Theological Education -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 038:149 (Jan 1881)
Article: Theological Education
Author: Anonymous

Theological Education

The Claims Of Biblical Theology To A Place In Our Theological Schools


I. By Biblical Theology is sometimes understood theology which is in harmony with the Bible, and sometimes theology which has a strong biblical flavor. Without questioning the propriety of these uses of the phrase, it is to be observed that biblical theology is a well-established technical term, indicating a division of theological science.

1. In its narrowest sense, the term has been applied to collections of proof-texts.

2. In a broader sense, it has been applied to outlines of doctrine and duty, constructed for popular use, and distinguished as biblical in statement and arrangement, rather than scientific.

3. In a still broader sense, it has been applied to a systematic formularization of Bible doctrines, made without special reference to current systems of doctrine, and with the purpose of constituting a standard for the examination of such systems. Of this scope was the earliest elaborate work upon the subject, Zachariae’s “Biblical Theology: or, Inquiry into the Biblical Ground of the Principal Theological Doctrines” (1771–75-86).1 In this sense Professor Tholuck, as late as 1843, understood the term. “The department of biblical dogmatic theology,” he says, “is immediately derived from that of topics [collected proof-texts]. In other words, the system of Christian faith is expressed with simplicity, in sentences which are founded on the proof-texts of the Bible. In addition to the simple statement of Christian principles, this department will allow an exegetical proof that the principles are taught in the Bible, and also a brief scientific confirmation of them.”2 Were the term “biblical dogmatics” (or, as Professor Tholuck expresses it, “biblical dogmatic theology”), this would be the only accurate understanding of it. It is sought, however, to cover by the term a somewhat broader field; and the word “theology,” though not precise, is employed in place of “dogmatics,” as upon the whole the best.

Before proceeding to the definition of this broader field, it will be advantageous to glance briefly at the treatment which the Bible has received in connection with the development of Christian doctrine.

In the first Christian ages, doctrinal and ethical positions were maintained almost exclusively by citations from the Gospels and from the apostolic writings. Controversies (like those of Justin Martyr and Tertullian) with the Jews nec...

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