Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance Part 3: Application Theory in Relation to the New Testament -- By: Ramesh P. Richard

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 143:571 (Jul 1986)
Article: Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance Part 3: Application Theory in Relation to the New Testament
Author: Ramesh P. Richard


Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance
Part 3:
Application Theory in Relation to the New Testament

Ramesh P. Richard

[Ramesh P. Richard, Pulpit Pastor, Delhi Bible Fellowship, New Delhi, India]

The Bible was not written only to impart information. The authors of the Scriptures also expected a behavioral response from their readers. It is not enough to give intellectual assent to the Bible. Divine truth is to make a difference in people’s lives. The Scriptures have doctrinal influence, a reproving effect, a correcting concern, and an instructive motivation (2 Tim 3:16)—all of which help prepare God’s people for good works (v. 17). But how is Scripture the resource for “application”? This is the focus of the articles in this series.

Problems in Biblical Application

Several problems face the interpreter who seeks to apply the Scriptures. On top of the list is the historical distance between the time of the original biblical writings and now. Those who are enamored with such remoteness say Scripture has little or no authority or they say the Bible is not relevant. But even those who hold to its normative authority resulting in scriptural directives, “must still face the challenge of following it today in some markedly different circumstances.”1

Cultural distance is also a problem. The cultural milieu of the Scriptures is different from that of the interpreter, and that of the interpreter from the many cultures in the world. Therefore some argue that God is speaking through contemporary sociological and political trends more than He is through the Bible. In addition

some argue from the already deviant practices in the church today. They wrongly infer that since the Bible is flouted in some areas, “this deviation must be seen as a precedent which justifies further deviation.”2 Historical and cultural theological discontinuity, however, are legitimate problems and must be addressed.

One factor often overlooked in the discussions on historical and cultural distance is that of theological discontinuity between the Old Testament and Christians today. There is no doubt that the way of application is via the New Testament, but this is easier done in doctrinal issues than in other matters. This is important in view of the numerous behavioral injunctions in the Old Testament. Consequently this article and the fourth one in the series concern themselves with the application of the New and Old Testaments....

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