Editorial: Learning From The Epistle To The Romans -- By: Stephen J. Wellum

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 11:3 (Fall 2007)
Article: Editorial: Learning From The Epistle To The Romans
Author: Stephen J. Wellum

Editorial: Learning From The Epistle To The Romans

Stephen J. Wellum

Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Wellum received his Ph.D. degree in theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has also taught theology at the Associated Canadian Theological Schools and Northwest Baptist Theological College and Seminary in Canada. He has contributed to several publications and a collection of essays on theology and worldview issues.

It is certainly true that all and every portion of Scripture is vitally important. Given what Scripture is, namely, God’s own breathed-out Word through the agency of human authors (see, e.g., 2 Tim 3:16–17; 2 Pet 1:20–21), we are not at liberty to create a canon within a canon. All Scripture, including for instance the census accounts of Numbers, the genealogical lists of the OT and NT, and other seemingly mundane parts of Scripture are God-given. Thus, they are crucial for our understanding of God’s saving plan in Christ, instruction, and edification. In fact, as God’s Word, Scripture alone serves as our foundation and final authority in every area of our thinking, behavior, and outlook. Scripture alone, precisely because it is Scripture, must captivate our thinking and imaginations and lead us to the Lord himself. All of Scripture must be read, studied, preached, prayed over, and applied to our lives. Scripture is, as John Calvin so beautifully portrayed it, our spectacles by which we look at, view, and understand our world and rightly think of our great God and Savior. For Christian theology, discerning the whole counsel of God requires listening attentively to the canon of Scripture as a whole.

However, with that said, this is not to deny that certain portions of the canon, or specific books of Scripture have exerted more of an influence upon the thinking, practice, and theology of the church throughout the ages. In this regard, some people have compared the diverse books of the canon to instruments in a symphony orchestra: some instruments may be more prominent than others, but each one contributes to the harmony of the whole. In a similar fashion, every book of the canon is important for us, but certain books play an even greater role in our understanding of the gospel and our formulation of Christian doctrine.

In the history of the church, probably few would disagree that one of the most influential and significant books of Scripture has been Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. One cannot help but think of the incredible influence Romans had on the thinking of Martin Luther, which helped spark the Protestant Reform...

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