The C.H.R.I.S.T. Acronym, Pt. 1 (How to Read the Bible, Ep. 14)

So now that we understand the overarching storyline of scripture centered in Christ, how do we go about interpreting specific texts in light of it? In this episode, we will introduce the C.H.R.I.S.T. acronym as an easy-to-remember methodology for thinking about the ways various passages relate to Christ.

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)

See all other content in this series.


The Convictions Behind Christ-Centered Reading (How to Read the Bible, Ep. 10)

We contend that a proper reading of any passage of scripture will necessarily include interpreting it in light of the whole of scripture as centered in the Christ-event. But what is the basis for this position? And what are the errors involved in failing to read all of scripture in view of Christ on the one hand, or, on the other hand, spiritualizing the text and bypassing its original meaning as we get to Christ?

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)

See all other content in this series.


Discerning the Main Claim of a Passage (How to Read the Bible, Ep. 9)

Have you ever read a passage from the Bible and wondered, what was the point of all that? Maybe you pick up some themes and ideas here or there from a passage, but you’re unsure how it all fits together. Or maybe you’ve never thought to consider how a passage all fits together. In this episode, Kirk and Dan get back into their series on how to read the Bible, asking, after we’ve made all of our initial observations on a passage (e.g., tone, context, structure), then what? They talk about the need for understanding a passage’s overall claim, message, or point.

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)

See all other content in this series.


Herman Bavinck on a Hermeneutic of New Testament Fulfillment (Contra. Chiliasm)

In the following quotations, taken from the final section of his chapter on “Visions of the End,” Bavinck offers an extended critique of what is sometimes referred to as chiliasm, i.e., the belief in a future millennial messianic reign prior to the very end of all things (eschaton). And although he does not use this particular label for what he’s describing, Bavinck’s critique would quite fittingly apply to what is often referred to as dispensationalism.


“Now it is true that that future is depicted in images derived from the historical circumstances that then prevailed, so that Zion and Jerusalem, temple and altar, sacrifice and priesthood, continue to occupy a large place in it. But we must remember that we ourselves do the same thing and can only speak of God and divine things in sensuous, earthly forms. One reason God instituted Old Testament worship as he did was that we would be able to speak of heavenly things, not in self-made images but in the correct images given us by God himself. The New Testament, accordingly, takes over this language and in speaking about the future kingdom of God refers to Zion and Jerusalem, to temple and altar, to prophets and priests. …

Nor must we forget that all prophecy is poetry that must be interpreted in terms of its own character. The error of the older exegesis was not spiritualization as such but the fact that it sought to assign a spiritual meaning to all the illustrative details, in the process … often losing sight of the main thought. … 

[E]veryone senses that in these lines one has to do with poetic descriptions that cannot and may not be taken literally. The realistic interpretation here becomes self-contradictory and misjudges the nature of prophecy.

It is also incorrect to say that the prophets themselves were totally unconscious of the distinction between the thing [they asserted] and the image [in which they clothed it]. …

[I]n Old Testament exegesis the question is not whether the prophets were totally or partially conscious of the symbolic nature of their predictions, for even in the words of classic authors there is more than they themselves thought or intended. It is a question, rather, what the Spirit of Christ who was in them wished to declare and reveal by them. And that is decided by the New Testament, which is the completion, fulfillment, and therefore interpretation of the Old. The nature of a tree is revealed by its fruit. … [N]ot Judaism but Christianity is the full realization of the religion of the prophets.

The New Testament views itself—and there can certainly be no doubt about this—as the spiritual and therefore complete and authentic fulfillment of the Old Testament. … 

The peculiar nature of the old dispensation consisted precisely in the fact that the covenant of grace was presented in graphic images and clothed in national and sensuous forms. Sin was symbolized by levitical impurity. Atonement was effected by the sacrifice of a slain animal. Purification was adumbrated by physical washings. Communion with God was connected with the journey to Jerusalem. The desire for God’s favor and closeness was expressed in the longing for his courts. Eternal life was conceived as a long life on earth, and so forth. In keeping with Israel’s level of understanding, placed as Israel was under the tutelage of the law, all that is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal was veiled in earthly shadows. … 

The shadow, while not itself the body, does point to the body but vanishes when the body itself appears. The New Testament is the truth, the essence, the core, and the actual content of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is revealed in the New, while the New Testament is concealed in the Old (Vetus Testamentum in Novo patet, Novum Testamentum in Vetere latet). … The benefits of salvation promised and foreshadowed under the Old Testament have become manifest in Christ as eternal and authentic reality. All the promises of God are “yes” and “amen” in him (2 Cor. 1:20). The Old Testament was not abolished but fulfilled in the new dispensation, is still consistently being fulfilled, and will be fulfilled, until the parousia of Christ. …

[T]he New Testament itself has given to the particularistic ideas of the Old Testament a universal and cosmic meaning.

Totally wrong, therefore, is the chiliastic view according to which the New Testament, along with the church composed of Gentiles, is an intermezzo, a detour taken by God because Israel rejected its Messiah, so that the actual continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament can begin only with Christ’s second coming. The opposite, rather, is true. Not the New Testament but the Old is an intermezzo. The covenant with Israel is temporary; the law has been inserted in between the promise to Abraham and its fulfillment in Christ….

In the days of the Old Testament the people of Israel were chosen for a time that salvation might later, in the fullness of time, be a blessing for the whole world. Israel was chosen, not to the detriment of but for the benefit of the nations. From its earliest beginning the promise to Adam and Noah had a universal thrust….

Therefore the New Testament is not an intermezzo or interlude, neither a detour nor a departure from the line of the old covenant, but the long-aimed-for goal, the direct continuation and the genuine fulfillment of the Old Testament. Chiliasm, judging otherwise, comes in conflict with Christianity itself. In principle it is one with Judaism and must get to where it attributes a temporary, passing value to Christianity, the historical person of Christ, and his suffering and death, and it only first expects real salvation from Christ’s second coming, his appearance in glory. … 

Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, vol. 4, ch. 15 (pp. 659-662).

Structure: Understanding How a Passage is Organized (How to Read the Bible, Ep. 8)

In today’s episode, Dan and I talk about skeletons and bridges. Well, kind of. We discuss one of the most important aspects of reading our Bibles well: understanding how a particular passage is organized in order to communicate its overall message.

Access the episode here. (Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and more.)

See all other content in this series

Continue reading