An Authentically Evangelical Biblical Theology

Graeme Goldsworthy opens his contribution to the Festschrift for Peter T. O’Brien with a great couple of paragraphs about the assumptions of an authentically evangelical biblical theology:

Exegesis is the stuff of which biblical theology is made, but it is not of itself a self-evident procedure neutral as to its theological presuppositions.  Exegesis is a theological discipline which, with biblical theology, is an integral part of the total process that we have come to refer to as the hermeneutical spiral.  An authentically evangelical biblical theology involves a number of key assumptions about the nature of the biblical text.  It could be argued that no responsible exegete of the New Testament could be other than a biblical theologian, given the dependence of the New Testament upon the interpretation of the Old Testament texts in the light of Christ.  However, an evangelical biblical theology applies certain presuppositions that do not necessarily have universal acceptance in the world of modern scholarship.

An evangelical biblical theology clearly involves certain essential assumptions about the nature and authority of Scripture.  First, there is the authority and integrity of the biblical revelation which is understood as the Word of God written.  The divine inspiration of Scripture implies both its authority and its essential unity.  Part of a coherent theology of revelation is the recognition of the meaning of a text in relation to its author’s intention as a valid exegetical pursuit.  Secondly, Christology dominates an evangelical biblical theology since the person and work of Jesus Christ are asserted to be the goal of all that has gone before, and the basis of all that is yet to come to pass.  Thirdly, the framework of revelation within the one Word of the one God is that which we speak of as salvation history or redemptive history.

“Biblical theology and the shape of Paul’s mission,” in The Gospel to the Nations: Perspectives on Paul’s Mission, pgs. 7-8. (Bold emphasis added)

I am also reading through G.K. Beale’s excellent Handbook on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation and have found some overlapping ideas, especially with regard to the differences between critical scholarship and believing, biblical theology.

R. Andrew Compton
Christ Reformed Church (URCNA)
Anaheim, CA


One comment on “An Authentically Evangelical Biblical Theology

  1. Dante says:

    True. Faith by which we know and belong to Christ makes all the difference (1 Cor 2). The word was revealed to the church (Jd 3) so it is for us, not the world. Scripture can be difficult to understand at times (2 Pet 3:15-16), but God spoke for us to understand and keep his word and these justified assumptions lead the way to insights that are way beyond the critical academy.


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