Month: July 2014

why does the Bible say what it does?

SAW-systematic-web

I’m kind of a systems guys.

Personal and pastoral (family) systems. Ministry systems. Above all systematic theology.

That shouldn’t be news for anyone who knows me — even if just from the blog.

But I’ve only just realised what it is that drives my interest in systems (apart from the inclinations stitched into my personality, reinforced by experience and plucked out by situational necessity).

Deep down, what drives it is my borderline obsession with one single question:

Why does the Bible say what it does?

You see, for better or worse (I think it’s for better), I’m really really really interested in what the Bible says.

It’s the bedrock of my life and faith.

It was modelled to me by the people who taught me the Christian faith and how to live it.

It is almost the central and defining part of my Christian heritage as a reformed evangelical.

And it’s what I invested four years of intensive formal theological education to be thoroughly equipped to pursue.

But I’m starting to realise it’s only a means to an end.

When it comes to knowing, loving and living for God, what the Bible says is subordinate to the even more fundamental question of why it says it.

And the why question is the key to thinking in terms of systems.

Because once you start asking it — e.g., ‘Why does Paul say what he says human authorities being God-appointed in Romans 13, and why does that seem to be different from the picture painted in Revelation 13?’ — you’re already doing systematic theology. Better still, you’re doing it as a natural extension of exegesis … which is exactly what it is!

And because asking it also helps you tune into the personal and pastoral implications of a passage — along the lines of Bryan Chapell’s so-called Fallen Condition Focus, which invites you to ponder what particular pastoral situation (and what underlying realities of living in a fallen world) each biblical passage addresses.

And from here the systematic flower blooms in all it’s manifold glory…