Monday, November 13, 2006

Does Jesus have to be in every talk?

Ok I'm out for advice... Two different viewpoints - one says,
"The Old Testament is meaningless without Christ, so every talk, even those from Old Testament narratives have to contain Jesus"
(as with Dale Ralph Davies) "The whole Old Testament bears witness to Christ; and, the Old Testament does not bear witness only to Christ."

Recently in the Sunday School I help lead we've been doing something known as "the ABC's of God" where we each week learn about different characteristics of God, for example, a "mini-series" - of God is the Creator, so has the right to do what He wants with His creation, God is Wise, so has the wisdom to do this, God does all things for His glory, culminated in God is Sovereign... But (shock horror to some) we didn't use Jesus to explain that God is the Creator... and we used the true story of Joseph to explain Wise... and the culmination of the three in Sovereign was again without mention of Jesus...

have we got it all wrong? Should we have put Jesus into every single lesson or should we stick as we are, explaining what we can learn about God from the Old Testament? Would we lose the richness and the beauty that God inspired the authors to put into the text if we forced it into a formulation that necessarily put Jesus into our talk?

I'd love your comments (any!)...


Anonymous said...

Initial thoughts

Yes we should be teaching what we can learn about God from the Old Testament but I guess the question is "What then can we learn about God."

So for example if what we have to learn about God is Jesus then yes that's what we would have to teach!

That leads on to another rambly thought -what do people mean when they say mention Jesus.

If it's tag on a little bit about "Jesus died for your sins" then no.

But if it's constantly linking where God's revelation of himself fits into his overall rescue plan then yes the Bible is about Jesus and he should have a strong influence on what we are going to say


Anonymous said...

OK, let us assume that Christianity is Trinitarian. Then let us ask the two parallel questions: 1) "Does the Holy Spirit have to be in every talk?" and 2) "Does God the Father have to be in every talk?"

If Jesus has to be in every talk then so does the Holy Spirit AND so does God the Father. Otherwise you might as well admit that your theology is no longer christian and you have become Unitarian!

Now consider what happens in practice regarding the Holy Spirit: How many times was the Holy Spirit mentioned in the last sermon/lecture/bible study you listened to? More significantly, how many sermons/lectures/bible studies do you have to go back through to find ANY mention of the Holy Spirit?

I would suggest that most christians today behave like the Corinthian church - Jesus is great but haven't got a clue about God the Father or the Old Testament. The apostle Paul, however, spent most of his life teaching gentiles just how misguuided they were. Guess nothing has changed in 2000 years!

As regards Dale Ralph Davies (prof. of OT at Reformed Seminary) I would completely agree with his remark and, in addition, I would recommend his commentaries (pub. Christian Focus) to anyone.

Pete said...

I know I'm a little late to this conversation but hey, here's my thoughts.

a. We can't preach the OT without Jesus

b. This does not however mean that Jesus has to be 'mentioned' in every talk

c. This is especially true if it is a mangling of the text, or you simply don't have time etc.


d. a. is always true, even if only implicitly. The very fact that you, a gentile (presumably) living in the 21st century think that the OT is scripture for you to learn from assumes the whole 'Jesus event'. So even if the salvation-historical framework is not specifically preached, it is there as an assumption in the preparation.


e. Preaching from the OT and the NT is at its best when it takes this salvation-historical framework seriously in the preparation and delivery. This will guard against moralistic and human-centred interpretations of the bible.

So, of course we don't need to 'mention Jesus'. But then again, why not? And, if we go for ages and ages without mentioning him, what are we saying (since we come to know and continue to know the trinitarian God of the bible through his self-revelation in Christ) about the nature of our faith and the difference between it and other monotheistic religions?

James, I'm not sure what you're suggesting is reflective of the shape of biblical revelation. It is thoroughly Christocentric, and so we don't need to balance out the number of references to each person of the trinity. Yes we need to teach God as Trinity, but we must not de-emphasise Jesus and the place he is given in the bible. It was Jesus who said the OT was about him and was fulfilled in him - the same thing in the same way could not be said about the Holy Spirit. It is in God's self-revelation which climaxes in Christ that we meet the Trinitarian God anyway, so teaching Christocentrically properly will mean teaching the Trinity properly too. In fact, to teach Christ is to honour the Father and the Spirit.

Beckie said...
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