Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: An Introduction And Preliminary Evaluation -- By: Gregg R. Allison

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 14:2 (Summer 2010)
Article: Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: An Introduction And Preliminary Evaluation
Author: Gregg R. Allison


Theological Interpretation Of Scripture: An Introduction And Preliminary Evaluation

Gregg R. Allison

While recently engaged in some careful consideration of my own sanctification, or ongoing maturity in the Christian faith, I turned to the apostle John’s affirmation: “We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (1 John 5:18).1 I experienced a deep sense of joy as I contemplated the protection promised in this verse, while at the same time I puzzled over the evident discrepancy between the clause “does not keep on sinning” and my own propensity to “keep on sinning.” Beyond this unresolved tension in my own personal life, I was drawn to the interesting parallel between Christians, described as the group “who has been born of God,” and Christ, described as the one “who was born of God.”2 Reading this parallel as the systematic theologian that I am, I gave attention to the theological truth embedded here that the Son of God is eternally begotten, or generated, of the Father—that is, the Second Person of the Trinity eternally depends on the First Person for his Sonship.3 Ever since the Creed of Nicea (325 A.D.), the church has formally confessed its belief “in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father, only-begotten….”4 And my theological interpretation of this passage focused my attention on this great biblical truth and creedal confession. This illustration serves as an example of “theological interpretation of Scripture” (henceforth, TIS), the topic of this issue of SBJT.

Over the course of the last several decades, a new approach to the interpretation of Scripture has come into vogue.5 Called “theological interpretation” or “theological exegesis” of Scripture, this movement may be characterized as a matrix of interpretative approaches, all of which bear some familial resemblances while exhibiting important

differences as well. In this article I will first present a definition of TIS; second, I will discuss several common characteristics of TIS; and third, I will advance some benefits that TIS offers while urging caution with regard to several pitfalls it may entail.

Definition Of TIS

Kevin Vanhoozer, a major contributor to the development of TIS, distances TIS from possible...

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