Expositing, Psalms, and Catechizing
Well, I've been overdue for a post reflecting on my time at the 2014 Expositor's Conference. My wife already did an excellent job hitting the summary points. So I'm going to sit down, unpack my lunch, and have a heart to heart.
I went in with two major expectations 1) there would be expositing and 2) it would be from the Old Testament. Sadly neither of these was directly fulfilled by one Alistair Begg. If you're accustomed to preaching for the UK it seems oft time to be more thematic then expository. Begg was no exception and as always he was in fine form. Proclaiming Jesus Christ as Prophet, Priest, and King from the front to the back of the Scriptures, he brought the reality of Christ into the world of the pastors to which he was speaking. He commended the pastors to be prophets as Christ was prophet, to be humanly/humble (genuine priest) as the incarnate Son was, and finally to be courageously assured of the established throne of the exalted Savior. Yes, this included some stark remarks for and against pastors. Begg is no tame lion. His comment that MDiv students at Southern couldn't hold a candle to a catechized 14 year old from Scotland got no laughs...it got a hearty "amen" from my spirit though.
The one who did provide expository preaching from the Old Testament was Steve Lawson. Lawson presented Christ as Son, Sovereign and Savior all from the Psalms. To be frank I was frustrated. I've been committed to following the recent issues at Westminster Theological Seminary and for those who are unaware Old Testament hermeneutics has been at the root of the issue (in particular one professor's take on Psalm 23). I have spent many sleepless nights writhing in agony over how to interpret the Psalms (a Davidic exaggeration). I was not frustrated with Lawson's Christological conclusions, I wanted to see more historical-grammatical exposition. The passages are fulfilled by Christ not written in His voice. This small difference is huge to me and makes for weak preaching (even when the ultimate conclusions are correct). In fact I think it is a mild form of allegory to say the Scriptures are "all about Christ" without also acknowledging the original context, grammar, and meaning. Exegesis that starts with Christ's fulfillment is not historical-redemptive. It is sheerly Origen in new clothing (orthodox but not sufficient). It does not acknowledge the history of salvation that God has laid out for His covenant people.
With all of this in the review mirror, I look toward the future for pastors and churches under this type of instruction. I cannot see how it is a detriment for the church to emphasize the role of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures. However, we must always remember that Christ came to glorify the Father; and He sits at the right hand of the Father receiving glory from Him. While all of the Scriptures funnel to the ultimate Word of God in Jesus Christ, we must remember that Christ was sent to reveal the Father we had not seen. He is the image of the invisible God. Preaching Christ is to glorify the Father whom He reveals. It is note solely to end at Christ.