I was talking recently with a friend about the centrality of Christ in Scripture, and how all the Bible finds its fulfillment in Jesus.
This is explicitly taught in passages such as Luke 24:27. As the Lord walked with two of his disciples along the road to Emmaus, it says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”
Read through the Bible for yourself, and you simply can’t miss this overarching theme. Christ is the greater Adam, the seed of the woman, the ark of God’s rescue, the substitutionary lamb, the scapegoat, the righteous branch of Jesse, our great high priest, our Sabbath rest, and so much more.
The one thing we have to be careful of, however, is pushing this “magic key” of redemptive hermeneutics too far, at the expense of a literal, grammatical-historical interpretation of the text.
This is the problem with many Reformed scholars such as Graham Goldsworthy, Ed Clowney, Kim Riddlebarger, Sam Storms, etc. They interpret God’s promises to ethnic Israel so redemptively that they smother a plain, literal reading of the Old Testament text. Christ and His church become the “new” or “true” Israel. Heaven becomes the true “land of promise.” Salvation and the Eternal State become the true “kingdom.”
We see this, for example, in Vern Poythress’ “Overview of the Bible” in the ESV Study Bible. He says, “The promises and blessings [of the Old Testament] point forward to Christ, who is the fulfillment of the promises and the source of final blessings.” So far so good, but later, Poythress adds, “The OT, when it pays attention to physical land and physical prosperity and physical health, anticipates the physicality of the believer’s prosperity in the new heavens and the new earth.” This all sounds very spiritual and wonderfully Christocentric, but it is a gross misinterpretation of God’s irrevocable promises to real people living in a real place in real time and history.
Yes, Jesus is at the heart of Scripture, and God expanded the benefits of his kingdom and covenants to include or “graft in” the Gentiles. But that never replaced or superseded His original promises to the chosen remnant of the Jews (see Romans 9-11). For a more technical discussion on this, check out Thomas Ice’ article “Dispensational Hermeneutics.”
I know many will disagree with my dispensational view, but I would encourage people to exercise discernment in the area of redemptive historical hermeneutics. There is so much good in it, but we have to use caution and not to press it too far.
Question: What have you found helpful about redemptive hermeneutics? Click here to leave a comment.
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