Presently I am in the midst of teaching a 6 week course in New Testament Theology at the Durham Bible Institute which is meeting at Port Perry Baptist Church, in beautiful Port Perry, Ontario. So far it has been wonderful to trace God's plan of redemption through the New Testament, beginning with the Gospels and Acts and now moving into the letters of Paul. Those familiar with the scholarly debates that swirl around the New Testament will know that no everyone agrees that it is possible to derive a coherent theology from the 27 books that make up the New Testament scriptures. But with all due respect for the intellects involved, more careful examination of the documents reveals that the human authors wrote as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, just as Peter said in 2 Peter 1:21. This is true not only because an inspired apostle says it is true but because there is no other way to account for the profundity and splendor of the subject matter.
When we remember that the authors of the New Testament, with the exception of Paul, were not trained theologians in any formal sense, then what they have written is truly amazing. The way they interpret the Old Testament and present Jesus as the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets and the one in whom salvation history comes together is nothing short of remarkable. The longer I study the Bible, the more clearly I see this. And even though the Gospel writers are giving us their own unique portrait of Jesus and Paul and other letter writers are concerned with the health of the church, it is not difficult to discern the underlying convictions and commitment of the authors and to see that they have a standard of truth against which they measure against which they measure the ideas of others, and to which they call Christians time and time again.
All of this to say, that it is vital that those who are teaching the scriptures on a regular basis keep reading and studying those scriptures and books that respect the scriptures as the word of God and that they seek to wrestle with all that they have to say to us. I find that there two errors that teachers can inadvertently fall into. Either they are antiquarians who speak as though little has happened in Christianity since the Reformation and the Puritans, or they are constantly chasing the latest fad and feverishly working at sounding relevant. We must know and respect the past but we must speak to people living today. Sometimes I do not think antiquarians realize how irrelevant they are and how much of their message is just considered "strange" by those who listen. Likewise, there is something sadly superficial about the message of those who reflect the pop-culture around them and yet think they are saying something deep. Equally sad are those who mix up Christianity with either a left or right political agenda without discerning that the gospel cannot be easily squeezed into either box and says so much more than proponents either agenda know.
Biblical theology is a tonic for these and other ills. Thinking our way through the Old and New Testaments is vital if we are going to address our world in a new and fresh way. Just as Americans recently voted for "change" I think that many people are longing for change when it comes to how Christian teachers present their message in the 21st century. Even today the scriptures able to breath new life into our tired formulations and favorite hobby-horses. They can restore our sense of awe and wonder in God's grace so clearly and powerfully revealed in his own Son.