First Thesis on Theological Method

The Bible is prior to doctrine in every way. Our reading of the scriptures must override doctrine at all times. Doctrine may ask questions that force us to reconsider our reading of scripture, or to reconsider our idea of what scripture even is, but that must not allow us to ignorethe best reading of scripture. If our reading of scripture contradicts our doctrine, then doctrine must adapt, not scripture.


5 thoughts on “First Thesis on Theological Method

  1. I think these Thesis are very well thought out and accurate.
    I totally agree that scripture must shape doctrine and never the other way around. Today in a post-modern world interpretation of the scriptures is about making the text say what you want (getting the aha moment) and not necessarily letting the author speak in his/her context to you. Biblically faithful Christians need to avoid such a style of interpretation. We need to have very careful exegesis BUT even than our exegesis is tainted by sin. So often we understand the passage in a way that suits us (because of our sinful desire to justify ourselves) rather than understanding the text correctly.
    Systematic Theology/Doctrine should not dictate a text for us but it certainly can be helpful in guiding us. Scripture moulds doctrine but doctrine illuminates our eyes from the sinful manipulation and darkness we can impose on a text.

  2. Nice theses bro, I”m liking it.

    The Bible may be prior to doctrine, but is our reading of it?
    Question 2. Does God have knowledge of himself which might be said to be prior to Scripture

    • Apart from the Gospel, our reading is prior to doctrine. I think that we over-theologise and over-philosophise the actual process of reading.
      I’m taking as my paradigm a newly-minted Christian who has picked up a Bible. Unless he is a Philosophy major, he is going to read it the same way he reads a news paper, but with the aid of the Holy Spirit. Thus, I argue, he is effectively tabula rasa in the form of doctrine (apart from, of course, the Gospel). He has no doctrine of Scripture, no doctrine of reading and no understanding of the correspondence theory of truth. He just reads the Bible at face value and starts to put A and B together (until he gets confused by predestination and gives up 🙂

    • Question 2 – I think we are quite safe saying that God’s self-expression is prior to scripture, and thus his self-knowledge is prior to that. Unless you mean something different…?

  3. Isn’t this a piece of theological or doctrinal thinking itself? And isn’t it ”prior” to scripture? I think this is Mike W’s point … you can’t actually find a pre-doctrinal place to begin from.

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