Christian Dogmatics and James Petigru Boyce

jpboyce.pngOne of my fellow immoderates likes to refer to those who will accept only texts from Scripture as substantive material in the course of religious debate as “those Bible-only people.” By this his is not denigrating the sufficiency of Scripture, but rather, he is pointing out the prior necessities for understanding Scripture. It is nearly as simple as this: you won’t learn how to read by merely reading the Bible. Its sufficiency does not work that way. Yet, many in our circles play with these sorts of sophistries – “But, it’s not in the Bible!!” One particular fundamentalist educational institution made it a point to eschew Systematic Theology in favor of their version of Biblical Theology predicated upon this exact sentiment. Contrary to such idiocy observe the opinion of J.P. Boyce:

Christian Dogmatics is not confined, as is Biblical, to the facts and theories and statements of doctrine expressly and formally set forth in the Scriptures. It comprises in addition such philosophical explanations as seem necessary to make a complete and harmonious system. These additions are not necessarily non-scriptural, for they are often the embodiment of the very essence of Bible truth, though not of its formal utterances. They may be as much a part of Scripture as the theory of gravitation is of the revelation of nature.

Abstract of Systematic Theology, p. 5

This came from the pen of a Baptist, no less. Perhaps we ought to ponder on this, if we can find the time – what with all those movies to see, all the Jars of Clay or Casting Crowns, or whatever to listen and sing to, and all the social boozing to be done.

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