Posted tagged ‘Graeme Goldsworthy’

Theoretical v. Operative Gospels

October 28, 2010

I will let this quote by Graeme Goldsworthy speak for itself:

“Among evangelicals there are differences in the way [gospel] is used.  It is a matter for some concern that some books and study courses on evangelism seem to assume that every Christian is absolutely clear about what the gospel is, and that what is needed most is help in the techniques of explaining the gospel to unbelievers.  Experience suggests that this assumption is poorly based and that there is a great deal of confusion among believers about what the gospel is.

Preachers may have a theoretical and an operative gospel.  Theoretically we will get into a theological mode and produce, as far as possible, a biblically based notion focusing on the person and work of Christ.  But, in pastoral practice it is easy to be pragmatic.  Our operative gospel will be the thing that preoccupies us as the focus of our preaching and teaching.  It may a particular hobbyhorse or a denominational distinctive.  Baptism, a particular view of the second coming, social action, creationism, spiritual gifts, and the like are all easily raised to the status of the gospel by becoming the main focus of our preaching.  This is especially deplorable when these spurious gospels are made the basis of our acceptance of other Christians.”

– Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 81.

Gospel Presuppositions

July 22, 2010

In his book, Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics, Graeme Goldsworthy talks about the presuppositions of the gospel which make up the “material priority of the Scriptures.”  These presuppositions are prior truths without which the gospel could not be the gospel.  He lists them as the following:

* The God who is there is the God of the Bible, who is (among other things) Creator, Savior, and Communicator
* Human beings were created in his image, which involves us as those with whom God communicates
* The truth of God is evident in all creation
* Sin means the human declaration of independence from God, and the suppression of his truth
* Grace means that God mercifully provides special revelation that informs, redeems and makes God present to us
* This redemptive revelation, the word of God, is focused on Jesus Christ

Goldsworthy goes on to say that “Christian theism maintains that these presuppositions of the gospel are foundational truths that stand the test of having explanatory power for all human experience and having rational consistency.”  The gospel, then, is not only the message that transforms sinners into saints but also the medium through which we rightly understand all human experience.

These gospel presuppositions are important because, outside of Christ, the world has alternative presuppositions about life that are shaped by the Fall in Genesis 3, which Goldsworthy summarizes as:

* If God is there, he does not communicate the truth
* We do not need God to reveal the rational framework for understanding reality
* Human reason is autonomous, and the ultimate arbiter of truth and falsity, right and wrong

According to Paul, we have been given the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16)–a mind that is spiritual and shaped by the gospel (person and work of Christ).  Jesus is not only the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:24) but has become to us wisdom from God (1 Cor. 1:30).  Jesus is not only the substance of the wisdom of God, but He is also the source of it as well.  So what happens in the Spirit’s work of renewal is a rewiring from presuppositions of the Fall to the presuppositions of the Gospel.  This is what Goldsworthy calls “episteomological sanctification.”

In summary, the gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), and the more we appreciate the truths of the gospel (presuppositions) and so have our experienced grounded in it, the more we appropriate the mind of Christ.  The gospel is the message that transforms our minds (“achieves noetic salvation for us” – epistemological redemption), and the gospel is the medium through which our minds are daily being renewed as we behold the brilliance of Christ, who has become to us wisdom from God (“the ongoing process through which our thinking is conformed more and more to the truth that is in Jesus – epistemological sanctification).

To read Goldsworthy’s arguments in detail, read chapter 3 of Gospel-Centered Hermeneutics on the presuppositions of the gospel and the subsequent section on noetic salvation (58-62).

Blue Collar Theology 22: Recent Biblical Theology Resources

March 24, 2008

Over the past month, Southern Seminary (where I attend) has had some excellent lectures on Biblical Theology, and they have been kind to not only provide the MP3 of each lecture, but you can also download the lectures in PDF format. The lectures are from Graeme Goldsworthy (2008 Gheens Lectures) and Jim Hamilton (Julius Brown Gay Lecture).

Graeme Goldsworthy

>> “The Necessity and Viability of Biblical Theology” (MP3) (PDF)
>> “Biblical Theology in the Seminary and Bible College” (MP3) (PDF)
>> “Biblical Theology and Its Pastoral Application” (MP3) (PDF)

Jim Hamilton

>> “The Typology of David’s Rise to Power: Messianic Patterns in the Book of Samuel” (MP3) (PDF)

Of course, the only thing I would like to ask Goldsworthy to speak on is “Biblical Theology for Blue Collar Christians.” Maybe we can work that out later. 🙂

Note: The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology (SBJT) Summer 2006 volume is focused on Biblical Theology, with articles from Stephen Wellum, Tom Schreiner, Graeme Goldsworthy, Jim Hamilton, Peter Gentry, and Mark Seifrid. I highly recommend you check it out. Two of the articles are available online to download:

Preaching and Teaching the Whole Counsel of God” by Stephen Wellum
Preaching and Biblical Theology” by Tom Schreiner