Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Case for a Christ-Centered Interpretation of Scripture

I value the work of Vern Poythress. He has been enormously helpful in the field of biblical hermeneutics.

In an article entitled "Christ the Only Savior of Interpretation" first published in the Westminster Journal of Theology Dr. Poythress writes:
Since human interpretation is corrupted by sin, it no less than other human activities stands in need of redemption. Interpretive sins no less than other sins can find a remedy only in the sacrifice of Christ (Acts 4:12). Hence we must affirm that Christ is the Savior of interpretation. We acknowledge this truth indirectly whenever we speak of the indispensable work of the Holy Spirit in illumining to us the message of Scripture (1 Cor 2:14-16). Yet this work of the Holy Spirit can never be independent of the work of Christ in dying and rising in order to save us. Hence it is worthwhile to make explicit ways in which Christ redeems our human interpretation, as one aspect of his redemption of the total creation (Rom 8:18-27; Col 1:20).

We are accustomed to thinking of biblical interpretation as Christocentric. Biblical theologians correctly observe that NT use of the OT is consistently Christ-centered in character (note Luke 24:25-27, 44-49). "No matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes" in Christ" (2 Cor 1:20). Certainly this conviction should affect our hermeneutical procedure: we ought to come to any particular passage of the Bible asking the question of how the passage speaks about Christ. In a real sense, Christ is the central content of the Bible's message.


But Christ is the center of interpretation in at least two more senses besides this familiar one. First, he is the Lord of interpretation. As the omnipotent God and the eternal Word he is not only the author and speaker of Scripture, but also the creator, the providential ruler, and the standard for every step in every person's interaction with the Bible.

Second, Christ is our redeemer with respect to interpretive sinfulness. He is the substitute, sin-bearer, and purifier for our interpretive rebellion.


Read the entire article HERE.

1 comment:

rmkton said...

I believe that Christ redeems our human interpretation...even when we are dead wrong...I don't come into contact with many evangelicals who are open to this possibility.