Sunday, December 03, 2006

Witherington's desideratum on NT Theology

I've just finished reading Ben Witherington's book The Problem With Evangelical Theology: Testing the Exegetical Foundations of Calvinism, Dispensationalism, And Wesleyanism . This book will probably result in cheesing off everyone some way or another. But! There is one very good section at the end of the book. Witherington gives 12 theses on biblical study:

(1) You need to be able to read the text in the original languages.

(2) You need to study the text in its original contexts (literary, historical, archaeological, and theological).

(3) If you are an Evangelical, then it is imperative that you interact with non-Evangelical treatments of the text and listen to the church fathers.

(4) As J. Bengel said: apply the whole of yourself to the text.

(5) The text should not be watered down or dumbed down, but one should ratchet up one's attention and degree of devotion to the text.

(6) NT Theology should be done in the context of a community of faith. One should listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and be guided by God in prayer.

(7) Western theologians who live in an individualist society should try to understand the collective and honour-shame mindset of the majority world.

(8) The theologizing of the NT was written to an oppressed minority. We should also write and listen for the voices of the oppressed, hungry, poor and disenfranchised.

(9)Biblical theology is the basis of both NT Theology and Systematic Theology.

(10) Theologizing needs to be done across denominational lines.

(11) Doing NT Theology requires humility not hubris.

(12) The time is ripe for us to redraw boundaries and rethink our differences. "Perhaps all Evangelicals need to spend more time sitting at hte same table, sharing communion, serving one another, serving together in missions, listening to one another, loving one another, and leaving behind triumphalism based on our ecclesiological and theological differences".

On pages 246-47.


Jim said...

I couldn't disagree with any of this- and I tried.

Great stuff.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I've appreciated much of Witherington before and certainly agree with the points in your summary. It will go on my "to read" list. My problem is that he limits Evangelicals to Calvinists (perhaps shorthand for the whole Reformed tradition), Dispensationalists (a heresy), and Wesleyans. Where's the Radical Reformation heritage of the Anabaptists? Where's the Pentecostal tradition? Where's the distinctive Black Church evangelicalism?