Friday, July 25, 2014

The Chastened Possibility of Theology

Systematic theology is indeed selective and limited in its scope. It does not say everything that can possibly be said about what has been revealed in the biblical revelation and received in Christian tradition. The loci are chosen in order to give the biggest payoff by covering the most material with a limited number of categories.

Theology is an attempt to say what we can, the most we can, and in the best way we can.
Mike Bird, Evangelical Theology, 61.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Focus of Evangelical Theology

What the word 'evangelical' will objectively designate is that theology which treats the God of the Gospel.

This is the God who reveals himself in the Gospel, who himself speaks to men and acts among and upon them. Wherever he becomes the object of human science, both its source and its norm, there is evangelical theology.
—Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology, 5-6.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Connecting All Doctrines to Soteriology

I believe one of the most fundamental theological axioms is that all doctrine should be intimately and clearly connected to soteriology.

It is a great mistake to isolate various Christian doctrines one from another, and this mistake is particularly dangerous when one is dealing with the trinitarian and Christological controversies. Too often these patristic debates are presented as if they were primarily attempts to arrive at the best philosophical vocabulary for speaking of God and Christ. But fundamentally, these debates were not about philosophy; they were about salvation.

I contend that at the deepest level, the church's thought process in the fourth and fifth centuries was an attempt to answer the question, "What does God have to be like in order to give us the kind of salvation that we Christians know (from Scripture and the Holy Spirit's witness) we have?"
—Donald Fairbairn, "The One Person Who is Jesus Christ: The Patristic Perspective," in Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective, 92.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

The Gospel in a Nutshell

The gospel is a story about Christ, God's and David's Son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell.

And I assure you, if a person fails to grasp this understanding of the gospel, he will never be able to be illuminated in the Scripture nor will he receive the right foundation.
—Martin Luther, "A Brief Instruction on What to Look for and Expect in the Gospels," in Luther's Works, 35:118-19.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Identity of the Jesus Preached

The authenticity of any reproduction of the gospel depends on the identity of the Jesus preached in that gospel.
—Mike Bird, Evangelical Theology, 49.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Intrepid Lord

We have experienced the most frightful things, but man is not broken by the lords who are not the Lord.

Intrepidly he passes through the ruins and asserts himself against the earthly powers.
—Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, 84.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"The Gospel" as the Unifying Theme of Theology and the Rule of Faith for the Churches

Mike Bird ends his articulation and apology for the structure of his systematic theology (Evangelical Theology) by summarizing the reason why "evangelical theology" should be ordered by the gospel itself:

In the end, evangelical theology is . . . a theology of the gospel. The gospel comprises the beginning point, boundary, and unifying theme for all theology.

It is also the interpretive grid through which our reading of Scripture takes place. The first 'word' in theology should be the 'word of the gospel' (Acts 15:7 RSV).

Doctrine is that which springs from the word of the gospel and provides the basis for the core teachings of the faith shared by all major Christian groups. Obviously an evangelical theology is one that lunges, leaps, works, worships, prays, and preaches from the gospel itself.

Where a theology cannot trace its trajectory back to the gospel, there it is not evangelical. The gospel is the rule of faith for the evangelical churches as it provides the lens through which we understand the mission of the Triune God and his work for us in salvation.
—Mike Bird, Evangelical Theology, 45.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Touchstone of all Theology

Christology . . . is the touchstone of all knowledge of God in the Christian sense, the touchstone of all theology.

"Tell me how it stands with your Christology, and I shall tell you who you are."

At this point everything becomes clear or unclear, bright or dark. For here we are standing at the centre.
Karl Barth, Dogmatics in Outline, 66.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Responsible Theologians Teach the Gospel

Responsible theologians ought to order their teaching by the gospel, and also to ensure that whatever else their theologies may contain, the reader can see what the essence of the gospel is.

The failure to make the subject of the gospel explicit in some theologies means that the reader may not know in the end what the heart of the Christian message is.

It is by an exposition of the gospel that the theologian earns the right to proceed, since the gospel is the most significant revelation of all.
—Peter Jensen, The Revelation of God, 33.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

An Unimaginably More Potent Witness

The best evangelical theological work emerges from the delight in the Christian gospel, for the gospel announces a reality which is in itself luminous, persuasive, and infinitely satisfying. That reality is Jesus Christ as he gives himself to be an object for creaturely knowledge, love, and praise.

To think evangelically about this one is to think in his presence, under the instruction of his Word and Spirit, and in the fellowship of the saints.

And it is to do so with cheerful confidence that his own witness to himself is unimaginably more potent than any theological attempts to run to his defense.
—John Webster, "Jesus Christ," in The Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology, 60.

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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Obtaining the Minutest Portion of Sound Doctrine

If true religion is to beam upon us, our principle must be, that it is necessary to begin with heavenly teaching, and that it is impossible for any man to obtain even the minutest portion of right and sound doctrine without being a disciple of Scripture.
—John Calvin, Institutes, 1.4.2.

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Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Theology as a Household Conversation

Theology is the conversation that takes place between family members in the household of faith about what it means to behold and believe in God.

Theology is the attempt to verbalize and to perform our relationship with God.

To do theology is to describe the God who acts, to be acted upon, and to become an actor in the divine drama of God's plan to repossess the world for himself.
—Mike Bird, Evangelical Theology, 30.

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Other Blogging Haunts:

I sporadically blog at Canon Studies about (you guessed it), "Canon Studies."

I also occasionally post annotations that I make as I read Cormac McCarthy at "Reading Cormac McCarthy."

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