I just noticed a new book coming out in November by Zondervan. It is going to be the latest edition to their wonderful “Counterpoints” series (which you should all get—every one of them!!).
However, I was somewhat disturbed by the title. I know, I know, authors are not to blame for titles. They may or may not have agreed with the title of the book. But I don’t really like it.
I have yet to read this book so this is not in any way an evaluation of the book. There will be many authors—wonderful authors—who will be discussing and taking various positions on the issue the book raises (which I am very pleased about). The book is titled “Four Views of Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology.” Being somewhat interested in theology, I thought that I would lodge my complaint before the book is even published (though I will get it and eat it up and think you should, too).
I am not sure why it is en vogue to talk about moving “beyond the Bible.” I am especially perplexed when “to theology” is added to the motion. A few years ago I. Howard Marshall wrote a book with similar title, Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology. I suppose that I am most concerned with the preposition “beyond.” I know what they are trying to do and this is the exact thing that our ministry supports. It is the idea of seeing the Bible as a foundation and guide for something else. In other words, the Bible and knowledge of the Bible is not the end. We must take the next step in applying the Bible in a systematic way both to our beliefs and our practice. I am game.
However, I don’t think that this movement to theology is a movement beyond the Bible. The synopsis from the book says, “Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology guides students and pastors to consider and evaluate the various ways Christians apply biblical texts to contemporary questions.” This is better (but not perfect).
Let me cut to the chase and make my point before I turn this into too big of a deal. Theology is not about moving beyond the Bible any more than our development as children is about moving beyond our DNA. Theology and its application is about living out in both belief and practice what the Bible teaches. It is an outgrowth of truth and our primary source for spiritual knowledge is in the Bible. We don’t ever move beyond the Bible. We move with the Bible. I think that this is better, but still not perfect as we also move toward the Bible in our beliefs and practices. The implication that theology is somehow “beyond” Scripture can be a dangerous nuance on what theology is about.
Complaint lodged (now go pre-order the book).