Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Questions and Responses to Dr. Richard Mayhue: "An Overview of Christ-Centered Preaching"




As part 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.

Questions that need to be answered:

Re: “I still haven’t found Christ in there [i.e., in the Song of Solomon], if it is interpreted as God intended it.”

-How did 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 foundational.

QUESTION: 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?

Dr. 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?

Dr. 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.

3 proper hermeneutical principles, according to Dr. Mayhue:
1.     The grammatical-historical approach to interpretation;
2.    Each text has a single meaning;
3.    Each text should be viewed in accordance with the authorial intent of the text.

Whereas 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 incarnation.

Dr. 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 2:23).

Dr. 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?

Dr. 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.

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