Theological Reading I

This semester, I am involved in a Bible study on the gospel of John. I am not leading this group simply attending it. I am also currently taking a class of systematic theology at the seminary. Those may not seem all that related for now but I hope they soon will. So, the other day we started going through the gospel of John, specifically the prologue (1:1-18). Throughout our time, the pastor asked a variety of questions to the 20 or so people participating in this study. His intent was for people to be in the text. There were several times throughout the evening that he posited a question which was followed by a quick response. The problem was, the text was not saying that. At times people were recalling passages from other gospels. Or their theology was infiltrating how they read the gospel, so much so that they were reading things into the text. In theology, especially systematics, we try to reconcile the entire biblical witness into a coherent system. A difficulty arises from systematics when we no longer read the biblical authors for what they wrote. Rather, our theology paints a certain picture in the literature. This is frustrating to me at times. The four gospels are unique each written with a particular purpose and I posit, a particular theology. These theologies are not antithetical, but I think we do a disservice to the Bible that we say is our authority when we manipulate it through our theology. This is easy for us to do. Hopefully an awareness of it will foster better habits in which we take each biblical author for what they are trying to express. Then and only then, can we attempt to systematize.

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