Mark Thompson, Legend.

I found Mark Thompson’s blog via Michael Jensen’s collation of Moore College blogs.

He’s lots of fun to read.

Particularly pertinent for this blog are his thoughts on theological method.

First of all, evangelical theological method is gospel-shaped. In one sense, evangelical theology is concerned to demonstrate how a particular facet of teaching arises from and is related to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Secondly, evangelical theological method is biblically-anchored. Any explanation of the gospel and its implications needs to demonstrate that it is saying what Scripture is saying. The alternative is that the gospel which shapes our method and conclusions is simply a reflection of our own preferences or those of our cultural environment.

Thirdly, evangelical theological method is oriented towards God. It is evangelical theology after all. Theology is not simply anthropology in religious dress, nor is it a subset of more general philosophical concerns. As a friend of mine famously says to those who complain about church not meeting their needs: ‘it’s not about you, stupid!’

Fourthly, evangelical theological method is concerned with the connections between various aspects of the biblical presentation of the gospel. What we say about one aspect of theology has consequences for what we say about other parts.

Fifthly, evangelical theological method is committed to the coherence of the Bible’s theology. Rather than approaching the task with a predisposition towards finding error, inconsistency, or manipulation, the evangelical theologian approaches the teaching of Scripture confident in God’s goodness, his truthfulness, his reliability, and a fundamental consistency in his purposes, words and actions in human history.

Sixthly, evangelical theology seeks to maintain the proportions of Scripture. Incidental doctrines are not elevated to prime importance and critically central doctrines are not obscured by a preoccupation with secondary matters.

Well, at least it’s a start. The goal is a fresh reiteration of biblical truth that is compelling in our present context. ‘Fresh’, ‘reiteration’ and ‘compelling’ are all important in that last statement.

I have to admit that I find far too much contemporary writing on theological method either impossibly abstract and convoluted or else so generalised as to give no significant guidance. Writers on the subject seem preoccupied with appealing to the academic gallery rather than assisting Christian men and women to think deeply and speak truly about God and his purposes in our world.

My favourite: “above all else it is critical that the way we do our theological work should be determined by the nature of the object, or rather the subject, of that work”

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One thought on “Mark Thompson, Legend.

  1. Hi Mike,
    I like these too.
    But
    since you need a sparring partner,
    there seems to be a little inconsistency, in the first proposition, the object under inquiry seems to be ‘teaching’ and the purpose of theology as showing how that teaching arose from ‘gospel’
    Yet prop 3 says that the proper object of theology is God, not anthropology in religious dress.
    So
    Which is it? Which are we able to say, in that glorious phrase you noted at the end, is both the subject and object of our enquiry?

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