David DeSilva on “What makes a good Biblical Scholar or Theologian?”

Have the courage to go wherever the texts and the evidence lead you.  

Theological commitments should be continually refreshed as we see more of the light of Scripture.  

To do the reverse — reading Scripture as our theological commitments allow — is to betray the foundational theological commitment: Prima Scriptura.

~David DeSilva is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Greek at Ashland Theological Seminary, and an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church.

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Tavis Bohlinger

Dr. Tavis Bohlinger is Editor-in-Chief of the Logos Academic Blog and Creative Director at Reformation Heritage Books. He holds a PhD from Durham University and writes across multiple genres, including academia, poetry, and screenwriting. He lives in Grand Rapids with his wife and three children.

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  • How do you account for the UMC’s turn away from the authority of Scripture to the spirit of the age? The church in which you are an ordained elder supports errors and abominations on a scale that would have shocked the Wesley’s and would have caused Luther to question your salvation. By the way, what is “Prima Scriptura?” I know of “Sola Scriptura,” but I have never heard of this other. Is that ANOTHER of the UMC’s “innovations?”

  • I do not know of the author’s personal stance in relation to the confession he is attached to and how it works out in practice for him to refresh theological commitments. But regardless, I have to say a loud Amen! to the statement as it appears in the blog in all simplicity. Sadly, “Sola Scriptura” is for many more a slogan than a reality.

  • Good heavens, Delwyn! I am surely not to be held accountable for the excesses of the louder members of the UMC who do not abide by our own denomination’s Book of Discipline with its historic commitments to orthodox faith and practice! Up to this point, for the record, the UMC has not turned away from Scripture toward the spirit of the age; only MEMBERS of the UMC have done so (including, admittedly, too many bishops and elders). But the denomination as a whole, as represented for example in the majority who voted the 2016 Book of DIscipline into its present shape, remains quite close to Scripture (and to the Wesleys). I don’t think that either one of us knows Martin Luther well enough to know if he’d question my salvation in particular; my own thought is that he would be too sensible to condemn the individual for the (alleged) sins of the group, and certainly not for the sins of the renegades within a group. “Prima Scriptura” means “Scripture first,” affirming the primacy of Scripture, the power of Scripture to “trump” anything in our theology or practice or reasoning that fails to align with it. It’s simply more honest than “sola Scriptura,” for which of us is truly shaped (or has a theology that is truly shaped) entirely and only by Scripture and not by some historic Christian tradition of the theological interpretation of Scripture?

Written by Tavis Bohlinger