Tuesday, November 22, 2022

On Theological Method: A Review and response to Matthew Emerson and Luke Stamps on "Trinitarian Theological Method"

In 2019, a book was written showcasing an in-house debate among Baptists on the doctrine of God. In that book, Matthew Emerson and Luke Stamps wrote a chapter on it promoting the concept of "trinitarian theological method."[1] The reason for "departures from classical Christian doctrine," according to them, is due to faulty theological method.[2] Fidelity to Scripture as sole and final authority alone is insufficient, unless paired with a theological method that they believe to be true. Those who do not accept the need of their theological method are "biblicists," defined as those who "seeks to interpret the biblical text, as far as is possible, without any outside any outside influence, particularly any undue creedal or confessional influence."[3]

As someone troubled by this ressourcement happening within professing conservative Protestant circles, I read the chapter (and the book), and have written a review and response to Emerson's and Stamps' proposal. Briefly in response, I find their proposal vague and confusing, and liable to be interpreted either in an orthodox manner or a heterodox manner. Ultimately, I hold that Emerson's and Stamp's proposal is actually dangerous for Christians, as it opens them up to possible deception under the guise of theological retreival.

My review and response to Emerson's and Stamps' proposal can be found here. An exceprt:

Evangelicals are committed to Scripture as the sole and final authority. However, does this guarantee fidelity to biblical truth? Emerson and Stamps argue that it does not. Pointing to examples of what they see as departures from “classic Christian doctrine,” Emerson and Stamps assert that the reason for these departures is due to a difference in theological method. In other words, a commitment to Scripture as the sole and final authority is insufficient for any theology to be truly biblical unless it adopts a certain theological method which will ensure that it would be truly biblical.


[1] Matthew Y. Emerson and Luke Stamps, “On Trinitarian Theological Method,” In Keith S. Whitfield, ed., Trinitarian Theology: Theological Models and Doctrinal Application (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2019), 95-128

[2] Ibid., 97

[3] Ibid.

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