Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reading the Bible, VI: Systemization

2 Lent
One of the characteristics of the Bible is precisely the absence of a sense of systematization and the presence, on the contrary, of things held in dynamic tension. The Bible is a repository of many ways of interpreting the same events and reflecting upon the same problems. In itself it urges us to avoid excessive simplification and narrowness of spirit.

- The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church, Pontifical Biblical Commission, 1994
This is why an overemphasis on "doctrine" and "systematic theology" freaks me out. If you need a chart to explain your theology, it's probably wrong. When we start going around and systematizing what the Bible is not interested in systematizing, we run a serious risk of replacing the authority of the Scripture with our own systems.

That's what we call an idol, boys and girls.

It seems to me that the Bible is interested in telling the story of God and his people. Telling and retelling it. Sometimes different emphases are put in different places. There were editors. I don't think it hurts anything to affirm that. Am I wrong?

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Rick said...

"If you need a chart... it is probably wrong."

Loved it! Great post! I couldn't agree more!


Ben Finger said...

Dude we totally want another PodCast. Maybe you can provide it as a culmination of this series or something. A brief synopsis from the Most Holy & Reverand Potter.

Brandt said...

I could not agree with you more, however,

I do think it can be very helpful to learn and use systematic theology if our definition of such is: that discipline which strives to give a coherent statement of the doctrines of the Christian faith, based primarily on the Scriptures, placed in the context of culture in general, worded in a contemporary idiom, and related to issues of life.

Personally: My faith began to be strengthened once I began to study different systematic theologies, granted my faith was never placed in these theologies but in Christ.

Kyle said...

Thanks, guys.

Brandt, I do think you make a good point, which is why I said "overemphasis."

It's the phenomenon of people trying to nail down their theologies as if their apprehensions of the truth could be treated as truth itself.

I don't think many authors of systematic theologies do this, but many readers do.


Anonymous said...

Woot woot for theology!