How important is the discipline of biblical theology to healthy local church ministry?
In the new issue of Credo Magazine, “What the Big Story? Why Biblical Theology Should Matter to Every Bible-Reading Christian,” we asked the question, “On a Scale from 1-10, how important is the discipline of biblical theology to healthy local church ministry?” James Hamilton, Mike Stallard, Carl Trueman, Jonathan Leeman, and Tony Payne responded and you can read their answers here. However, we received more responses than anticipated and so today we would like to post answers to this question from a number of others. Here is what they had to say:
Keith A. Mathison, author of From Age to Age: The Unfolding of Biblical Eschatology:
9. Biblical theology underlies biblical preaching and preachers who know where the parts fit within the whole are able to proclaim the gospel more clearly.
Andy Naselli, Assistant Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Bethlehem College and Seminary:
10. When is it not important to a church’s health to know how God has revealed his Word historically and organically?
6. Biblical theology is a worthy discipline that is vital to the health of any church, but it is also a wax nose. Purporting to be an inductive discipline, biblical theology in practice exhibits a curious tendency to vindicate the hermeneutical theory and system of theology of the one “doing” biblical theology. As Klink and Lockett have observed in their recent work Understanding Biblical Theology, evangelical biblical theology can be classed into at least three schools—a “Dallas school” (premillennial dispensational biblical theology), a “Chicago school” (historical premillennial biblical theology in the Carson tradition), and a “Philadelphia school” (Reformed amillennial biblical theology in the Vos tradition). While I laud the intention of all three of these schools to identify the unifying center of the Christian Scriptures, and appreciate the pioneering efforts of the last of these schools in this pursuit, I am not convinced that the hermeneutical method employed by the Vos/Clowney/Goldsworthy school has successfully yielded the Bible’s unifying center. And to the degree that a local church misidentifies the unifying center of the Scriptures, it also risks misidentifying its own biblical mission.
Gary Millar, Principal, Queensland Theological College in Brisbane, co-author of Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake:
10. If we want our local churches to be filled with people who constantly gasp at the glory of God and his work in history, who don’t regularly slip into legalism or pragmatism and who marvel at the grace of God shown to us in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we need to grasp the whole sweep of the Bible. Biblical Theology is a prerequisite for enabling God’s people to be shaped, encouraged and equipped by the entirety of God’s Word.
William J U Philip, Senior Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow:
10. The discipline of biblical theology is vitally important to local church ministry, all the time, in the way that the foundations of a house are vitally important to daily living in the house. You may not be consciously thinking about the foundations much of the time, nor are you frequently going into the basement to examine the foundations. But every day as you simply go about your daily life you are depending upon those foundations to keep the whole arena of your existence sound and habitable. And if the foundations were not there, or were seriously skewed, you would soon find that life in the house was a very dangerous thing! So it is with the discipline of biblical theology to local church ministry, because this discipline (alongside others) is an essential foundation for responsible expository biblical preaching, which I believe to be the essential diet in order for real gospel ministry to flourish in a church.
Paul Hartog, Associate Professor, Faith Baptist Seminary, Ankeny, IA:
7.5. If one thinks of biblical theology as the discipline of exegetical theology focused upon the historical study of the diachronic progress of divine revelation through the diverse human authors of Scripture, its great importance could be tempered by several, fundamental acknowledgements: for example, the significant role of the apostolic kerygma (as the regula fidei) in the earliest Christian era; the logical necessity of integrating the biblical corpora based upon one’s presuppositions; the persistent prerequisite of establishing one’s hermeneutical approach and methods; and the recognition of post-biblical terms that have become delineating foci within historic, orthodox theology (such as Trinity, homoousios, etc.). In sum, biblical theology must be a team player, working in tandem with systematic theology (and even historical theology) for the sake of the full health of a unified, local church ministry.
Adrian Reynolds, Director of Ministry, The Proclamation Trust; associate minister at East London Tabernacle Baptist Church; author of Teaching Numbers: From Text to Message:
9. Knowing how the Bible fits together is essential. But it’s not everything; it’s never a discipline to exercise in isolation. There is more to ministry than biblical theology and the faithful preacher cannot just be a biblical theologian (though he must surely not be less than that). And why not 10? Because biblical theology, like every other discipline, must always be the servant and never the master.
Read the new issue of Credo Magazine today!
What’s the Big Idea Story?
Why Biblical Theology Should Matter to Every Bible-Believing Christian
When the sixteenth-century Reformation erupted, one of the alarming dangers that became blatantly obvious to reformers like Martin Luther was the pervasiveness of biblical illiteracy among the laity. It may be tempting to think that this problem has been solved almost five hundred years later. However, in our own day biblical illiteracy in the pew continues to present a challenge. Many Christians in our post-Christian context simply are not acquainted with the storyline of the Bible and God’s actions in redemptive history from Adam to the second Adam.
With this concern in mind, the current issue of Credo Magazine strives to take a step forward, in the right direction, by emphasizing the importance of “biblical theology.” Therefore, we have brought together some of the best and brightest minds to explain what biblical theology is, why it is so important, and how each and every Christian can become a biblical theologian. Our hope in doing so is that every Christian will return to the text of Scripture with an unquenchable appetite to not only read the Bible, but comprehend God’s unfolding plan of salvation.
Contributors include: Justin Taylor, Darian Lockett, Edwards Klink III, David Murray, Stephen Dempster, James Hamilton, T. Desmond Alexander, Stephen Wellum, Peter Gentry, G. K. Beale, Graham Cole, and many others.