A few other thoughts:
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Christ Centred Interpretation Only?
Earlier I posted on Jason Hood's article about "Christ Centred Interpretation Only?" published in SBET. As a follow up, in the latest issue of CT, Colin Hansen has a piece on "Christ-Centred Cautions" that highlights Hood's concerns that Christ Centred preaching can denigrate those who preach a message of moral exhoration from Scripture. Hood's concern is that Jesus and the biblical authors themselves use Scripture for a great deal of moral exhortation. Hood accepts the premise that Christ is the centre of Scripture and rejects crass moralizations. But there is no escaping the fact that much of the NT use of the OT focuses on moral exhortation.
A few other thoughts:
1. While it might sound a bit neat, there is clearly a "both/and" balance here. Undoubtedly when NT authors and the Church Fathers came to a biblical text they brought with them the story of Scripture itself, they read the Bible christocentically, because the Bible explicitly told them to (e.g., Luke 24:27; John 5:45-47; Rom 10:4, etc.). And yet we should also read the Bible ecclesiocentrically because we are supplied with the example of this as well. How much of the NT's use of the OT talks about the church in the context of its coming into existence, warnings from Isael's past, and its hostility with the world around it (e.g., Romans 9-11!). In my mind 1 Corinthians 10 shows both elements since in 10.4 we see that the rock that followed Israel in the wilderness was "Christ" and then in 10.11 the wilderness narrative was written "as warnings for us on whom the end of ages had come". In fact, Richard Hays argues that the ecclesiocentric element is more prolific than the christocentric element in Paul.
2. In certain Reformed circles it is common to see the necessary application of every sermon to be, somehow, about the Law vs. Gospel distinction. This seems like an odd thing to interject into every sermon. Yes, Gal 3:12, "The Law is not of faith", but let's note also Rom 3:27 with the "law of faith" and by faith "we uphold the Law". There is undoubtedly two epochs of Law and Christ (Gal. 3.10-14 and Rom. 3.21), but they are part of a single story in which there are continuities and discontinuities and focusing on the discontinuities seems like an odd thing to trump out twice on Sunday.
3. As someone who preaches a fair bit around the traps, I tend to think that the goal of preaching is transformation. Transformation in terms of conforming our minds to the Word of God and conforming our lives to the pattern of Jesus Christ.