Monday, March 20, 2006

A Closer Look at Acts: Part 1, Theology From History

I recently purchased a commentary on the Book of Acts written by my friend and former college professor Dr. Wave Nunnally. The commentary is very exhaustive (538 pages!), but it is proving to be a great help and supplement to the biblical text. The commentary is still in the process of being published, and is not released yet, but I was able to obtain one from him. I encourage you to check it out when it is released in the next few months.

In the mean time, I plan to share some of the great insights that the commentary shares. Much of this I already new from college, but this has been a good reminder of important biblical truths and practices. This week we look at the reality that Acts intends that Theology is derived from historical narrative. In other words, Luke (the writer of Acts) is not only a historian, but a theologian as well. He is not arbitrarily recording events from the early church in the first century, but intentionally taking the reader on a theological journey. As Nunnally states, "[Luke] frames his narratives in such a way that the reader is given hints as to weather the author approves or disapproves of the actions of the characters."

Though it seems very clear that it is possible to derive theology from narrative, some have challenged this idea. Gordon Fee and Douglas Stewart "have questioned the appropriateness of deriving theology and practice from biblical material composed in narrative form." However, this position brings up several problems. One, this idea would exclude a large portion of the Old Testament as well as large portions of the Gospels from being able to communicate theology and practice. Second, it seems to create a hierarchy of scripture, or a canon within a canon, if you will. Lastly, it seems to go against Paul's words in Timothy 3:16-17 which states "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be equipped for every good work."

Luke is perhaps one of the greatest and most significant first century historians whose work still survives today. He tells a story, but he also communicates a timeless message. We are truly indebted to Luke for his Herculean contribution to our Bible today.

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