of a recent on-line discussion about Reformed vs. Dispensational exegesis, a
friend directed me to this video of the 2/2/2016 Chapel from The Master’s Seminary.
In this video, Dr. Richard Mayhue speaks teaches against Christ-centered
preaching, as practiced by “Presbyterians and Reformed Baptists.” As a Reformed
Baptist myself, who has been trained in the kind of Christ-centered approach
Dr. Mayhue decries, I offer the following questions and responses.
that need to be answered:
still haven’t found Christ in there [i.e., in the Song of Solomon], if it is
interpreted as God intended it.”
God intend the Song of Solomon to be interpreted? How does Dr. Mayhue know? Do
our methods of interpretation come from natural philosophy, or is Scripture
sufficient to provide its own interpretive methods? These questions are
Does Dr. Mayhue really intend to say that only the Pentateuch, Psalms, and
Prophets speak of Christ, so that when preaching through other OT texts, we
should not think that divinely-inspired Scripture points to Him?
Mayhue criticizes those who would view Scripture through three grids placed
upon the text: Covenant Theology, Redemptive-Historical Trajectory, and
Christ-Centered Preaching. He says that those who view the text through these
three grids will never come to the actual point of the passage. But if these
grids are actually established by the text of Scripture itself, then wouldn’t
looking at individual texts through these grids actually be an exercise in
properly allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture?
Mayhue asserts that the proper approach to hermeneutics is the historical-grammatical
approach. Whereas I agree with this (though wishing to add
canonical/Christocentic to the hermeneutical label), we must ask where Dr.
Mayhue gets that approach. After he comes to that approach, does he then read
every text in light of that approach? Isn’t this also taking a grid through
which he is viewing the specific texts? These questions could also be raised
regarding his other hermeneutical principles, outlined below.
proper hermeneutical principles, according to Dr. Mayhue:
grammatical-historical approach to interpretation;
text has a single meaning;
text should be viewed in accordance with the authorial intent of the text.
many within the Reformed community would affirm the grammatical-historical
approach to Scripture, we would also want to add (as noted above) that our
approach should be Christocentric/canonical. Whereas many within the Reformed
community would also emphasize the authorial intent of the text, we would also
want to reckon with the fact that Scripture’s ultimate author is the Holy
Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). Therefore, even the Old Testament authors were concerned
with spiritual salvation in Christ (1 Peter 1:10-12), though that salvation was
not revealed to them in fullness, being foreshadowed under types until the
Mayhue believes that a Christocentric reading of Scripture “sidelines” the
Father and the Spirit. However, it is impossible to focus on the Son without
also focusing on the Father (John 14:9). It is manifestly evident from
Scripture that it is through knowing Christ that we know God (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John
Mayhue asserts that it is wrong to find types of Christ in the Old Testament
that Scripture does not intend. Can he cite anyone who asserts that it is right
to find types of Christ that Scripture does NOT intend? Isn’t the hermeneutical
debate on this point over whether Scripture INTENDS types of Christ to be found
in the Old Testament? Isn’t Dr. Mayhue begging the question on this point?
Mayhue poses the question: “Why preach a veiled Christ from the Old Testament,
when you can preach a clearly revealed Christ from the New?” I believe that it
would be hard for him to find an example of a Reformed preacher who preached a
sermon in which he left Christ veiled, not moving forward in the story-line of
Scripture from whatever the main text was under consideration, in order to show
how the veil was lifted in the New. Though in sections of his sermon, Dr.
Mayhew wants to affirm preaching from the Old Testament, some of his statements
have a Marcionite ring to them. The preacher who follows Dr. Mayhue’s advice
will either ignore the Old Testament or he will be left with large sections of
Holy Scripture in which we cannot make a “bee-line to the Cross,” as Spurgeonsaid. This is to say that following Dr. Mayhue’s advice, if a preacher was
committed to exposition of Scripture verse-by-verse, then there may be many Old
Testament sermons in which the gospel was absent. A gospel-less sermon, I would
contend, is no Christian sermon at all, leaving the unconverted in their sinful
state under the wrath of God. We should not treat the Old Testament as if it
were the New Testament—Christ is indeed veiled in the Old Testament—but we must
be able to demonstrate how each part of the Old Testament calls for, sets the
stage for, and is fulfilled by the New Testament in Christ.
Labels: Reformation Theology