A couple of days ago I mentioned that I was working on curriculum for training pastors in third world countries. Part of that has been a review of Theological Method and the branch of theology Bibliology. Theological method is the systematic process one applies to determine what the Bible says about a particular topic, such as sin. Bibliology is the result of that process applied to the Word of God as revelation.
Examining a Foundation
Theological method applied correctly starts with a thorough study of the Scripture to determine what the Bible says about a topic. The result of that study is considered the prime data in any theological inquiry. The second step is to investigate how those through history have viewed this data both to see conclusions they have drawn and to evaluate those positions based on the current understanding of the prime data.
Necessarily, there is logic applied when one is formulating a position based on one’s understanding of the data. One job of the theologian is to evaluate both the handling of the data as well as the logic applied in formulating a theological position.
The data, the Bible, remains the same. In some cases a person’s exegesis may be flawed or incomplete. In other cases the logic may be faulty. It is incumbent on the seeking to formulate a theological argument to examine both the historical exegesis and logic as well as his.
Cracks in the Foundation
One of the more frequent flaws in a theological argument emerges from the theologian wishing to prove a doctrinal position that he or his sphere of influence holds dear. I have heard this first hand in the application of a number of logical fallacies in the presentation of a position during the remarks of a seminary president attempting to justify an unbiblical position his denomination has taken.
I have also heard messages where one statement in the message invalidates the rest of the points the speaker is attempting to make.
Looking for Cracks
The point of this is that all of us as we approach the Bible, all of those under whom we sit either as pastors, teachers, or authors are flawed humans. We make mistakes. We have issues about which we are passionate. There are times that we have pushed the Word past what it says either by emphasizing one portion of the Word over another, or else using faulty reasoning or exegesis to make a point we believe is very important.
As believers we have to be aware of this for ourselves and in the ministry of those whom we follow. That means that we cannot passively receive instruction from anyone. Acts 17:11 should be our example. Luke tells us that the Berean believers did not receive what Paul said without checking his message out in the Word of God. The Holy Spirit, through Luke’s pen labeled their behavior noble.
Our task is to be noble. We are to check out what we hear and read. We are to check to see if what is being written or said aligns with Scripture. In the final analysis like the Berean believers we will not be held accountable for what our pastors, teachers, or favorite authors think or believe about the Word. No, we will be held accountable for what we think and believe.