Should Theology be Taken Seriously? Part 2
In the first post I posted “DMD’s” response to my blog entry on Why Theology is Important, and my reply. Here, I continue with his follow-up and mine as well.
Thanks for your reply, Joseph. Well, you can call it “sound theological and hermeneutical principles”, I rather tend to think it has a far simpler name: convenience.
I started reading the article you mention[ed] and stopped reading for the same reason I stopped reading yours. Convenience. It is convenient to start with “the Bible commands that…”, just as it is to say “they have not handled the biblical texts with proper care, and they often draw conclusions that most Christians (save the theonomistic sorts) would repudiate.”
Because on all accounts, beyond “epochal changes in redemptive history”, it just means forgetting about the embarrassing parts — which I completely understand, though…
Is theology important? I would say yes. It is as important as Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and [should?] remain on the same shelf. [The] one that reads: fairy tales.
And here are my thoughts:
Thanks again for commenting, but I must admit that I find your comments both disappointing and perplexing. Please allow me a minute to explain why I say this.
First, I’m disappointed because while you asked me a question, you don’t seem open to the idea that Christians can have a genuine, thought-out response that is sound and consistent given the principles of a Christian worldview. I provided you the article by Copan and you admitted to having dismissed his response without finishing the piece. Did you actually want a reponse or not?
Second, I’m perplexed by your response because of its over-the-top irony. The chief objection you’ve shared is that you believe that Christians are arbitrary in their handling of the Bible. Now, of course, this is true of many individuals. There are Christians who, consciously or not, pick and choose what they recognize as authorative in the Bible. But, Christian orthodoxy has always rejected such an approach. People from all walks and philosophies of life are inconsistent with their deepest guiding principles, atheists, Christians, and agnostics alike. The real question is regarding the nature of consistent Christianity.
So now, consistently speaking, Christians have always acknowledged a radical change in history since the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, one that transforms how we read all that came before Him. This isn’t an arbitrary interpretative principle of Christians, but rather the very heart of the Christian faith. It’s not a grid imposed onto Scripture, but rather is embedded in the Bible itself. Paul, reflecting on the Old Testament says, “For Christ is the end [Grk: Telos- goal, or purpose] of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4), and that the gospel of Jesus was “promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scripture” (Rom. 1:2). Paul also taught that all of the promises made to Abraham (all the way back in Genesis 12) are fulfilled in Jesus. Likewise, Luke, in the Gospel by his name, records Jesus as saying to his disciples, “‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled'” (Lk. 24:44). This threefold ordering was the ancient summary of the entire Old Testament (today known as the Law, Prophets, and the Writings).
Now, this isn’t an argument for believing the content of these passages or that their claims are true. But it is an argument for acknowledging that the Bible teaches “epochal changes.” God’s dealings with humankind have transformed through the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth, and this is right at the center of what’s new about the New Covenant (see especially Galatians 3, and the book of Hebrews). These passages have been sitting right there in the Bible for 2,000 years, and not something added later for the purpose of solving hermeneutical difficulties.
Next, we’ll wrap up by looking at the nature of warfare in the New Covenant.