by Sidney Greidanus.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999.
Preaching Christ From The Old Testament: a Contemporary Hermeneutical Method is seeking to reorientate preaching. The author attempts to present a legitimate option for preaching Christ not only in the Gospels and Epistles, but from the Old Testament. This can be done, contrary to the attempts of many, without loosing the author's original intent in the writings.
The author presents his definition of preaching Christ in the Old Testament as "preaching sermons which authentically integrate the message of the text with the climax of God's revelation in the person, work, and/or teaching of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament" (10). Preaching Christ is more than merely closing in prayer and attaching Christ's name, or completely allegorizing a text as some of the early church fathers attempted to do.
One of the better parts of the book involved the discussion on why it is necessary to study the Old Testament. In response to the question, "Why should we preach the Old Testament if it is pre-Christian?" the author argues that the Old Testament is the beginning of the river. "The headwaters of a river are not `non-river' or `pre-river'; they are an essential part of the river as it flows downstream" (45). Without the Old Testament, the New Testament loses its power and potency. Christ lived in an Old Testament world. The whole of Moses and the prophets pointed to Christ. The Old Testament is crucial in New Testament understanding.
One area where I have been particularly challenged in this area is in the fact that the Old Testament with all of its wars, hatred, kings, killings, joy, heartache, festivals, and violations, reflects life as it really is. Life is not easy. This world is not safe. The Old Testament presents a God who has stepped into a dirty world and chosen to reveal himself to sinful, failing, spiteful men. This is exactly the reason why we cannot avoid the Old Testament or attempt to explain it all away as myth. It is even more important that we do not limit its story to flannel graph Sunday Schools or cartoon vegetable tales. We need to hear about Judah and Tamar, David and Absolom, Samson and the Philistines, Saul and Jonathan. We need the stories unabridged and unallegorized because they speak of a world quite similar to our own.
The author was also sure to enforce the idea that "preaching Christ" does not lead to the ignoring of other doctrines, rather "It should be clear by now that our concern is not to preach Christ to the exclusion of the `whole counsel of God' but rather to view the whole counsel of God, with all its teachings, laws, prophecies, and visions, in the light of Jesus Christ" (227-28). To preach Christ means that the whole counsel of God is preached because Christ touches each part.
Probably the most challenging quote of the whole book came from Chapell who stated, "Every preacher should ask at the end of each sermon: When my listeners walk out the doors of this sanctuary to perform God's will, with whom do they walk?... If the sermon has led all persons within sight of the Savior and they now walk into their world with his aid firmly in their grasp, then hope and victory brighten the horizon. Whether people depart alone or in the Savior's hand will mark the difference between futility and faith, legalism and true obedience, do-goodism and real godliness" (276ff). Preachers must not present the hearers with the idea that the Old Testament is full of good illustrations and bad illustrations of people who obeyed their parents, or didn't steal, or took their vitamins. Rather, he must seek to present the message of God each time in such a way as to show the heart of the matter and the power behind the behavior - Christ.
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