Jon Akin recently wrote a 2-part blog on the misuse of the Old Testament in the Church. You can read parts one and two.
This raises the question then, how is the Old Testament to be read? And is the Old Testament of value to the church today?
Jon Akin, who is completing a PhD in Old Testament studies at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has written several blogs that can help us with both of these questions. He writes in one of these blogs:
Can the Old Testament be read in its literal sense and still be of value to a Christian audience? Allegory says, ‘No,’ and historical-grammatical method does not know. The Bible answers this question with a ‘Yes,’ and that yes is Jesus Christ. The entire OT is about Jesus (Luke 24:27), and all of history points to Jesus (Eph. 1:10). This means that OT history is about Christ and moving towards Christ. Christ is Abraham’s seed, so those in Christ are offspring of Abraham, heirs of the Israelite promises, and part of the vine of Israel (Gal. 3:29; Rm. 11). That means that Israelite historiographic literature is Christian historiographic literature. Jewish heritage is Christian heritage in Christ. Therefore, Christians cannot read Israelite history as if they are reading someone else’s mail. In order to read OT history as Christian scripture, the reader must read the narrative Christocentrically. All of the Old Testament is pointing to Christ, and if we are in Christ then it is pointing to us mediated through Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). The Old Testament does not first and foremost apply to the Christian; rather, it first applies to the Christ, and then it is mediated to the Christian. This means a typological, Christological reading of the Bible as a whole. The Bible is one book, and the Old Testament is the first part of that book. The little narratives should not be examined apart from the big narrative. Jesus and the apostles seemed to use this strategy.
Below are several blogs exploring Old Testament narratives that will help us see how to read the Old Testament and how the Old Testament is still vital to the life of the Church.
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Story of Noah
- The Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Reversal of Babel
- Jihadist Suicide Bomber? The Gospel and Samson
- Reading the Bible Christocentrically: Rescuing the Ark Narrative from Enlightenment Reductionism
- The Gospel of Jesus in the Life of King Asa
- Jehoshaphat and the Gospel
- The Gospel of Jesus in the Life of King Joash
From St. Augustine, this observation:
“the New Testament lies hidden in the Old
and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”
Some have begun to call the OT the ‘First Testament’
and the NT ‘the Second Testament’.
A re-reading of the OT in the light of Christ opens our eyes to the unity of all Holy Scripture. An ancient Christian icon shows a pregnant Mary embracing and consoling a weeping Eve.
The two ‘testaments’ embrace one another in Lord Christ, Who brings all into being, sustains it, and leads us to our destiny in the New Jerusalem.
I can’t wait to go through his articles. My girlfriend and I are going to be reading through the OT this next year (we went through the NT this year) and I want to be able to show her how the OT still applies today.
Good quote. I hope these articles (and possibly more?) end up in book form some time.
I do not think good theology necessarily comes from the smartest or the most educated people. However, I do think good theology has a lot to do with having the right approach to reading the Bible.
If people read the Old Testament with a “commitment” to not look for how it points to Christ (except here and there), then I do not think they will tend to find His shadow.
However, if people–whether they are educated or not–take their cue from what Christ says and thus look for Him, then I think they will be on the right track to see the Old Testament as Christological Scripture.
I do not believe Jon is taking an approach to Scripture that is only for the “elite”. I think he is humbly receiving what Christ says about the Old Testament so that if affects the way he reads it.
May God continue to use him for His glory in Christ.