BT and knew of it, their increasing apostasy and abdication from the faith created a vaccuum for theologically ignorant Batpists, Free Church, and independent Congregationalists who did not have the acumen necessary for their new role as evangelical torchbearers. Thus, ignorant of the likes of Geerhardus Vos, when scholars like George Eldon Ladd came along, the new faithful low church movement thought it had discovered something absolutely brand new.)

2. John Calvin. There is a reason this man led the Reformation like he did. There is a reason so many denominations, mission boards, and individuals look to this man. This man was an EMINENT biblical theologian AND systematician. This is most evident in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, which is basically a collection of biblical theological discoveries and insights, arranged systematically across the Creed and Romans 7. There is hardly anything in BT today that cannot be found in Calvin, at least not in infant form. This man knew his God, knew his Bible, and loved the glory of God in the Bible. He saw things that Ladd and Vos have merely expounded upon. When a man of the caliber of Calvin begins your church/denomination, you are in good hands.

I love BT. I love my professors passion for the subject. I also think we are well served by our Reformed heritage.


Transplanted from the artic blight of Minnesota to the sunny paradise of SoCal, I am attending school and learning to say "dude." I like to think of myself as equal parts surf rash, Batman, heavy metal, Levinas, poetic license, and reformational. Other than creating blund blogs, I enjoy reading, sporting, and socializing with serious and funny people.
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