Historians are as interested in the ideas and ideologies of the founders as political theorists like [author]. What is different about the two disciplines is their purpose. Historians attempt to recover a past world as accurately as possible and try to show how that different world developed into our own. Political theorists who work with the ideas of the past have a different agenda. They are primarily interested in the present or future conditions of political life and see past ideas merely as the sources or seeds for present or future political thinking. [T]hey usually see the past simply as an anticipation of our present, and thus they tend to hold people in the past responsible for a future that was, in fact, inconceivable to them.
There is nothing wrong with this sort of ransacking of the past by political theorists; lawyers and jurists do it all the time. But we should never confuse these manipulations of the past for present purposes with doing history... Jefferson's idea of equality, for example, has been used time and again throughout our history, by Lincoln as well as Martin Luther King, Jr. Historians contend that such usages violate the original historical meaning of the ideas and cannot be regarded as historically accurate, but they don't deny the rationality and legitimacy of such violations.
New Testament research is often political theory disguising itself as history, in order to support church politics, aka "theology". Day by day, dear Lord I pray, we need to spend more time attempting to see our own past for what it is, just as it was, not for how it might help us to mold our own future/present.
It's fine to extract principles of diversity, or of pastoral care, or of social justice, or of ecclesiological order - whichever principles those may be, for you - and then to apply those scriptural principles in another context. The most educated academics and clerics already know how this works, much better than anyone. But there are still some who push views of the first century (or allow it to appear a certain way) which support their ecclesiology, and their theology. Worst of all, it is very hard to find those who search behind the text for a reasonable History of Jesus and Paul, for its own sake. This should not be so rare.
Lord, hear our prayer.