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It has occurred to me that when it comes to spectrally viewing Dispensational Theology vis-á-vis Covenant Theology, as their various formulations happen to appear along the axis of continuity/discontinuity, something is left to be desired. I think this is because such a paradigm not only tends to intensify discussion along the line of continuity vs. discontinuity (which can certainly be helpful), but also tends to minimize discussion along the lines of continuity per se and discontinuity per se. Continuity vs. discontinuity does not tell the whole story.

It would also be profitable to theologize along the lines of organic continuity vs. synthetic continuity, and organic discontinuity vs. synthetic discontinuity. I use “organic” in the following sense: that which is integral, or basic, to the constitution of a thing. I use “synthetic” in the following sense: that which is contrived, or manufactured, and foreign to a thing. The “thing” I am speaking of is Scripture. So “organic continuity” is continuity which is basic to Scripture; the continuity that Scripture itself inculcates. Conversely, “synthetic continuity” is continuity that is foreign to what Scripture inculcates; rather, it is manufactured by the theologian: often as a means to give coherence to the overall structure of divine revelation. The respective categories are what are intended concerning discontinuity as well.

I am, of course, assuming there is a basic, unified structure to divine revelation. I doubt that many would object to the thought that within this basic structure of divine revelation there are mysteries, the whitespaces in Scripture. Synthetic theology is basically the attempt to fill in those whitespaces with necessary logical inferences derived from the premises of what Scripture actually communicates. These necessary logical inferences become, in the mind of the theologian, part of the unified structure of divine revelation upon which they theologize.

I am not saying, nor do I think, that what I have described is necessarily a conscious process. I doubt that any Christian theologian would intentionally put their logical inferences on par with Scripture itself; no matter how necessary those logical inferences seem to be. That said, I do think that I have accurately described what can happen in doing theology: especially when one is attempting to describe the unified structure of divine revelation.

The difficulty in doing big picture theology is that once the theologian’s inferences are unconsciously stuffed into the whitespaces of Scripture they function as a foundation upon which further theological formulations are constructed. It should not be too difficult to admit that there is a difference between using Scripture as a foundation and using such inferences a foundation for theological formulations. I think the difference is akin to the Empire State Building resting on its present foundation vs. resting on a Jell-O mold.

I suppose these pesky, little inferences affect many parts of theology. I do not believe myself immune to confusing my own inferences with Scripture, but I certainly try and keep on the lookout for them. If I find them, and I do, I do what any respectable theologian would do: I do whatever I can to hold on to them. Then, once exhausted, I toss them out. Anyway, my hope is that over the next decade (I have to leave myself some wiggle room) I will sporadically post random thoughts on organic continuity and discontinuity integral to the structure of divine revelation and synthetic continuity and discontinuity manufactured and placed in that structure by theologians.

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