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Christ in the Other Territories

[vimeo w=400&h=225]

CrossReference+ Episode 1 from HeadHeartHand Media on Vimeo.

I can't imagine these kinds of video being produced and then widely propagated in evangelical circles in Australia or England.  Not right now anyway.  But Scots and Americans (and the Welsh?) seem to be far more open to Christ in the Old Testament.  Why is that?

Anyway, look out for more videos from David Murray's blog.

And to give a flavour of his position, here he is reviewing Alec Motyer's Roots: Let the Old Testament Speak

I would also have preferred more Christ-centeredness. While Motyer’s first chapter is “Starting with Jesus,” and he says that the book will show how the Old Testament moves “forward to the climactic flowering in Jesus,” there is not much of Jesus nor of the Gospel in the rest of the book. There are some good Messiah-centered expositions of a few key themes (e.g. the Servant of the Lord), and of a few passages such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 110, but not much else of that nature. In fact, in one place (p. 77), Motyer denies that the Old Testament believers believed in the coming Messiah through the typology of the sacrifices. Instead, he says that “the sin-offering provided for forgiveness,” and traces their salvation to the offeror’s faith in the promise of forgiveness through that sacrifice. Only from Isaiah 53 forwards, says Motyer, did believers understand that the sacrifice was to be a person. I strongly disagree. “Person-centered” faith was present from Genesis 3:15 onwards, as God focused all attention on the promised seed (offspring) of the woman.

In a rather confusing paragraph, he also denies that the Old Testament appearances of the Angel of the Lord were pre-incarnate appearances of Christ, or in any sense “a divine condescension – God taking human form to ‘accommodate’ himself to mankind” (p. 84). He seems to link these theophanies to the image of God in man and the dignity of the body.

I suppose this all comes down to the frequently unanswered (even unasked) question in Old Testament studies. How were Old Testament believers saved? By faith, by works, or by a mixture of both? By faith in the sacrifices, by faith in God (in general), or by faith in the Messiah (in particular)? If Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are sitting at the same heavenly table as New Testament believers (Matt. 8:11), are the New Testament believers giving all glory to Christ while the Old Testament believers are polishing their own medals? Or getting to know Christ for the first time?

He's also got audio on Preaching Christ in the OT here.  I look forward to listening to it.

0 thoughts on “Christ in the Other Territories

  1. Dave K

    Re your question I have a theory.

    The movers and shakers in England and Australia are largely Anglican. One reason I appreciate Anglican Evangelicals so much because they often knew what they believed and why because they were people who knew conflict with false teaching (in a way those in independent churches are closed off from). From women preachers to a physical resurrection the faithful interpretation of the Bible is a major issue for Evangelical Anglicans. Those that I know who would be most closed to the idea of Christ in the OT are also those who are most concerned to "preach the right doctrine from the right text", and to have "controls" to prevent us twisting the text to mean what it doesn't mean. Their right concern is that the Bible is the authority, not us, and I share it.

    Unfortunately, the "control" most readily to hand is (human) authorial intent, and the tools to determine what that was are largely the grammatical-historical tools of the (not entirely Christian) academy. Perhaps if that control was joined to Divine authorial intent, with the tools to determine what that is including Church tradition as well as Biblical theology among other things, then we would do better.

    Does that make some kind of sense?

    It's just a thought.

  2. Tim V-B

    The problem does seem to be within the Anglican Evangelical world. Two things come to mind.

    One - it is has been said by a number of different authors that the Anglican Evangelical world (in the UK) has been dominated by people who came through the Independent Schools camps (e.g. Iwerne). They do excellent work, but have had a strong 'simple gospel' ethos and a tendency to be suspicious of theology (people often make this comment about 'Bash' - the man who started it all). You see it today when every sermon is basically some part of Two Ways To Live - there seems to be little interest in going deeper in theology.

    Add to this things like the Stott/Lloyd-Jones split, or Packer leaving for Canada, and you had an Anglicanism that was driven by pragmatism and cut off from historical theology e.g. the Puritans. (Obviously that's not true of Stott himself!)

    Two - I think the Conservative Evangelical world has been extremely defensive. "We're not the liberals, we're not the anglo-catholics, we're not charismatic." In other words "We're not those who are wrong, therefore we must be right." Such defensiveness does not take kindly to people coming along and saying "I think your theology is wrong/incomplete."

  3. Rich Owen

    Glen - good link there.

    Dave K - what a fascinating insight. Thank you.

    Tim VB - also v interesting.

    To add to the interest (perhaps), I'd be keen to point to a significant North-South divide to England. Northern England isn't affected by the "noise" of the powerful Evangelical Anglican churches of the South/South East. Perhaps a lack of bible schools contributes to this, but I think that the main reason is that there are far fewer Christians in the North. When you are spread so thin across the ground, your concern is more to herald the gospel than to pick over interesting theological issues. So the Christ in the Old Testament debate just isn't happening up here. People just want Christ and need Christ and delight to hear Christ preached from OT or NT.

    Promising young men and women tend to be migrating south - and I dare say that is because it is (relatively speaking) easier to minister where there are more Christians and less poverty. There is a critical mass thing here in that big churches can do the training, support etc.

    So, if you are reading and you love Jesus and are wanting to put out into the water - come North. Yorkshire needs you!


  4. Rich Owen

    Sorry - that all read a lot more negatively than I intended.

    The "noise" thing - I meant that what happens up here kinda goes unnoticed - it's not the reason for the lack of Christians!

  5. John B

    But Scots and Americans (and the Welsh?) seem to be far more open to Christ in the Old Testament. Why is that?

    This is an interesting question. I find this to be true in Covenantalist circles in America. The redemptive-historical hermeneutic stands over, informs and guides the exegesis of individual scriptures, and typological interpretations are used. So far, so good. There was a line drawn in the sand between orthodox and higher critical views of Scripture. Conservative evangelicals haven't sought to find accommodation with liberals. They've been committed to go their own way, undaunted by the frequent charges of biblicism.

    But, my sense is that in reaction to liberalism and dispensationalism, evangelicals here find the OT and NT to be linked by a unified covenant; whereas historically the church found the continuity in the promise and fulfillment of Christ. Instead of beginning with Christ and how we become united in Him, we begin with ourselves and how God relates to us. Christ himself is the foundation of God's covenant with humanity. But with the stress on the covenant rather than on Christ, often what I hear is a gospel of salvation by election that leaves me wondering about the need for Christ's incarnation and the sending of the Holy Spirit. "Sovereignty" is a shibboleth here and the universal answer to almost any question!

    [Speaking very (too) broadly here, and not at all about the specific materials cited in the post, which look great.]

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