Biblical Theology

In the general sense, this term describes a theology that draws its material from the Bible and seeks to be faithful to the divine revelation of inspired Scripture. In this sense all branches of the theological method may justly claim to be Biblical theology—e.g., systematic theology will be truly Biblical if it remains faithful to the word of God.

The term is also used in a more restricted sense. Taking theology to have four main departments—exegetical, systematic, historical, and practical—Biblical theology is a branch of exegetical theology, “that branch which deals with the process of the self-revelation of God deposited in the Bible” (Geerhardus Vos). J. Barton Payne defined it as “the Biblical history of divine redemption.”

Antisupernaturalistic critics have debased the term Biblical theology to make it nothing more than a study of their evolutionary notions of the history of Israel’s religion. Neo-orthodox theologians, such as Barth, claim to have produced a Biblical theology. This is to stretch the term too far, for to deny the true historicity of such supernatural events as the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ, or to hold that as history they are not revelational, as Barthianism does, is plainly to deal falsely with the Biblical record, and thus is incapable of measuring up to either the general or particular use of the term Biblical theology.

Cairns, A. (2002). In Dictionary of Theological Terms (p. 66). Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International.

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