Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Biblical Theology at BiblicalTraining.org

Biblical Theology may be expressed as seeking to understand a particular portion of the Bible in light of all of biblical history. What role does a particular story, psalm, or prophecy have to do with God's intended purpose in revealing himself and his mission in the whole of Scripture? At biblicaltraining.org, Miles Van Pelt, Craig Blomberg, and Tom Schreiner lecture in a series on biblical theology as it relates to the Old Testament, the Gospels, and Paul's writings, respectively.

I have not formally studied biblical theology, and I have read very little on the subject, but I am strongly convinced that our understanding of the Bible has been severly impacted by scholars who reject the integrity of the Scriptures. Many argue that the first five books of the Bible were written by various persons or groups, and that they were assembled much, much later. Others see more than one author for books like Isaiah. Not only does this undermine the integrity of individual books, but it quickly discounts views of the whole of the Old Testament as a cohesive document. If the foundation will crack, the whole will crumble.

Van Pelt demonstrates well the purpose behind the order of the Hebrew Old Testament, as opposed to the arrangement of the books in English. The order we see in our English Bibles seems to be traced back to Jerome as he sought to reach his Greek, western thinking audience who preferred a chronological, linear, logical arrangement, emphasizing chronology, authorship, and genre. The Hebrew Old Testament order, however, seems to exhibit different priorities.

Van Pelt shows how the original order of the Old Testament books fits nicely with the division of the New Testament books. He aligns Genesis with Revalation as bookends to the whole of Scripture. Next, he sees Exodus-Deuteronomy as the birth, life, teachings, and death of the covenant mediator, Moses. This fits nicely with the Gospels, the books that document the birth, life, teachings, and death of the covenant mediator, Jesus. Clearly, there are differences, but the similarities are striking. Next, Van Pelt sees a relationship between "the Prophets" -- Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and the twelve other prophets -- and the book of Acts. Both of these sections describe the history and preaching of the covenants. Last, Van Pelt shows the relationship between "the writings" -- Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Chronicles -- and the epistles of the New Testament. These writings record how we should live within the covenant.

I find this analysis fascinating. It helps me understand that there are some times that I will never be able to ask, "What would Jesus do?" He was unique, the greater Moses, and he mediated the New Covenant to us. Similarly, we cannot always ask, "What would David do?" He, too, was part of the Covenant history, and life for us will probably be different. God's design for David was to point us to a better King, Jesus. Daniel and Ruth, on the other hand, were good examples for us concerning how we should live as aliens and strangers in this world. This place is not our home, and we should seek to live life in a way that communicates this fact (1 Peter 1:1-2).

I am sure God has more to reveal to us concerning this! I want to know more!

~ Todd

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Fools for Christ?

photo by Jo Jakeman

I'm reading the books of Proverbs, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus in order to determine some personal development goals for an Applied Ministry course I am taking this summer. Being a seminary student, I am surrounded on a regular basis by people who would regard themselves as fools for Christ. Many have forsaken all to pursue theological training in order to prepare for service to their Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. Proverbs 18:2, however, smacks many seminary students (myself included) square in the mouth:
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
but only in expressing his opinion.
Ow! Man that hurts. Have I been a fool when expressing my opinions? Do my opinions weigh more than those of other students, much less professors? How can we students feel so bold as to argue over minutiae with men who pour out their hours every day on interpretation and research? Especially those students who attend The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary? We hold most, if not all, of the faculty at this school with the utmost respect, yet it seems like every semester professors must deal with at least one disrespectful, foolish, opinion-expressing student.

I don't believe there is anything wrong with pursuing wisdom and understanding, but I believe this proverb helps us see the line that divides the wise from the fools. Let us be seekers after the truth, and let us be ready to abandon any opinion that is not clearly supported by Scripture! Let us be fools for Christ, not foolish "Christians."

~ Todd

Friday, May 01, 2009

Akin Calls SBC to Repent of Selfishness, Reform, Worship Jesus

I just listened to Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, issue a call to repentance to the Southern Baptist Convention and the churches that it was designed to serve. He argues that, despite winning the battle for the inerrancy and sufficiency of Scripture, the SBC has begun to splinter instead of unite. He has issued a call to unite around the great body of doctrine that Southern Baptists do agree on, and to graciously honor those who disagree on matters of secondary importance. Listen to his sermon here.

~ Todd