Saturday, September 16, 2006

Christ has the divine right to tell us who and what we are

Van Til tells us: "Christ has, by His Word and by His Spirit, identified himself with us and thereby, at the same time, told us who and what we are." Christ’s incarnation is the ultimate event in history... that includes not only his birth, but his life, his death, his physical resurrection and physical ascension. The Creator’s physical reign from heaven has a demand on those of us who live under that rule as Creatures. Christ has the divine right to tell us who and what we are. Our meaning comes from outside of ourselves. When we see that Gatorade commercial and it asks us: “Is it in you?”, our emphatic response should be “no, it is not in me." The worldview which is manifested in that commercial is not my worldview. My meaning does not come from within me. It is not self-derived. It must be given to me. Since my meaning comes from outside of me, so does life’s interpretation. All of meaning and interpretation comes from Christ. It is Christ who, in the Scriptures, gives us the “system” of truth which men must believe. Christ said “I am the Truth”. That statement imposes itself on me and the rest of Creation as a demand and claim on my belief system.

How is it that we know all of this? If truth is outside of ourselves, then how is it that we come to know this Truth in the person and scriptures of Jesus Christ? Van Til rightly answers that it is Jesus who "has sent His Spirit, the Comforter, to dwell in our hearts so that we might believe and therefore understand all things to be what Christ says that they are." This reality was visibly portrayed at Pentecost, when the Spirit descended from the enthroned Christ into the church; but it is also a reality that is true of all who would understand and know Christ through the scriptures.

The Resurrection is not an "analogy"

“Paul regards the resurrection of Jesus as the actual beginning of this general epochal event (the new age or the last days, crb). Christ through his resurrection is the firstfruits of them that sleep, 1 Cor. 15:20. When now we find that the soteric (salvation, crb) experience, whereby believers are introduced into a new state, is characterized by the Apostle as a “rising with Christ,” or “being raised with Christ” and find, moreover, that this is not an occasional, figurative description of the experience, but obviously a piece of fixed doctrinal terminology, then the retroactive formative influence exerted by eschatology upon a central part of the saving process is placed beyond all question...Previously to Paul no one could nor would have defined 'regeneration' or 'conversion' as a species of resurrection.

“...the phrases “to be raised in or with Christ” can bear only the one meaning: to have through a radical change of life one of the two fundamental acts of eschatology applied to one’s self. This becomes plainer still by observing that Paul in this way of speaking does not mean to affirm merely a general analogy between the resurrection of Jesus and the religious reconstructive vitalism of the Christian life, but most realistically derives from the risen Christ, that is from the resurrection-force stored up in Him, the quickening in question. It is in the most literal sense of the word an anticipative effect produced by the eschatological world upon such who are still abiding in the present world. In other words, the shaping of soteriology by eschatology is not so much in the terminology; it proceeds from the actual realities themselves and the language simply is adjusted to that.” – Geerhardus Vos, The Pauline Eschatology, pp. 45,46

Biblical Theology *is* exegesis

Good biblical theology *is* exegesis if it allows scripture to interpret scripture. IOW, no verse is *interpretively* isolated from any other verse.

"(Biblical Theology) is that part of Exegetical Theology (exegesis) which deals with the revelation of God in its (redemptive) historic continuity...Biblical Theology...discusses both the form and contents of revelation from the point of view of the revealing activity of God Himself. In other words, it deals with revelation in the active sense, as an act of God, and tries to understand and trace and describe this act, so far as this is possible to man and does not elude our finite observation. In Biblical Theology both the form and contents of revelation are considered as parts and products of a divine work." -- Geerhardus Vos, "The Idea of Biblical Theology as a Science and as a Theological Discipline"

The reason BT is an exegetical discipline is because it *traces* God's Act in Christ through the text. That *tracing* is exegesis because it involves interpretation of the text itself. What we have in Hebrews 11 is a great example of this... when the writer of Hebrews says that Jacob worshipped in faith as he leaned on his staff (Heb. 11:21), he is exegeting Gen. 47:31. He is not "building" on exegesis... he is understanding what Moses intended as Moses wrote Gen. 47. When he says that Abraham was looking for a city, he is interpreting all of the mandates and promises to Adam through Abraham and Abraham's subsequent worship and wanderings. When he says that Moses preferred the reproach of Christ, he is interpreting the Messianic underpinnings of the entire Israel story in Exodus. These are examples of the author of Hebrews using BT as exegesis. Scripture interprets scripture and because it does so, biblical theology or the tracing of the messianic story through the text, is an exegetical enterprise.