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I'm the sort of person who bangs a drum for Christ in the OT.  Specifically I think it's important to maintain that knowledge of God is always in Christ. 

In my experience there are three ways to do this:

1) From the OT forwards

Basically you point out where the OT reveals an Appearing LORD, the Angel of the LORD, the Commander of the LORD's army etc.  And you say 'Look - there He is.'

2) From the NT backwards

Basically you show how Jesus and the Apostles just assumed that the OT saints knew Christ.

3) Systematically

Here you point out how Christ is the Image, Word, Way, Truth and Life of God - and always has been.

Typically I encounter these kinds of resistance.

Against 1) I tend to find an underlying assumption something like:

The OT saints could not have even a proto-trinitarian understanding of deity in distinction among multiple Persons called 'LORD'.  They (therefore) could not have an understanding of the distinct Person of Christ. 

Of course there is no Scriptural warrant for this.  It is just an assumption.  But a very strong one.  Quite rarely will this assumption yield even when confronted with a barrage of OT texts.

If it is finally conceded that Christ in His distinct deity is present in the text, the interlocutor will typically say "Ah but nobody at the time realised it."

Again this is not a Scriptural assertion, but it has tremendous force on your interlocutor.  They may even argue as though "They spoke better than they knew" was in the bible.  It's not in the bible.  And it's an extremely poor assessment of the bible's teaching on OT faith and prophecy. 

 

Against 2) I find an underlying assumption something like:

Whenever Jesus and the NT speak of Christ-focused faith and experience in the OT, they are always re-reading the OT in a way that was neither intended nor grasped by the OT saints.

Here's a frustrating little quirk!  Bring up a barrage of NT texts that say something like "Seeing what was ahead David spoke of the resurrection of the Christ" (Acts 2:31) and you will receive a reply something like "Ah yes, Peter said that, but only with Pentecostal eyes of faith."

Um... [scratch head]... so David saw and spoke of Christ and His resurrection but... only once Pentecost happened?  ...?

 

Against 3) I reckon the underlying assumption is something like:

You don't really need to know Jesus to know God.  Obviously it's best.  But not essential.

To be honest I think this is the one that really throbs beneath much of these discussions. 

I don't mind if people have false assumptions 1) or 2).  I'm fairly optimistic that eventually the Scriptures will do their work here.  I find false assumption 3) to be the most intransigent and the most worrying.

Go here to read quotes from history firmly opposed to such an idea.

Go here to read a debate we're having on just this topic - we're up to 67 comments!

And keep reading the blog - because that's what 'Christ the Truth' is all about.

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Yet another conversation containing the names Goldsworthy and Blackham has collapsed under the weight of pointed comments that got out of hand. And I was the chief commenter.

[deep exhale]

And this is precisely why people hate the issue being brought up.

It aggravates old wounds.

Wrong response 1:  We should be able to discuss such things dispassionately.

No, actually.  If we're not emotionally engaged it's obviously not an issue close to the heart of the gospel.  Dispassionate disagreements are not worth having at all.  But I think this is an issue touching on the nature of faith, our doctrine of God, the supremacy of Christ.  If those things don't tug on heart strings there's something wrong.  Dispassionate engagement is not an option.  But Christian engagement is a necessity.  Dying to self.  Crucifying the flesh with its desires.  Giving our lives up for others.  Paul said he'd go veggie for life if it protected non-meat-eating brothers. (1 Cor 8:13)  That's not dispassionate engagement, it's a costly love for those with whom we disagree.  We should feel strongly and make the conscious effort to swallow pride, to abandon the need to be right, to look on people we feel are mistaken and love them (Mark 10:21).  Such disagreements among believers should be prime opportunities to give and receive grace.

Wrong response 2:  Given the aggro that attends it, it's always wrong to raise this issue.

Well - maybe on the Paul-going-veggie example, we should just go vegan!  And Paul says he'd do it for life.  There will be seasons when we just have to go veggie.  And this must not be with the thought of regrouping for our next assault.  It must be with the thought, "I will shut my mouth indefinitely on this issue if that is in their best interests."  But then of course Paul did actually side with the strong and taught accordingly.  There must be ways of raising the issue while at the same time making every effort to serve those with whom we disagree.  We have to find ways of doing that.

What we really need to do is go on mission together.  Like in the best buddy movies, we need to go into the front lines as a rag-tag bunch of awkward, mistrustful rejects.  But as the heat of the battle presses us together, as we start sticking up for each other, as we see each other's gifts serve the common good, then we'll have that common love and respect for each other that is the ground not the goal of such discussions.

But we're very sick at heart you know...

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