Experience in evangelical theology

John Wimber writes:

I have talked with many evangelical theologians who have undergone significant changed in their theology because of an experience. We are always being influenced by our experiences and need the humility to admit it. The question is: what are our criteria for judging these experiences? As we continuing to experience Christian living and God, our thinking ought to become more and more scriptural. All too often, though, secularised worldviews filter experience, separating out anything that contradicts modern materialism.

– Power Evangelism : 94.

I think he’s right. Conservative evangelical theologians (and many progressive ones) will claim to be interpreting the text and nothing but the text, getting to its ‘real’ meaning when they decide that the Bible teaches that miracles have stopped.
But systematic theology has even more of an influence in interpreting the Bible. Inevitably, we interpret the Bible in terms of our existing theologies. Sydney Anglicans find substitutionary atonement and grace everywhere. Anabaptists find peace and a minority church everywhere. Charismatics find the Spirit everywhere. I don’t mind if your theology influences your interpretation and application; like I said, it’s inevitable. What I mind is the claim to ‘objective’ interpretation that ignores the interpreter’s position.

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