How often have you casually described something as life-changing?! I hear—and say—this most often with food: “That pizza will change your life!” Well, while no doubt the food you’ve eaten is probably very tasty, I’d imagine it’s fair to say that your life remains unchanged pre- and post-doughnut.
Having said that, I really mean it when I boldly state that biblical theology has been life-changing. Way better than any taco!
At the most basic level, biblical theology involves tracing “particular themes that develop in the story of the Bible from creation to consummation (1).” Understanding biblical theology has changed my life in three significant ways.
Biblical theology helped me to see the Bible as one story. Before understanding biblical theology, I knew I was supposed to know that the Bible was one book written by one author (God). Still, honestly, I didn’t get how the Israelites in the desert had anything to do with Jesus. Learning that the exodus narrative points to Christ through themes like exile, wilderness, and deliverance helped me see that these stories I knew and was familiar with weren’t one-off events but were part of a broader, unfolding narrative.
Biblical theology helped me to consider the beginning in light of the end. I saw the bigger picture of redemptive history, that is, where we’ve come from and (perhaps more importantly) where we are going. Biblical theology allowed me to see that the story of God’s presence dwelling with Adam and Eve in the garden wasn’t just our past as Christians, but that it is a glimpse of our future. Before I understood biblical theology, I didn’t understand that our story starts and ENDS in a garden realm where God will gloriously dwell with his people forever.
Biblical theology made me a more engaged reader of the Bible. Before understanding biblical theology, I was blind to cues or hints that thematically link together various pieces of the Bible. But for example, becoming aware of the broader storyline of enmity between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman opened my eyes to see connections I didn’t see before. I became aware of how stories of barren women and enemies of God’s people with snake-like names or wearing scaly armor were connected to the larger unfolding story of redemptive history.
I love tacos as much as the next person. But if it’s life-change you’re after, study biblical theology! It will transform how you think about your life, your mission as a Christian, and your role in the local church. To learn more about biblical theology, I’d recommend these next steps:
1 - Biblical Theology, Nancy Guthrie (link)