Who preached 159 sermons from Job and brought only 17% "to a Christological conclusion"?

“Calvin always first sought to answer ‘what did the author mean by what he said?’ Calvin was determined to interpret and apply the text that was before him according to the intended meaning of the author.” Reformed Preaching?

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Interesting history and perspective here. 

It isn't possible to derive the gospel from every text and be faithful to intended meaning either of the author or the Author. It is possible to relate every text to the gospel, but the difference is important. If God intended to give us only gospel, the Bible would be maybe Genesis, John and Romans at most.

josh p's picture

That was an excellent article. The hermeneutical discussion seems to have taken on a new form. It is not so much literal versus allegorical with respect to prophecy now. By my reading it seems to have moved to authorial intent. I would be interested to hear what so e reformed brothers would say about the article.

Huw's picture

I bought a copy of these sermons in book form about 12 years ago. The sermons are in Elizabethan English and take a bit of getting used to. Each and every line holds valuable doctrine. Perceiving the value might be difficult for some, but it is there. Calvin says that the purpose of the book of Job is to show us the sovereignty of Yah Veh and how we must accept His sovereign choice and decisions every moment of each and every day.

 

On a personal note. The chapters 38-42 is the greatest speech ever given by The Almighty in regard to His sovereignty in creation and maintaining of the creation. I have lost count of how many times I've been brought back to those last chapters and each and every time I am laden with truth. 

 

 

Donn R Arms's picture

josh p wrote:

I would be interested to hear what some reformed brothers would say about the article.

The VERY Reformed Jay Adams has been sounding the alarm over this Historical/Redemptive approach to hermeneutics for many years.

Case in point--1 Cor. 10. Christ was present, but the purpose of the passage in Ex. 32 was to teach us "not to desire evil things as they did." The Historical/Redemptive folk would accuse Paul of "moralism."

Donn R Arms

Charlie's picture

Some account of Calvin's context needs to be made. In Geneva, Calvin's official title was "reader" or "teacher" of Scripture. That is, he was primarily responsible for training people in exegesis and theology. Also, Calvin's preaching schedule makes a big difference in understanding this:  “For the duration of his ministry, Calvin’s approach was to preach systematically through entire books of the Bible. … Calvin preached from the New Testament on Sunday mornings, from the New Testament or the Psalms on Sunday afternoons, and from the Old Testament every morning of the week, every other week. In this consecutive fashion, Calvin preached through most of the books of the Scriptures” (Stephen Lawson, in John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine, and Doxology). Also, Calvin wrote biblical commentaries on the literal sense of the scriptural text while he was preaching through the books.

So, had Calvin been limited to 1 or 2 sermons a week and chosen to preach from the OT, as is often the case today in Reformed and other churches, would he have done everything the same? It's hard to say, but it is worth considering why his usual practice was not to preach from the OT on the Sunday gatherings. 

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Cor meum tibi offero Domine prompte et sincere. ~ John Calvin

josh p's picture

Donn R Arms wrote:

josh p wrote:

I would be interested to hear what some reformed brothers would say about the article.

The VERY Reformed Jay Adams has been sounding the alarm over this Historical/Redemptive approach to hermeneutics for many years.

Case in point--1 Cor. 10. Christ was present, but the purpose of the passage in Ex. 32 was to teach us "not to desire evil things as they did." The Historical/Redemptive folk would accuse Paul of "moralism."

i didn't know that about Jay Adams. Thanks!

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've benefited a great deal from the work of people emphasizing "historical-remdemptive" in one way or another. Surely there's no need to choose between drawing the ethical moral and practical message of the text vs. drawing out the meaning of the text in the larger story of creation, fall and redemption.

The latter is of a matter of relating or connecting the passage's meaning to the Story rather than looking at the meaning of the passage itself. But in preaching and teaching, I can't see why attending to both is not achievable.

Andrew K.'s picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I've benefited a great deal from the work of people emphasizing "historical-remdemptive" in one way or another. Surely there's no need to choose between drawing the ethical moral and practical message of the text vs. drawing out the meaning of the text in the larger story of creation, fall and redemption.

The latter is of a matter of relating or connecting the passage's meaning to the Story rather than looking at the meaning of the passage itself. But in preaching and teaching, I can't see why attending to both is not achievable.

I agree with Aaron here. I would even go further and say that, to my mind, the greatest value of a text is derived from placing it in its historical-redemptive context--specifically how it points to and reveals Christ, whether explicitly or implicitly. This use shouldn't, however, militate against other applications of the text. It seems to me that many recent advocates of this position have indeed pushed it farther than it should go, to the point that they run the risk of undercutting inspired applications of Scripture with their own hermeneutic.

神是爱

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I recall a debate here at SI some time ago that focused for a while on how to properly preach the story of Joseph and Potiphar's wife. Some were adamant that if you didn't preach the gospel from this text, you were just guilty of "moralism." Thing is, when you're a pastor and know your congregation well and know that you preached the gospel the Sunday before, you might just pick up where you left off and simply focus on walking worthy, as Joseph beautifully does ("walking" by running in this case!). Though the body needs the gospel frequently, there's also no virtue in assuming they can't remember it from one sermon to the next!

So, is Joseph a type of Christ and Pot's wife typical of idolatrous hearts everywhere? Sure. But there's some great, down to earth practical stuff in the text for folks who already get that they are unworthy sinners bought at incalculable cost, and graciously brought to life and destined for complete transformation.

Here's another example:

Pr 26:17  ESV 17 Whoever meddles in a quarrel not his own is like one who takes a passing dog by the ears.

This is just really practical good sense anybody can benefit from. Yes, even unbelievers. The test of a truth's value is not the gap between how it benefits believers vs. how it benefits the lost. It's value lies in the fact that God chose to reveal it to mankind in authoritative and inspired Scripture and did so because He wanted us to live it. So believers have a completely different reason for living the practical stuff, but it works pretty much just as well for atheists.  

IOW, the gospel tells us why behaving wisely matters (forever!). But the effectiveness of wise and moral conduct is not gospel dependent.

Andrew K.'s picture

Yeah, I was there for a little while myself, but a few things got me thinking.

1) The NT uses the OT in this way. That in itself shows that moralism must have a legitimate place, though I would still argue in some ways subordinate.

2) Isn't "moralism" really just referring to God's moral law? It strikes me that there might be a number of dangers in just assuming the moral law on the part of people, rather than actively teaching it. For one, the gospel assumes it as a foundation. So wouldn't an insufficient knowledge of God's moral law result in an insufficient understanding of the gospel?

3) We are called to imitate others as they imitate God/Christ, even by Paul in the NT. Doesn't that mean something?

Just a few thoughts, and not all that well stated, to throw out.

神是爱

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

K. Bauder wrote some really good thougths on this not long ago in Nick. God's law is indeed the standard by which sinners are judged guilty (Rom.1-3). The gospel depends on there being a "right and wrong" that we all violated in Adam and continue to violate in our personal choices.

"Moralism" though, is not the right term for preaching "Stop doing doing wrong and start doing right." Rather, moralism is the idea that by changing your behavior you can (a) pay for the wrongs of the past and fix things with God and (b) actually transform yourself at some fundamental level.

So preaching morality becomes a problem when it--intentionally or otherwise--conveys a substitution of self-righteousness for Christ's righteousness or, to put it another way, works for faith.

But it's important to note that the relationship between self vs. alien righteousness (and works vs. faith) is not the same for the believer as it is for the unbeliever. Because of our new birth and union with Christ, for the believer there is no longer really any such thing as "our own righteousness" and our works are no longer simply our own works. It's possible to engage in them forgetfully (and possible to fail to engage in them--sinfully), but the Spirit now works in our works, and righteousness that may seem to be our own is really God's work in and through us.

So there is no obedience-vs.-faith tension (or morality vs gospel tension) in the believer's life. In the unbeliever's life there certainly can be, but doesn't have to be.

In the example of Jonah and Nineveh, though the city's repentance was very behavior-based, there is also faith involved. They believe Jonah's message that doom from God is coming and they change their ways in humility before that God. Of course, that isn't the same thing as believing the gospel and being converted, but it is analogous. And the book of Jonah clearly depicts both Jonah's message and Nineveh's response as good things.

Phil Siefkes's picture

This "Gospel-in-every-message, Gospel-in-every-verse, and Gospel-to-yourself-every-day" theme is certainly common. Jerry Bridges is one encourager of such thinking.  True, Christians need to be reminded of how they were brought to God through Christ. However, Aaron is spot-on when he says:

... there's also no virtue in assuming they can't remember it from one sermon to the next!

It is insulting to the flock of God if we suggest that they cannot remember what we said last week or 3-4 weeks ago. Give the folks some credit for thinking Biblically and showing some maturity.

Discipling God's image-bearers to the glory of God.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Then you have the visitors and new believers in the congregation. So it also doesn't work to say "you never need to preach the gospel in six sermons in a row." Sometimes, it's what the flock needs. When we went through Romans, of course, it was the gospel in whole and in parts the whole way through. 

... and one of the bigger surprises of years as a pastor was the consistent joy and blessing both and the congregation (judging from the attention level, etc.) found in returning to the gospel over and over and over. (I guess I shouldn't have been surprised, really, but I never ceased to be amazed at both how much I enjoyed preaching it and how much those who already knew it well enjoyed hearing it.)

So I guess my view is that there really is no hard and fast rule for how often/how much. To me the one rule is, always preach from the text the message that is in the text, but also always (one way or another) put it in the larger context of God's great gospel agenda--which is His own glory.