Faithful to the biblical text
Faithful exegesis is simply reading what the text is saying, and not reading out of it what it is not saying. God reveals to us what He wills in Christ through His Words by means of human authors (1 Peter 1:10-12, 2 Peter 1:19-21, Luke 24:25-27). So the task of proper exegesis begins with dealing with the literary form of Scripture in the light of its proper context. As the old adage goes, ‘a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text’. To understand the Scripture in all its diverse forms we need to be able to understand the author's intention as conveyed through his use of genre, grammar and syntax, style, structure, the flow of his argument as well as his particular historical context and culture etc.
At our Word Works (WW) seminars, the aim therefore is to equip believers with a basic awareness of these aspects or studying a particular book, and to begin to hone specific skills so that the Word can do its proper work in the life of the church.
Interpreted accurately in Christ
When all is said and done in the fields of exegesis and systematics, every Christian must reckon with Christ's rebuke in Luke 24:25-27. It is worth reproducing it in full here.
He said to them, "How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
The foolishness which was demonstrated by the disciples is, if you notice, not put forward as a slowness to believe in Christ, although this is of course the problem. But it is a slowness to believe ‘all that the prophets have spoken’ about the Christ! That is, in all our endeavours to read Scripture, if we do not arrive at the heart of the Scripture who is Christ, we have not read Scripture at all (see also John 5:37-39).
Once we have understood this, we can commonly attest to the fact that the reason why we do not read the Scriptures in a way that leads us to see and know the Christ as the point of the Scriptures, is precisely because we do not see the Christ as the heart of interpreting the Scriptures. Thus we define as our 3rd and central objective in the task or raising biblical literacy in the Klang Valley as interpreting Scripture accurately in Christ. In more technical speak, Christ is the hermeneutical key.
This area of study is also known in most circles as biblical theology. Clearly though, whilst some passages are more ‘easily’ understood to be fulfilled in Christ (e.g. in Acts 8 Philip explains Isaiah 53 in light of the Christ-event to the Ethiopian eunuch), it is not so ‘straight-forward’ when it comes to say, the Songs of Solomon.
Creation to Consummation (CTC) is a conference dedicated to working at this important component of biblical interpretation. The most physically accessible of all our biblical literacy events, we offer annual conferences on various topics that will both demonstrate the interpretive technique in a biblical theological understanding of Scripture, as well as clarify our thinking with regards to certain aspects of church life e.g. the Temple and Sacred Space, Work and Rest, Mission and Social work.
Scripture does not come to us in the form of a systematic textbook, but it is nothing if not coherent in its content. It is the reality of all truth involving words that even heretics have used the Scripture to say what it should not be used to say. Thus we see the importance of ‘theologically sound’ reading of Scripture. That is, it is both the mind which is in accord with ‘sound doctrine’ that will read and interpret Scripture rightly (1 Tim 4:16), as well as the accurate exegesis of Scripture that will lead to ‘sound doctrine’. The Reformers understood this relationship well, with Calvin a leading example of someone who wrote the Institutes (all 4 volumes of it!) as an aid to the reading of Scripture, an intention well borne out by the fact that he led in the referencing of Scripture in his arguments and he showed a close contextual understanding of Scripture in his exegesis.
The Thinking Theologically Conference (TTC), therefore, is an acknowledgement of the importance of sound theology in the life of Christ’s church. Not only is the coherent expression of our faith at stake in a confused world, it is also the reality of a post-modern world where propositional truth is frowned upon as being dogmatic and unreliable that calls urgently for the Christians of today to learn to 'think theologically'.
Christians need to learn again (or for the first time) the clear expression of truth as arrived at by their denominational confessional forebears, to seek to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these arguments for the present work of ministry, and to apply it with vigour to the life of the church's ministry.
"It is important to appreciate the role of biblical theology as intermediary between exegesis and dogmatics. None of these disciplines can stand alone or be omitted. Without thorough exegesis biblical theology will be superficial. Without biblical theology the church is liable to approach the Bible as a collection of proof-texts, picking out those suited to its particular interests and ignoring the witness of the Bible as a whole. Without dogmatic theology the Bible will remain an ancient book of an alien culture, unrelated to the modern world. Too often biblical exegesis and dogmatic theology have been engaged in independently of each other and of biblical theology."
– D.L. Baker
"Without a hermeneutical base to undergird our theological conclusions we are susceptible to losing this thing as fast as we have recovered it."
– Erik Raymond, How to Prevent a Gospel-Centered Fizzle Out