Systematic Versus Biblical Theology

The late, Robert Raymond, in his massive A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith argues that Systematic Theology views “the Holy Scriptures as a completed revelation, in distinction from the disciplines of...biblical theology, which approach the Scriptures as an unfolding revelationthe systematic theologian views Scriptures as completed revelation.a

I am not certain about his distinction and/or whether he is taking a cheap shot at biblical theology, but I find the distinction unhelpful. The assumption is that biblical theology does not see the Bible as complete since it is dealing with an unfolding narrative. But the best of biblical theology sees the Bible as an unfolding complete drama. There is nothing more to be added, but there is plenty to consume again and again. In other words, BT sees narratives within narratives, which provide the theologian a richer engagement with the text. While ST are content with arranging the furniture pieces of the Bible in proper order. BT sees the supposed chaos of the furniture pieces as purposeful arrangements to be appreciated and re-arranged through the expectation and arrival of Messiah.

  1. Raymond, xxv  (back)
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2 thoughts on “Systematic Versus Biblical Theology”

  1. Great furniture analogy. I think that one of the pitfalls we run into is in creating walls between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology rather than seeing them as complimentary. As you suggest in your analogy, ST is the completed and arranged room; BT, though tells us how those pieces got to where they got and why. BT adds depth and life to ST. Without BT, Systematics can become rather dry and mechanical; at the same time, ST guides BT in orthodox paths.

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