The Allure of Australian Biblical Theology
Like the duckbilled platypus, contemporary Biblical Theology is an Australian animal the existence of which many have doubted and even mocked. Is it a hybrid? A joke? An aberration? An impossibility?
So begins a review of Interpreting God's Plan: Biblical Theology and the Pastor, ed. by RJ Gibson, in the open-evangelical (see here for term) Anglican journal Anvil (Vol 16, No.2, 1999, p. 139). Unlike the duckbilled platypus Biblical Theology is not a peculiarly Australian animal (despite what the reviewer says), but there is something special about the Australian variety. The reviewer continues:
[for Gibson et al] unless we understand the promise properly, our grasp of the gospel will be attenuated and sentimental, and probably lack an adequate eschatology. In other words, most of what passes for preaching is judged shallow and unchristian.
Although they are too polite to say so, the Australians are making an important and formidable intellectual assult on normal Anglo Saxon Evangelical theology, and the find us seriously lacking as exegetes, systematicians and pastors - in fact, since their hermeneutical key is the gospel itself, they find us lacking as self-professing evangelicals. Their case is, to my mind, unanswerable, and for all the rough edges and unanswered question which work in progress produces, this is material which must be taken on board. These are not naive fundamentalists by serious-minded theologians of considerable calibre, and their relative obscurity is a result of distance, not inability.
Probably nobody reading here has ever read the Anvil journal (my explanation is that my Dad used to subscribe), but this is a review that stands out from the rest of their reviews like a beacon. You just do not get such enthusiastic reviews of conservative books in it. Reading Tom Wright's Paul: Fresh Perspectives over the last couple of days, my mind has gone back to the effect that the other grand-narrative-theology I have been exposed to had on me at university. I give thanks to God for it. It opened up the bible for me, and although I am not a died in the wool Goldsworthyite, I would not be without it.
Elsewhere I recently discovered the blog of Brian Hedges (who I know of through his many Amazon reviews), who has just discovered Goldsworthy and crowned him his 'author of the year'. He is now posting a review of his Gospel and Kingdom in parts (so far 1, 2, and 3).
So on the testimony of two or three witnesses trust me that there is something especially alluring about Australian Biblical Theology.
To find out more try as a beginning:
- Website: Beginning with Moses
- Book: Goldsworthy Trilogy
- Book: According to Plan
- Book: Covenant and Creation
- Bible Study: Full of Promise
PS of course there is an American variety as well but I think it's less alluring (why is another question), and the best bits of the British version are Australian anyway.