Friday, November 16, 2007

Keeping Distinctions

To be biblical in our church leadership, distinctions must be made. Distinctions are necessary for both sound biblical interpretation and endurance in life and ministry. I doubt if any seasoned spiritual leader would deny this, although there will be disagreements as to which distinctions are important and right, as well as on which side of a distinction a leader may stand. There are very significant, practical ramifications which flow from the distinctions we make.

These distinctions must not be pre-conceived opinions, theories, or systems imposed upon the biblical text. Rather, they are distinctions which must flow from the biblical text itself. As these concepts flow from the text, they must also, however, begin to inform one another. Another way to say this is that "biblical theology" must always precede "systematic theology", but let us not forget nor omit systematic theology (and both should precede practice/culture). Or, even another way to say this could be that while we must engage in both "exegesis of Scripture" and "exegesis of culture", the two are not equal. Both are necessary, but Scripture Itself is authoritative over culture (in terms of the authority and infallibility of the Word of God, and the desire to experience "biblical culture" as opposed to an "enculturated Bible"). Maybe the simplest way to say it is, "Doctrine really does matter, and we really ought to and need to care about it."

The forming and keeping of distinctions does not imply complete disjunction/separation between the parts of the distinction. There will be both continuity and discontinuity between them. There is, though, an implication of primacy or priority of one part over the other related to the field of thought or the timing application of the distinction.

Here are some examples of distinctions I will be considering in upcoming articles:

*doxological or soteriological highest good (worship and evangelism)
*Israel and the Church
*doctrine and relationships
*preaching the Gospel and methodologies
*grace and discipline.
*expository preaching and application.

More may be added depending on response and interaction. I trust this will be a sharpening and strengthening exercise for God's servants.

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