Monday, January 11, 2010

What Is Redemptive-Historical Preaching?

I have had a couple of people comment on my previous post and ask what RH preaching is so I will try and explain it using as many monosyllabic words as possible. Basically RH preaching takes Jesus' words in LK 24:27 seriously, "And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself."

The Bible is a Redemptive-Historical book. Gen. 1-3 informs us of the creation and fall of mankind. Gen. 4-Rev. 22 informs us of God's redeeming of fallen mankind. It is easy to find Christ and His work in the New Testament, but Christ Himself informs us the whole of the Old Testament is about Him as well.

Let me give an example. It is all too easy today to find someone preach the David and Goliath passage as moralistic. What do I mean by this? Well what you might hear is a sermon on "What are the giants in your life?" or "What are the smooth stones in your life that can help your slay the giants in your life?" The problem with this is the sermon is then centered on you, the listener, instead of Christ. David in this story is a type of Christ, a foreshadowing of the great deliverer to come. When David defeats the giant the Old Testament is preparing the people of God for the coming of Messiah. To make the listener live up to a type of Christ in David is just plain cruel, this is a burden no believer should have to endure.

In this story if one must identify with anyone it surely is the Israelites who stood around, afraid of the giant waiting until a deliverer finally arrived on the scene. We should be able to identify often with the people of Israel, miserable failures who are graciously delivered by a merciful God.

One accusation leveled against RH preaching is that it is against application. This is entirely unfounded. There is a small group who surely feel this way but the vast majority of Biblical Theologians do not. Biblical Theology and Redemptive-Historical for the most part go hand in hand. RH preachers most assuredly believe in application, as one of my former pastors said you have to make sure you answer the "So what," of the sermon. Meaning the listener in the pew is saying "so what," to the sermon until the pastor informs him.

The bottom line is this, a Christian sermon must be about Christ, not about the listener. Let me give two quick diagnostics you may use when listening to a sermon. The first is very simple, ask yourself "Did Christ have to die to make what is being said in this sermon true?" If the answer is no, you have not heard preaching, you have heard a lecture. The second is three parts but I find this one very helpful. 1)Is Jesus mentioned? Don't laugh you could go for months listening to Joel Osteen and not hear a thing about Christ. 2)If Jesus is mentioned, is He the subject of the verbs? Is He doing the action or is being acted on? 3)If He is mentioned and He is the subject of the verbs, what are those verbs? Is He making you happy, healthy, wealthy? Or is He suffering and dying on a cross for the redemption of the believers, and is He rising again on the third day assuring us of eternal life.

I hope this helps shed some light for some of you. I also want to say how delighted I am to have at least a couple of people reading this while my posting has been so terribly sparse. Feel free to ask any more questions if I have not lived up to expectations with this post.

In Christ,
Alan

1 comment:

Ken said...

Allen,

Surely, we need to take Jesus' words there seriously. But, is Jesus really giving the sum total of Christian proclamation, even his own?

Is proclaiming Christ just proclaiming him as the fulfillment of the prophecies?

Or, are we to proclaim, "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord' and do not do what I say?"

The experientialist aims to display Christ in all his supreme grandeur, and the fullness of his salvation, and man's utter inability to save himself, but to aim that teaching squarely at the heart of man.

It cannot be a choice between exalting Christ, and emphasizing the response he demands of those who hear his voice, can it?

So, Old Testament heroes serve as examples in this sense. Yes, they are types of Christ (many of them), but they are not merely types of Christ.

They are also men of faith who are held up as examples, not of perfection, but of human faults and failings who are often saved in spite of themselves.

The NT itself does this. Hebrews 11. James says that Elijah was a man like we are, and yet he prayed, etc. etc.

So, the danger of R-H, it seems to me, is that, in a zeal to uphold OT typology, to deny that these lives were exemplary in any sense. I don't think we can go that far and be faithful to the examples of proclamation we see in the NT.