Monday, February 20, 2017

Christological first

An earlier post considered a brilliant article by Bishop Jensen that was published by the Anglican Diocese of Sydney’s monthly magazine, Southern Cross.  The post prepared a checklist for the pewsitter to allow the pewsitter to discern the worth of a sermon.
free and unattributable

The article held a quote that is worthy of everyone’s comprehension.  The text is perhaps puzzling to a lot of readers at first glance.  The text was:

“Indeed, I would say that the rush to a Christological reading
of every passage needs to be modified (not abandoned),
as there can be failure to see important features of the passage
that also need to be attended to”

Unpacking this text requires firstly an understanding of Christological and then also of biblical expository priority.

‘Christological’ refers to the study of the nature and person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.  This is Jesus whose story is told in the Gospels of the New Testament whose life and who was foretold by Old Testament prophets.  Jesus was the son of the most high God, born of Mary, and raised a Jew. He drew twelve Apostles to himself and taught them.  They were witnesses to many miracles.  Jesus was crucified on a Roman cross, buried in a Jewish tomb, raised from the dead, seen in a raised state by many then lifted to heaven to take a seat at God’s right side.  In this way – through the Old Testament prophesies and the Gospel account - one can say that the whole Bible points to Jesus.  In children’s presentations this is expressed in identifying Jesus as God’s great rescue plan.  We see Christ in the Old Testament – he was the fourth man in the furnace in the book of Daniel, he is seen in the kinsman-redeemer that is Boaz in the book of Ruth.

As the whole Bible is about Christ then it follows that there is the potential of a “rush to a Christological reading of every passage”.   As Jensen points out there is no need to abandon the Christological reading.  Jensen is instead looking for some balance.

Biblical expository priority is identified by Jensen in response to the “rush to a Christological reading of every passage”.  Jensen identifies that there is potential failure to expound important features of the passage.  I’ve seen this occur.  In a sermon series on the book of Ecclesiastes I recall that every Sunday the preacher made an awkward leap at the end of his sermon from the text to Christ.  The leap was awkward in the sense that the sermon amplified the text and its message without the need to leap to Christ.  There was nothing factually wrong with the sermon.  It was just that the text to thinly identified with an immediate connection to Christ. This was exactly an example of what Jensen refers to in terms of seeing the important features of the passage. In the example that I recall, the leap was also awkward in that the preacher committed the leap every week with seemingly slimmer connections.  Perhaps, that preacher could have reserved the Christological reading until the last sermon in the series in summation of the whole of the book of Ecclesiastes?

By way of illustration; if you consider a wonderful Old Testament story examined in this post, I would hope that a preacher would see God’s provision for his people and God’s grace before the preacher rushed to a Christological reading.


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