The SBJT Forum: Biblical Theology for the Church -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 10:2 (Summer 2006)
Article: The SBJT Forum: Biblical Theology for the Church
Author: Anonymous

The SBJT Forum:
Biblical Theology for the Church

Editor’s Note: Readers should be aware of the forum’s format. D. A. Carson, Stephen G. Dempster, A. B. Caneday, and Robert W. Yarbrough have been asked specific questions to which they have provided written responses. These writers are not responding to one another. The journal’s goal for the Forum is to provide significant thinkers’ views on topics of interest without requiring lengthy articles from these heavily-committed individuals. Their answers are presented in an order that hopefully makes the forum read as much like a unified presentation as possible.

SBJT: How does a thorough knowledge of biblical theology strengthen preaching?

D. A. Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. He is the author of numerous commentaries and monographs, and is one of this country’s foremost New Testament scholars. Among his many books are Matthew (Zondervan, 1982) in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, The Gospel according to John (Eerdmans, 1991) in the Pillar New Testament Commentary, and (with Douglas J. Moo) Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed., Zondervan, 2005).

D. A. Carson: Before attempting to answer that question directly, it is important to gain agreement as to the commonalities and differences between biblical theology and systematic theology. For otherwise, the peculiar contributions of the former will not stand out.

Both biblical theology and systematic theology ask questions about what the Bible means. Typically, however, systematic theology asks questions in a more-or-less atemporal fashion, and generates answers that are cast the same way: What are the attributes of God? What is sin? What is the nature of the covenant of grace? What does election mean? Who are the people of God? And so forth. Of course, if the systematician provides the answers by using the Bible, and not simply out of the categories of well-worn historical theology, or even of philosophical theology, then he or she will inevitably introduce some temporal distinctions. For instance, to answer the question “Who are the people of God?” in biblical terms forces the systematic theologian to wrestle with the both the continuities and the discontinuities between the old and new covenants. Any systematic theology of enduring value will not forget the sweep of the Bible’s storyline: creation, fall, redemption, consummation. Nevertheless, one of the aims of traditional systematic theology is to summarize, in largely atemporal theological synthesis, what the Bible actually says on this or that subject, taking into account how these matters have been handled in the history of the church, and framing...

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