Be More Practical 2

What is the nature of the Bible?

The Bible is an occasional  document.  Neither Paul nor any of the other writers, ever set out to write down a systematic theology or guide to being a Christian.  You may have a case to argue for Romans – but I am not convinced.  I think even Romans is written for an occasion and therefore must be read in that light.

What is the significance of a book being occasional?

1) It is incomplete – that is not to say lacking or faulty (I hold to a high view of inspiration before anyone starts accusing me otherwise) – but  what I am trying to say is that no book or passage is ever intended to be the full word on everything that could be said about a particular subject.

2) It is written to deal with a particular issue, in a particular place, among a particular group of people and so the writers theology is always being applied to a particular situation.  We cannot deduce from a document written to deal with a particular problem that that is everything a particular writer’s theology (or indeed the Bible’s theology) has to say on the issue.  Every book on its own presents an incomplete theology, but together we are given a canon that provides us with everything we need for life and godliness.  Again I am not sure it is everything that could be said but all that we need to understand and live the theology that is being applied and expounded in the Scriptures.

3) All Scripture therefore has a very practical outcome.  There is no space for heady, philosophical, highly academic theology that never has a place to land in the ordinary life of ordinary church followers.  It is written not to be dissected in academic environments but to inform, challenge and encourage “ordinary” Christians as they attempt to live out the gospel message in ordinary life.  If our teaching does not meet this aim then we have missed the purpose (telos for you theologians) of the text, even if all we have to say exegetically is true.

4) All Scripture is missional – the Bible is written as people engage with who God is, what he has called them to do, what it means to be in Christ and how do they live out that identity and mission within their world.  If any teaching does not aid, encourage and challenge us to be on mission as his people in our context, then I have to again question whether the teaching is in fact missing the purpose of the passage.

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~ by John on September 19, 2009.

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