Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Book Review: Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology: How the Church Faithfully Teaches the Gospel. Nick Roark and Robert Cline. Crossway. 2018. [March] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: When I (Nick) was in elementary school, one of my classmates gave a book report about a story written by C. S. Lewis featuring four children, a lion king, a white witch, and a hidden magical land accessed through a wardrobe. I was mesmerized. So I purchased The Chronicles of Narnia for myself and read them with pleasure. But years later, after my conversion to Christ, I realized I had been missing the author’s obvious intentions to point his readers to Jesus.

What is biblical theology? Why is it important? These questions--and others like it--are addressed and answered in one of the newest books in the 9Marks series published by Crossway.

The book begins by stressing the need for biblical theology. What are the dangers we--as the church, or even as individuals--face if our theology is unbiblical?! Does right theology matter in our day to day lives? What impact should our doctrine be having on our lives? The authors list at least four reasons WHY having biblical theology matters.
1)  Biblical theology helps clarify the Bible’s main purpose. Some people approach God’s Word as if it were a collection of independent stories, or an assortment of advice and counsel, or even a universal cookbook with recipes for “the good life” scattered across its sixty-six books. But these approaches fail to bring to light the central purpose of Scripture. Simply put, you won’t understand the story of the Bible unless you see that it’s all about Jesus! From Genesis to Revelation, Jesus is the Hero and the point of the story.
2) Biblical theology helps guard and guide the church. Reading Scripture rightly means knowing where each book fits into its overarching narrative. And knowing the overarching narrative helps us read and understand accurately each event, character, or lesson that’s been given to us as part of God’s progressively revealed Word.
3) Biblical theology helps us in our evangelistic outreach. Sharing the good news with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity requires explaining much more than “four spiritual laws” or the “Romans road.” People first need to grasp that the Christian worldview accompanies a total transformation of mind-set.
4) Biblical theology helps us read, understand, and teach the Bible the way Jesus said we should. Jesus himself says in Luke 24 that he is Scripture’s interpretive key. So if we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible, and as a result we will teach others to commit the same error.
The book then defines what biblical theology IS. They write,
"Biblical theology is a way of reading the Bible as one story by one divine author that culminates in who Jesus Christ is and what he has done, so that every part of Scripture is understood in relation to him. Biblical theology helps us understand the Bible as one big book with lots of little books that tell one big story. The Hero and centerpiece of that story, from cover to cover, is Jesus Christ. Biblical theology is for the church, begins with the Bible, and ends with King Jesus and his church."
There are two chapters on the big picture of the Bible. These chapters provide summary that could prove quite useful to those new to the Bible or new to the faith. They provide an outline for understanding what you read. The book seems to be written in part for pastors. Each section includes preaching and teaching tips.

The next chapter focuses on understanding and studying the Bible. It is packed with tips or "tools" on how to read and study the Bible.

The final chapter is on the mission of the church. This chapter ties back in with the first which stated that, "missing the point of the Bible’s story produces false gospels and false churches." The authors give four examples: the prosperity gospel church, the civic gospel church, the soup-kitchen church, and the immorality-affirming church.

The book is a quick, practical read. I think the main audience is pastors and teachers, but, I think it can be a beneficial read to any believer whether they "teach" the faith officially or not. Doctrine matters for every one of us. Nobody should allow another person to think for them and do all the work.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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