The Centrality Of God In New Testament Theology -- By: Thomas R. Schreiner

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 16:1 (Spring 2012)
Article: The Centrality Of God In New Testament Theology
Author: Thomas R. Schreiner

The Centrality Of God In New Testament Theology

Thomas R. Schreiner

Thomas R. Schreiner is James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Associate Dean for Scripture and Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition, he also serves as Preaching Pastor of Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. A widely respected New Testament scholar, Dr. Schreiner is the author of countless articles and many books, including New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Baker, 2008) and Galatians in the Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament series (Zondervan, 2010).

We tend to look past what constantly stands in front of us. If we see them every day, we often take for granted verdant trees, stunning sunsets, and powerful waves thundering on the beach. Similarly, in reading the NT we are prone to screen out what the NT says about God himself. God is, so to speak, shoved to the side, and we investigate other themes, such as justification, reconciliation, redemptive history, and new creation. I suggest that the centrality of God in Christ is the foundational theme for the narrative unfolded in the NT. We must beware, of course, of abstracting God himself from the story communicated in the NT. Focusing on God does not mean that we engage in systematic theology. Biblical theology does not pursue the philosophical implications of the doctrine of God, for such an enterprise is distinctive of systematic theology. We may think that nothing further needs to be said about “God” in a theology of the NT because it is obvious and assumed that our theology is about God. But if we ignore what is obvious and assumed, we may overlook one of the most important themes in NT theology. We may gaze past what looms massively in front of us simply because we are accustomed to the scenery.

It should also be said at the outset that the grounding theme of NT theology is magnifying God in Christ. Separating the revelation of God in the NT from Christology, as if God is central and Christ is secondary, is impossible. God is magnified and praised in revealing himself through Christ as God fulfills his saving promises. The coming of Christ does not diminish the centrality of God but rather enhances it.

It might be objected that to speak of the Father, Son, and Spirit is to fall prey to systematic theology and to later Trinitarian theology. However, the argument made here is that an inductive study of the NT itself demonstrates that the Father, Son, and Spirit are foundational and central to NT theology. Moreover, our study of the Father,

Son, and Spirit must be integrated with the fulfillment of God’s saving ...

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