Jason Allen and The Gospel Project

October 18, 2012

By Dr. Eric Hankins, pastor
First Baptist Church, Oxford, Miss.


Jason Allen and The Gospel Project

Doctoral dissertations are typically not the stuff of widespread attention (mine certainly was not and rightly so!). However, in light of Dr. Jason Allen’s nomination and appointment to the presidency of Midwestern Seminary, his dissertation (http://digital.library.sbts.edu/bitstream/handle/10392/3722/Allen_sbts_0207D_10055.pdf ), finished just last year, has evoked quite a bit more than the normal interest. Because Dr. Allen is a fairly unknown commodity, I read his dissertation and found it to be a very relevant piece of scholarship for the present hour in the life of our Convention.

The dissertation is entitled “The Christ-Centered Homiletics of Edmund Clowney and Sidney Greidanus in Contrast with the Human Author-Centered Hermeneutics of Walter Kaiser.” I must admit that the title itself caused my ears to prick up just a bit. It is no secret that I am quite concerned about the advance of Calvinism in the SBC. Allen’s strong associations with Southern Seminary and Steve Lawson, for which he expresses great appreciation in his preface (viii-x), have raised concerns that he will be promoting Calvinism at Midwestern. The title, at first glance, appears to reinforce such concerns because “Christ-centered homiletics” is all the rage among Reformed preachers (http://thegospelcoalition.org/preaching-christ/ ).

Under the auspices of making sure that Christ is proclaimed in every sermon, the net effect of such an approach is often to pry texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments. This ensures not only that every text might “preach Christ,” but also that every text might preach Calvinism. This sort of eisegesis is Walter Kaiser’s concern, and that’s why he’s spent his entire career honing the tried-and-true methodologies of biblical hermeneutics, especially with the regard to the OT, that take seriously authorial intent as the key to a text’s meaning. This approach drives great evangelical exposition. Certainly, Kaiser’s hermeneutics take into account the necessity of speaking of how any text, whether OT or NT, points to the grand redemptive history sealed in the pre-existence, incarnation, life, death, resurrection, reign, and return of Christ. What is different about the “Christ-centered” homiletic of Clowney is that it actually allows for a wedge to be driven between the meaning intended by the original author and the meaning appropriated by the subsequent interpreter. This, as Kaiser rightly points out and Allen duly notes, is highly problematic (79). When the intent of the original author can be dislodged from the meaning of text, the door to all sorts of trouble is opened.

Interestingly enough, Kaiser’s (and Allen’s) concerns about “Christ-centered homiletics” are exactly my concerns about LifeWay’s The Gospel Project. Just watch Matt Chandler’s promotional video (http://vimeo.com/34692625) of the curriculum, and you’ll see a first class example of the weaknesses of “Christ-centered” hermeneutics. The David and Goliath story is not about living faithfully as one faces giants; it is about how Jesus is our champion. Now, there is nothing inappropriate about seeing in this story an analogy to the Christ-event. There would be nothing at all wrong with emphasizing that analogy as a particular approach to interpretation or preaching. What is wrong is saying that, since the “Christ-centered meaning” of the text has been discovered, the narrative has nothing to say about faithful living, since the Bible, in Chandler’s opinion is not a “roadmap to life.” He seems to indicate that teaching people that the Bible is a roadmap from this passage actually harms them. In doing this, Chandler abandons the sound hermeneutics of, for instance, Fee and Stuart, who teach that every OT narrative has three interpretational levels: a “bottom level” which deals with the meaning of individual narratives, the “middle level,” which deals with the story of what God is doing in Israel, and the “top level,” which is God’s great plan of redemption, ultimately revealed in the story of Christ.[1] Clearly, the bottom level of the David and Goliath story is demonstrating how David is the true Israelite, a “man after God’s own heart,” living fruitfully in the fullness of covenant fellowship. So, there is much instruction to believers about “facing the giants.” At this level, the story is not guaranteeing personal success; but it is a story about living sacrificially for the fame of God’s name in every circumstance. To eliminate this from the exegetical import of this passage is simply erroneous. And it ignores the fact that the NT regularly points us to the examples of OT characters as encouragement to faithfulness in times in trouble (He 11, James 5:13-18).

I say the Bible is a “road-map to life,” a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. Now, it is certainly more than that. The good news of God’s grace to sinners is the referent of every page of Scripture and should be proclaimed in every sermon. But, the goal of preaching is to expose the text as it stands, not make it say what we want it to say through allegorical manipulation.

I certainly appreciate the reminder from the Reformed guys that biblical preaching must be more than moral pep-talks and chicken-soup-for-the-soul because the Bible is much, much more than that. But anytime we decide it is okay to ignore the authorial intent of a passage, we are in dangerous territory. A case in point comes from the Calvinism Conference in Kentucky this past August. Dr. Hershael York (Allen’s dissertation committee chair) is giving a defense of Limited Atonement, and he places into evidence the Day of Atonement from the OT. He makes the inference that, since the High Priest did not make atonement for every nation on the earth but God’s chosen people, Jesus the High Priest did not make atonement for everyone in the world, just the elect.[2] This is “Christ-centered” hermeneutics. Unfortunately, it is also bad exegesis. Following Kaiser, the question of the meaning of Day of Atonement is rooted in what Moses intended to teach the people of Israel. Was the point of the Day of Atonement passage to show Israel how God was excluding the nations from His redeeming purposes? Hardly. Israel’s vocation was to be a light to the Gentiles and kingdom of priests. Could a foreigner benefit from the Day of Atonement? Certainly (Lev 16:29). Also, the NT is clear in the book of Hebrews that the limited nature of the sacrificial system has been superseded by the vastly superior work of Christ, who provides atonement beyond anything offered in the OT sacrificial system. And, of course, 1 John 2:2 essentially settles the matter. But Dr. York has already decided that Limited Atonement is the truest understanding of the Gospel and reads it back into the texts concerning the Day of Atonement, rather than exegeting it from the text.

If The Gospel Project is intending to teach people to see how all of the Bible is related to the overarching story of God’s plan of redemption, that’s worthy goal, although I’m not sure why such a concept needs its own Sunday School curriculum. If it sets that hermeneutical layer above, outside of, or in opposition to the intended meaning of the author, then it is flat wrong, and more so if Reformed theology is loaded back into the texts because “Calvinism is the Gospel.” The disproportionate number of Reformed thinkers on the advisory board for the project and the curriculum’s frequent references to Reformed authors concern me that this could be the case.

All of which brings me back to Dr. Allen’s dissertation. Allen is actually arguing that Kaiser’s author-centered hermeneutics are superior to Clowney and Greidanus’s Christ-centered homiletics (11-12; 132). Allen’s style is, admittedly, oblique, but his point is clear enough: while Christ should always be exalted when preaching, authorial intent alone is the exegetical launch pad for any sermon (“Be Expositional First and Christological Second,” 145). Allusions to Christ may certainly be made when Christology isn’t explicit, but allusions are what they are and no more (144). Care must be given not to read any meaning into a text that is not rooted in the author’s intent. I hope the writers of The Gospel Project are listening to the new president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary because he is calling into question the conventional wisdom of “Christ-centered” hermeneutics.


[1] Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, 2d ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993), 79-80

[2] Hershael York, “Calvinism: Dialogue from Differing Theological Positions,” recording from Calvinism: Concerned? Curious? Confused?, August 4, 2012, available at http//:kybaptist.org/calvinism; accessed October 12, 2012. York’s comments begin right the 30:00 mark.

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Randall Cofield

Just watch Matt Chandler’s promotional video

of the curriculum, and you’ll see a first class example of the weaknesses of “Christ-centered” hermeneutics.

The weakness of Christ-centered hermeneutics? Shouldn’t Christ Himself establish our hermeneutic?

Lu 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

    Norm Miller

    Thx, Randall, for your input. Your Lu 24.27 reference is important in what it says. I think it is also important in what it implies, i.e., not everything in the OT is Christocentric. — Norm.

      D.R. Randle

      Norm,

      I would disagree with your statement that not everything in the OT is Christocentric – I believe precisely that it is! Everything written either points to Christ or points to the need for Christ, a Savior who will redeem His people and finally atone for their sin (Heb. 10:1-10). In every story, God is the hero – pointing His people to the reality that He will save them, He will provide for them, He will work on their behalf. That, itself, is Christocentric precisely because Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s plan for His people – both now and in the age to come! Thus if the OT is God-centric, which no one could legitimately argue against, then it is thus Christocentric!

        Norm Miller

        So, not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk or wearing mixed fabrics point to Christ how, DR? — Norm

          D.R. Randle

          Well, Norm, you might take this as silliness, but yeah – rightly understood both verses within their context do point us to Christ. In fact, the entirety of the Law, particularly its strict and strange nuances points to the fact that we cannot approach God – we cannot do enough to be justified, be good enough to stand righteous before Him, or precise enough in our practice to facilitate our own relationship with God. Instead we need a mediator who can perfectly keep the Law on our behalf.

          But as to the specifics of both of those, the way I’d preach the first is to point to the practice of boiling a goat in his mother’s milk – likely a form of Canaanite worship to their pagan gods. As such, in the context in Exodus 23 it is a reminder to the Israelites that their rituals are to be purely focused on the one and only True God, not mixed in any way with pagan religious practices. Thus, the people of God are to be set apart and holy (need I go into the application here in regards to both Christ and His righteousness and to the New Testament’s call to holiness for the Christian?). Additionally, this prohibition comes on the heels of a set of instructions for keeping the feasts and festivals – all of which can easily be shown to be fulfilled in Christ.

          In regard to the mixing of fabrics, the Holiness Code in Leviticus is itself a recognition of the purity of God and His nature. The purity of clothing reflects this (as does so much of the priest’s clothing reflects the nature of God – even Stephen Olford once said, “Each part of [the priest’s] attire speaks eloquently of the glories, virtues, and excellencies of our Great High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.”).

          Yet, such a calling also speaks to the nature of God in regard to order – God is a God of order and that picture of order can be traced throughout the OT all the way to the river of life and the destruction of the sea in Revelation 21:1 (the sea having represented chaos all throughout Scripture – from the Red Sea to Jonah to the Disciples and the storm).

          Both of my explanations above Norm are examples of viewing the OT Christocentrically (and in no case did I even come close to an allegorical interpretation – only typological). Both above show that the Holy Spirit in His inspiration of Moses (and other Biblical writers) was pointing God’s people forward to a greater reality – one where Jesus could confidently say, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46) and “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

            Norm Miller

            The point at hand is authorial intent. Are you telling me the authorial intent of the passages I alluded to was to point to Christ? I don’t think you truly believe that, DR. I certainly don’t. — Norm

            Don Johnson

            D.R.,

            It’s true “that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me.”

            However, Jesus did not say everything that was written was about Him. Instead what was written about Him was fulfilled.

            D.R. Randle

            Norm,

            You seem to suggest (as well as Eric) that human authorial intent always supersedes the Divine authorial intent of God. I think we would all agree that the ultimate source of all Scripture is the Holy Spirit. And I think we would also all agree that the Old Testament writers were not privy to the full extent of God’s special revelation in Christ. Yet, we still affirm both Jesus and Paul when they point directly to Old Testament passages and claim those were written about Christ.

            Such is the case with some passages below – namely Luke 4 and Psalm 2 – as well as others like Matthew 1:23 and Matthew 2:15. So there is a precedent established in Scripture and continued by the apostles and the Early Church to show connections between God’s earlier revelation and His later revelation.

            Often times these are direct and intended by the author (such as the comparisons made by the author of Judges between Samson and Saul and Samson and Samuel and Samson and David). Other times these can clearly be seen as prophetic writings that the author did not fully understand (the Psalms of David and Prophecies of Isaiah).

            Still, such a typological view and Christological trajectory does not in any way do damage to the authorial intent, but rather paves the way to see that the story itself is ultimate and also not disconnected from God’s self-revelation, but rather penultimate and, as such, a piece in the puzzle – a puzzle that once pieced together reveals a tapestry of God’s ultimate revelation – Jesus Christ, Himself.

            Personally, I don’t know how any blood-bought Christian wouldn’t rejoice at such an optimistic hermeneutical outlook. Certainly the Old Testament has come alive for me since reading Greidanus, Clowney, Carson, and Keller. And my congregation is more excited about reading the Old Testament than ever before. In fact, I recently spoke with a 19 year old female college student who has been attending our Church who told me of how the exposition of Samson’s life compelled her to read of Jephthah’s poor behavior and understand that such details in the story were intentional, since the author was pointing forward to a better judge and ultimately we find one in Samuel, who points forward to a better King, who is David, who ultimately points us to his son, Jesus – the fulfillment of every human office of judge, prophet, priest, and king!

            Now that’s exciting stuff! I don’t know how anyone could not affirm that and be blessed by it! Certainly such pictures blessed the Early Church, the Reformation Church, and the early Baptists, and drove them deeper in Biblical study, in adherence to inerrancy, and in dedication to a Christ-centered life. And today we see the same thing happening. Thus, I have no clue how you guys could be so negative about these things.

              Norm Miller

              If you would divide authorial intent from divine intent, D.R., then I’d be interested in your view of inspiration. As you explain that, I’ll throw you a rope to keep you from sliding too far down that slippery slope. Men and God worked in concert, I believe (“… men borne along by the Spirit”); so the intents, however understood, necessarily must coincide and not disagree. Further, D.R., you steered away from my point by accusing me (and Eric) of something we do not aver. With all due respect, brother, it would seem that, if you can’t win the point, you move to one you think you can. And so far today, you’re down 3 to zip. — Norm

            D.R. Randle

            Norm, I honestly don’t think you are understanding me. And I’m not sure what this down 3-zip thing has to do with listening to one another. I’m simply trying to show that the way you and Eric and others have characterized the Christ-centered hermeneutic is unhelpful and that the human-centered hermeneutic simply cannot account for the way that Jesus, the apostles, and even the Early Church read the OT. Perhaps I missed it, but I don’t see how you’ve actually shown how the human-centered approach deals with the passages I mentioned above.

              Norm Miller

              But what you did not do is answer my question, D.R.: “Is the authorial intent of not boiling a kid in its mother’s milk directed toward Jesus Christ?” You went around Robinhood’s barn and had to drag in ALL the Law to make your point — a straw man of sorts — to positionize me in a way that, to rebut you I would have to saw the does not point to Christ. You shifted the question – sort of like my children did when they were still home: they would answer question I did not ask.
              You even accused me and Eric of trying to divide human authorial, and divine authorial intent. If you think that can be divided, then you have a faulty view of inspiration. And if you think that either Eric or myself would divide that, then you don’t understand us. And to bring it back to the point Eric made, which is on record, is that York tried to say (on record) that, since the High Priest made atonement for only Israel, then Jesus’ atonement is also limited. How does one exegete that from the OT text? Regardless of the extent of the atonement, Eric was saying that York extrapolated from the OT something not in view. Saying the authorial intent of the OT passage was to point to a limited atonement is hermeneutical gymnastics on the order of Piper, et al saying ‘world’ means ‘elect’ (1 Jn 2.2). The word elect appears elsewhere; why wasn’t it used in 1 Jn. 2.2? I guess the disciple Jesus loved decided his own intent was more theologically correct than the one the Holy Spirit was superintending.
              You’re right, D.R., there is much about you I don’t understand. — Norm

            Zack Skrip

            Norm, you said: The point at hand is authorial intent. Are you telling me the authorial intent of the passages I alluded to was to point to Christ?

            I would that we as baptists have always believed in the dual authorship of Scripture and therefore, yes, I do believe this fits in with the Authorial intent.

          D.R. Randle

          Norm,

          You can delete this comment after you read it, but I noticed that my comment below to Adam and Eric which has substantial information about Greidanus’s hermeneutical approach has been kept in moderation. If there is a problem with the comment, then please let me know and I will re-word it. Otherwise, can you please explain why that comment might have gone to moderation, while the others did not? I do know that this happens from time to time on SBC Voices, so it could simply be a website hiccup. Just want to make sure I am within the moderation rules and yet can make those substantial comments which could further the discussion as well. Thanks.

    Calvin S.

    A huge problem with the standard hermeneutic employed today is that you can come to a text (such as Psalm 22) and see the phrase “they pierced my hands and feet) and “cast lots for my clothing” and then say “this is talking about David. How absurd. Clearly it is about Jesus. And if we followed the Apostle’s hermeneutic, we would see Jesus throughout the Old Testament. “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” (Jn. 5:39)

    God the Father also tells us similarly when He bore witness of Jesus in Matthew 17:5 at the transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” God the Father carefully crafted His words to include texts from each of the three portions of the Jewish Bible: The Wisdom Literature, The Prophets and The Torah. He said,

    1. “This is my beloved Son,”
    (Psalm 2:7: “You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.”)

    2. “in whom I am well pleased.”
    (Isaiah 42:1: “Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights!)

    3. “Hear Him!”
    (Deuteronomy 18:15: “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear”.

Norm Miller

Dr. Hankins:
Thank you so much for sharing your leadership and scholarship. I especially appreciate a pastor/scholar who intentionally writes at pew level. That’s putting all the cookies on the lower shelf so all God’s children who will read your post also will be able to comprehend it fully.
The Conservative Resurgence was about the nature of Scripture. It would appear that your citations of some others in our beloved SBC reveal their short memories in that regard.
Thank you also for informing us of Dr. Allen’s position regarding the authorial intent of those, who, under God’s superintendence, penned his holy word. Understanding that the Bible was written by those who were “borne along” by God the Holy Spirit gives “authorial intent” superlative impetus that came not by the opinion of men, and therefore must not suffer the opinions of men presented as theological fact. — Norm

Steve Martin

Thanks for this piece.

The bugaboo of reason has infected way too many of our Christian brethren who have a strong desire to ‘figure it all out’. The Word is clear and His love is clear…for ALL His creation.

It grieves the heart of our Dear Lord when many reject Him for He would, “like a hen gathers her chicks, gather us ALL under His wings.”

Adam Harwood

Dr. Hankins,

This is a fascinating article. Although you may receive criticism here and elsewhere for opposing a “Christ-centered hermeneutic,” you are correct.

As Jesus explained in Luke 24:27, the Old Testament testifies of Him. As W. A. Criswell famously preached, atonement is the scarlet thread woven throughout the Bible. This view is consistent with–not in contradiction to–authorial intent. When reading the Bible, we must always begin with this question, “What did the original author (the human author, whose every word was fully inspired by God) intend when writing these words?”

In their widely used hermeneutics textbook entitled Grasping God’s Word, 3rd edition (Zondervan, 2012), Duvall and Hays write ten pages on the difference between the allegorical approach and the typological approach. They define a type as “a biblical event, person, or institution which serves as an example or pattern for other events, persons or institutions” (216). You and I are in agreement in affirming typology. The OT is full of events, people, and institutions which point forward to Christ. But **not all** OT people, events, and institutions point to Him. If we disregard the author’s originally intended meaning, then we allegorize the text (employing a reader-response hermeneutic).

Duvall and Hays warn against the allegorical method, explaining: “Numerous early Christian scholars felt that the Old Testament would be relevant only if it spoke directly of Christ” (208). You suggest that some preachers do this today. Duvall and Hays explain that this was a popular method of interpreting the Bible until the time of the Reformation, when Christian scholars moved away from the allegorical approach to the grammatical-historical approach, which is grounded in authorial intent.

I agree that we should heed the warnings of the Reformers, echoed in the dissertation of our newest SBC seminary president, and reject all allegorical hermeneutics–even if it bears the title “Christ-centered.”

In Him,

Adam

    Matt Svoboda

    Dr. Harwood and Dr. Hankins,

    I fear, not purposefully, there is a little misrepresentation going on. For instance, when I was at Southern we talked a ton about typology and were warned strongly against allegorical. Goldsworthy is a good example of this. He nails the concept of teaching Christ in all the Scriptures, but he is also very quick to say that it isnt to the exclusion of authorial intent and the setting in which the text was written.

    York, Chandler, etc say the very same thing. Now, if that little sound bite by Chandler is all you have heard him say on the subject I understand the confusion. But anyone who has paid a little more attention to him know that he doesnt “skip the authorial intent” and go straight to Jesus. He uses the context of the passage itself and the authors intent as a “launch pad” to Jesus.

    I fear this is another example of talking past each other more than it is a productive discussion over a legitimate disagreement.

      m. b. woodside

      Matt S.,

      well written!

      m.b.

      Adam Harwood

      Pastor Matt,

      Thanks for your note. You level a serious charge in the first sentence of your comment, namely that Dr. Hankins and I have unintentionally engaged in “misrepresentation.” I have no desire to do so and it would help if you would let me know who or what have I misrepresented and in what way.

      You explain that you were warned at SBTS against allegorizing and you were taught about typology. I am glad to know that was the case, but I would expect no less from one of our SBC seminaries. Your anecdote, though, in no way supports your claim that I have engaged in misrepresenting a viewpoint.

      Are you asserting that I misrepresented Hankins? Did I misrepresent the definitions or views of Duvall and Hays? If so, in what way? I didn’t address anyone else’s views in my reply, so your comment leaves me confused.

      You mention York and Chandler, who Hankins cites. Did Hankins misrepresent them? In what way? You state regarding Chandler that “anyone who has paid a little more attention to him knows that he doesn’t ‘skip the authorial intent’ and go straight to Jesus.” It seems that you deny Hankins’ assertion. But simply claiming that Hankins has not paid attention to Chandler’s teachings is hardly a refutation of his assertion that Chandler is missing the biblical author’s original intent of the text.

      Hankins engaged critically and thoughtfully the arguments of a recent dissertation by a newly-elected seminary president. But you don’t mention Allen’s view. Did Hankins misrepresent Allen’s view?

      I have no desire to talk past each other, brother.  And I have no desire to misrepresent anyone’s view. Please help me understand what it is that you would have me to consider. Thanks for your note, brother.

      In Him,

      Adam

        Jason G.

        I am not Matt, but the “misrepresentation” I see present is labeling those cited as holding to “allegorical hermeneutics”. If you read Greidanus’ book “Preaching Christ from the Old Testament,” he clearly rejects allegorical hermeneutics. Clowney’s works reject the same. York in this very discussion thread rejects the claim that he believes such teaching.

        To assign to people a belief that is not only incorrect, but one that they openly reject and teach against, shows either misunderstanding of their position or misrepresentation.

        That said, I would chalk much of the confusion in this discussion to imprecise language and less than careful explanation in the original article. All parties on both sides of this discussion would reject allegorical hermeneutics, to assign that terminology despite the differences in typology and allegory that have been clearly stated is unhelpful…and could be called “misrepresentation”.

        Both parties agree in authorial intent and believe that original context is the crucial starting point in exegesis (read Clowney’s “Preaching Christ in All of Scripture,” specifically the chart on p32). The question is the role of the divine author’s intent in guiding the meaning of the passage. The issue isn’t allegory at all, it is asking upon where the emphasis should be placed in reading Old Testament texts. Did God intend to point to Christ through the Old Testament authors, or not? If he did, how? Thus, the discussion of typology – not allegory.

        I think a little more careful use of terminology would help avoid the more divisive conversations that might follow the original posts and some of the follow-ups.

          Adam Harwood

          Jason,

          Thanks for your note. Nice to meet you.

          I do not believe that I labeled anyone in my comments above. For that reason, I reject your claim that I have assigned to people any beliefs.

          To clarify, I am not rejecting a Christo-centric reading of Scripture. What I reject is any reading of Scripture (whatever it is called) which contradicts the intended meaning of the biblical author. By doing so, I am simply advocating a basic principle of the grammatical-historical method.

          I also reject your warning that I should be more careful in my terminology. I weighed my words carefully before writing them and stand by them. I simply asked Matt to clarify where I misrepresented a person or view in my comments.

          In Him,

          Adam

            Jason G.

            Adam,
            Nice to meet you as well!
            I think we all want to reject any reading of Scripture which contradicts the intended meaning of the author. I think we also all want to advocate and use the grammatical-historical method of interpretation. We are all in agreement on that.
            Here’s the issue: you are saying that those who fall in the camp outlined by Hankins (which evidently includes Clowney and Greidanus, as well as Chandler and York) are guilty of NOT wanting to do those things. Which, if you read their books, is clearly not the case. Thus, you misrepresented their views. You also attached the term “allegorical interpretation” to those who hold such a view – a term they all reject, and one that when studied in historical context is not fit for what Clowney and Greidanus teach or use.
            Even, if you wish to not have your statements applied to those gentlemen (which should have been stated clearly, if that was your intention), you are assigning such belief in allegorical interpretation (specifically, reader-response hermeneutic) and rejection of the grammatical-historical approach (and authorial intent) to “someone.” If that “someone” is a generic someone, then the critique and warning you gave is not helpful…and comes off as confusing. If it is a specific someone, meaning those cited in Hankins’ article, then it is complete misrepresentation or worse. I know of no one in SBC circles who is guilty of what you stated in your post (definitely no one cited by Hankins). So, without any specific instance of someone doing such, I have to ask: against whom are you arguing? Who exactly believes the things you stated? I know that Clowney, Greidanus, Chandler, and York do not. I know that the Gospel Project Advisory Team does not. Who is guilty of what you said? If you are simply giving a general warning, fine, but you have to see how the immediate context of discussion makes it out as if you are saying those being discussed are guilty. Your closing line of your original post seems to show that you believe ta least some of those who hold to a “Christ-centered” hermeneutic are guilty.
            I don’t know anyone who holds to this method of interpretation that would reject the grammatical-historical method. Not a one. The accusation that these people (or anyone) actually reject that understanding needs some proof. Or else you are guilty of misrepresenting them. To say that a group of people believe something they don’t believe is the basic definition of misrepresentation.
            If you are going to squabble over terms, that is fine, but then my comment about weighing terminology (which you dismissed) becomes completely relevant.
            I hope that clarifies my earlier comments.

            I appreciate your response, Adam. I really do.

            Johnathan Pritchett

            Jason G,

            Dr. Hankins included Chandler as a popular level example of the method and cited a source, but as for the other men, they were included because Dr. Allen included them. Your beef is with Dr. Allen more than anyone else. Certainly Dr. Allen read their books for his dissertation given that he is the one offering his critique.

            Sometimes, what people claim to reject in theory they put into practice anyway. If Dr. Allen’s contentions couldn’t be defended, he wouldn’t now be Dr. Allen, but would be Mr. Allen rewriting his dissertation. Apparently, people at Southern thought Dr. Allen’s contentions in his dissertation had merit. So…your beef is not only with Dr. Allen, but Southern as well. Re-aim your rifle, my friend.

            If your concern is that Chandler was misrepresented, offer evidence like Dr. Hankins did that expands Chandler’s view and cite the source. “If you’ve read their books…” is an opinion, not evidence.

    D.R. Randle

    Adam,

    Let me second Matt here – both you and Eric have not fairly characterized Allen, Greidanus, Clowney, and others. You have both failed to adequately distinguish between what is typology and what is allegory. In fact, it seems you guys have either failed to read Greidanus, or purposefully misrepresented him. Greidanus spends 20+ pages in his magnum opus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, presenting the allegorical method from a historical perspective, then ends that section before moving on to explain “Typological Interpretation” with the very definitive pronouncement:

    In spite of its long tradition, allegorical interpretation must be rejected as a viable method for preaching Christ from the Old Testament.

    This, of course, is the same view that he shares with Clowney and with Geerhardus Vos , the father of Reformed Biblical Theology (dear reader, please see link for clarification of my use of “Biblical Theology” here before jumping to conclusions about its usage in your own personal vocabulary).

    Additionally, it should be noted that such an approach is not limited to Reformed Theologians, as typological interpretation (in contrast to allegorical interpretation) is championed as well by the Methodist theologians Joel Green and Max Turner in their book Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology.

      Adam Harwood

      D. R.,

      Thanks for your note. I don’t believe that I “characterized Allen, Greidanus, Clowney, and others.”

      And I reject your claim that I “failed to adequately distinguish between what is typology and what is allegory.” Instead, I provided quotations from a standard hermeneutics textbook which defines the terms. Are Duvall and Hays wrong? If so, then your disagreement is with them before it is with me. If Duvall and Hays are correct and I accurately cited them, then what claim have I made that you are correcting?

      I am familiar with the works you cited, as well as several others who have written on the subject. I never claimed that Greidanus advocates for the allegorical method. I am not sure why you are making this charge.

      Hankins’ article is about Allen’s dissertation, which critiques the hermeneutical method of three contemporary theologians. Feel free to agree or disagree with either Allen or Hankins on this issue. But please refrain from charging me with claims I have not made.

      Blessings, brother.

      In Him,

      Adam

        Matt Svoboda

        Dr. Harwood,

        DR hit on what I was getting at. I dont think you failed define the terms. What I think you did was misapplied them, thus, wrongly characterizing the people you were talking about.

        Your last paragraph is what did it. You rightfully said we should reject all forms of allegorical interpretation. Then you implied that people who espouse a Christ-centered hermeneutic” partake in allegorical interpretation- that is the mischaracterization.

        When Hankins quotes Chandler and York (though York doesnt even belong in the camp he tried to put him in) and charges them with allegorical interpretation it simply isn’t true.

        Let me also note, my comment was much more so for Dr. Hankins than yourself, but your comment was in agreement with Dr. Hankins and there were a couple of things in your comment that I thought were false, like the one I mentioned. I apologize if me responding to you and Hankins in the same comment caused some confusion.

        Some are lumping (including myself) you with Hankins beliefs since you left a comment of agreement. I think this is what caused some confusion with DR and myself. You are right, you didnt make some of the claims, Dr. Hankins then and you simply left a comment of agreement (though that doesnt mean you affirm every single thing in the blog).

        D.R. Randle

        Adam,

        I hate to keep agreeing with others, but Matt hit the nail on the head. You seem to be in essential agreement with Eric, who clearly suggests that Clowney and Greidanus represent a dangerous hermeneutical approach in the Christ-centered method. Then you further this by offering the definition that Duvall and Hays, suggesting that this is an answer to such a Christ-centered method when the reality is that those theologians that Eric is seemingly warning us against actually do reject an allegorical approach in favor of a typological one and would probably AMEN Duvall and Hays for their statements. So my problem is not with Duvall and Hays, but with you trying to suggest (without evidence) that the Christ-centered approach is an allegorical approach and not a typological one.

        And so my suggestion to you is that you not just be familiar with Greidanus, but actually pick up his book and read it in its entirety, as you would find that he makes this quite clear in the first 120 pages. And then recognize that guys like Chandler, while they might apply such a method loosely, are in fact pointing to the reality that many of you guys should see – that we have so often made the OT stories moral tales that there has been a failure to see them as episodes in a greater storyline.

        I mean just think about it for a moment Adam – how do you teach students to read any book of the Bible? In context of the entire book, correct? That’s certainly what we at CRBC teach our congregation. Why then would you then turn and tell your students not to read the entirety of the Bible in its full context, which is itself the historical-redemptive story of God redeeming His fallen people through the work of His Son Jesus Christ? As pointed out before, a strict authorial-intent approach cannot explain how Jesus applies to Himself passages David wrote in ignorance, how the author of Hebrews can claim that the earthly tabernacle was entirely crafted in order to point to the true heavenly tabernacle – Jesus, Himself, or how Paul can say in 1 Cor. 10 that Jesus was the Rock that the Israelites drank from.

        In the end Adam, the Christ-centered approach (contrary to what has been suggested here) is not an either/or approach when it comes to authorial intent. Rather it is a way to read God’s authorial intent, as He works through real human authors who speak of real, historical events and characters. Christ-centered hermeneutics presents the best of both worlds and help us to see that we OUGHT to go beyond moral lessons of facing our giants to the reality that God is not merely offering a lesson in faith there, but declaring to His people that He will call His own king to the throne – one that is wholly unexpected and seemingly completely unqualified – one who will complete the work that neither Joshua nor the Judges were able to do in ridding the Promised Land of all Israel’s enemies, as well as write and sing of the True King who is to come – the One who will establish the eternal throne of David.

        And if we as pastors continue to miss that truth and instead feed our people a steady diet of “do this, don’t do that; be like this patriarch or don’t be like this other”, then we will simply continue to starve them of the richness of God’s Word and a vision of God that will truly compel them to obedience.

        Personally, Adam, contrary to Eric’s wonderment at the need for the Gospel Project as an entire SS curriculum, I think it is beyond time for us in the SBC to study the OT in this way and the GP doesn’t go far enough to correct our failure in this area. And if you have any doubts that is true, feel free to make the 100 -or so- mile trek to my Church and ask our folks to describe their view of the OT before I started preaching thru it using this method back in March and how it’s been transformed and enlivened since then. In fact, I invite you to come down and visit me in my office and talk to me about how my own view of the OT has been transformed and enlivened and how my adherence to inerrancy and the Sovereignty of God has been strengthened through it.

        Because Adam, it’s not about “finding” Christ in the OT or “forcing” Him into every text, but about allowing the scales to fall off so that we might behold the glory of Jesus in every aspect of God’s Word. And that is praiseworthy, not something we should be critiquing as “dangerous”.

          Johnathan Pritchett

          Again, same response I gave to Jason G above. You are all aiming at the wrong targets. Clearly, Dr. Allen and the people at Southern who found his dissertation successfully defended should be your primary target. Certainly, Dr. Allen read their books for his dissertation.

Rick Patrick

Eric,

Thank you for clearly articulating the hermeneutical concerns many of us have with the Gospel Project. I have found it difficult to suggest that the so-called “Christ-centered” hermeneutic might actually be overemphasized and improperly applied at times. It just doesn’t sound very spiritual to oppose something purporting to be Christ-centered!

I thought this was masterful: “I certainly appreciate the reminder from the Reformed guys that biblical preaching must be more than moral pep-talks and chicken-soup for the soul because the Bible is much, much more than that. But anytime we decide it is okay to ignore the authorial intent of a passage, we are in dangerous territory.”

It gives me hope to know even if Dr. Allen disagrees with us in other areas, he joins us in believing we must “Be Expositional First and Christological Second.”

Your concern that the Gospel Project writers might load Reformed theology back into each text as part of their Christological interpretation is a suspicion I harbor as well.

    Fred Johnson

    Rick,
    Does this mean you are now jettisoning the “Calvinist conspiracy” nonsense since Dr. Allen is in agreement with you on preaching?

      Rick Patrick

      Fred,

      I cannot jettison something I never believed in. The term “Calvinist Conspiracy” is used by Calvinists as a term of derision for all people who are concerned about the institutionalization of Calvinism in the SBC. It is the theological equivalent of calling someone who disagrees with you a racist or a homophobe.

      I consider it highly offensive and would appreciate it if you would not use the term “conspiracy” to describe my simple observation that our denominational leadership is more reformed than our denominational membership, a situation I consider to be inherently unstable for the SBC.

      For what it’s worth, although I appreciate that Dr. Allen places exposition before Christology, I remain concerned that Dr. Allen’s close association with Al Mohler and Steve Lawson explains his basic theological convictions. Thus, I anticipate Midwestern becoming more and more like Southern in terms of its reformed emphasis.

      Five or ten years from now, if I can look back and see that he has not turned Midwestern into a more reformed institution, I will be more than happy to admit that I was wrong. On the other hand, if he does indeed lead the institution in a more reformed direction, thus validating my concern with the growing institutionalization of Calvinism in SBC life, I look forward to receiving the dozens of apologies I will be due from those who have slandered me as a conspiracy theorist.

        dr. james willingham

        Rick: I wonder what you will do, if Dr. Patterson changes? His remarks on Election suggest a minute shift which usually serves as a prelude to something monumental. I repeat what I have said else where in other words: The rise of Sovereign Grace theology is necessary to the production of the main event, the Third Great Awakening. Calvinism ain’t the main show. The will of God is, and the promise of I Chron.16:15 indicates the basis for believing we will make it through the hour that is to try our souls (Rev.3:10) to a time of great success. Besides, the originals in the 1700s went out to win the whole world (cf Edwards’ Humble Attempt) with the DOG, following the pattern of their Lord, while those who believed in a General Atonement set on their behinds and did little or nothing while morphing off into unitarianism and/or universalism. Either group, calvinist or other wise, can be indifferent or unconcerned, etc. Neither has a patent on passion; it is just that the calvinist was the fustest with the mostest. Besides, also, the calvinist started this little tete-a-tete to keep all working together while arguing points with good grace to realize that our greater aim must be kept in mind and maintained and that the arguing only means were alive not diabolic enemies. Now and then you will run into one suffering from severe pathology that requires a real trimming. Remember also freedom to practice comes out of the calvinists like Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke, while the GeneralBaptists (in England) were advocating the principle. I made some effort to read Dr. Jason K. Allen’s dissertation and found it indicative of a concern for what the text actually is trying to say. Any preacher, calvinist or otherwise, worth his salt, wants to preach that text, whatever it is, exactly as God intended it. My pastor who signed the Traditionalist statement, when he dealt with some verses that utterly contradicts that statement, preached the text, and I know of a former pastor who was a leader of calvinists outside the convention who preached a sermon on the subject, “Ten Things a Sinner Can Do.” Imagine that!

          Rick Patrick

          Dr. Willingham,

          If Dr. Patterson were to embrace Unconditional Election, I would of course read his observations and consider them prayerfully, reasoning independently of him in light of my soul freedom and the priesthood of the believer.

          If, as you suggest, a “minute shift” indeed means a “prelude to something monumental” then will picking a penny up off of the sidewalk make me a wealthy man?

        Fred Johnson

        Rick,
        On February 1, 2012, you wrote in a post you authored, “I am not a conspiracy theorist. Don’t talk to me about JFK, the Illuminati or Area 51. However, mindful of the fact that the Pharisees conspired with Judas to give up Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, we must admit in all fairness that sometimes there is indeed a conspiracy, even in religious matters. Just as businesses and politicians must deal with secret agendas, religious organizations are not immune from silent takeovers simply because our purposes are spiritual rather than financial or civic.”

        You then added, ““Is the Southern Baptist Convention quietly being reformed without the clear knowledge and awareness of the majority of our members who contribute vast resources for the spread of the gospel?”

        You use phrases like “taken over, “hard to prove,” and “not a grassy knoll, but I can’t escape the nagging suspicion.” You question, “Think about it. If you really wanted to reform the convention, would you announce to everyone that you were doing it or would you just start working quietly behind the scenes until somebody noticed and told you to stop? If we are indeed being secretly reformed, might we not realize it until it is too late?”

        You might consider it “highly offensive” and that you have been “slandered…as a conspiracy theorist.” If you would not write with such conspiratorial surmising you might be able to shed the label. Don’t blame others for a reputation that you have willfully embraced.

          Rick Patrick

          Fred,

          My tone in that article and many others was to poke fun at the secret conspiracy charges of others. Granted, I used the language of conspiracy while discussing the agenda hidden only in the sense that most Southern Baptists in the pews are not even aware of the growing reformed leadership of our institutions.

          I have, at many times and in various ways, absolutely disavowed the language of conspiracy for what is actually taking place, in favor of the more accurate “clearly stated reform agenda.”

          You have conveniently failed to mention the numerous citations of Founders, Reisinger, etc., in which there is written proof of such a goal.

          The growing Calvinist leadership of the SBC cannot be kept a secret any longer. The elephant in the room is being discussed by a major committee. It is not a conspiracy. It is a movement.

          To be clear once again, I do NOT embrace the idea that those who believe the SBC is growing more reformed in its leadership than in its membership are conspiracy theorists.

          I simply think they are right, and have a very good bead on reality.

          Chappy

          Where do you see or hear Dr. Patterson making a shift in his view on election or the atonement?

    Randall Cofield

    Hi Rick,

    You said:

    I have found it difficult to suggest that the so-called “Christ-centered” hermeneutic might actually be overemphasized and improperly applied at times.

    I’ve led my current church to use the Gospel Project literature, so I have reason for concern here. Would you mind providing a few examples of the improperly applied Christ-centered hermeneutic that you have noticed in the curriculum?

    Thanks in advance, brother.

      Rick Patrick

      Randall,

      My concern is generally described in Eric’s post–the attempt to apply a Christological hermeneutic in a way that diminishes authorial intent. Rather than provide you with a few examples, possibly hijacking the post, let me simply reinforce the one Eric mentioned in paragraph four–the very first example I heard referenced in Matt Chandler’s promotional video.

      Concerning David and Goliath, while I do believe one can point to Christ as Savior and hail Him as the one who “champions” our cause and “slays” the giant of sin, I do not believe the passage is primarily about our salvation through Christ. I do not accept the interpretation that God’s people must be huddling over in the corner scared and passive. I believe there is a biblical application from this passage encouraging God’s people faithfully to stand up against evil and allow God, through us, to defeat our foes.

      Because of these concerns, and others, I don’t use the Gospel Project. I read two lessons and rejected its use. Therefore, I cannot provide you with the specific examples you desire.

      Suffice it to say, however, that if the approach taken in the case of David and Goliath is followed elsewhere, and I have every reason to be believe that it is, my concern that this approach is reductionist and will collapse all of Scripture into my very favorite part, nevertheless presents a problem for me.

        Randall Cofield

        Rick,

        Thanks for the response.

        I’ve not found the David and Goliath passage treated in this initial quarter. Could you cite any examples in the two lessons you read? Were there examples of this error that caused you to reject the curriculum?

        I’m still unclear on why you rejected the GP, and as a conscientious pastor I don’t want to expose my people to error.

        Grace to you.

          Rick Patrick

          Randall,

          My concerns with the two Gospel Project lessons I read had to do with (1) their treatment of the topic of “spiritual death” in that it seemed to promote Total Inability, (2) the members of the Creative Team were disproportionately Reformed, and (3) the resources such as books and sermons that were recommended for additional study were nearly all Reformed.

          Beyond that, one gets a “sense” or an “impression” when reading and evaluating a book. It “strikes” you a certain way. This may not always lend itself to clear chapter and verse citations, but it is nevertheless a valid evaluation. I believe this helps to explain Ralph Green’s concerns when he reviewed the material with his church staff, which I have linked below. It is fair to say that I had the exact same impression as Pastor Green.

          http://sbctoday.wpengine.com/2012/08/01/9027/

            Randall Cofield

            Hi Rick,

            Thanks again for the response.

            I had read the Green critique when it was posted, but he never gave any specifics either.

            I got the impression you saw something specific when you read the two lessons you referenced.

            I’m looking for specific examples, not just gut feelings.

            Thanks for the exchange.

            Peace

    Jason G.

    I don’t believe that any of the people referenced would jump past authorial intent. Those sorts of accusations are misapplied in this discussion. I encourage you to actually read Clowney’s books and see how when he teaches how to preach a text the starting point is always the original passage in its immediate context (the bottom level in Fee/Stuart, or authorial intent in other settings). To say that any of these people are guilty of skipping the original context, is simply unfair and untrue.

    If anything, this is a discussion about the extent of the author’s intent. Or, more specifically, did God as supreme author intend for a Christo-centric understanding of the Old Testament? If we are to take Fee/Stuart’s levels seriously, then we must say that if we don’t get the middle level right, we probably didn’t get the bottom level right…and if we fail to get the top level right, then we missed the larger intent of God as author. To not get to the top level would be to miss authorial intent from both the human and divine perspective. Christ-centered preaching simply puts emphasis on the top level. But no one would argue you skip the bottom level…that is simply a misrepresentation.

    I think this is yet another example of people talking past people and seeing what they want to see.

Hershael W York

Dr. Hankins:

All the students who’ve had me for preaching at SBTS will be amused that you put me in the Christ-centered preaching category, and ironically not even by reference to a sermon of mine. I would encourage you to read my book and to watch my Adams Lectures on Preaching at Southeastern and you will quickly see that you have misrepresented me. It’s one thing to disagree with my statement about the Day of Atonement, which I understand and welcome; it’s quite another to then extrapolate from that a view of preaching which I have never espoused. I used the day of atonement as illustrative of a larger point. I’m fairly certain you would use Old Testament examples in the same way. Regardless of that, what you refer to is not my exegesis of a biblical passage nor my understanding of the author’s intent. Again, I do not at all mind your disagreement with my view of the scope and intent of the atonement, which was the topic at hand, but I do not want to be misrepresented and, frankly, your apparent assumption that I subscribe to that hermeneutic is erroneous. I suggest that when you wish to give an example of the Christ-centered approach to preaching, you refer to an actual sermon.

    Eric Hankins

    Dr. York,
    Thanks for your interest in the post and for sharing that you do not espouse Christ-centered homiletics. Such an affirmation, however, does not obviate my charge that you employ a Christ-centered hermeneutic in your treatment of the Day of Atonement. In doing so, you make a theological point that the text does not make regarding the extent of the atonement, reading limited atonement into a text where it does not exist. That’s the problem with using a biblical text typologically “as illustrative of a larger point.” It sounds exactly like you are making a biblically-based truth claim. I would have been critical at this point even if you had been making the case for unlimited atonement. I have represented your position at the Conference exactly.

      Hershael W York

      I’m pretty sure I used the same hermeneutic Jesus did in Luke 4:25-27, and He had others take issue with it then, too.

        Norm Miller

        So, Dr. York, are you saying that Jesus, whose exegetical methodology you claim to share, would say the authorial intent of the OT passage in view was to point to the extent of his atonement? — Norm

          Eric Hankins

          Dr. York,

          In his dissertation, Dr. Allen notes that Kaiser “resists any notion of an ‘Apostolic hermeneutic,’ which would permit the interpreter to cite types like the writers of the New Testament did” (39), yet this seems to be precisely what you are doing in your comment above. Since Jesus is the Son of God, He, of course, is empowered to see His own fulfillment of OT texts in ways that are not available to us. The question remains as to whether your typological treatment of the Day of Atonement is felicitous. I believe Kaiser’s principles make the case that it is not.

            Hershael W York

            I would agree with you if it were not for the fact that Hebrews 9 clearly assigns this meaning to the Day of Atonement. I get your point about David and Goliath, but I can’t believe we’re even discussing if we can see Jesus in the Day of Atonement.

            Eric Hankins

            Dr. York,
            The issue here is not whether typological readings of the OT in light of Christ are possible and permissible. Clearly, the NT authors engage in typology (as is the case in Hebrews 9). Moreover, the issue is not whether we may employ typology in our exegesis of the OT. Kaiser and Allen rightly note, under certain circumstances, that we may. The issue here is whether typology can be employed in such a way as to read a meaning into a particular text that does not fit with the trajectory of the author’s intent. Kaiser and Allen conclude that this is a misuse of typology. I challenge your exegesis of the Day of Atonement not to deny the presence of Christ-typology in that event (clearly, the sacrificial system is filled with types of Christ’s person and work). I challenge your exegesis because it uses typology to import the idea of limited atonement, which is a distinct, post-biblical theological concept within a post-biblical theological system, into a text that does not contain such an idea in its original meaning.

      Robert

      Hello Eric,

      It appearz thay you have caught Dr. York in a commonly made homiletical mistake. In my earlier Christian experience I worked extensively in counter cult ministry (I knew Walter Martin author of KINGDOM OF THE CULTS) and cults regularly make this mistake which I refer to as “springboard method” (i.e. they would take a bible passage and use it to spring into some other topic which the text itself was not addressing or dealing with at all, by this method one can use the bible to teach virtually anything and use it to support any error that you wish to promote or any personal agenda that you want to get into, you use the text to dive into what you really want to talk about or are concerned about).

      After early experiences dealing with non-Christian cults, I have been involved in teaching people to be preachers (incuding teaching homiletics at the seminary level). And I have told people in my classes that if I ever catch you using a text to make a point not derived from the text (i.e. if I caught them engaging in the springboard method at all) in a paper, sermon, whatever, you will automatically receive a failing grade for that particular project. I wanted people to be totally aware of this error and be totally on guard against it.

      God’s people deserve nothing less than biblical preaching that exposits the intended meaning of the biblical authors: not personal agendas of the preacher or personal hobby horses or whatever else the springboard method may be used for.

      So Eric when I read your comment that:

      “Such an affirmation, however, does not obviate my charge that you employ a Christ-centered hermeneutic in your treatment of the Day of Atonement. In doing so, you make a theological point that the text does not make regarding the extent of the atonement, reading limited atonement into a text where it does not exist. That’s the problem with using a biblical text typologically “as illustrative of a larger point.” It sounds exactly like you are making a biblically-based truth claim. I would have been critical at this point even if you had been making the case for unlimited atonement.”

      I totally thought of the springboard method as I read your words here. And that is just it, using a biblical text to “make a theological point that the text does not make” (in this case, “regarding the extent of the atonement”, but it could be anything) resulting in “reading limited atonement into a text where it does not exist” is the epitome of the springboarding method. It will often involve **eisegesis** (i.e. reading into the text what you want to find rather than exegeting out from the text what the text actually presents) and always involves making points that are not made by the biblical text when properly interpreted. Cults engage in this kind of interpretive method all the time (and based on my past experience I usually can spot it instantly), and all Christians must be on guard against it as well. And for preachers it is an inexcusable mistake. To see a teacher of homiletics engage in it (for the sake of his calvinistic convictions) shows once again the danger of calvinism and how it will lead its adherents to misinterpret and even abuse biblical texts. The springboard method is an abuse of biblical texts and is always unacceptable no matter who engages in it.

      Robert

    Tim Rogers

    Dr. York,

    You seem to miss what Dr. Hankins has stated in his OP. Your example that you used concerning the Day of Atonement is the only example that Dr. Hankins called to our attention. I did not see where he charged you with teaching the “Christ-centered preaching category” to hermeneutics. What Dr. Hankins said was your example and how you handled that particular example is something that is based on Christ-Centered preaching. I would think that Dr. Hankins, who also holds PhD in theology, would know state specifically that you were teaching a Christ-centered approach if that were his intention. His intention was to use an example concerning a concept you proposed in support of your position on Limited Atonement. In reading Dr. Hankins it appears his critique was on your exegesis of that particular text not on your classroom lectures or sermons as a whole.

David Kerr

I took Dr. York’s preaching class at SBTS 3 or 4 years ago and can affirm that he should not be lumped in with the “Christ centered” crowd. In fact if memory serves the required texts for the class were his book and Kaiser’s “Toward and Exegetical Theology”…

Mat Alexander

I had Dr. York for two preaching classes and he repeatedly warned students about the inherent dangers of Christ-centered interpretation vs. authorial intent. I don’t think this critique makes any sense.

Further, I’m not a Calvinist and believe in Christ-centered preaching.
So here I am, an SBTS student, non-Calvinist, Christ-centered preacher, and local church pastor. I hear guys like me are on the rise in the SBC. I wonder who’s driving that conspiracy?

Jerry Lawson

Dr. Hankins,
It truly is good you used “if” in reference to any Gospel Project hermeneutic since four chapters from the Duvall/Hayes book referenced by Adam Harwood are also promoted as “recommended resources” in the curriculum. From what I have seen there is a balance. The “examples given for our learning” in the Old Testament are not suppressed in favor of finding Jesus behind every [burning] bush. Nor is Jesus overlooked since He Himself “opened the Scriptures and taught them all things concerning Himself.”

Last, surely you do not believe Calvinists are the only ones who’ve ever been guilty of “pry[ing] texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments.” There is plenty of that foolishness going around all along the theological spectrum.

    Robert

    Hello Jerry,

    “Last, surely you do not believe Calvinists are the only ones who’ve ever been guilty of “pry[ing] texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments.” There is plenty of that foolishness going around all along the theological spectrum.”

    I have personally witnessed examples of the springboard method being used ***across the theological spectrum***. I have seen non-Christian cultists engage in it, calvinists engage in it, non-calvinists engage in it. Sadly I have seen it everywhere you care to name.

    This is yet another reason why believers must be like the noble minded Bereans (i.e. even though an apostle of God, Paul, was doing the teaching, they **still** checked the scriptures for themselves to see whether or not what he was claiming/teaching was true). I have sometimes shared a message that I call “Being a Berean”. In it I take people to the passage that commends the Bereans and make the point that no matter who is preaching/teaching/making claims, you always have to check what is said/claimed/taught by scripture.

    If the Bereans did it with Paul, who was an apostle of God, shouldn’t we all be doing so with every person we encounter today????

    Robert

      Lydia

      “If the Bereans did it with Paul, who was an apostle of God, shouldn’t we all be doing so with every person we encounter today????”

      Thanks Robert. This is refreshing to read…. perhaps because it is rarely heard today.

Bill Signer

1. Is no one going to respond to Dr. York?

2. Why does 1 John 2:2 settle the matter? Explain how a Calvinist is using eisegesis on that passage if they say that the whole world (??????) means the elect from every tribe, tongue, and nation? If you you want to bring up the authorial intent of the passage on top of that, why not look back at the same author’s gospel, John 11:52, where he uses extremely similar language to make the same point about the children of God?

To be a little more clear:

1 John 2:2 ??? ????? ??????? ????? ???? ??? ???????? ????, ?? ???? ??? ???????? ?? ????? ???? ??? ???? ???? ??? ??????
and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (NASB)

John 11:52 ??? ??? ???? ??? ?????? ????? ???? ??? ??? ?? ????? ??? ???? ?? ?????????????? ???????? ???
and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. (NASB)

The same author wrote these texts. Is it not arguable that John means the elect that are scattered all over the world and not every person in the whole world?

Thanks for reading,

Bill

Greek text from:
Aland, K., Black, M., Martini, C. M., Metzger, B. M., Robinson, M., & Wikgren, A. (1993; 2006). The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (with Morphology). Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

    Donald

    “Is it not arguable…?”

    I would like someone walk me through this interpretation while only drawing from 1 John.

    There needs to be some textual reason to assume that 1 John does not mean exactly what it says, before you go looking for semi-parallel passages in order to change the text from its simple reading into something else. The fact the details of 1 John do not match one’s preconceived conclusions is not a valid reason to change the simple meaning of the text into something more compliant to your theology.

      Bill Signer

      Dr. Hankins has pointed out authorial intent- not just the intent of a letter. That is what I use when I point out the correlation between the two passages.

      Scripture interpreting scripture has been a principle used throughout the entire history of the church. It is why we have orthodox doctrine like Trinity, the incarnation of Christ, and the infallible Bible.

Bill Signer

Apparently the Greek text will not work. It shows up as ?????

Oh well.

Thanks for reading,

Bill

volfan007

Eric,

Great insight, Bro. And, while…of course….Jesus should be lifted up and exalted in all of our preaching and teaching. When hearing them talk about the GP, and making every passage have something to do with the Gospel; I wondered what they were gonna do with passages like Proverbs 27:15 -16: A continual dripping on a very rainy day And a contentious woman are alike; Whoever restrains her restrains the wind,
And grasps oil with his right hand. lol

I guess they’re gonna have to skip a whole lot of the Bible to teach this way. And besides, what’s wrong with teaching a moral lesson, like having faith and courage from God, when facing a giant like Goliath? Or, from the Proverbs, teaching that God wants us to live wisely before Him in this world…as Beleivers? I mean, if that’s what the Bible teaches, then that’s what the Bible is teaching. Now, I agree….we should see Jesus on every page of the Bible….and, of course, the Bible is about God’s redemptive plan…no doubt. But, as you’re saying…..all the Bible is not about Jesus, or the Gospel.

Thanks for keeping it real, Bro.

David

    Max

    Pastor begins his message in children’s church with a question “Children, what is brown and lives in the forest?” … silence … next question: “Children, what is brown, lives in the forest, and has a bushy tail?” … silence … next question: “Children, what is brown, lives in the forest, has a bushy tail, and eats acorns?” … little Tommy rises to his feet “Pastor, I know I’m supposed to say ‘Jesus’, but it sure sounds like a squirrel to me!”

      volfan007

      Max,

      :)

      DAvid

    Bill Mac

    David: I did a quick look, but it wasn’t exhaustive by any means. Can you show me where the GP claims that every passage in the bible is about Christ?

    Calvin S.

    David writes: “And besides, what’s wrong with teaching a moral lesson, like having faith and courage from God, when facing a giant like Goliath?”

    Who says “a moral lesson” was the author’s original intent??? You are okay with inserting a moral lesson that was not the author’s intent but not inserting a lesson about Jesus Christ? That’s confusing and inconsistent in my opinion.

      Bill Mac

      Couldn’t we just as easily say that the authorial intent behind the David and Goliath story was to simply relate a historical occurrence, with no deeper meaning intended, moral or Christological?

        volfan007

        Bill Mac,

        I think we really, really see that David had faith in a God, who was bigger than the giant, Goliath. I believe we see that God was/is greater than rebellious, sinful man. I think we see that God gives us the strength to do what He has called us to do….

        David

          Bill Mac

          David: I don’t disagree. But what we see is our interpretation of a historical narrative. Therefore the intent of the author is to describe a historical event. I daresay from the human author perspective, all narrative history in scripture has as “authorial intent” the intent to chronicle history. Therefore whatever we see as a moral or Christological lesson from the history of David and Goliath goes deeper than authorial intent, to inspirational intent.

          The book of Luke and Acts, by the declaration of the author himself, have as their authorial intent the motive of chronicling the history of Christ and the early church. So more important that trying to figure out what Luke intended (since he told us already) is trying to figure out what the Spirit intended for us when he inspired Luke to write down what he did.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Hankins,

I’m a little fish in a big pond here, but I have what I think to be a relevant question.

You said:

…while Christ should always be exalted when preaching, authorial intent alone is the exegetical launch pad for any sermon (“Be Expositional First and Christological Second,” 145).

I understand “be expositional first and Christological second” to be a matter of logical sequence rather than hermeneutical priority. In other words, the process of exposition begins with authorial intent (and the requisite grammatical-historical considerations), but a Christological hermeneutic holds first place in a canonical-contextual understanding of any given passage.

Have I erred in my understanding of this principle?

Thanks

    Eric Hankins

    Randall,

    The point of my post (and the point of Allen’s dissertation) is that, while Christ must be exalted in every sermon and He is certainly “the point” of all Scripture, “Christ-centered homiletics,” as a distinct approach to preaching, has some inherent problems. If a “Christological hermeneutic” means that every text is teaching Christology, then I do believe it is in error. There are some great approaches for considering a text’s relationship to the ultimate story of the history of redemption in Christ, but this “layer” of interpretation cannot be set against authorial intent but must function in line with it. Morever, exegesis doesn’t just begin with the author’s intent, it sets the parameters for the entire process. Kaiser gives credence to the possibility of a texts sensus plenior, but it is to be carefully collated with authorial intent as the texts relates to other Scripture.

RobertSC

Dr. Hankins, are you not on a board inquiring on how to come together in the SBC over Calvinism? The tone of your article and points appear divergent from the mission of the inquiry board set out by Dr. Page. Is the Gospel Project really a fugus of the SBC? Is a move away from moralizing texts (which is often Christless) without jettisoning sound herminutics not helpful?

    Ron Hale

    RobertSC,
    To my knowledge, no one on the “peace committee” enlisted by Dr. Page was asked to sign a gag order or to stop sharing their reasoned views on matters.

    Dr. Hankins has presented a well written scholarly article. You seem to be saying that he has no right to share his views, concerns, appraisals, and commendations with the SBC family.

    You also seek to put words in his mouth. He offers thoughtful dialogue … as Southern Baptists talk about these matters.

      RobertSC

      Dr. Hankins can write whatever he wants, it is a blog. However, my comment calls into question whether it is helpful and conciliatory or inflammatory, devisive, and unhelpful to the discussion in the SBC.

        Rick Patrick

        Robert,

        In my opinion, these are precisely the kinds of discussions that need to take place in Southern Baptist life. They are far from inflammatory and divisive. In fact, they are just the opposite. They get the conversation started. They address the elephant in the room. They put the issues on the table where they can be dealt with, rather than allowing us to continue ignoring them.

        After all, Dr. Page did not form an “Ignore the Calvinism Controversy” Committee. His committee was designed to ADDRESS issues–not to teach us how to be polite to each other while allowing all the concerns to pile up without any kind of discussion.

          RobertSC

          Dr. Patrick, I would agree with you 100% if I didn’t believe the article to be divisive, the traditional statement written to “stir up”, and the general tone to be “watch out for the Calvinists”.

            Rick Patrick

            I think the article was written to contrast Dr. Allen’s dissertation with the underlying theme of the Gospel Project, and that the Traditional Statement was written to articulate what most Southern Baptists really believe about salvation, in contrast to the view of the growing Calvinist movement.

            I do rather agree with you about the general tone of “watch out for the Calvinists.” But Eric is not being divisive to turn a secret conflict into a more public one. He is simply exposing the hidden divisions and bringing them to light so they can be addressed.

            As I teach through the Scriptures of the Traditional Statement on Sunday night services at our church, you would be amazed at the astonished faces of our members when they hear about ideas like regeneration before faith, unconditional election, irresistible grace and limited atonement. They never knew such Southern Baptists existed.

            I’m curious as to why Eric’s theological statement is considered divisive, while Calvin’s is not. At least Eric’s was written by a Southern Baptist.

            Lydia

            I think Rick makes an excellent point that these are the best sorts of discussions. Dr. Hankins did not declare that some people needed to be “marginalized”. Nor did he write about the views of those he might disagree with being heresy or semi heresy. He simply put forth his take away from reading Allen’s dissertation.

            I am at a loss as to how the blog post could be seen as divisive and inflammatory?

            It seems your view would mean that any disagreement or discussion on any issues with which folks do not agree is automatically divisive and inflammatory. I have seen this view quite a bit and think it is very sad for us as Baptists.

Eric Thurmond

Luke 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

dr. james willingham

To Dr. Hankins: You are wasting time, if the dissertation of Dr. Allen is any indication. what he apparently is concerned about is the original meaning of the text. I thought it was interesting that he should make use of Kaiser (whose theological stance concerning calvinism I do not know) as a means to rebut Edmund Clowney (whose theological stance is well-known to be Calvinism – an Othodox Presbyterian!!!) so-called Christ-centered interpretations of the Old Testament. I must admit I felt some trepidation as the thought of not thinking Christ with every Old Testament text. However, and this, while not giving up that idea entirely, calls for examination and reflection: The primary aim is the intention of the author, if language is to have any meaning at all. There is also another avenue of interpretation presently not being considered to any degree, namely, the intellectual or the ideas and how they relate and work. Remember: the Calvinists of Virginia in the Union of Separate and Regular Baptists in 1787 started this working together. And if you would also take a look at our first President of the SBC, William B. Johnson, you will find that he is resolutely clear about the Baptist church being congregational in government. Moreover, if you will notice Z.T. Cody’s fussin about calvinism and his teacher’s gentle spirit (I refer to James Petigru Boyce), you will find the spirit of 1787 continuing. There are probably enough of us left in the SBC to see to it that if any of the Reformed folks want to enforce Presbyterian type church government, they will find Sovereign Grace folks who are adamant on the government being with the body and for freedom to disagree.

Frank Gantz

It would be so much easier to have a healthy discussion if every issue didn’t get presented as part of a devious Calvinistic conspiracy.
Years and years ago, I consistently heard this Christ-centered approach by many heroes in the SBC who certainly were not Calvinists.
Please just deal with the issue at hand. Perhaps then we can sharpen each other as iron instead of trying to dodge grenade tosses.
You raise some valid issues, but the conspiracy rhetoric means you will be cheered by those in your camp and opposed by those in the Calvinist camp.

    Bill Mac

    Christological hermeneutics and Calvinist indoctrination do seem to be two different issues, I will agree. I didn’t watch Chandler’s video, but from what was quoted, I didn’t catch the Calvinism part.

Dan Kreider

“If The Gospel Project is intending to teach people to see how all of the Bible is related to the overarching story of God’s plan of redemption, that’s worthy goal, although I’m not sure why such a concept needs its own Sunday School curriculum.”

I appreciated much about this article, but perhaps you see a different side of the SBC than I do. My experience thus far has been that the GP has been wonderful and mind-blowing for some of our people who had only ever thought of the Bible as a book of cheap moralisms (“be like Daniel, don’t be like Saul,” etc). If Galatians seems anti-law, it’s because it was written for legalists. If 1 Cor. seems legalistic, it’s because it was written (in part) to combat antinomianism. It’s a question of which pill you need for which problem. Our problem is NOT putting Christ where he isn’t. It’s failing to put Him where He clearly is.

If The Gospel Project makes people reconsider the grand scope of God’s redemptive plan, awesome. Forcing masses to convert to evil Calvinism? Hardly.

    Calvin S.

    Why is it that non-Calvinists so often lean toward “moralism”?? It is not complimentary. And it is certainly not a habit worthy of imitating. Forsaking it is the correct course.

      volfan007

      I’m a nonCalvinist, and I dont lean towards moralism. I preach repentance and faith…knowing God….loving Jesus…..and obedience to the Lord. I preach about how the law of the OT is our school teacher; to show us that we’re sinners, who need salvation. I preach how the OT sacrificial system points to the coming Messiah. I preach that if we really love the Lord, then we’ll want to live for Him.

      But, the Bible does teach us some moral lessons about having faith in God in hard times; like Daniel and the Lions Den; and many of the Psalms and King David; and Joseph in prison. And, the Bible does teach us about being wise in an unwise world; like the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes.

      David

        Calvin S.

        Amen. I agree with you, David.

        I think was scares me though is counting the apostolic hermeneutic that the Holy Spirit used throughout the entire New Testament as to have no value for us today. They looked for Christ in the Old Testament, so should not we?? I know if this approach goes too far, some wacky ideas can come about. But for example: If all we look for is the author’s intent, then Psalm 22 is about David. Yet that Psalm informs us: “They pierced my hands and feet.” “They cast lots for my clothing.” It should be obvious to any Christian that this is talking about Jesus, not David. This shows the inadequacy of following only the grammatical-historical approach, as you will never find Jesus in that text with that hermeneutic, but He is clearly there!! We all know He is. Psalm 22 is clearly about Jesus, but the grammatical-historical approach does nothing to make it clear that He is in that text.

          volfan007

          Calvin,

          I dont believe I’ve ever read, or heard anyone, who didnt say that Psalm 22 was about the death of Jesus on the cross. No one.

          I dont believe I’ve ever read, or heard anyone, who would say that the OT is not about Jesus… that the sacrificial system didnt point to the death of Jesus; that some of the prophecies of the Prophets didnt point to Jesus.

          So, I’m kind of missing your point here, I think.

          David

            Calvin S.

            My point is that we have to go beyond “the author’s intent”, and we have to go beyond the “grammatical-historical” method, and we have to embrace a “Christ-centered” hermeneutic to find Jesus in Psalm 22.

            Dean

            I will respond to Calvin S point above because no reply is available below. You are wrong because the New Testsment is clear Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. The N T reveals the OT passages that are typological.

            Calvin S.

            Dean: Are you sure the New Testament records EVERY passagage in the Old Testament that is Messianic?? I believe you are wrong about that. There are several Messianic passages in the OT that are not noted in the NT. I can think of two references the resurrection, for instance.

            Calvin S.

            Moreover Dean, I don’t know if you realize it or not, but what you are saying is that “we should interpret the Old Testament in light of what the New teaches”–not merely by the OT author’s intent. And I agree with you!!!!! But if we interpret the Old in light of the New, then we will be finding Jesus all over the place, even in OT passages that are clearly speaking about Israel but where the NT says it is speaking about Christ, such as “Out of Egypt I will call my son.” It is clearly about Israel in Hosea 11:15, but it is said to be talking about Christ in Matthew 2:15. And therefore, as you teach us Dean, we should find Jesus in Hosea 11:15. And I agree with you!!!!!

            Dean

            Calvin, I care nothing about teaching you anything. I will answer your post however. Anybody using good hermeneutics will examine passage in order of immediate context, context of book, context of all author’s writings, context of testament found in and finally context of whole Bible. Because we read Matthew we know Hosea is speaking of near future – Israel comes out of Egypt and distant future – The Messiah came out of Egypt. I will try to avoid OT typology that is not stated in NT. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush and talked with Him face to face. God told him to record those words. Discovering what Moses intended is good hermeneutics. If you want to say tent post of the tabernacle represents the stake in the hands of Jesus God bless you. I think it teaches us they had to keep the tent up somehow.

Chuck Fuller

I fear that the original post misses some nuance present within this hermeneutical debate. For example, Greidanus actually agrees with the three levels of interpretation proposed by Stuart and Fee, as they comprise steps 3, 4, 5, 6 of his own method (Preaching Christ from the OT, p. 283-287). The attempt to summarize and classify an extremely complex debate in a single post is likely too ambitious, and seems given to oversimplification. The debate has, after all, been raging for roughly two millennia. We must reject our tendencies to pigeonhole.

    Eric Hankins

    Chuck,

    My post clearly isn’t intended to “summarize and classify an extremely complex debate.” My post points out that Midwestern Seminary’s new president’s recent dissertation is critical of Edmund Clowney’s Christ-centered homiletics, which is very popular, especially among Reformed-leaning preachers. I give two examples of Reformed preachers and leaders in Southern Baptist life who are less-than-careful in their rush to give a Christ-centered interpretation of an OT text. Since seeing Christ in the OT is a big part of The Gospel Project and since Matt Chandler is giving his problematic interpretation of the David and Goliath narrative in the promotion of the curriculum, I believe there is sufficient warrant that Allen’s well-researched, lengthy, Southern Seminary approved criticism of Clowney and Greidanus’ Christ-centered homiletics needs to be heeded by Lifeway. If I have over-simplified anything, I’d be glad for you to show me where. I am not making broad generalizations about this topic. I am referring specifically to Jason Allen’s dissertation, to Chandler’s remarks in the promo for The Gospel Project, and to York’s comments at the Calvinism conference. If Allen has inadequately interacted with and assessed Greidanus, I’d be glad to hear you make the case. My impression upon reading the dissertation was that Allen’s treatment of Greidanus was extensive, fair, and nuanced.

      Kyle Thomas

      Dr. Hankins,

      None of us have to speculate about the Gospel Project’s take on the Old Testament. The winter quarter is an OT survey and it’s already available online in a digital format. Perhaps it would be better to discuss the materials themselves instead of using a public forum to imply they are hermeneutically unsound.

      Chuck Fuller

      Certainly, you draw out some of the essentials in Allen’s dissertation, but I worry that shoehorning/pigeonholing Chandler, York, and GP into the categories described is to oversimplify what is a deep complexity–especially since you do so based on a few scant examples. Because an author/preacher sometimes resembles a certain model does not imply that the model characterizes his work.

Adam Harwood

To Matt, Jason, and D.R., who offered replies to my comment above. Because the comment stream is becoming difficult to read, I am posting this at the bottom of the stream.

I affirmed Hankins’ interaction with Allen’s dissertation. As a side note, I also agree with Hankins that York’s reading of the OT view of atonement into the NT is problematic–even though York finds support for his articulation of limited atonement in his SBTS colleagues’ recent release from Crossway, Kingdom Through Covenant.

Allen suggests that the hermeneutic of Greidanus and Clowney can stray from the author’s original intent. If you don’t like that claim, then please don’t argue with me but with Jason Allen, who wrote a dissertation on the topic. I get the sense that some of the people commenting in this stream have not read Allen’s dissertation.

On page 12, Allen writes, “This dissertation argues that Edmund Clowney and Sidney Greidanus depart from the author-centered hermeneutic of Walter Kaiser.”

On page 123, Allen writes, “This dissertation has sought to prove the drifting of the redemptive-historical homiletic from an author-centered hermeneutic.”

On pages 128-129, Allen asks if Clowney’s hermeneutic violates two articles of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics.

Allen concludes his final chapter with nine principles for preaching Christ from the Old Testament. On pages 137-138, Allen presents one of his nine suggestions: “Resist Using a Gospel Hermeneutic.” The title of that subsection is worth repeating. Allen’s recommendation is this: “Resist Using a Gospel Hermeneutic.” In that subsection, he writes, “Greidanus notes Goldsworthy’s gospel hermeneutic tends to superimpose a predetermined exegetical outcome before considering the Old Testament passage in its own setting.” Allen concludes that section as follows: “In addition to jettisoning the notion of a determined, localized meaning in a passage, such a gospel hermeneutic makes the significance, if not the meaning, of every passage the gospel. While there certainly are worse places to arrive than at the gospel, the process is fraught with a reduced hermeneutical act. If the gospel is the end of every text, one would not need to interpret the text on its own merits in the first place.”

Allen made these claims. If you disagree with him, then address his arguments. But stating that I don’t understand Greidanus or I have misrepresented the views of certain theologians will not advance this discussion.

Blessings, brothers.

In Him,

Adam

Randall Cofield

From Jason Allen’s Dissertation

Don’t you know, young man, that from every town and every village and every hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London? So from every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, now, what is the road to Christ? I have never found a text that did not have a road to Christ in it, and if ever I do find one, I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it. –C. H. Spurgeon

    Alan Davis

    Love this quote, thank you Randell.

    Dale Pugh

    The Spurgeon quote opens Allen’s dissertation, which leads Allen to ask the question: “How does one rightly preach Christ from the Old Testament?” That’s the point, isn’t it? “Rightly.”
    I don’t care if your Spurgeon, Criswell, or (on the other end of the preaching spectrum) me, one has to take care with the text. On the other hand, we must point people to Jesus in our preaching. I’m going to read Allen’s dissertation. I think I’ll learn something.

      Calvin S.

      Can someone tell me where Allen’s dissertation can be found?? I would also like to read it.

      Thanks.
      Cal

        Dale Pugh

        Click the link at the very beginning of Eric’s post above. It will take you to a digital version of the dissertation.

    volfan007

    Of course, the whole Bible is about Jesus. We see Jesus on every page. Who is saying different?

    But, please tell me how the passage in Proverbs, which says that its better to live on the top of a roof, than to live with a mean, angry, fighting woman preaches the Gospel? Or, how the passage about the woman nailing the fella’s head to the ground preaches the Gospel?

    David

D.R. Randle

Adam,

The problem that many of have here is that Eric (and you, by extension of your essential agreement with him) seem to want to point to the worst examples of the Christ-centered method and then use Allen’s dissertation as a statement against ALL Christ-centered readings of the OT. But Allen doesn’t say that. In all that you allude to above in Allen’s dissertation you fail to bring into account that 1) Allen never makes the claim that the Christ-centered method is a faulty approach. Rather, he points to specific examples where he feels the theologians mentioned have crossed a line into a problematic application of the method. Such being true, Eric has failed to show any place where the Gospel Project actually drifts into these problematic areas, yet allows the reader to believe that the GP is inherently flawed because of its association with such an approach (the old guilt-by-association fallacy that seems to be prolifically applied so often these days). Do you care to offer any examples within the GP that would in any way substantiate the need for such a major alarm?

Further, you fail to bring into account 2) Allen actually affirms a great deal of the Christ-centered approach. Interestingly, in your above comment you fail to note Allen’s final conclusion, where he writes:

This chapter has sought to forward the assessment in this dissertation from the proclivity of redemptive-historical preaching to move beyond the author-centered hermeneutic. It attempts to identify effective ways to employ the best of the redemptive-historical movement to preach Christ from the Old Testament in a way which still remains faithful to the author-centered hermeneutic. This shift is necessary, for preachers to proclaim Christ-saturated sermons is more than a discussion for a preaching lab. Preaching Christ-centered sermons is a matter of pastoral urgency, and the pastoral implications of preaching Jesus in every sermon are beyond accurate estimation.

It seems based on Allen’s concluding words here that (contrary to what Eric suggests and you seem to affirm) he does not reject the need for a redemptive-historical approach. Rather, he simply sees problems with some applications of it. Additionally, it seems clear that Allen also suggest a potential flaw in a strict authorial-intent method as well, noting that we need to preach Christ in each text and that this is to be commended in the Christ-centered approach.

Finally, you fail to bring into account 3) Allen’s assessment of Kaiser points us to the reality that even he is far, far more Christ-centered in his preaching than the typical SBC pastor.

This is the real problem Adam – the one that is ignored in all of this. While Eric, yourself, and others decry even the hint of a Christ-centered approach, you fail to critique the rampant moralization of the text that disconnects individual narratives from the greater storyline and which invites the reader to read his own situation into the text. Interestingly, while Eric chides Chandler for eliminating the “bottom level” of the David and Goliath story (saying that doing such is “erroneous”), he nonetheless says nothing of those who eliminate the “top level”, despite the fact that this is much more common and (I would argue) much more problematic and erroneous than eliminating the “bottom level”. After all, the mere affirmative use of the categorization of top v. bottom by Eric should speak volumes as to where his disdain should be properly directed. Instead, however, he chooses to focus on the speck of Chandler’s eye while ignoring the log that is heavily lodged in the eye of the SBC.

And that of course, brings us again to the elephant in the room. Is the Christ-centered approach so dangerous that we need to sound the proverbial horn of alarm against it, or is this yet again another shot across the bow against Calvinism – another opportunity to promote the need for division over an issue that our own confession of faith fails to directly address?

I think the answer is clear here. Eric says it himself:

Under the auspices of making sure that Christ is proclaimed in every sermon, the net effect of such an approach is often to pry texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments. This ensures not only that every text might “preach Christ,” but also that every text might preach Calvinism.

You can come to your own conclusions Adam, but I certainly think Eric’s made it clear what his real issue is. Is that something you’d agree with him on as well?

    Adam Harwood

    Pastor D.R.,

    I have attempted to engage your comments to me. But you are either failing to read or failing to believe my words in the comments above. I will no longer defend against your restatement of my views on this matter. I stand by what I wrote and reject what you claim I affirm on this topic.

    Blessings on your ministry.

    In Him,

    Adam

    Stephen

    Excellent critique. I think Allen’s view has been misrepresented in the original post and some of the subsequent comments. Allen quotes Greidanus approvingly and expounds on preaching Christ from texts on page 142:

    “Sidney Greidanus also expresses words of restraint when attempting
    to preach Christ from the Old Testament text. Greidanus writes,
    ‘Unfortunately, the legitimate demand for Christocentric preaching often results in questionable methods of interpretation in order to have the text speak of Christ. . . . That endeavor is not wrong, but its imposition as a methodological principle on every text is wrong, for it leads to forcing parallels between the text and Jesus.’ Exegetical humility is crucial. If one dashes headlong into attempts to locate Christ in a passage, one might violate the author’s intent and end up with an aberrant interpretation. Furthermore, one can preach Christ from a passage even if the passage does not directly reference him. This remains the strength of Greidanus’ seven ways.”

John Wylie

Insofar as authorial intent is concerned I would posit one question: what about the fact that some of the O.T. authors did not completely understand what they were writing? Weren’t they being led by God Who was directly interjecting His own intent into the text?

Daniel 12:8-9 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

    Dean

    John, Daniel belongs to a group of writings known as prophecy. The author’s intent was to write prophecy. We must be careful to understand as Fee and Stuart point out that only a small percentage of OT prophecy deals with events that are still future to us. Most prophecy was concerning Israel and Judah’s disobedience and the judgment to follow. Those prophecies contain the near view-far view. They would speak of events that would take place in the near future and events that would take place in the distant future. Often it is hard to know which the author is speaking about. However his intent is clear, he is speaking prophecy, maybe even prophecy he does not understand completely. However one cannot really think that Moses speaking of boiling a kid in his mother’s milk is something mysterious beyond his understanding that we have unlocked the mystery to? To understand and try to interpret narrative, law, poetry and wisdom exactly like prophecy is not wise.

Randall Cofield

DR,

That is an excellent summary of what seems to be going on here. I too, after reading Jason’s dissertation, found it to be far more balanced than was indicated by Dr. Hankin’s post.

From our Sunday Schools to our pulpits, for too long we have been spoon-fed moralistic interpretations of texts that tend to disconnect them from the vibrant Life of their Author and Object. I want to hear the voice of Him, the One who was the Word with the Father from the beginning, in every line of Scripture.

Brother’s, you can have my Christocentric methodology of interpretation when it and my Bible is pried from my cold, dead fingers. I’ll not need it any longer then.

For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…that in everything he might be preeminent…and he is before all things, and in him all things hold together…In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.–Colossians

Dean

I would love to know who are the trad pastors who simply moralize every passage in the OT. The leaders in the SBC through the years certainly do not practice this. My professors in college in seminary did not hold to this form of preaching. To deviate from the author’s intent is to deviate from Biblical preaching. You can take a newspaper and go straight to Christ when you run out of text in the OT if that is the way you want to preach. As for as assertions that the apostles combed the OT looking for Christ, we all agree. However none of you are as gifted or special as the apostles. That is why Duval and Hayes on 217 state that in their opinion an OT passage usually cannot be confirmed as typological unless the NT identifies it as such. Paul the greatest theological mind does not identify Christ in certain passages but today’s scholars can! Vanhoozer in Is There Meaning in the Text on page 462 describes an attitude of pride that encourages us to think we have got the correct meaning before we have made the appropriate effort to recover it. Finally, Duval and Hayes point out that a dangerous aspect of our preunderstanding of passages surfaces when we come to the text with a theological agenda already formulated. Some may moralize and skip the author’s intent, they are not doing Bible study in the best way. Some may find Christ in every passage when it is obvious that was not the author’s intent, they are not doing Bible study in the best way. To ignore the author’s intent is to ignore the Bible.

    Lydia

    “I would love to know who are the trad pastors who simply moralize every passage in the OT.”

    Me too. Most of what I have seen on that score has come out of the seeker mega church industry. Tricky business moralizing the OT, anyway. David, a man after God’s own heart, would be in prison today.

    ” To deviate from the author’s intent is to deviate from Biblical preaching. You can take a newspaper and go straight to Christ when you run out of text in the OT if that is the way you want to preach. ”

    Bingo.

      volfan007

      I’ve also seen a lot of liberal theologians and preachers moralize the Bible.

      David

    Randall Cofield

    Dean,

    I would love to know who are the trad pastors who simply moralize every passage in the OT.

    I don’t know how many trad pastors write SS and devotional literature for the SBC, but you can pick up such material in virtually every SBC church and see the OT text “moralized” with shocking consistency.

      Dean

      Randal, I have limited my discussion to what is good hermanutic practices. In this thread I am not qualified to speak about GP. However, as a long time pastor I know SS use to be the front door of the church. Lessons were intentionally written where each lesson could stand alone and immature Christians would be able to follow. I know our lessons have been weak. GP may fill that gap for some. However, I am convinced that anyone who purposefully ignores the author’s intent is not doing Bible study well. I am surprised that many who are serious Bible students have no issue with this practice.

        Randall Cofield

        Dean,

        I certainly agree that ignoring authorial intent is a deeply flawed approach to exegesis. I don’t think anyone here is advocating ignoring it.

        I was responding to your seeming puzzlement as to who it was in the SBC that is “moralizing” the text.

        My point was that we don’t even have to walk outside the doors of our own churches to find this “moralizing” of the text. Just pick up a piece of devotional or SS literature and open the pages and there it is…in spades.

        OT texts are divorced from the life of their Author and Object and used to posit platitudinous moralisms with shocking consistency.

        And this is no new development. It has been going on for decades.

    Calvin S.

    Dean says “To ignore the author’s intent is to ignore the Bible” But Dean also tells us “The N T reveals the OT passages that are typological.”

    Well, then explain Hosea 11:1 to me, Dean, where he says “Out of Egypt I will call my son.” The “author’s intent” is clearly and unmistakably about Israel. To make this passage about Jesus one must “ignore” the author’s intent. And that is what Matthew did when he quoted that passage to be about Jesus (Matthew 2:15)

    I don’t have a problem accepting Matthew’s interpretation of that passage because I believe Jesus is the true Israel of God. I believe the Bible is a book about Jesus Christ, so I have no problem with it.

    But you must have a problem with it or you must ignore the author’s intent! Which will it be?

      Dean

      Calvin, you did not read closely what I said. Duvall and Hayes declare that you should avoid typology from OT unless the N T plainly reveals it as such. I have no problem with Matthew revealing Christ in OT typology or foreshadowing. I just prefer not to listen to a preacher take that responsibility himself. We should preach author’s intent. You are free to choose to preach ever how you want but it is topical preaching to set suthor’s intent aside and choose a topic even if topic is Jesus. I believe it is weak and a lazy way to preach. I’m sure it is broke record preaching. The Hebrews crossed the Jordan hey Jesus was baptized in Jordan. Let me tell you about Jesus. The Hebrews’ sandals did not wear out. Hey Jesus wore sandals that John couldn’t latch. Let me tell you about Jesus. I’m using hyperbole for emphasis.

        Calvin S.

        Dean,

        Let me give you an example of what I mean (instead of the goofy examples of tent pegs and such that you have mentioned):

        “O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave” (Psalm 30:3)

        This text is not quoted in the New Testament, so we should never use it?? The passage begins out saying how the Lord did not allow his enemies to rejoice over him for the Lord lifted him up and brought him from the grave.

        Why wouldn’t I use this text to be about Jesus?? The only OT reference to Jesus’ resurrection that is quoted in the NT is Psalm 16:10. So are you telling me that Psalm 16:10 is the only place I should look for the resurrection then?? That is really limiting–especially when the text above (Psalm 30:3) tells me that someone rose from the grave! David wrote that Psalm, so are you telling me I should preach about David’s resurrection, even though he had not died yet? No! David is foreseeing Jesus’ resurrection, and even though the NT never quotes Psalm 30:3 is not going to prevent me from preaching about Jesus resurrection from that text–especially when Jesus says that the “Pslams” are written about Him (Luke 24:44)

        What do you think of this example from Psalm 30:3?

          Dean

          David, I am glad that this Psalm means so very much to you. It is a blessing to have passages that light our fire. As for me, I would preach this passage just as David intended when he authored it. The biggest challenge to the 30th Psalm is figuring out the historical context of when it was written. Was this about David’s palace? Was it about the temple that Solomon would build and David was celebrating as it had actually happened? Was it about David’s second attempt to bring the Ark into Jerusalem. Without any exegetical work but some familiarity I see in this Psalm David describe: His protection vss. 1-3, His Praise vss. 4-5, His pride vss 6-7. I would preach it as such and be true to what David intended.
          Something needs to be said and maybe we can end our delightful discussion. One day in front of a seminary professor I began low rating a method of preaching that a TV preacher uses. I thought the professor would be impressed because I was letting the guy have it because he was not an expositor. The professor corrected me and said all methods of preaching are valid and valuable though we believe exposition is best but not only method. I try always to stay with author’s intent unless the typology is revealed in the NT. Certainly there are exceptions but few for me. I see value in all the preaching that my brothers do. Blessings on you

Bill Mac

I think it is pretty clear that the fear of a Christological hermeneutic is the fear that the moral teachings of the bible will be lost or made secondary. Of course there is no evidence that the GP is doing or plans to do any such thing. The purpose of the GP is to see Christ as the overarching theme of the grand narrative of the scripture. No one in their right mind denies that Christ is the overarching theme of the grand narrative of scripture, so it is impossible to oppose the GP on those grounds. We have plenty of SS curriculum that picks out and emphasized the moral teaching of the bible, so it seems that what the GP is doing is an obvious complement to what curriculum is already extant.

But of course everyone knows that the real opposition to the GP is not that moral teachings will be lost or that a curriculum emphasizing Christ throughout the entire bible is unnecessary. It is that the GP is being written in such a way as to subtly and secretly indoctrinate people to Calvinism.

All that being said, I think it is right and good to consider authorial intent when exegeting scripture. But it is important to remember, as I have said elsewhere, that much, if not most scripture is historical narrative. Therefore the authorial intent is to chronicle history. Therefore human authorial intent must make way for divine authorial intent. After all, do we not have this as one of our core beliefs?

It (referring to scripture) has God for its author, salvation for its end

**copied from the SBC.NET website.

Doug Mize

Why has E. Hankins been so interested in reading up on Allen’s Dissertation?? I have one too , although some may think its a cure for insomnia. :)

Plus, it seems interesting that many I the anti-Calvinism group have usually accused the other side of not sharing the Gospel. I guess now they are sharing/preaching it too much. Wow.

I simply don’t think this article represents baptists very well.

Randall Cofield

Dr. Hankins,

What is wrong is saying that, since the “Christ-centered meaning” of the text has been discovered, the narrative has nothing to say about faithful living,…

I’m having difficulty finding where Chandler said that the narrative in question has nothing to say about faithful living.

Could you give us the time-sequence in which he said that in the video?

Thanks brother.

Calvin S.

Dean and others:

The problem is that good exposition is often not being done and typology revealed in the New Testament is NOT being followed. For example. If you were following New Testament typology you would not be a dispensationalist. A dispensationalist cannot take Peter’s words “literally”.

Peter taught that: “The Reign of Christ Fulfilled the Promised Davidic Kingdom”

Acts 2:29-31 (from 2Samuel 7:12; 1Chron 17:11):

1. Peter substitutes the word “Christ” for “seed” so there is no question as to whom the prophecy refers. Christ is the “seed” that was “raised up” (or “resurrected” clearly pinpoints the time of fulfillment) to sit on the throne in fulfillment of the covenant promise to David.

2. Peter shows that David understood these words to be more than just a promise of the bodily resurrection of Christ. Peter clearly connected the resurrection and ascension of Christ with the establishment of the kingdom promised to David. When you compare the words of II Sam. 7 and Acts 2, it is impossible to miss that fact. The “setting up the seed” and “establishing the kingdom” are the same thing as “raising up Christ” to “sit on his (David’s) throne” and all of this was to happen at the same time. The Holy Spirit specifically tells us that when David spoke of “the raising up of Christ (resurrection) to sit on his (David’s) throne” that David was expressly speaking of the resurrection and ascension of Christ that had just taken place (Acts 2:30-31). Peter’s words can only mean that David’s greater Son was to begin sitting on the promised throne at the time of Christ’s resurrection and ascension.
There is not the slightest hint of a postponed future earthly throne in Peter’s words. If you take Peter’s words “literally,” it proves beyond question that the Holy Spirit deliberately “spiritualized” the Old Testament prophecy of the Davidic kingdom.

3. Further proof of this time factor can be seen in the words “WHILE David was sleeping with the fathers.” This can only mean that Christ would sit on David’s throne at the same time that David was still “sleeping with the fathers,” or before David’s resurrection. This is why Peter deliberately mentions that David is “both dead and buried and his sepulcher is with us unto this day.” Peter is saying, “The promise to David has been fulfilled in the exact manner and precise time (how and when) as it was prophesied to David.” The throne was to be established at the time of the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and it would happen “while David was sleeping with his fathers” awaiting his own resurrection. (cf. I Chronicles 17:11 and Acts 13:35,36 for the same time reference.)

4. The words “I will establish his kingdom” in the promise to David becomes “raise up Christ to sit on his throne” in the inspired interpretation by Peter. Again, it is clear that this event took place at the ascension of Christ.

The Holy Spirit could not possibly say any more clearly that David’s Seed is sitting on David’s throne right now and that the kingdom promised to David has, in some sense, already been established at the ascension of Christ (cf. I Chronicles 17:11-15). It would be grasping at straws to say that Christ now sits in heaven on a throne as Lord of the church, but He will later sit on a physical throne in Palestine as King of Israel. The NT Scriptures simply will not allow that distinction. The days of the manifestation of both the glory and the power of Christ began at the Ascension. No New Testament writer ever thinks or writes of such a manifestation of Christ’s glory and power as being totally future.

The gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost is the evidence of Christ’s ascension to David’s throne as promised in II Sam 7. Pentecost is also a visible expression or exercise of Christ’s earned Lordship or present Kingship (cf. Joel 2:28,29). The gift of the Holy Spirit was the direct and earned response to the victorious work of the enthroned King, and it was also the full proof that the Father was perfectly satisfied with that work.

One further implication: To accept Peter’s spiritualizing of the OT Scriptures is to deny the basic hermeneutical principle upon which the Dispensational system of interpreting the Scripture rests. That system must understand Peter’s words in the light of the “natural” (literal) meaning of the Prophets’ words instead of the “natural” (literal) spiritualizing of those words by Peter. Such an approach makes it impossible to take the words of the New Testament writers “literally” when those writers give a spiritual meaning to the natural words used by the prophets. When Peter says, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” a Dispensationalist cannot take Peter’s words “literally”.

    Calvin S.

    This is IMPORTANT exegesis too. Peter says that David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, and Christians always assume Peter could only turn to Psalm 16:10 because there is such slim evidence for the resurrection in the OT. However, Peter also saw the resurrection of Christ in the promise to David that God will “Set up thy seed”. This is another evidence of the resurrection of Christ, foretold in the Old Testament.

Dean

Calvin, were II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 17 revealed in the New Testament as pointing to Christ? I will limit my practices of interpretation to my convictions. I seek the author’s original intent. I will compare that intent to the overall Biblical map. When NT writers address a passage and reveal it to have another meaning than the author’s original I will teach it as such. I have really tried to be polite but I will say bluntly now how I feel. You are not Peter, Matthew, Mark or Luke nor are you anywhere near their equal in my eyes. I will trust that Paul has combed the OT and revealed typology from OT and I will use his. I find value in all preaching that the brothers do and I pray blessings.

    Calvin S.

    Dean: “Calvin, were II Samuel 7 and I Chronicles 17 revealed in the New Testament as pointing to Christ?”

    Cal: Yes! In Acts to by the Apostle Peter.

    Dean: “You are not Peter, Matthew, Mark or Luke nor are you anywhere near their equal in my eyes.”

    Cal: Who said I was their equal? I never claimed such. Moreover, who is their equal? I still have yet to meet someone in my lifetime their equal.

    Every blessing in Christ,
    Cal

      Dean

      Cal, because Peter reveals Joel’s prophecy as pertaining to resurrection all preachers preach Joel’s prophecy as pertaining to the resurrection. Bye the way , I am not any way near the NT authors. That is why I look to them for foreshadowing. Enjoyed the convo Cal. Truce!!!

Stephen

As it turns out, Matt Chandler agrees with much of the critique that Dr. Hankins has posted of Matt Chandler. Chandler gave a short response to a previous critique Mike Riccardi made at the beginning of the year: http://gospelpoweredliving.org/archives/1887

Calvin S.

HOW IS JESUS THE HERO OF THE BIBLE?

The opening line of Scripture introduces us to its hero, God. Throughout the pages of Scripture this God is revealed. In the closing line of the New Testament Scriptures, we are reminded that the God who is the hero of the true story of Scripture is Jesus Christ. Thus, the written Word of God reveals to us the incarnate (“in human flesh”) Word of God, Jesus Christ. Further, without the written Word, we cannot rightly know the incarnate Word. Therefore, defining the central message of the Old Testament is the key to our interpretive process, because without a proper understanding of Scripture we do not have access to truly loving and knowing the real Jesus. Some people prefer the New Testament to the Old Testament because they wrongly believe that only the New Testament is about Jesus. However, it was Jesus himself who taught that the Old Testament was primarily about him. While arguing with the theologians in his day, Jesus chastised them, saying, “You search the Scriptures [Old Testament] because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.”19

Following his resurrection, Jesus opened the Old Testament to teach others about himself: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”20

Likewise, in speaking to his disciples, Jesus said, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”21 We then read that he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.”22

Jesus’ own words about himself as the central message of the Old Testament are pointedly clear. He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.”23 Jesus repeated this fact throughout his ministry by saying he “fulfilled” particular Scriptures.24

Simply, when Scripture is rightly interpreted, it is ultimately about Jesus as God, our Savior, the object of our faith, forgiver of our sins, and giver of eternal life. Therefore, to correctly interpret Scripture you will need to connect its verses, concepts, and events to Jesus.

The Old Testament predicts the coming of Jesus and in a variety of ways prepares people for his person and work. The New Testament reflect son the life of Jesus, particularly in the four Gospels, and reports the results of Jesus’ life and ministry, particularly in the Epistles.

The Old Testament uses various means to reveal Jesus, including promises, appearances, foreshadowing types, and titles. First, the Old Testament teaches about Jesus in the numerous prophetic promises given about him. At the time of its writing, more than one-quarter of Scripture was prophetic in nature, promising future events. No other world religion or cult can present any specific prophecies concerning the coming of their prophets. However, in the Old Testament we see hundreds of fulfilled prophecies extending hundreds and sometimes over a thousand years into the future, showing God’s foreknowledge of and sovereignty over the future.

Second, the Old Testament teaches about Jesus through appearances that he makes before his birth, or what are called Christophanies. Examples include walking with Abraham,25 wrestling with Jacob,26 appearing to Moses,27 joining Daniel in the fiery furnace,28 and calling Isaiah into ministry.29 Other examples may include the occasional appearance of “the angel[messenger] of the Lord,” who is sometimes identified as God.30 This angel provided the sacrifice in Isaac’s place31and spoke and journeyed with Moses.32

Third, types are Old Testament representative figures, institutions, or events that foreshadow Jesus. Examples include Adam, who foreshadows Jesus as the second Adam; the priesthood, which prefigures Jesus as our high priest; David and other kings, who prefigure Jesus as the King of kings; Moses and the prophets, who prefigure Jesus as our ultimate prophet; animal sacrifices, which prefigure Jesus as the sinless Lamb of God slain for our sins; the temple, which prefigures God’s presence dwelling among us in Jesus; shepherds who care for their sheep, which remind us we are as foolish and vulnerable as sheep but that Jesus our shepherd keeps constant watch over us; judges, who foreshadow Jesus as the final judge of all people; and many others, such as Jesus the true bread, the true vine, and true light.

We also see people in the Old Testament who perform various kinds of service that is analogous to the service that Jesus performs perfectly. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus Christ is the Last Adam who passed his test in a garden and in so doing imputed his righteousness to us to overcome the sin imputed to us through the sin of the first Adam. Jesus is the true and better Abel who, although he was innocent, was slain and whose blood cries out. When Abraham left his father and home, he was doing the same thing that Jesus would do when he left heaven. When Isaac carried his own wood and laid down his life to be sacrificed at the hand of his father Abraham, he was showing us what Jesus would later do. Jesus is the greater Jacob who wrestled with God in Gethsemane and, though wounded and limping, walked away from his grave blessed. Jesus is the greater Joseph who serves at the right hand of God the king and extends forgiveness and provision to those of us who have betrayed him and uses his power to save us in loving reconciliation. Jesus is greater than Moses in that he stands as a mediator between God and us, bringing us the new covenant.

Like Job, innocent Jesus suffered and was tormented by the Devil so that God might be glorified, while his dumb friends were no help or encouragement. Jesus is a king greater than David; he has slain our giants of Satan, sin, and death, although in the eyes of the world he was certain to face a crushing defeat at their hands. Jesus is greater than Jonah in that he spent three days in the grave, not just in a fish, to save a multitude even greater than Nineveh. When Boaz redeemed Ruth and brought her and her despised people into community with God’s people, he was showing what Jesus would do to redeem his bride, the church, from all the nations of the earth. When Nehemiah rebuilt Jerusalem, he was doing something similar to Jesus, who is building for us a New Jerusalem as our eternal home. When Hosea married an unfaithful whoring wife that he continued to pursue in love, he was showing us the heart of Jesus, who does the same for his unfaithful bride, the church.

We also see various Old Testament events preparing people for the coming of Jesus Christ. For example, in the Exodus account of Passover the people were to place blood over the doorframe with hyssop (a common herb bundled for cleaning) and no one was to leave their home until the morning. Death would not come to any home marked with lamb’s blood. Peter says our salvation is given by Jesus Christ and “sprinkling with his blood.”33

Fourth, there are many titles for God in the Old Testament that refer to Jesus Christ as God. In Daniel 7:13–14 God is called the “son of man,” and Jesus adopted that as his favorite title, using it some eighty times in the four Gospels. Jesus is the Suffering Servant that was promised in Isaiah.34 Jesus is also known by many other Old Testament titles for God, including first and last,35 light,36 rock,37 husband or bridegroom,38 shepherd,39 redeemer,40 savior,41 and the Lord of glory.42

To properly understand the Old Testament we must connect it to the person and work of Jesus. This should not be done in an allegorizing manner where arbitrary meanings foreign to Scripture are assigned to Old Testament words and images, thereby changing their meaning. Rather, the meaning of the Old Testament includes symbolism and identity that are most fully revealed in Jesus.

Unless Jesus is the central message of the Scriptures, many errors abound. The most common is moralizing. Moralizing is reading the Bible not to learn about Jesus but only to learn principles for how to live life as a good person by following the good examples of some people and avoiding the bad examples of others. That kind of approach to the Scriptures is not Christian, because it treats the Bible like any other book with moral lessons that are utterly disconnected from faith in and salvation from Jesus.

From “Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe” by Mark Driscoll & Gerry Breshears
(You might not like him, but this is a great book!)

END NOTES:
19 John 5:39–40.
20 Luke 24:27.
21 Luke 24:44.
22 Luke 24:45.
23 Matt. 5:17–18.
24 E.g., Matt. 26:56; Luke 4:20–21; 22:37.
25 Genesis 18; cf. John 8:56.
26 Gen. 32:30.
27 Ex. 3:2–6; cf. John 8:58.
28 Dan. 3:24–25.
29 Isa. 6:1–5; cf. John 12:41.
30 Judg. 6:11–21; 13:22.
31 Gen. 16:7–13.
32 Ex. 3:14; 23:20–21; cf. John 8:56–59.
33 1 Pet. 1:2.
34 Isa. 42:1–4; 49:1–7; 52:13–53:12; cf. Phil. 2:1–11.
35 Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12; cf. Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:3.
36 Ps. 27:1; cf. John 1:9.
37 Pss. 18:2; 95:1; cf. 1 Cor.10:4; 1 Pet. 2:6–8.
38 Hos. 2:16; Isa. 62:5; cf. Eph. 5:28–33; Rev. 21:2.
39 Ps. 23:1; cf. Heb. 13:20.
40 Hos. 13:14; Ps. 130:7; cf. Titus 2:13; Rev. 5:9.
41 Isa. 43:3; cf. John 4:42.
42 Isa. 42:8; cf. 1 Cor. 2:8.

Stephanie Blackiston

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
In the midst of all of the chaos, confusion, and division the GP is causing, you spoke truth!! Sheep are following Stranger’s voices off cliffs left and right. Men have become the authority. We are heartbroken over our Church’s decision to use this curriculum. We are now meeting in our home with fellow believers who crave “clean water”.
Rev 3:8

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