April 23, 2014

Bray Reviews Schreiner; Schreiner Reviews Bray

The new issue of Themelios features a review of Thomas Schreiner's new biblical theology text by systematic theologian Gerald Bray. It also features a review of Gerald Bray's new systematic theology text by biblical theologian Thomas Schreiner.

Bray on Schreiner:
. . . theology cannot be simply a running exposition of the biblical text, in whatever order it is taken. It must penetrate that text and reveal the foundations on which it is built, the principles that underlie the revelation that it contains. This search for meaning is not a departure from the Bible but an exploration of its hidden depths that will enable us to understand it better. Just as we look at how other people behave and try to work out from that what really makes them tick, so we read of the great acts of God among his people in order to understand better who he is and what his purposes are. The end result will be a systematic theology built out of the evidence culled from many different parts of the revelation and not simply an account of that revelation’s contents. It is here I think that biblical scholars need to rethink their discipline, recognize what its limitations are, and accept that not only is a systematic theology necessary, but that it can be constructed only by using the evidence of the narrative and going behind it in ways that do not contradict but illuminate it better. I hope and pray that evangelical biblical scholars will come to appreciate this and that their magnificent efforts in analyzing the Scriptures may bear fruit in a deeper synthesis of what their message and their ultimate purpose is.
Schreiner on Bray:
Bray’s theology reflects not only deep humility but also an ecumenical character. I mean ecumenical in the best sense of the word. Bray writes as an Anglican and one of the virtues of evangelical Anglicanism is its emphasis on “mere Christianity.” When it comes to controversial issues, Bray doesn’t push any particular agenda. He claims that the scriptures aren’t very clear on church government and sees virtues in different arrangements. He presents various views of baptism and the Lord’s Supper but does not strongly endorse any of them. Bray’s theology would be an excellent text for Christians in every part of the world, and it is a good reminder that we must beware of being dogmatic and uncharitable on doctrines and practices that have long been disputed.
Read the rest here and here.

1 comment:

  1. A few thoughts:

    Ironically, although Schreiner's review is more favorable than Bray's, the criticisms he raises are, to my mind, more serious than those raised by Bray.

    Also, Schreiner does a much better job answering Bray's criticisms (which were, I think, almost completely off the mark). Bray, however, didn't do much to dissuade anyone who agrees with the points made by Schreiner (which I do).

    Needless to say, I think Schreiner got the better of the exchange (though, ironically, I prefer Bray's book).


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