Sunday, January 12, 2014

Theology as a Web

In academic circles it is common to isolate ideas within theology for examination. Even books of the bible are isolated to examine ideas and structure.

Really the whole issue is that theology is structured as a large number of interconnected ideas and interconnected books. Ideas in theology cannot be isolated from each other.

You cannot study man without God. You see God created man and man can only be understood in relation to God.

You cannot study the state of man apart from his creation and fall. The creation and fall need to be studied in light of God's subsequent dealings with man. Thus cross can only be understood in relation the state of man.

You see we often isolate all of theology to a degree which is unhealthy. Each piece of theology is pristine and separate from others and we attempt to show the interconnectedness later.

The bible on the other hand moves quickly from concept to concept frustrating commentators to understand why the bible adds seemingly irrelevant pieces in at places. You see the issue is with us. We have disconnected the elements of theology from each other and are poorer for it.

The entire bible is a web of ideas flowing back and forth. The ideas are all heavily interconnected and need to be treated as such. The more ideas are isolated the less close to the power of the bible we are. You see we have bought the idea of the scientific study of the bible and its methodology. But we have not been scientific about this.

You see an organism needs be studied in its entirety. The bible is a work that needs to be studied as a whole not as a set of hundreds of parts. You cannot really isolate the teaching of Paul from scripture or simply study 10 verses of Romans in isolation. It all flows.

There are of course differences between books and authors. They have different concerns and voices. So there is truth to the academic method.

But there is more error in assuming that something is being gained in general by the methodology. We are trying to study the bible by a methodology which is often inappropriate to the subject and we are poorer for it.
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