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We must do theology biblically; because we could do theology Islamically and even do Christian theology a-biblically. (No one, at least no Christian, would claim to do Christian theology un-biblically … or would they?) We want to do Christian theology in a way that is faithful to the model we see held up as normative in the foundational source of theology: namely, Scripture. Of course, there is Biblical Theology (in capitals), just as there are other divisions of Christian Theology (e.g., Systematic Theology, Historical Theology, etc.). But here we are looking at biblical theology (lower-case) to distinguish it from the formal discipline of Biblical Theology. So how do we do theology biblically? Before we get to this question, let us consider a list of the formal divisions of Christian Theology:

  1. Traditional divisions of Christian Theology:
    1. Historical Theology – development of doctrine over time
    2. Philosophical Theology – coherence of the faith; “in-house”
    3. Polemical Theology – apologetics; outwardly focused
    4. Biblical Theology (Old Testament & New Testament theology) – focused on the histories of the texts and the historical developments of the teachings of the texts [Ex: genocide passages in Joshua]
    5. Systematic Theology – typically incorporates most of all the above but also offers something distinct: namely, a response to the question, What does the whole Bible teach us today about a particular doctrine?

In brief, doing theology biblically means drawing on Scripture as the most foundational source for understanding God’s, and therefore the normative Christian, view on a particular major doctrine or life issue.

Sources of Christian Theology:
Traditionally, there are three or four sources of Christian theology (depending on what one counts): Scripture – the 66 books comprising the Old & New Testaments which is the Word of God; tradition – what the early Church fathers and others down through Church history say on a matter; reason – conclusions we draw based on what we see in the natural world, i.e., general revelation; and experience – the encounters we have of the world and of God himself both individually and collectively.


[Illustration] Wine Glass:

Scripture – bottom of the glass which undergirds the whole enterprise of Christian Theology

Tradition – the glass itself which gives structure to all the teachings and applications of those teachings

Reason – the opening of the glass which allows us both to reflect on the world around us (look up out of the glass) and the world within us

Experience – the water poured in (like the Holy Spirit) which flows wherever it will; notice, however, that the water is bound by the structure (tradition) and foundation (Scripture)


  1. How is this description different from the everyday individual who thinks theologically? Answer: It’s a matter of degree. (See p. 17.2ff.)
    1. Organization;  b. detail;  c. accuracy;  d. scripturally systematic
  2. Theological themes/categories: Creation, Fall, Redemption, Glorification
  3. What is a doctrine? Answer: A substantive biblical teaching derived from Scripture, tradition, reason, and experience). (See p. 17.3.2)
    1. One ought to allow the experience – or even reported experiences – of healing inform or at least in some way impact one’s doctrinal stances.
    2. Examples: Trinity, Incarnation, deity of Christ, prayer, predestination/free-will, salvation
    3. On adjudicating between major and minor doctrines: “A major doctrine is one that has a significant impact on our thinking about other doctrines, or that has a significant impact on how we live. A minor doctrine is one that has very little impact on our thinking about other doctrines, or that has very little impact on how we live” (Grudem, 21).
  1. How to do theology biblically:
    1. Prayerfully: “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Ps. 119.18)
    2. Humbly: “[The] wisdom from above is … pure, … peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere” (Ja. 2.17).
    3. Rationally (i.e., using reason): St. Peter (Acts 2.14-41) and St. Paul (Acts 17.22-32).
    4. Communally: Theology is always done not only for the Church but by the Church.
    5. Systematically: Scripture, summaries of Scripture, synthesis (with other theological studies)
    6. Worshipfully: All theology should lead to doxology (cf. RSP at the Bodleian)
    7. ‘Mystically’: Rom. 11.33-36

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