It seems like it has been around forever — the idea of just studying the Bible and letting things fall into place. It is how most Bible study groups behave. It allows for an inclusiveness that transcends denominational and theological barriers. That’s a good thing, isn’t it?
Those who are theologically aware see the problem here. The term “Biblical theology” has more than one use. For the sake of this discussion I’m talking about the casual use of the term — avoiding the systematic questions that might divide a group. The idea of just doing a Bible study while avoiding specific doctrinal questions is a relatively new movement. It has been around only about 200 years, about 10 percent of the life of the church.
There is a positive and useful type of Biblical theology. That is the examination of the Word for all it says on any and all topics it discusses. This is what builds a sound theology, as exegesis precedes the systematic. That is never a problem.
The Biblical theology that is a concern is the type that avoids challenges and challenging passages. Does a Calvinist study leader have a difficult time with I John 2:2, or an Arminian with Romans 8:1? Does the postmodern anti-pietist have difficulty with Romans 6:1? Or the Molinist with Acts 2:23?
Here is the challenge: Teach the Bible according to your best understanding. Learn from those passages you find difficult. Consult others, both people you are close to and outside authorities. Be generous to those in your group with whom you might disagree. But do not, by any means, sacrifice the substance of the Bible on the alter of pleasing others. That’s not how good relationships are built. That’s not how the Kingdom is advanced.
When you hear a teacher misinterpret a passage then you have cause for conversation. Set a time to get together to examine that passage. Be willing to learn. Interacting with someone from a variant perspective Is a very good way to learn.