Sometimes we read Paul and think, “Wow, his emotional intensity here really tells me how he feels” or “wow, he got lost in his argument due to his zealousness.” In fact, neither of these observations can be true.
We cannot psychoanalyze Paul nor gain insight into his emotional life in such a direct way. We cannot do so partly because of the nature of letter writing and because of Paul’s own testimony. These preclude us from making such judgments when we read him.
Paul could not have written letters with emotional flourish (at least not in a modern sense) for the following reasons:
Heaven & Earth features conversations between myself and another person who knows something fascinating. In these conversations, I play the role of the listener and ask questions to learn more about a topic.
In this episode, Mitch Chase and I discuss allegory and typology and their relationship to biblical interpretation.
Since I conceive of God as impassible, Spirit, simple, then my conception of God differs from someone who sees him as passible and similar to us (though much greater) on a scale of being. When we think of God, we think of two different entities. It’s not the same.
Granted, many people think of God as “greater” than us but on our scale of being today. It is a problem, but the real issue lies with how we talk about God from the Bible. If history is our only context when we interpret Scripture (and not theology/metaphysics), then it is evident that we will only speak of God who participates in history in ways similar to us (though much greater than us).
That still results in a God unrecognizable to Christian theology as expressed in creeds and confessions. Pastoral theology then cannot stop at teaching Scripture within its historical context. It must take the next step to interpret it within its theological context—the reality of the triune God and incarnate Christ.
Christians often practice a Christ-centred reading of Scripture. Yet this approach can sound like a pop-a-mole game where Christ just springs up everywhere in Scripture. I do not think that is the case here, but I can understand the concern.
One way to understand the Christ-centered nature of Scripture is to use two key metaphors. That is what I do here before making some conclusions on Christ in the Old Testament. [Read more…] about How Christ Is the Centre of Scripture
Many have attempted to discover the centre of Scripture by reading it according to its own terms, idioms, and storyline. In this attempt, however, theologians have differed on what that centre is. Proposals include justification, God’s glory in salvation through judgment, and God himself. That so many disagree on the centre suggests that such an approach has yet to discover the centre.
Despite the seeming impossibility of discovering the centre, it is possible to name it. In my view, the discipline of biblical theology can grasp the centre only through first considering key apostolic comments on the relationship between Christ and Scripture. Only then does the centre become manifest.