Many pastors may be curious about this fairly new thing they’ve heard of known as ‘biblical theology.’ What is it all about? Well, the answer will vary depending on whether you are in an academic setting or a church setting. But the main thing you should know is this: biblical theology aims to read the Bible as a whole. The discipline looks for the overarching narrative of scripture, especially as it points to Christ.
This is a significant move from what many pastors have been taught in seminary. For a long time, seminary students have not been taught to read the Old Testament as Christian scripture. That is, we have not necessarily been taught to consider how the Old Testament points to Christ. Fortunately, a good bit of work is being done in this area, and much of it is quite accessible. Let me recommend two books for getting started. If these whet your appetite, their bibliographies will point you to more resources.
God’s Big Picture
by Vaughan Roberts is a good place to start. It is not laden with technical terms and provides a very accessible introduction to biblical theology. Roberts organizes the book around the concept of the kingdom, which he takes to be “God’s people in God’s place under God’s rule and blessing” (21). The theme of the kingdom is traced from Genesis to Revelation to show how it develops through scripture. If you’re new to biblical theology, start with this book. It will give you a good picture of what you’re going for.
If the Roberts book is a good example of biblical theology, then Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry
is a good introduction to methodological issues relating to biblical theology. This book by Michael Lawrence will introduce you to the tools that you will need on your belt in order to actually do biblical theology in ministry in general and in sermons in particular. The particular strength of this book is how much Lawrence applies biblical theology to practical ministry situations. From missions to counseling, biblical theology is, according to Lawrence, the pastor’s most important tool.
These two resources will give you a good introduction to the importance of biblical theology for ministry. Together they will provide content and method for this all-important discipline. Enjoy!