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Friday, August 26, 2011

The Theology-Scripture circle

In my last post I introduced two different approaches to theological interactions with Scripture, Scripturizing theology (using the Bible to support your Theological opinions), and theologizing Scripture (making the Bible determine your theological positions).  This post I want to delve into the relationship between the two.

My last post made the point that moving from theology to Scripture is dangerous.  I still agree with that statement but just as one extreme is dangerous the other is just as dangerous if not even more ludicrous.  It seems that the ultimate in lunacy would be to hand a 5 year-old the NIV and let them come to their own conclusions on things like justification by faith, eternal security, or Jesus' fulfillment of OT messianic prophecies.  This though is the ultimate use of Scripture informing Theology.  We have taken an impressionable child and without giving them any sort of framework tasked them with building their own theology.  This is equally as dangerous, and probably impossible.

Our theology needs to inform our reading of the Holy Scripture in that it provides a framework upon which we build our knowledge of Scripture.    Our brains can store vast amounts of information because they categorize and organize it all.  Theology (especially systematic theology) is the categorization of Biblical revelation.  We need theology to understand Scripture.

The danger becomes when theology begins to equal or trump Scripture. At the end of the day, Theology is the servant of Scripture, not the other way around.

How then do we balance these two?  
  1. Scripture is the supreme authority.  If you ever need to do Exegetical jumping jacks to explain your theology you are screwing things up.  Conservative Christians do this all the time.  They claim to be the ones who respect Biblical authority, yet bend the Bible into pretzels to make it say what they want.  When you do this you take the mantle of "authority" off of the Scripture and place it on your own shoulders.  You (and me) and your theology (and mine) are subservient to Bible.
  2. Let the Scriptures mold and adapt your theology.  Think of it like this:  Scripture and Theology are two halves of one circle.  Neither is complete without the other.  You can in at any point of that circle and begin to move around and around.  As you move from Theology to Scripture, be intent on letting Scripture develop your theology.  As you move from Scripture to theology let your greater knowledge and understanding reinforce and build up that famework of Theology.
  3. The entire Scripture is the supreme authority.  Don't over-gorge yourself on Paul only to starve yourself on Jeremiah.  Often Christians develop a "cannon within a cannon" continually regurgitating the same portions of Scripture.  Your theology will never develop fully without a solid understanding of the entire Scripture (cannon, and cannon will be the basis for a later blog, please stay tuned) 

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