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Monday Is for Membership: Biblical Theologian, Part 2

November 24, 2008

In part 1 of the second mark of a healthy church member, we discussed what it means to be a biblical theologian and how in particular biblical theology promotes health among church members as well as the church.  In part 2, I want to follow up with the seven ways, according to Thabiti Anyabwile, you can become a healthy church member by becoming a biblical theologian.  They are:

1.  Reading Good Books on Biblical Theology

There are some excellent books on biblical theology, not the least of which are authored by Graeme Goldsworthy, Scott Hafemann, Vaughn Roberts, Herman Ridderbos, and Geerhardus Vos.

2.  Studying the Scriptures Thematically

There are various themes that run throughout Scripture.  By studying themes, you are taking a syncrhonic approach (same theme across Scripture) versus a diachronic approach (through Scripture chronologically).  Examples of themes include prophet, priest, and king, atonement, servant, covenant, law, etc.

3.  Adopting the New Testament’s Attitude Toward the Old Testament

Anyabwile encourages readers to ask certain questions, including:

  • How is this passage a fulfillment of something promised in the Old Testament?
  • How is this New Testament idea different from or similar to an Old Testament teaching?
  • In what way does this New Testament passage clarify, unveil, or amplify something from the Old Testament?

4.  Studying the Old Testament with Jesus and the New Testament in View

Again, Anyabwile asks some good questions, such as:

  • Were does this passage fit in the time line of redemptive history?
  • How does this passage point to Jesus?
  • Which New Testament passages help me to answer these questions?

5.  Studying the Books of Prophecy in the Old Testament

A biblical theologian recognizes that there are multiple “horizons” to properly understanding and interpreting the biblical text.  There is the immediate context, the epochal context, and the canonical context.  The Bible has a unifying theme in the person and work of Jesus Christ.  Studying the books of Old Testament prophecy should how Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament promises and the true prophet who not only speaks the truth but is truth Incarnate.

6.  Knowing and Agreeing to Support Your Church’s Statement of Faith

A church’s statement of faith or confession is a concise doctrinal summary of the core beliefs in a covenant community of believers expressing a common faith and commitment to the truths revealed in Scripture.  One of the ways you can better know and agree with your church’s doctrinal position is to take different articles and use them in personal study or devotional reflection.

7.  Seeking Doctrinal Unity and Avoid Needless Disputes

“In all things essential, unity; in all things nonessential, liberty; in all things, charity.”

A healthy church member, committed to becoming a biblical theologian, will work to know the difference between beliefs that are essential to biblical Christianity and beliefs that are non essential to the integrity and continuance of the faith.  Healthy church members will commit themselves to defending essential things of the gospel (Phil. 1:27; Jude 3), while avoiding strife and contention over thins that are not essential to the gospel” (35).

The third mark of a healthy church member–being gospel saturated–will be picked up next week.

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