Theological Starting Point

Most theology books that I come across these days (especially systematic) begin with the doctrine of revelation and the Bible. This sets a trajectory for the rest of the project to follow. In doing so, by setting the Bible up as the object of study, through which we learn of our relationship to God, our efforts through the rest of the practice of theology is to clarify what the Bible has to say. The Bible seems like a logical place to start. It is, after all, God’s revelation to humanity. What I find intriguing about Barth’s work is where he starts his mammoth Dogmatics. He does not begin with a proper doctrine of the Bible. Rather, his beginning point is the Trinity, as seen in the prolegomena of the Dogmatics. Does this guide where his work goes from there? Without a doubt. That’s why is work can be so frustrating to read and as some would claim, inaccessible. Maybe it’s not inaccessible. Maybe it just doesn’t follow a systematic way of thinking. But that’s not what I was trying to point out. Instead, I just wanted to note that where we start our systematic exposition plays a role in where we end up and the path that it takes to get there.

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