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Monday Is for Membership: Biblical Theologian, Part 1

November 17, 2008

The second mark of a healthy church member is that he or she is a biblical theologian.  Now this term can sound simplistic (I mean, what other kind of theologian should you be but a “biblical” theologian?), but Anyabwile does a good job by defining what he means by using that term.  By way of introduction, he writes,

“Members of Christian churches continue to think small thoughts of God and great thoughts of man.  This state of affairs reveals that too many Christians have neglected their first great calling: to know their God. Every Christian is meant to be a theologian in the best and most intimate sense of the word” (27).

I think Anyabwile strikes at the heart of our problems today.  We stress the imperative as an attempt at self-help and neglected the indicative in knowing who God is.  We often live and act as functional atheists, sometimes not knowingly, though such ignorance of God reveals a church’s weakness.  We have more Bibles in print and in our homes, and yet there are more biblically illiterate believers today than ever before who are incompetent to rightly divide the word of truth or address matters of life from a fundamentally God-centered orientation.  A church member who is committed to being a biblical theologian will not only contribute to the health of the church but will also live counter-culturally in our day of sound-byte spirituality and theological superficiality.

Anyabwile says that biblical theology for the church member is to things: (1) to know God Himself, and (2) to know God’s macro story of redemption (28).  The Bible is fundamentally about God.  In it we discover who He is and what He has done–chiefly in the plan of redemption spelled out from Genesis to Revelation.  Anywabile argues that healthy church members

“appraoch the Bible knowing that they are reading one awesome story of God redeeming for himself a people for His own glory.  And in that story, they see that God is a creating God, a holy God, a faithful God, a loving God, and a sovereign God as he makes and keeps his promises to his people, beginning with Adam and Eve and progressing to the final consummation fo all things” (28).

There are five ways, according to Anyabwile, that biblical theology works to promote health in a church member.

1.  Practicing biblical theology helps us grow in our reverence for God (29).

2.  Practicing biblical theology helps to overcome our wrong ideas (29).

3.  Practicing biblical theology helps inoculate the church against doctrinal controversies (30).

4.  Practicing biblical theology is necessary to fulfilling the Great Commission (30).

5.  Practicing biblical theology deepens our understanding of and facility with the gospel (31).

In part 2, we will pick up with the seven ways of becoming a healthy church member through biblical theology.  In the meantime, reflect on how biblical theology, especially in reference to knowing God and His overarching story of redemption affects chuch planting.  In the postmodern day that rejects the impending metanarrative, how should does a passionate commitment to the supremacy of God and His redemptive mission in Scripture both shape a church plant as well as confront the worldviews of unbelievers?

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