Monday, March 22, 2004


What is the "center" of Paul's theology? Is it the doctrine of justification? Is it his doctrine of the Holy Spirit? Or, to ask a more profound question: Is there a center to Paul's thought or any other NT writer, for that matter?

In Reformed circles some years ago, we began to employ the term "Christocentric" to describe Paul's hermeneutic as well as the hermeneutics of other NT writers. At WTS, Philadelphia, Dr. Douglas Green borrowed a term from Richard Hays ("ecclesio-telic") and applied the "telic" sense of this term to the way the NT writers interpreted the OT. Green began to speak of "Christo-telic" hermeneutics--finding a passage's fulfillment in Christ, but still doing justice to what he called a "first reading." (This is especially true when exegeting OT passages.) This is a profound tweaking of the former "Christocentric" understanding. It basically says that our hermeneutic should have Christ as its telos. But does "Christo-telic" do justice to how the OT writers were thinking? Were they awaiting Jesus Christ? Probably not specifically! Let us consider this: Euangellio-telic or Gospel-telic. I believe it does justice to both the anticipated fulfillment of the OT writers as well as the realized fulfillment of the NT writers.

Monday, March 08, 2004

New Testament Backgrounds and World Christianity

According to Lamin Sanneh--D. Willis James Professor of Missions and World Christianity and professor of history at Yale Divinity School--World Christianity as opposed to Christendom or Global Christianity may benefit the western Christian mindset by providing a fresh perspective into NT backgrounds. Sanneh writes in Whose Religion Is Christianity: The Gospel Beyond the West,

The West can encounter in the world Christian movement the gospel as it is being embraced by societies that had not been shaped by the Enlightenment, and so gain an insight into the culture that shaped the origins of the NT church. That might bring about a greater appreciation for the NT background of Christianity. It might also shed light on the issues the early church faced as it moved between Jewish and Gentile worlds.

This statement flies in the face of those who would state unequivocally that the New Perspective on Paul and contemporary Jesus studies like that of N.T. Wright are a direct result of a post-Holocaust agenda and sentiment. To not recognize how the world Christian movement may contribute to our own understanding of scripture and practice is to be thoroughly anti-catholic and perpetuate our post-Enlightenment self-delusion.