A Word of Caution on Symbols

The relationship between the testaments is obviously very important to Christians. There is a common tendency to describe certain things or events in or from the Old Testament (OT) as symbols of things or events that are original to the New Testament (NT). This is a legitimate interpretive approach to the OT since it is something the NT itself does. The Letter to the Hebrews, for example, is famous for this. However, the way this hermeneutic has often been applied lately has been bothering me. Continue reading “A Word of Caution on Symbols”

The Problem with Christocentric Readings

Christocentric readings of the Bible have been around for a very long time but they have fairly recently come in vogue among theologically erudite Christians. Now there are different understandings of what it is but it literally means seeing Christ at the centre of whatever you read in the Bible. While I have appreciated the sincere sentiment behind it I have always been suspicious of it. Continue reading “The Problem with Christocentric Readings”

What is the Christotelic Hermeneutic and Why Should You Care?

Christ the Telos

There has been quite a bit written over the past several months on the topic of “Christotelic hermeneutics.” Many charges have been laid against it, and for the most part without much substantiation beyond assertion.  Here I want to try to make it clear what advocates of Christotelic hermeneutics – at least those Reformed exegetes who see Scripture as the infallible word of God – are trying to accomplish.

As I see it, those who employ a Christotelic hermeneutic in their interpretation of the OT have put their finger on a real problem in evangelical exegesis as it has been practiced in recent history – that is, an over-reliance on a shallow form of the grammatical-historical method. This reliance tends either on the one hand to see the Christological meaning of the OT text as pervasive and therefore as the only real meaning of a given text, or on the…

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Cognitive Bias and Theology

We are more accustomed to thinking of syncretism as an errant imposition on the biblical text from culture. The point often overlooked is that even church and denominational subcultures are shaped by various dynamics in their surrounding culture(s). Who possibly knows the all the ways Christian organizations reflect the values and priorities of the numerous cultures in which we belong?

Furthermore, the inertia of tradition moves us along. We filter out certain texts and theological conclusions; or perhaps, we will overemphasize ideas beyond what is found in Scripture. In effect, our traditions and “Christian” subcultures create biases and impose significance or meaning into a passage.

Continue reading “Cognitive Bias and Theology”

Psalm 72 – A Messianic Psalm?

Reading Acts

The header does not explicitly refer to a historic event in the life of David or Solomon, although it seems clear that the Psalm refers to the Davidic Covenant.  But the language of the Psalm is grand and universal – the King will rule the whole world and the prosperity of the King rivals the Garden of Eden.  Since the details go beyond Solomon (or any other king of Israel or Judah), it is assumed by many Jewish and Christian writers that this Psalm is Messianic, referring to a future restoration of Israel when the land will be expanded and peace and prosperity will finally come to Israel.

As one of the  ten “royal” psalms (2, 18, 20, 21, 45, 72, 101, 110, 132, and 144:1-11), this psalm is usually interpreted as messianic.  It is not surprising to find that early Christians saw this psalm as referring to the coming…

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