Biblical Theology as a Bridge Discipline

February 20, 2013 at 10:56 pm 4 comments

Biblical Theology Diagram

What is biblical theology? In once sense, all good disciplined theological reflection on the Bible could be called “biblical theology”. However, there is also the discipline of biblical theology. I think Elmer Martens described the discipline of biblical theology well;

Biblical theology attempts to embrace the message of the Bible and to arrive at an intelligible coherence of the whole despite the great diversity of the parts. Or, to put it another way: Biblical theology investigates the themes presented in Scripture and defines their inter-relationships. Biblical theology is an attempt to get to the theological heart of the Bible.

Now, let me explain why I believe that the discipline of  biblical theology is of utmost importance. Most seminary students are required to complete courses in Old Testament, New Testament, and Systematic Theology. Many of these seminarians exit their studies with a good grasp of the two testaments on their own, and a good understanding of systematized theological subjects, but have a hard time putting it all together. To add to that problem, these seminarians graduate into pastoral ministry contexts and begin perpetuating a segmented understanding of the Bible throughout the Church.

I believe that the Bible is one unified story. I also believe that the Bible should be read as one unified story. This may seem like a daunting task. The Bible consists of sixty-six separate units, written over more than a thousand years against a wide variety of cultural backgrounds using different literary genres, by people who for the most part worked independently of each other. However, as J.I. Packer once noted, these “…books written centuries apart seem to have been designed for the express purpose of supplementing each other and illuminating each other.”

The beauty of biblical theology is that it explores the rich and multi-sided presentation of the unified message of the Bible, which centers on Jesus Christ. Personally, I think biblical theology is the key to bridging Old Testament studies, New Testament studies, and Systematic Theology. As D.A. Carson once wrote, ” [Biblical theology is] an excellent bridge discipline, building links among the associated disciplines and in certain respects holding them together.”

Entry filed under: Biblical Theology, Christian Theology, Christianity, Pastoral Ministry, Religion, The Gospel Project, The Great Commission Resurgence, The Southern Baptist Convention, Theology.

We are moving to Nashville, TN! Devotions in Amos

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jason b hood  |  February 21, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Good stuff, Matt.

  • 2. cbthomas76  |  March 16, 2013 at 6:30 am

    Great stuff mate. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to re-blog this on my site, wordfocused. As I once heard it described, “the sweeping narrative of redemptive history” must become the life-blood by which we live and breath the Scriptures.

  • 3. cbthomas76  |  March 16, 2013 at 6:32 am

    Reblogged this on wordfocused and commented:
    I came across Matt’s blog this evening, among his many insightful posts was this gem. Enjoy!

  • 4. Matt j.  |  September 19, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    Good stuff. I am teaching a church course on Biblical Theology. Wondering if I could use your diagram in an explanation of what Biblical theology is.


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