Submitted by Prof. Renihan
The relation between exegesis and theology is very interesting. After the process of careful exegetical study, what do we do with the results? To some degree, this reflects the currently mooted debate between the rights of Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology. The proponents of the former tend to argue (with variations of emphasis) that the text as it stands alone must provide its own product–in some cases whatever the result might be. Those who assert the right of Systematic Theology argue that there is an hierarchy of text and doctrine which must be observed. When a text interpreted apart from the analogy of faith produces something contrary to that analogy of faith, it must then be re-visited and understood according to the analogy of faith. For example, texts which seem to support anti-trinitarian conclusions cannot ultimately do so, since such would demonstrate a conflict in revelation itself. The trinitarian doctrine stands fundamentally, ‘rogue’ texts cannot undermine it.
Alongside of this discussion is the important question of the use of logic. Theologians have always acknowledged that we must be allowed to integrate and systematize our exegetical work. But what is the proper role of logic (and even philosophical reasoning)? John Owen helpfully addresses this issue. Listen to what he says:
Owen on Consequences
From vol 2 in his preface to the Vindication of the Trinity
Moreover, whatever is so revealed in the Scripture is no less true and divine as to whatever necessarily follows thereon, than it is as unto that which is principally revealed and directly expressed. For how far soever the lines be drawn and extended, from truth nothing can follow and ensue but what is true also; and that in the same kind of truth with that which it is derived and deduced from. For if the principal assertion be a truth of divine revelation, so is also whatever is included therein, and which may be rightly from thence collected. Hence it follows, that when the Scripture reveals the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be one God, seeing it necessarily and unavoidably follows thereon that they are one in essence (wherein alone it is possible they can be one), and three in their distinct subsistences (wherein alone it is possible they can be three), – this is no less of divine revelation than the first principle from whence these things follow.