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Monday, December 31, 2012

Why Teach Biblical Theology In the Church and Home - Graeme Goldsworthy

Graeme Goldsworthy ended his lectures at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with the intention to create a culture in the listeners to motivate believers to become students of the Scripture at church and at home. He concludes that all believers should use biblical theology for their advantage in the Christian life and ministry. Believers should apply theological principles to their family and lifestyle in order to properly display the gospel-centered worldview of the Bible. As Justin Taylor once said, "As goes the academy, so goes the church," it is up to good biblical scholarship to educate and train leaders in the areas of biblical theology so they can equip the body of Christ with a greater understanding of the mission of God revealed in the Scriptures. I cannot agree more!

Here is a section of his last lecture on biblical theology in the church and home:
"In this series of lectures I have tried to do several things. First of all, I wanted to give attention to the nature of biblical theology and the necessityfor it to be part of every Christian’s equipment for life and ministry in the world. In my second lecture I turned attention to the academy, particularly to those seminaries and colleges concerned with ministerial training. For whatever reason, and however it is justified, the lack of introductory courses in biblical theology in, so it would seem, the majority of such institutions is to be regretted. It may betray in some cases tardiness in facing the realities of our modern and postmodern societies and in changing our understanding of necessary curriculum in order to address those realities. In other cases it may show that the theoretical aspects of the essence and method of biblical theology is still so diffuse that it gets left in the ‘too hard’ basket.  
In this third lecture I have tried to address the matter of ministry in the front line: preaching and pastoral care, Christian education, and one of the most important of all, the ministry of Christian parents to their children. These three aspects, the theoretical foundations, the formal instruction in the Christian academy, and the ministry in the church and in the Christian home, are all inter-related. If ministry in the local church is mediocre, it will breed mediocrity in those that seek to enter ministry. It will encourage mediocrity in the home ministry. The evangelical academy is more likely to have entry requirements that go beyond the academic ability of the applicant. Indications of ministry gifts and of spiritual maturity will also be taken into account. One advantage of a denominational structure is that it is likely to have resources to facilitate the business of encouraging interest in full-time ministry and in laying down criteria for acceptance into the seminary. However, non-denominational organizations can also make effective contributions to the promotion of ministry training.Thus because what one ‘feels’ about the Bible and God is now culturally supported it can easily be wedded with one’s subjective experience as the primary source  of certitude for liberals and the growing source of certitude for evangelicals. 
I believe it is true to say that that what starts in the academy may take a generation or more to filter to the level of the layperson in the local church. The tragedy of this is when Bible-believing Christians find themselves at the mercy of a rampant liberal in their pulpit. However, the seminary and Bible college can also influence things for reform and for an increase in biblical ministry. The task is not easy, especially if the youth of our churches are imbibing a culture and world-view that is alien to Christianity. Wells is right to see the problem as a clash of world views. But if he and Hafemann are right in their analysis, the task is great. It is not only introductory courses in the seminary that we need. The need is also great for the biblical theologians to work with the historians and dogmaticians to hammer out the viable methods and procedures so that biblical theology will have some recognizable theoretical basis that stems from divine revelation in Scripture.  
I conclude on this note: The gospel is about objective historical events, not about subjective experience and ideals. Subjective experience, to be valid, must be the fruit of the gospel. The gospel is about the transcendent God of creation doing something to rectify the corrupted history of mankind, not about a self-centered technique of personal self-improvement. The good news is that the Man from heaven has re-written our personal histories so that what counts before God is that when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, God made us alive with Christ, raised us up with him, and made us to sit with him in heavenly places. The cancer of subjectivism that threatens the very existence of true biblical religion is not new; it is as old as Adam’s rebellion. But, the remedy must at the very least involve a determined return to the historic and objective gospel as the only basis for a true spiritual subjectivity. I see biblical theology as a vital part of that return to a gospel-centered world view."

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