Be as Balanced as the Bible is Balanced


I highly value my education at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte.  While I think we should reexamine seminary models and our standards for ordaining men to ministry, there aren’t many negative comments I can make about RTS Charlotte.

Dr. Bob Cara, perhaps the most influential professor on my thinking, taught students his hermeneutical proverbs (called ‘Caraisms’).  The most useful Caraism for me has been, “Be as balanced as the Bible is balanced.”

Part of this proverb is indebted to John Frame and Vern Poythress with their work on perspectival (i.e. symphonic) theology.  Though Cara would critique aspects of perspectivalism, the basic hermeneutical principles are emphasized in this Caraism.

Different theological traditions and churches tend to be imbalanced toward their issues. Individual Christians are imbalanced by emphasizing one set of Scripture texts and ignoring others.  This is seen especially when one tries to summarize the basic message of the Bible (covenant, redemptive history, the glory of God, kingdom, shalom, justification).

Being as balanced as the Bible is balanced has saved me from getting overly passionate about particular theological bandwagons or hot-botton issues.  It has also made me (I hope) into a better preacher and equipper.

I also think this hermeneutical proverb aids us in the debate over being confessional or missional. Surely, the Bible stresses the importance of gospel accuracy (Gal 1:6-9; 1 Cor 15:1-5) and passing on ‘the faith’ (Acts 6:7; 14:22; 1 Tim 5:8; Jude 1:3).  Yet, one of Jesus’ clearest commands is the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).

I find it fascinating the confessional advocates stress particular verses in Acts (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 6; Acts 15) to establish particular doctrines of ecclesiology in terms of the organized church, but missional advocates appeal just as much to Acts (including Acts 2:42-47) to establish their ecclesiology of the organic church.

This may just be me, but I think both groups can learn from each other and be balanced by the other.  Even as a Reformed Presbyterian who is a Reformed Presbytery for a reason, I think we don’t have it all together in our exegesis and that we aren’t totally balanced in our reading of the Bible. (No tradition is!)


2 thoughts on “Be as Balanced as the Bible is Balanced

  1. Note that the Great Commission includes two commands: to evangelize and to edify.

    My concern is not the fact that advocates for their positions appeal to Scripture for their support. My concern is about the “party” that appeals to non-scripture for its support [eg. Acts 29.]

    1. Thanks for the comment Vaughn. I would say that the very name ‘Acts 29’ isn’t problematic. Certainly, as a Presbyterian, I disagree with points of theology and ecclesiology with Baptists and charismatics in the Acts 29 movement, but such theological diversity is acknowledged up front.

      Probably a better approach is to name specific beliefs universal across the Acts 29 effort (a footnote or two would be helpful) and then critique with Scripture. Eh?

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