Michael Bird and New Testament Theologies

Over at Euangelion, Mike brings up a good question regarding the need for another New Testament Theology (he mentions his desire to someday write one, and Lord willing I pray he does). He mentions a few that have been written by some top notch Scholars such as George Ladd, I. Howard Marshall, Donald Guthrie, and Frank Thielmam in the recent years. He then quotes Luke Timothy Johnson, himself a fine commentator, and I would like to reproduce it here:

“Those who are expert in Scripture and also committed to the shared practices of faith can probably best serve theology within the church, not by writing books called the theology of the New Testament, but by enabling and participating in the practices and joining in the conversation, viva voce and vulnerable, together with other, less learned perhaps holier, fellow believers.”
Luke Timothy Johnson, “Does a Theology of the Canonical Gospels Make Sense?” in The Nature of New Testament Theology, eds. Christopher Rowland and Christopher Tuckett (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 95.

I would agree with this assestment, and also that of Mike, that theology must not be divorced from the church for which it belongs. It is for the church that people write and produce books on various theological topics and disciplines, people like Mike himself. The writers of the New Testament, albeit writing holy Scripture, were also addressing various topics that were harming the church or were giving words of encouragement to press on. Because the writers were often time not able to get to the congregation themselves (due to being locked up or hundreds of miles away), they took to writing and there letters. Writing also ensured a lager audience than one would have if he verbally preached a message (that is not to say that preaching is less important than writing).

Another example of this is found in the writings of the church fathers. A lot of their writings were apologetic in nature, and were intended for a reading audience. This is true also of Aquainus, Calvin, Luther, Edwards, and many other men. What they have written has found the eyes of more men and women than could have been imagined.

I must admit that I do not know the full context of the above quote, and I doubt that this is even what is being addressed, but I thought I would digress a bit and go on a tangent for a bit. Sorry about that. But I do believe that there is a need in the church for New Testament (and Old Testament for that matter) theologies. As long and the church is still on earth, and we continue to grow in knowledge of the things that consist in the writing of the Bible (grammar, history, culture, linguistics, etc.) we will still have the need to be up to date with what is going on in the “Academic World” so that the body of Christ will be equipped to better handle to word of truth and proclaim it to a world that is dying without Christ.

*Rant over, I am now stepping down from my soapbox*

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