- Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
- Harmartiology (Doctrine of Sin)
- Ecclesiology (Church Structure)
- Eschatology (Doctrine of Endtimes)
- Pneumonatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
Yet I am surprised that I haven’t found some special term for the theological category of “Theology of Scripture” since it is crucial in all inter-religious dialogue. But one of my commenters below informed me there is a “technical” word for “Theology of Scritpture” — it is “Bibliology“. Well, I have added this theology category to my post on “My Favorite Christians“, and would like to offer a brief explanation of the two simple positions I understand Christians taking on Bibliology. The first view is taken by the majority of Christians and has many subtle variants, but compared to the second position, these variants are insignificant.
One Author – One Theology View
This view comes in many flavors but they all agree that the Holy Spirit somehow influenced all the authors of the Bible with a revelation which has one consistent theology. This theology is intimately connect to the inerrancy doctrine. For since believers in this view do acknowledge that humans wrote the Bible, they have to imagine their god (through the Holy Spirit) “inspiring” the writers so that their scriptures remain inerrant and consistent. The theories as to how this inspiration occurs varies:
- Automatic Writing: outright possession
- Dictation: the writer listens carefully
- Nudging: Holy Spirit intervenes only as needed
- Ideas only: relying on the author to put it in their words
- Mentoring: the Holy Spirit raised the writers so their thoughts were correct
- Good Authors: the Holy spirit guided the Church to only select text of those authors who just happen to get it all right without the Holy Spirit interfering in the free-will of the authors.
While less conservative Christians may admit that, though the scriptures may have inaccuracies or need metaphorical analysis at times, those holding this view will still insist that the Holy Spirit has somehow assured us a consistent, trustworthy, infallible message throughout the canon.
Many Authors – Many Theologies View
Non-believers as well as many liberal Christians hold this view. This view emphasizes the humanity of the writers, their cultural blinders, their personal agendas, their own personal theologies. Some liberal Christians may still feel the Holy Spirit is acting through the scriptures, but admits to no unified theology. They understand that different authors may put forward very different inconsistent theologies both within a given text and certainly between various texts.
I obviously favor the later view — Many Theologies. I feel that in discussing faith, it can be useful to discuss the believer’s “Bibliology” up-front in order to have fruitful dialogue. And discussing epistemology stances can be very helpful.
But “Theology of Scripture” (Bibliology) is only part of a believer’s epistemology. Understanding the broad role of revelation (as opposed to experience and reason) is also important. For instance, the notions of closed vs open revelation may be important. Some Christians emphasize that God continues to give new revelations to believers just like the Holy Spirit did to the writers of the bible. They believe that revelation is still active (open) and must be taken into account. These include Pentecostals and Mormons to mention a few. Yet other Christians view this as problematic and see Revelation as closed and final.
So, if you are discussing theology, may I suggest you explore fundamental positions first before talking past each other based on different fundamental positions. Without admitting one’s fundamental positions, dialogue can be very frustrating.