Before we delve into the way Enns’ chapter has changed or helped shape my understanding of biblical theology, I think we must first define what it is. According to Enns, “It is exegetical in nature, drawing its material from the Bible as opposed to a philosophical understanding of theology; it stresses the historical circumstances in which doctrines were propounded; it examines the theology within a given period of history (as in Noahic or Abrahamic eras) or of an individual writer (as Pauline or Johannine writings).”
With this in mind the very first sentence made a huge impact on my
understanding of biblical theology, for the longest time I did comprehend a
difference between biblical and systematic theology.
Now in understanding that, Enns also helps clarify the difference between the two when he says, “In contrast to systematic theology, which draws its information about God from any and every source, biblical theology has a narrower focus, drawing its information from the Bible (and from historical information that expands or clarifies the historical events of the Bible.)”
One thing that is important to note is that no study of Scripture can be done
properly without proper exegesis. He points out that biblical theology is the
foundation of systematic theology but at the root of it begins in exegesis; by
telling us that, “Biblical theology does not end with exegesis, but must begin
there.” (Enns 2008,
Throughout this study the understanding of the need to be sound in your biblical theology is emphasized in order to strengthen your systematic study. On page twenty-four Enns points out four very different distinctions that can be made between these two systems; he makes one point I would like to share, he says, “While biblical theology provides the viewpoint of the biblical writer, systematic theology gives a doctrinal discussion from a contemporary viewpoint.”
(Enns 2008, 24)
When a church or denomination fails to learn and apply biblical and systematic theology to its teaching it will more than likely fall into some form of heresy. I say this because it leaves to many holes left unfilled or only allows for a person’s own interpretation of what the writer was saying instead of truly taking the time to understand the historical context or what Enns calls introductory issues (such as authorship, date, addressees, and occasion and purpose for writing).
(Enns 2008, 23) If a pastor or group
of churches is allowed to use a verse outside of its original intent, we get
movements like the “health and wealth” gospel.
I am a part of the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America) and to my understanding about 70 years or so ago we did split from the PCUSA or doctrinal issues. Since then the men who govern our denomination have worked very hard to make sure we uphold a high standard of orthodoxy and biblical sovereignty (meaning we trust the Word to be the final answer).
Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008.