Systematic Typology


“There are two main ‘checks and balances’ that restrain us from misusing the Bible’s symbols. The first is the Bible’s consistent use of the same symbols. There is a verse in John Newton’s hymn Amazing Grace which makes me cringe because it describes God’s mercy as a flood and the end of the world as being like dissolving snow. I love that hymn, but I know the Bible only uses a flood symbol to describe the destruction of unfaithful Covenant people, and snow is always, somehow, related to righteousness.

Secondly, the symbols are most often contained in the repeated event-patterns which structure the Bible. In other words, the symbols know their place. To annoy those who refuse to venture beyond Lego brick systematic theology,[1] I like to call this systematic typology. It is symbols contained in a repeated structure, and the structure is what allows us to make and verify the connections between the events described.

To illustrate this, imagine a dinner set where every patterned dinner plate has a piece missing. If we stack all of the plates, carefully lining up the corresponding bits of the pattern we do have, it is very likely we will be able to see the complete pattern using all the incomplete plates. This is exactly how the Bible is constructed. Although the first ‘plate’, Genesis 1-3, is extremely brief, it contains the seeds of the rest of the Bible in breathtaking potency.

Often, the only way to fully comprehend certain elements of Genesis is by reading the “missing” or implied elements back into it from more complete “plates” as the same structure is repeated in greater detail later on.

The most basic event-structure is the Creation narrative in Genesis 1, and it is the chord from which the entire Bible ‘symphony’ flows. When you see a passage that follows the Creation Week, there are some very valid things you can draw from the text that aren’t actually written in it. This is a subtle element of Scripture that many of the brightest scholars refuse to see.

Genesis 1 is the Bible Matrix. As it matures throughout the Scriptures, the identification of this pattern not only unlocks the books of Moses, Israel’s history, the structure of Jesus’ ministry and the book of Revelation, it has staggering implications concerning the identity, purpose and future of Christianity.

If the Bible is truly God’s Word, should we expect anything less?”

[1] Systematic theology disassembles the Bible like Lego bricks and puts all the same coloured bricks together in little plastic boxes (like many of those Christian books you have read). It is a necessary process, but if that is all we do, we underestimate the powerful, carefully-crafted literature these “bricks” were removed from. Like coals separated from a mesmerising fire, they soon become lifeless. Very often, a Bible brick only has meaning when observed in relationship to surrounding bricks. Or the relationship gives it a greater level of meaning.

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5 Responses to “Systematic Typology”

  • Bob Burcher Says:

    I am very sorry to read of possible restrictions to your Scripture ministry in local schools. I have sat in on two mornings of your Scripture teaching and found them to be very Biblical, relative, interesting & orthodox, butat the same time refreshingly challenging. You have a gift for communicating the Word of God to young people – and you have a heart for them.
    You are rightly aggrieved – and I think what you say in your blog is spot on – both your analysis of the situation – and your rebuke to those who want a watered down version of everything.
    I guess it was inevitable – but it is sad that some will close down or drastically restrict what has probably been [to my mind] the best ministry to youth in Katoomba and the mountain area.
    Thanks for being bold. Thanks for standing true.
    God bless. . .
    Bob Burcher

  • Stephen Henderson Says:

    Hey Mike,

    Good stuff, I haven’t been here lately, I always enjoy it. I too am saddened about what happened with your school. Congrats on the link from Wilson’s blog, though.


  • hiram Says:

    This is something that I’ve noticed, and it sorta bugs me as well. The restrictions currently placed upon typology are well intentioned, but problematic in light of how the Lord spoke of the Law and the Prophets (i.e. that they, in their entirety, spoke of Him).

    I’m glad I stumbled onto your site :)

  • Mike Bull Says:

    Hello Hiram (and what a great name you have!)
    I’m glad you did, too.

    Yes, it’s like they banned driving because some people went off-road.