Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 30, 2010

Garrett, Systematic Theology, Quotable 1

This post and the four following posts will present a total of fifty representative quotations from James Leo Garrett’s Systematic Theology, 2nd edition.  These quotations are intended to acquaint the reader with the tenor of Garrett’s writing, and to present significant or well-stated points of Garrett’s theology.

(1) “I have not written these two volumes of systematic theology on the basis of a prior commitment to or the adoption of any philosophical system or philosophical motif in the light of which the doctrines of Christianity ought to be interpreted.  Rather I have proceeded from the premise that good systematic theology ought to be based on the fruitage of biblical theology and the history of Christian doctrine.  Hence I have made every effort to locate, interpret, and correlate all the pertinent Old and New Testament texts or passages and the more significant statements from the patristic period to the modern age before undertaking any formulation of my own.” (1:ix)

(2) “Every statement about the doctrines of the Christian religion is in some sense a theological statement, and every Christian who reflects upon and speaks about his faith is in some sense a theologian.” (1:3)

(3) “Systematic theology is the orderly exposition of the doctrines of Christianity as its formulator in the context of his/her confessional tradition understands them, according to an integrated and interrelated method, using the Bible, the Christian tradition, Christian experience, and possibly other sources and hopefully in the idiom of those to whom it is addressed.” (1:16)

(4) (On the exclusivity of the Christian message) “This Christian claim at its best is not a manifestation of human achievement and hence not an instance of human or ‘parochial’ pride, but it points to the glorification of God in Jesus Christ.” (1:79)

(5) “The inclination, the presupposition, or the attitude of a particular human being can play an even greater role in reference to the ‘convinceability’ of the theistic arguments than the cogency of any argument.  One’s religious beliefs or unbeliefs are not founded on ‘pure reason,’ that is, reason devoid of inclination, feeling, or choice.” (1:103)

(6) (Is special revelation propositional or personal?) “Propositionalism rightly stresses that God has employed human languages, including key words and concepts, in his self-disclosure through Israel and in Jesus Christ and that God has spoken and not merely acted in revelation with the result that revealed truth is not meaningless jargon.  Relationalism rightly stresses that divine revelation is not dispensed information about God that does not transform the recipients with the result that revelation can never be rightly divorced from its liberating, saving, reconciling, and transforming effects upon human beings.” (1:115)

(7) “The greatest single need with respect to the doctrine of inspiration is for balance between divine agency and human involvement in the coming to be of the books of the Old and the New Testaments.” (1:135)

(8) “A collation of all sermon texts and all biblical passages read in worship services for a period of fifteen or twenty years in a given congregation . . . would provide empirical evidence as to whether that congregation functions with a ‘canon within the canon.'” (1:143)

(9) “To the extent that positivist and/or historicist presuppositions have shaped the work of some users of the historical-critical method, the criticisms and fears of the opponents of the method, especially Fundamentalists in the Anglo-American setting, have not been without foundation.” (1:171)

(10) (Regarding the inerrancy debate) “. . . those who engage in theological controversy and warfare over these matters, insisting on the rightness of their own conclusions and the wrongness of those conclusions advanced by others, stand under the mandate of Jesus Christ concerning love for and among his disciples (John 13:34-35).” (1:192)


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