Monday, January 28, 2008

Things Christians Overlook: The Bible Has a Thesis (Hint: Christ)

I want to do a brief series on some key biblical things that I and other Christians have overlooked and do overlook. Today's topic is on a pretty simple but incredibly under-recognized idea, that the Bible has a thesis, and that this thesis is Jesus Christ.

I have talked about this before on this blog, and I'm sure I'll talk about it again, because it is incredibly important. I think that many Christians of the past century were taught to read the Bible rather flatly. That is, there is no peak in the canon which all preceding materials foretells and all following material explores. But there is such a peak: it is none other than Jesus Christ.

Luke 24:27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:44-46"These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead...

John 1:45
Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."

John 5:39
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me...

These are some of the texts that point us to find the Bible's thesis in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Preachers are not being fanciful when they attempt to connect their sermon text to the person and work of Jesus Christ; they are being faithful. One can pick up a book of Scripture and read it in its context and take away lots of important information and context and content. This is, in fact, how many Christians read the Bible. They read a given text--say, Esther--and they come away encouraged by it, understanding more of God and man and how the two interact and what ancient Judaism looked like and how God triumphs over evil and things like this. Let me be clear: these are immensely important things. However, this Christian is missing the Bible's thesis, the richness of a thesis-driven reading of Scripture, and is in some way disobeying Christ and His explicit command to read the Bible in terms of a theological argument. I once read the Bible in this way, and though I am sure that I and others who did (and do) are not seeking to disobey Christ's direct teaching, it is clear that we are.

This post is not okaying any and all interpretations of Scripture so long as they purport to point to Christ (as if I can okay anything). No. We must be responsible Christocentricists. We can acknowledge that some texts foreshadow and disclose Christ's coming and work more clearly and fully than others. We can at times confess, both to ourselves and to our congregations, that the Christocentric connection is rather abstract due to a lack of clarity on our part (thus emphasizing our exegetical weakness and the Bible's mystery more than its lack of anything). With these caveats stated, whether you are a preacher or a politician, a teacher or a tradesman, a homemaker or a teenager, you are called to read the Bible as if it has a thesis, namely, the person and work of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament foreshadows Christ, the New Testament discloses His person and work in fullness (see the above texts). Thus, every text of the Bible in some way relates to the gospel of Christ, and every Christian must learn to the read the Bible with this rich, invigorating, glorious thesis. God in His wisdom wrote the Bible through men, and He did so with a distinct thesis in mind: He wrote the Scripture to tell of Himself, to illuminate the character of men, to record a history of His dealings with men, and most significantly, to point to Christ and His work as the center, the apex, the pinnacle, of the Word.

Let us read the Scripture accordingly--not as a book of sixty-six fascinating but loosely connected books, but as a collection of diverse authors and subjects who nonetheless speak a single central theme: the glory of God as revealed in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Let us not ignore this matter; if we do so, after all, we're not disobeying a bunch of fanciful theologians who comment on the Bible. No, we're disobeying Christ, the One who wrote it.

Further reading: Dennis Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Proclaiming Christ from All of Scripture, P & R, 2007.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Dad said...

I was just looking at: ESV John 17:24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

God, it seems, will continue this throughout eternity.

Al

5:44 PM  
Anonymous jay c said...

I've been studying Torah for a few years. Millenia ago the Jews divided the Torah up into weekly readings called parshiot. I was amazed to discover the Gospel and salvation message in every single parsha. I always knew that Christ was prophesied by Moses, but I hadn't realized how thoroughly until I began studying the details.

8:54 AM  
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