les Davey de France

Alan and Pat live and work in Bordeaux. Alan is a pastor and Pat was a nurse. Now we work with UFM worldwide. Read on! (If you'd like to know what took us to Bordeaux, then start with the archives from September 2004)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Systematic Theology and Exegesis

Should your reading of a passage of Scripture be informed by your systematic theology ?

David Murray talks about that here.

2 comments:

Maxime Soumagnas said...

I read a similar article written by Kevin Deyoung. I'm not sure what I think about Systematic Theology anymore. I find that the Bible is so much richer than a Systematic theology. To me, it seems that often our systematic theology should be reformed by the passages we read rather than the opposite. Often we see people imposing a systematic framework on the Bible which can be very unhelpful. Let me know your opinion on this, it's an interesting topic!

Alan Davey : said...

Hi Maxime !

Yes, I understand what you say, and I have heard similar sentiments expressed by other friends, too, especially by people who have "discovered" Biblical Theology after years of following Christ.

I reflected on my answer as I was brushing my teeth last night, so you can see it's particularly well thought-out.

You know how there are people who preach on the Bible and they seem to consider a book, say Romans, as a loose collection of passages to preach on with no overarching theme to the whole book ? They're good at analysis of the verse or paragraph, but they don't do the work of synthesis of what the whole book is for. I know this is something that you work at at Cornhill.

Well it seems to me that systematic theology is the next level up. It is seeing how each book of the Bible contributes to the overall teaching of the Bible on God, man, sin, salvation, etc... It's the next level up of synthesis.

Now when we read James 2 we read it in the context of James' whole letter, but we also read it in the context of the New Testament letters (including Romans) and also the whole Bible (including Genesis), and that's where systematic theology helps us - it systematises the teaching of the whole of the Bible.

Because the Bible is a very rich book and our understanding is very poor, we do need to reform our systematic theology as we understand better, just as we need to reform our biblical theology. (For example I read a little quote about Romans yesterday, saying how the letter aimed to get the various house-churches co-operating, and I want to set aside some time to think about that...)

That doesn't mean that what went before is worthless. Just like all human knowledge, it's all work in progress ! There's always more to find out !