Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ladd on Biblical Theology and the Ministry of Jesus

So I've been working my way through George Ladd's A Theology of the New Testament, which is a long overdue venture for me. I'm still in the early goings, but I thought both of the following quotes were both helpful and eloquent on their respective subjects.

First, on the God-driven, salvation historical nature of biblical theology:

"Biblical theology is neither the story of humanity's search for God, nor is it a description of a history of religious experience. Biblical theology is theology: it is primarily a story about God and his concern for human beings. It exists only because of the divine initiative realizing itself in a series of divine acts whose objective is human redemption. Biblical theology therefore is not exclusively, or even primarily, a system of abstract theological truths. It is basically the description and interpretation of the divine activity within the scene of human history that seeks humanity's redemption." (21)

Second, on the nature of Jesus' ministry and teaching:

"The mission of Jesus brought not a new teaching but a new event. It brought to people an actual foretaste of the eschatological salvation. Jesus did not promise the forgiveness of sins; he bestowed it. He did not simply assure people of the future fellowship of the Kingdom; he invited them into fellowship with himself as the bearer of the Kingdom. He did not merely promise them vindication in the day of judgment; he bestowed upon them the status of a present righteousness. He not only taught an eschatological deliverance from physical evil; he went about demonstrating the redeeming power of the Kingdom, delivering people from sickness and even death." (78)

This latter quote seemed especially poignant to me because it seems that sometimes we can spend so much time trying to think through Jesus' teachings (certainly not a bad thing!) that it is easy to forget that he was and is more than a great religious teacher.

2 comments:

Carrie Marie said...

So good. Ladd is my favorite, ever.

Bill Faris said...

Congratulations on spending time with Ladd. His theology of the kingdom, as interpreted by a couple of the key figures in my own spiritual development, completely reshaped my whole notion of Christianity and especially of what ministry is about.

Thanks to quotes like the one you cited, Ladd's point-of-view makes me feel like I am getting the real story of the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) to work with.