Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Desmond Alexander on Biblical Theology and Systematics

Des Alexander has a good post on "Is there a wedge being driven between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology?". Des includes this quotation in a recent evangelical mag:

The wedge that has been consciously driven between systematic theology and biblical theology over recent decades in influential circles is starting to bear very bad fruit. Exclusive emphasis on the Bible as storytelling has combined with a trendy cultural impatience both with the past and with the very idea of systematic theology, and this has provided fertile soil for the reception of the kind of ideas promoted by the scripture revisionists.

Let me "deconstruct" (I feel dirty just for saying that word) the implied perspective of the author of that paragraph. The phrase "scripture revisionists" is a coded reference to those who follow Scripture's story line and refuse to use Scripture as a pretense to proof texting a particular theological system. Let me again reaffirm the value of theological interpretation and systematic theology since both are important in worldview formation and making Scripture answer questions of the present time. But as I have asserted elsewhere (see here and here) systematic theology should be in constant dialogue with Scripture and renewing and reforming itself accordingly, i.e. semper reformanda! And if that means that the System/Tradition/Confession is wrong, needs clarification, or nuancing at points, etc., then jolly well so be it. Systematic Theology is a method and not an authority of itself (and vice-versa for Biblical Theology too)!


Tony Stiff said...

Michael as always I'm so glad that you've said what you say about the relationship of these two. And nice "deconstruction," I think you're right.

Jim Hamilton said...

The third part of Schreiner's review of McKnight begins to address some of these issues: http://www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/A-Review-of-Scot-McKnight-s-The-Blue-Parakeet-Part-III.

Parts 1 and 2 have been posted, and the next two parts are coming the next two days.


David Reimer said...

Has anyone actually identified the article yet? My "deconstruction" of the quote worked quite differently, but without knowing who, what, when, and where -- well, it's just a script inviting each of us to rehearse our own performances, innit! How very "pomo". :)

David Reimer

Jon Watson said...

Thanks for posting this. I'm currently working through Alexander's 'Eden to New Jerusalem' book with my wife, and it's absolutely fascinating...a great example of Biblical Theology! Also having just talked with Michael Lawrence, it seems even more applicable. I always will cheer for the person who holds Biblical and Systematic Theology in balance.

By the way, Desmond Alexander's book "From Promise to Promised Land" is in this collection from Logos and Baker Academic: