Relating Scripture and theology

Are theology and biblical studies incompatible? The answer might be "yes" or it might be "no"--it depends on one's understanding and practice of both disciplines. To me, they go together--"hand in glove"--helping us rightly apprehend the ultimate reality to which, when used with care and in faith, both disciplines point.

In an earlier post, I shared an essay related to this topic from Michael Morrison, Grace Communion Seminary dean of faculty. This time I share relevant points (slightly edited for use here) provided by Gary Deddo who teaches at Grace Communion Seminary and serves as a writer and editor for Grace Communion International.
  1. The role of faith. Reading and understanding Scripture rightly (in a way that leads to living by it) requires faith--trust in God who we know and have met in Jesus Christ. By faith, we understand that God is present, active and speaking as we read his Word--he is not mute. Thus faith, rather than being a bias that prevents us from hearing the truth, is an essential ingredient in hearing rightly. 
  2. The need to stand with the authors. In order to hear God rightly as we read Scripture, we must stand with the biblical authors. We must take on their objective and subjective mindset--we must, as best we can, see through their eyes. This means sharing in their receptivity of the truth--the content that is being revealed through their words. If we do not enter into their receptivity, no matter how much we might concentrate on the words written by these authors, we will be resisting the Spirit by not acknowledging the fullness of Scripture's message and authority. 
  3. Scripture and theology point to one reality. The focus of Scripture is to convey to us the reality of who God is and who we are in relationship to him. This reality also includes where God is taking his entire creation through the course of history. Theology is "faith seeking understanding" concerning this reality--the very reality to which Scripture continuously points.
  4. Theology is synthetic. Toward the end mentioned in #3, the church's theology is synthetic--it gathers all this up by using select words, concepts, analogies and narratives from within specific contexts in order faithfully to point to the same identical reality to which Scripture points. This "gathering up" is done with the same receptivity, by the same Spirit, through the same faith, as guided the biblical authors. 
  5. The purposes and limitations of doctrine. Given what we've stated so far, we note that our doctrinal conclusions, to be valid and useful, must express our most faithful current understanding of the aforementioned realities which are addressed by the biblical revelation. Doctrine is not simply the organization of biblical words, themes, verses, topics, etc. Doctrines are not mere logical inferences from Scripture given to defend biblical ideas, or to logically connect various biblical words and concepts. This is so because the realities of God, ourselves and creation cannot be reduced to doctrinal formulations. For that reason, we don't worship doctrines, and we measure their usefulness/accuracy by their ability to point us to the one true object of our worship---the Triune God made known to us in Jesus Christ by the Spirit, according to Holy Scripture.

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