Biblical Theology for the Real World

In The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, Krister Stendahl defines Biblical Theology as what the Bible ‘meant,’ while Systematic Theology was defined as what the Bible ‘means.’  However, as it is shown in by James Hoffmeier in his recent book The Immigration Crisis: Immigrants, Aliens, and the Bible and Eric Schumacher in a recent associational sermon, Biblical Theology has everything to do with life today and for making biblical decisions in the church (Schumacher) and outside of it (Hoffmeier). 

With Goldsworthy-esque style, Pastor Schumacher defines a Biblical Theology of Cooperation in the church like this:  Biblical Cooperation happens when God’s people, under God’s rule, trust God’s promises and obey God’s commission in the pursuit of God’s glory.  His sermon follows 7 points that trace cooperation from Creation to the New Creation with application for today’s church.

Likewise Hoffemeier writes in the introduction to his book how we must move from the biblical text to the contemporary application following the pattern of creation, fall, redemption, and new creation if we are to rightly discern the biblical teaching on immigration.   Appealing to the example of C.J.H. Wright, Hoffemeier uses a “comprehensive approach” that moves from biblical theology to objective/subjective principles to practical ethical applications.  Mere analogy and principalization that fail to recognize historical differences, cultural settings, and situational incongruities are unhelpful, but a well-ordered biblical theology that recognizes these complicating factors lays the groundwork for ethical conundrums and modern-day decision-making.  (While I haven’t read his book, his proposed methodology is sound.  You can read the whole first chapter online to see where Hoffmeier is going.)

These are just two more examples of how reading the Bible with an eye to the storyline of Scripture helps us make sense of the world around us.  Really, we do not have a better option?  God has given us a book that makes us wise unto salvation and that helps us proceed in an ever-complicating world!

Sola Deo Gloria, dss

(HT: Jim Hamilton; Justin Taylor)