In Defense of a Christ-Centered Hermeneutic OR A Reply to Dr. Eric Hankins

Yesterday, Dr. Eric Hankins wrote a piece for SBC Today concerning The Gospel Project (TGP) and Christ-centered homiletics.  Hankins, recently read the dissertation of Dr. Jason Allen.  Allen, is the new president of MBTS.  Hankins was intrigued because Allen’s dissertation was on contrasting human author-centered hermeneutics of Walter Kaiser with that of the Christ-centered homiletics of Edmund Clowney and Sidney Greidanus.  Hankins was actually surprised that Allen sided with Kaiser and “is calling into question the conventional wisdom of ‘Christ-centered’ hermeneutics”. The point of the article seems to be to question the hermeneutic behind TGP.

It will be my argument that it is not The Gospel Project’s hermeneutic that Dr. Allen is critiquing.  At the end of the day he might.  I do not know.  But I am going to make the argument that the Christ-centered hermeneutics that Hankins critiques is nothing that I have been exposed to, nor is that which he critiques the Christ-centered hermeneutic that is present in TGP.

I will readily admit that my exposure to Greidanus and Clowney is limited.  I am also fairly limited in my exposure to Kaiser.  Perhaps that is why what Hankins said seems nothing like the Christ-centered hermeneutic that I employ and it sounds nothing like that which I find in The Gospel Project.

The claims that are foreign

Hankins takes several jabs throughout this piece.  They seem to be directed towards the Reformed community.  Caught in the crossfire of these jabs are the writers and editors of The Gospel Project.  I will highlight a few of these jabs.

Hankins refers to those that “pry texts out of context to put in theological presuppositions”.  While I am certain that there are those out there and even those that employ a Reformed Christ-centered hermeneutic I have not been widely exposed to that.  In every class that I have taken and every book that I have read on this topic it is continuously drilled in us to keep the text in its context.  At Southern to accuse someone of eisegesis is like accusing someone with musical taste of being a Justin Bieber fan.

Dr. Hankins then proceeds to say that such eisegesis will insure that “every text might preach Calvinism”.  That is simply a ridiculous claim.  Sadly, some Calvinists are guilty of this.  But that which I have been exposed to in Christ-centered homiletics and within the pages of TGP such a claim is insulting.

Throughout the article it is implied that those that use such a hermeneutic are not concerned with taking seriously authorial intent.  At one point he even accuses of “ignoring authorial intent” and “allegorical manipulation”.  Again, everything that I have been exposed to make a huge deal out of the original authors intention.  Goldsworthy, Wellum, Schreiner, and a host of others within the movement abhor allegorical manipulation.

Lastly, Hankins accuses Matt Chandler of saying that the story of David & Goliath “has nothing to say about faithful living”.  I watched the video three times and did not find Chandler saying that.  Or even implying that.  He is not saying that the Bible is NOT to be used to discern how to live.  What he is saying is that the Bible is not fundamentally a to be sued to discern how to live.  There is a difference between those two statements.  And that is Chandler’s point in the David & Goliath video.

What Hankins critiques in this article is not the Christ-centered hermeneutic that I am familiar with.  Nor, do I believe that it is that which is employed by the writers and editors of The Gospel Project.  Might some of the writers have been influenced by Greidanus & Clowney?  Perhaps.  But by and large I see them being more influenced by Criswell, Spurgeon, Broadus, and others.  In fact I see the vision of The Gospel Project something similar to the methods employed by those like Dr. Stephen Wellum.

In Defense of a Christ-Centered Hermeneutic

Stephen Wellum argues for interpreting Scripture through three horizons.  The first is the textual horizon.  This is where the interpreter attempts to discover what the original author is seeking to communicate in their texts.  Authorial intent and meaning is the first horizon.

The second horizon is that of the epochal horizon.  Here the interpreter attempts to read the text in light of where it is in redemptive-history.  This assumes that Scripture is a progressive revelation.  This is not seeing the Bible as made up of different plans or epochs but that there is a unity within Scripture and revelation unfolds in time.  The key here is to seeintertextual relationships and to “read texts in light of what has preceded them in reference to God’s redemptive actions and plan”.

The third, and final, horizon is that of the canonical horizon.  If we are to take serious what the Bible actually is (a unified story) then it demands that we view it in its canonical context.  Therefore, every text ought to be understood in relation to the entire Canon of Scripture.  Wellum argues that “to interpret a given text of Scripture in its linguistic-historical, literary, redemptive-historical, and canonical context”.

The argument being made for those promoting Christ-centered hermeneutics is that in some form or fashion the central motif of Scripture is the activity of God in providing redemption through His gospel.  Regardless, of how specifically it is worded the argument of those promoting such a hermeneutic are saying that Christ is the center of the revealed Word and everything points to Him (and his redemption) in some form or fashion.

Exodus 23:19

One commenter on Hankins’ article asked how in the world Exodus 23:19 could be applied to Christ.  I doubt that I would ever choose this as a single passage to preach on, but if for some strange reason I did, here is in sum how I would point it to Christ.

First, we have to consider the original context (the textual horizon).  Moses’ original intention is quite simple.  Don’t boil a young goat in its mothers milk.  Why did he say that?  Some believe that it had to do with not participating in a Canaanite magical practice.  Others see that it’s a reversal of the created order.  As noted in the ESV Study Bible, “the young goat should drink its mother’s milk and gain life from it, not be cooked in it”.  So, simply put in the text Moses’ intention is to tell the Israelites not to do this particular thing because it inverts the created order.

But that commandment doesn’t come from nowhere.  It’s found in the middle of a story…

Secondly, we have to consider its epochal context.  This command is originally given to the Israelites.  We know from the Exodus accounts that the Lord is calling Israelite out from among the Egyptians and other peoples for the sake of blessing them but also as a means to proclaim Himself to the nations.  Part of this means that they must live different from the rest of the world.  So, if this is a Canaanite magical practice then they need to model the ways of YHWH and not the feeble Canaanite gods that really are no gods.  If this is because of an inversion of the created order (which I think it is) then the Israel is to be an accurate representation of the God that redeemed them.  The God that redeemed them out of Egypt is a God that values created order.  Children should be cared for and nurtured by their parents.  As image-bearers of a loving Father this was to be reflected in the redeemed  community.

But the story doesn’t stop with Moses and the Israelites.  It points to something far greater…

Lastly, we consider its canonical context.  The Israelites were to be image-bearers.  Even down to reflecting God in the way that they boiled goats.  Everything they did in their community was to reflect the Lord.  But as we know from the Bible they did not do that.  We also know that all of humanity is called to be image-bearers.  And just like the Israelites we also fail to accurately reflect God.  We choose instead to worship and serve creation instead of the Creator.  We follow Adam’s suit, as did the Israelites, in spreading our own sinful and rebellious images to the nations.

Thankfully, Christ came.  Christ is the true Israel.  Christ is the second Adam.  He does what Adam, Israel, and we could not do.  He accurately represents God.  He perfectly obeys the Lord.  Humanity likes to invert the created order.  If our hearts were pure that command would not need to be there.  But it is, because our hearts tend to love what we should hate and hate what we should love.  Christ came to overturn that.  Christ came to provide redemption.

If I were preaching this sermon (again I doubt I would) then I would be more full in my explanation of what Christ has done.  I would also probably discuss how because of Christ we reflect Him differently in our community than we do in these specific Israelite community laws.  But I provide this here just so that you can see how using these three horizons you can preach a Christ-centered sermon from that text.

Would Moses be ticked off about that and say, “That’s not what I meant in that text?”  I doubt it.  Because I was faithful to his original command.  I also placed it within its progressive story.  And lastly I showed how Christ fulfilled the command.  Moses wouldn’t be upset by that—he’d be astounded that the One that they were looking for accomplished every piece of the Law even down to reflecting God in the way goats are boiled.


  1. says


    THANK YOU for an Irenic, Substantive and Gracious response. Your post is much closer to an exegetical rather than a polemic post. APPRECIATED.

    You endeavored to address the issue without any veiled swipes at individuals. We need to have more exchanges with this demeanor and focus.

  2. says

    This Sunday, deo volente, I hope to preach on the texts that I consider responsible for my conversion, Rev.3:20 and Acts 16:14. My message is more textual than contextual in many respects, and yet i have respect to the context. In my expositions and exegesis, I have a tendency to go for a more intellectual understanding, dealing with the text from the perspective of ideas and how the influence human behavior. Knowing the dangers of such effort, I try to seek for the simplest terms possible, but terms nevertheless intended to get the hearer to think, to consider, to experience God’s grace expressed by the text, and to respond according to the enable received from what He says in the verses under consideration. What has amazed me is just how oriented to the mind, the Scriptures really are. They are far more rational and logical than most people imagine. In fact, the very first Gospel act, that of repentance, is a requirement for a change of mind based upon reflection, and after thought as it is. The subject is Footnotes. A Philosopher, Whitehead, stated that European philosophical thought is “a series of footnotes to Plato.” One could say of the religious life of the South that it is “a series of footnotes to the Bible.” Christ’s appeal and entry into human livers changes those lives. More specifically, Christ’s entry changes the person with, first, the light of interest, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” (The light is biblical, supernal, personal, and judicial) second, the level of intimacy, “I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with me.(Nurturer, Nearness (john resting his head on Jesus bosom at the Last Supper), and Nobility), third, the labor of intrique, “if anyone hears my voice, and opens the door.”(problem and promise), and, fourth, the logic of infinity, “if” and “whose heart the Lord opened.”(paradox, passion). We are all footnotes to the Bible. What kind of footnotes are we? What kind does God want us to be? Footnotes have their place. They are important in this respect. They must tell the truth, documenting it so it can be located, and evidence accessed. I have a picture of my grandfather who raised me reading his Bible; it is a poised picture, but it faithful pictures his habit of reading his Bible three times a day. He was a faithful footnote to that Book.

  3. says

    Well written and well-argued, Mike.

    I have some struggles with the whole Christ-centered hermeneutic in practical terms. I am preaching through the book of Proverbs, which is about moral choices and their consequences.

    I try to point out weekly that while we reap what we sow, eternally we reap what Christ sowed and are objects of grace.

    But honestly, a strictly exegetical approach to this inspired Scripture does not really bring us very close to the gospel. I kinda see both sides of this. I like the phrase I heard at the Gospel Project launch – “the Bible is one story with Jesus as the hero.” But when I am in Proverbs and other OT scriptures, that link can be tenuous.

    • volfan007 says


      I’m preaching thru the book of Proverbs, right now, as well. Have you dealt with that verse about a contentious woman being like dripping water? lol. And, how it would be better for a fella to live in the corner on top of the roof, than to live with a contentious woman? lol.

      I’m with you, Dave. I agree that the Bible is about Jesus. And, we can see God’s redemptive plan all thru the Bible. But, not every passage is about the Gospel. There are some moral lessons about wisdom, faith, etc. in the Bible, as well. It does also teach us how to live wisely and obediently before our God.


      • says

        Concerning how wisdom literature points to Christ, I believe when Proverbs was written, it pointed to how Yahwehists were supposed to live in light of the coming “Son of David,” the King of kings. Since this King has come, we should keep the King of kings’ commands in response to His life, death, resurrection and eternal rule.

        We cannot preach any text as if Christ has not come. Moralism doesn’t justify us; yet, the justified will live by faith that works (morals). I think that’s where wisdom literature comes into play here. We must preach it the same way we do any other command. Obedience to these things doesn’t justify us; only Christ does. Yet, the just will submit to God’s practical wisdom.

        • volfan007 says


          Of course, I always mean that those people, who love the Lord, will obey God. The book of James teaches us much about love for God and obedience to God. So, of course, we must be saved, first of all, and then we’ll have a desire to live for God inside of us.

          But still, not every passage of Scripture is about the Gospel.


        • Dave Miller says

          I’ve devoted much of my life to studying and teaching Proverbs. I do not see where Solomon intended to deal with those themes you mentioned, Jared.

          The crux is how much we honor authorial intent and how much we read back from the NT.

          We need to start with a clear understanding of what the human author intended (under inspiration, of course) to communicate. My concern comes (and where I share some of Dr. Hankins’ concerns) comes when we use the Christ-centered/Gospel-centered theme to read in interpretations that seem to violate authorial intent.

          If all scripture is inspired, then even those texts that do not as easily point to Christ must be read according to their inspired intent.

          • says

            If it violates authorial intent then it’s not faithful Chrst-centered exegesis. But if it expounds upon his intent and says more than his original intent but still maintains an organic relationship then it is faithful.

            In other words if we’d sit down today with Solomon and he knew what we know about Christ then the connections we make ought to find him nodding his head.

          • says

            Dave, you said, “I do not see where Solomon intended to deal with those themes you mentioned.”

            What do you mean? I think Solomon at least trusted in the coming seed of Abraham. I think Solomon was writing practical wisdom for those who worship Yahweh, and in the NT we learn Jesus is Yahweh the Son.

            I agree with both you and Mike. We must preach the text in front of us in light of its near context, historical context, and overarching context.

            I agree that Solomon didn’t know as much progressive revelation as we know now, but we shouldn’t preach Solomon’s words as if we don’t know the rest of the story.

          • Dave Miller says

            Solomon explains the purpose of Proverbs pretty clearly – to teach his sons to walk in wisdom and eschew folly.

          • Dave Miller says

            I bring Christ, grace and such themes into every sermon I preach from Proverbs. But I am under no illusion that when I preach these themes, I am being faithful to Solomon’s intent.

          • says

            Dave, I don’t think that can be separated from Yahweh. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7). Listen, I’m agreeing with you, but taking it a step further. We must preach the immediate context in light of the historical and overarching context. That’s what Mike seems to be arguing as well. You seem to be arguing this too, but nuanced a bit more?

          • Dave Miller says

            Mike, I don’t really disagree with you on this whole thing. I just thought that Dr. Hankins made one pretty good point. It is easy to read our theological presuppositions and even theological hobby-horses back into Old Testament scripture and call it “Christ-centered.”

            Good exegesis starts with the Scripture as it was written, for the audience to whom it was written according to the authorial intent. Of course, putting it in the context of the whole of Scripture is also necessary, as is putting it in the gospel context.

            I just think we have to be careful in dealing with OT texts that we deal with authorial intent FIRST and then place it in context, and not run roughshod over what the author wrote to get to our theological points.

          • Jason G. says


            I agree with your point…but I ask you the same question I would ask Hankins: who specifically is guilty of running roughshod over what the author wrote to get to our theological points?

            I mean, is that a REAL problem within the SBC? I see a lot of a-theological preaching. I see a lot of moralism. I see a lot of feel good stories and messages. I see people skipping the theological point to rush to application. I see a lot of people get the original context wrong.

            I just don’t see a lot of what is being warned about here.

            None of the Christ-centered preachers I know jump past the immediate context, nor do they encourage anyone to do so. The charge would make a lot more sense and have some weight behind the warning if there were any examples given whatsoever.

            I encourage people to actually read Ed Clowney or Sidney Greidanus. It seems people are more concerned about what they have heard ABOUT Christ-centered preaching, rather than having actually read it (or about it).

      • David Gallimore says

        I’m glad I just started the book of Philippians! :)
        I honestly can agree with points on both sides of the discussion. There are most certainly challenges to some OT passages to come to a Christ-centered exposition, but certainly at the least, we can take those challenging passages and look at them through the lens of a Christ-centered life and still faithfully promote the gospel in how we approach them.
        Dave and David, may God bless your efforts in preaching through Proverbs, I’m still preparing for some of the more challenging OT books.

      • Randall Cofield says


        Presuming you wouldn’t contend that a woman should be contentious in her relationship with her husband, what text(s) would you use to address said contentiousness?

    • says

      Christian preachers ought not preach Jewish sermons. Though I think they ought to nod their heads in agreement when dealing with the textual horizon. But at some point they had better stumble over the rock of offense.

      • Jason G. says

        Well said, Mike. It appears some want to stop at the textual horizon and go no further.

        There seems to be a practical denial of divine authorial intent in some of the arguments against a Christ-centered approach. Did God have the entirety of redemptive history in mind when he spoke to Moses, David, or the prophets? Can we admit that the human authors at times had limited understanding of the full scope of what they wrote? We have no problem with saying that in some passages, so why not in all passages?

        I think the critique by Hankins is short-sighted. I also think it doesn’t fairly or adequately deal with the vast material available that debunks his accusations…and ends up misrepresenting those who hold such a position.

  4. says

    Good article. I love hermeneutics. Nice handling of the passage from Stephen Wellum’s format. My own hermeneutic is broken down a little differently, but it yields a similar reading.

    In that vein, I have to wonder if Dr. Hankins simply didn’t understand Dr. Allen’s dissertation from a presuppositional/epistemological standpoint. That is, to answer the question, “How do we know that the Bible points the way to Christ,” is foundational to interpreting the Bible based on our understanding that the Bible points to Christ.

    So my own hermeneutic, as I offer it here in summary for example, doesn’t start with Christ as much as it ends with Christ. Robertson McQuilkin offers four presuppositions of hermeneutics (Naturalistic, Supernaturalistic, Existential, Dogmatic) and I offer one more (Communicative).

    Since the scriptures are God’s revelation to us, we need spiritual preparation before we can understand the Bible. As part of this, it must be understood that the Bible points to Jesus. This is where the

    Since the Bible is God’s communication to us using human means, the principles of interpretation can be categorized in one of three areas: Human language and context, Unity of scripture, Absolute authority of scripture.

    Following on that last category, the Bible must be applied.

    Wellum’s hermeneutic follows primarily the first two of my interpretive categories with hints at the third and assumes part of the spiritual preparation. Likewise, if Hankins’ considerations were limited only to interpretation and Allen’s considerations included presuppositions, then Hankins may think that Allen doesn’t consider the nature of the Bible to be Christ-centered. It depends on the scope one thinks that hermeneutics should have.

  5. Bill Mac says

    Every passage is not about the Gospel, and the point that we should not miss the immediate meaning in favor of a Christological meaning is a point well taken. My objection is that he takes a good point, and uses it as an excuse to once again jump on Calvinists and the Gospel Project.

    • Christiane says

      The word ‘Gospel’ is used in many ways . . . but if the ‘Good News’ IS Christ the Lord, then perhaps this may help:

      “The Logos is God active in creation, revelation, and redemption.”
      Frank Stagg (Southern Baptist theologian)

      the concepts of the ‘Eternal Word’, ‘Logos’, ‘Letter and Spirit’ can be a bit over-whelming . . . our use of language can never fully give meaning to such concepts,
      but if ‘Logos’ is something that can be understood a bit better, it might suffice to explain a bit more about WHY the sacred Scriptures are cohesively about Christ.

      St. John’s writings have celebrated this. Think of ‘in the Beginning was the Word . . . ‘ and it comes to you more clearly the meaning of Christ as ‘Logos’ . . .

    • Frank L. says

      Every passage is about the gospel if the Bible is the story of redemption.

      God is not concerned marriage and family issues, politics, science or any other topic except as it relates to moving along His plan of redemption from beginning to end.

      That’s using the word “gospel” in its broadest sense, in my opinion. I think there are times when a more “narrow” sense may be required and or intended as Bill advocates. The problem with words are they only have meaning when at least two people agree on that meaning.

      English is not “eternal,” nor is “Greek or Hebrew.” Heaven has its own language(s). When one person with one agenda uses gospel and another person with another agenda reads or hears that use, there has been aural stimulation, but not communication.

      So much of theological debates, it seems to me, is a matter of semantics and charity. Do we want to understand what the other person is saying, or do we want to win the semantic challenge?

      I am as guilty as anyone in regard to having my language heavily influenced by my presuppositions. But, in this Calvinist, non-Calvinist debate it seems as if one party is arguing in French and the other in Hungarian.

      There seems to be little true desire to pursue a deeper understanding of truth. It all seems to be about “winning.”

      In regard to a “Christ-centered hermeneutic,” I think we must distinguish between interpretation and application, both important parts of the hermeneutic process.

      Also, I think the C-H can tend to sound very “Christian” but may draw the lines too narrowly in regard to application of particular texts.

  6. says

    I understand the desire to not lose the moral application of Scripture, but is any historic redemptive preacher arguing in favor of eliminating morals? What historic redemptive preachers eliminate personal application of Scripture and always point to the gospel as the only application? I’m sure there’s some out there, but who are they?

    • Bill Mac says

      Jared: I agree with you, but you know the real reason behind the post. Does anyone really think preachers using a Christological hermeneutic is a real problem in the SBC? Hankin’s objection is not to using a C-H but his belief that a C-H is a tactic being used by a certain segment of SBC pastors (you know who they are) to subtly remove the moral teachings of the bible and substitute them with certain doctrines you know what they are as part of their agenda to take over the SBC. Hankins is not coy about this. He states it boldly.

      • says

        Bill, that’s why Hankins shouldn’t be on Page’s advisory Committee for Calvinism. Those who stir up strife shouldn’t be rewarded. His post is just further proof that he doesn’t care what Southern Baptist Calvinists actually believe and practice. He builds strawmen and then tears them down again and again. It doesn’t look like he’s learning anything from those meetings with Page’s committee.

      • Dave Miller says

        Dr. Hankins, in his article, advocates a position, one which I don’t agree with, though I think he makes some reasonable points about fidelity to authorial intent in exegesis.

        Let’s keep the discussion focused on Hankins points in the article, and Mike’s response (and our so-far productive discussion of it).


        • Jason G. says


          I think a discussion about authorial intent DEMANDS that we discuss the authorial intent of the author of the article. :)

          That said, I will adhere to your wishes.

  7. Jess Alford says

    The first thing I do when I read a scripture, is try to discover what it will mean to the hearers, the original intent for the people at the time the scripture was written,and how the people will understand what is being said to them. I try to study all the Jewish laws and customs I possibly can.

    By the way, can any of you recommend a good book on jewish customs and where can I get it?

    I have found this way of study works best for me, and answers most of my questions.

    • Christiane says

      I can recommend the writings of Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, which are readable and understandable to people who are not of the Jewish faith.

      His book ‘Jewish Literacy’ is one of the most widely read book on Judaism of the past two decades

      . . . and my own personal favorite (I bought this rather expensive book) is Rabbi Telushkin’s ‘Jewish Wisdom’, which I have read so often that I find I can quote parts of it from memory :)

  8. Bill Mac says

    I’ve asked this over at the original post but no one will touch it.

    Much of the bible is narrative history, so it seems to me that the intent of the human author is simply to chronicle history. Therefore all we are left with is divine intent. Am I wrong? The passage in question over there was the story of David and Goliath. Well, that is narrative history. So any morals or messages or Christological meaning we get out of that passage has to be discerned from the divine author, not the human one. How am I wrong?

    • says

      I think you could argue that even the chronicler compiled history to make a point. The fact that he told one story and not another story. That means something. We have to ask, “why did you tell us this Samuel?”. Of course, I think that the impetus behind the human author was the divine author. But I do think that you could probably discern from the text at least some sort of imperative.

      • Bill Mac says

        Mike: I see what you are saying, but surely the reason for the David story is because David is an important historical figure, to the Jews and Christians. I’m sure you can think of a hundred different sermons or lessons you have heard about the David and Goliath story. “Be brave in the face of fear”, “overcome the giants in your life”, “be faithful and God will rescue you”, etc, etc, etc. Surely the author could not have intended all those meanings. Were I a chronicler of history, I would have written this story because the person is important and the circumstances unusual.

        • says

          I totally agree with that. But you had said, “all we are left with is divine intent”. And I wouldn’t quite go that far. Almost, though. LOL.

          • Bill Mac says


            I guess what I mean is if authorial intent is not discernible or if it is discernible but not particularly helpful. I do think Hankin’s point is a good one. We don’t need to shoehorn the Gospel onto every text. It is therefore ironic that he used a good point that could easily stand alone and then shoehorned an attack on the GP and Calvinists into it.

      • Stephen Beck says

        Indeed, if we look at the whole book of 1-2 Samuel, it seems that the broad themes are concerning the establishment of Israel’s monarchy, rejecting the people’s “asked-for” king, and then establishing God’s chosen king in David, describing the promising of the temple for God’s residence, and the covenant of the Davidic kingdom. The story of Goliath is within these themes and is covered with signs of God’s providential activity (Samuel overlooking David’s elder brothers, the Spirit departing from Saul, David being brought to the battle camp for the innocuous activity of bringing food).

        Where else could a Christian preacher go with this text except to proclaim God’s oversight and faithfulness over his people, and exalt Christ who is our only true and righteous king, the one who perfectly stands up for his people in the face of death (1 Sam 17:11)? The “moral” of this story must be that we should place our trust not in our own ability to fight but in the living God who has already defeated sin and death, right?

        I really like this “history of salvation” from the ESV Study Bible: “The books of Samuel show God’s continued care for his people, in raising up for them a king whose job was to be their champion, representative, and example. Saul, by his disobedience to God’s messenger, proves to be an unsuitable king. David, on the other hand, in spite of his moral failures, is God’s choice to be the beginning of an enduring dynasty, from which the ultimate Ruler, who will lead Israel in bringing blessing to all the nations, will arise.”

    • Dean says

      Bill, even narrative has spiritual intent and is not just history. We could preach an American history book if that were not true. Take Samuel, he portrays David’s life as heroic right up until the affair. Following the affair David’s life is a continual wreck. There is an easy theme to see. The Chronicler, ignores all of David’s transgressions. All kings are compared to him and how they kept the covenant. Again an easy theme to follow. When u study these books with author’s intent they are captivating. Certainly any preacher will introduce the congregation to Jesus but not at the expense of the author’s intent. For the record I have no opinion on GP material. Sorry for any typos on the road.

      • Bill Mac says


        I agree about spiritual intent, but I would lean towards crediting the divine author moreso than the human author. As I said, I think Hankins makes a good point about ignoring immediate context and authorial intent. I just think he did it (as he pretty much stated) as another volley in the civil war between Calvinists and neo-traditionalists, whoever they are.

  9. Randall Cofield says

    More About Jesus: “Hearing His voice in every line; making each faithful saying mine.”

    From our Sunday School and devotional literature to our pulpits—for far too long—we have been spoon-fed moralistic interpretations of texts that tend to disconnect them from the vibrant Life of their Author and Object.

    I want to hear the voice of Christ—the One who was the Word with the Father from the beginning—in every line of Scripture.

    Folks can take away my Christocentric methodology of interpretation when it and my Bible are pried from my cold, dead fingers.

    I’ll not need them any longer then, for I will be rapturously looking upon the face of Him who is the Word.

    For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…that in everything he might be preeminent…and he is before all things, and in him all things hold together…In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.–Colossians

  10. Jess Alford says

    I know this a little off subject, but can any of you scolars recommend a good book on Jewish customs at the time of Jesus and earlier.

  11. Randall Cofield says

    From Jason Allen’s Dissertation

    Don’t you know, young man, that from every town and every village and every hamlet in England, wherever it may be, there is a road to London? So from every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ. And my dear brother, your business is, when you get to a text, to say, now, what is the road to Christ? I have never found a text that did not have a road to Christ in it, and if ever I do find one, I will go over hedge and ditch but I would get at my Master, for the sermon cannot do any good unless there is a savor of Christ in it. –C. H. Spurgeon

    While I know that sound exegesis mustbegin with grammatical-historical considerations, Spurgeon’s contention that “from every text of Scripture there is a road to Christ” is discovered in the balance of a sound canonical-contextual hermeneutic.

    We discover the authorial intent in grammatical-historical exercises.

    We discover THE Authorial intent in canonical-contextual exercises.

    “This is My Beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him.”

    More About Jesus…

  12. Donald says

    “A text cannot mean what it never could have meant to its author or
    his or her readers.” – Danny Akin (Hermeneutics class notes)

    • Jason G. says

      That statement taken by itself is simply not true. Jesus continually speaks of people who hear but don’t hear and see but don’t see. The Law was taught for generations by people who did not understand it. Of course they understood what the words meant, but they did not grasp the bigger picture.

      Now, if what we mean is what the DIVINE AUTHOR meant, then absolutely it is true. But I think we all would say that God spoke through Moses and through the prophets about the Messiah in ways they did not fully grasp or understand. Or, one could argue that just because the human author did not spell it out that they understood it was about something more, did not mean they did not understand it. There are a lot of assumptions made about authorial intent by those wielding that sword in this discussion. We all agree that authorial intent is the starting point, but it is not necessarily the end point.

      BTW, knowing what I know of Dr. Akin, having had him as a professor, I think he would expand on that statement greatly.

      • Dean says

        Jason, you have made a huge mistake. Jesus’ audiences are not the audiences of the Gospel writers. The Gospel writers’ audiences were able to understand what they read – that Jesus’ teachings were not understood by all. Why would an author record good news that can’t be understood?

        • Jason G. says


          I appreciate your response…but I do not believe I have made a mistake at all. I think you are creating a division of audience where one is not necessary…and I think you may end up saying more (or less) than you want to say by doing so.

          But more than that, I had in mind the teachers of Israel, who understood the original context, they understood the people, the traditions, the history – yet they did not understand the passages at all. They were in the audience of Jesus as well as the Gospel writers as well as the Apostles. Those teachers got authorial intent right…but they stopped there and did not see the authorial intent of the divine author. Those same people were rebuked by Peter and Stephen (in early Acts) for failing to see that the entire Old Testament pointed to Christ. They knew Moses’ words by heart, but they didn’t get who Moses was pointing to – and the disciples pointed that out to them.

          It is possible to get the immediate context right and get the passage wrong because you fail to see the redemptive historical context – which is summed up in Jesus.

          Jesus said that to his hearers (see Luke 4). John the Baptist got it. The writers of the Gospels showed it repeatedly. The disciples did so as they rebuked Israel and her leaders. Paul did so…repeatedly (for one example, see 1 Co. 10:4). Heck, all of Hebrews does this.

          It is possible to hear the word of God, and study it, and memorize it, and still not “get it.” That was my point…and that holds true regardless of the audience.

          • Dean says

            Jason, I stand by my statement. Jesus’ audiences when He was teaching were not the same audiences of the Gospel writers. I do not think Luke would have written Theophilus if he had heard Jesus Himself. Blessings Brother.

  13. says

    Another general issue to consider, which should be pointed out to the person asking about Exodus 23:19 or other specified verses is this:

    God inspired authors to write the whole text and not verse by verse. That is, you will absolutely find a verse here and there that you cannot quite wrench from its context and point to the Cross without looking at the broader context. That’s important to remember: every specific law may not point to Christ, but the Law at large does.

    • says

      God inspired authors to write the whole text and not verse by verse. That is, you will absolutely find a verse here and there that you cannot quite wrench from its context and point to the Cross without looking at the broader context.

      When I was first introduced to the Christ-centered idea, especially through Spurgeon’s admonition to always make a line straight to the cross, I struggled with it for this very reason… how do you glean the gospel message from certain verses? Especially w/ the way Spurgeon preached (I’m hard pressed to call him a true “expositor” he seemed most likely to take a verse or two and then do more of a topical exposition).

      Later I came to the realizing that when Jesus said, “All this points to me,” he was not speaking in the chapter & verse division context we tend to think in… but each “verse”, each sentence comes from a larger passage. The over all story is what points to Christ and not necessarily every tiny detail…

      So when we are faithful to the details in the context of the bigger picture and the biggest picture, we won’t overly moralize David and Goliath, but see Christ in it, and we won’t strain at a goat being boiled in its mother’s milk, yet still ultimately come to Christ through it.

      You know, the older I get the less I like chapter and verse divisions (though, yes, I know they’re useful for getting people to look at the right places)…

    • Donald says


      If you are wrong on the “broader context”, and yet are in the habit of wrenching verses from its actual context how would you ever know? Can you declare “Thus says God” when you are declaring something different that what was actually said? Does your theology inform your exegesis, or does your exegesis inform your theology?

      What I am reading here give me cause for concern.

      I do find the things I learned under Dr. Akin much more compelling.

      Such as how the interpreter must be willing to be confined by the intention of the author. That what he is saying is what the interpreter must say. If it is outside the author’s intent, it is outside the intent of the Holy Spirit and therefore outside the realm of divine authority.

      The purpose of hermeneutics is to make clear the meaning of a passage. What the author is saying is what we are after. What difference it should make in the hearer’s life is what we hope to show. Why God wants the hearer to know this is what will change lives.

      As an example, is it legitimate to teach or preach on the necessity of personal witnessing from John 4 (Jesus and the woman at the well)? What is the valid meaning of John 4? The divine author’s meaning is the human author’s meaning is the meaning the interpreter should adopt and proclaim. .

      • Jason G. says

        I’m still waiting for evidence of all these people who “wrench verses from their original context”.

        I see accusations and no examples.

        • Donald says

          Jason G,

          Read the email I responded to.

          Doug said “you will absolutely find a verse here and there that you cannot quite wrench from its context and point to the Cross without looking at the broader context.”

          If there is only a verse “here and there” that cannot be wrenched form its context, then it’s open season on the rest. Doug’s testimony is your evidence, so you can stop waiting.

  14. Christiane says

    The twenty-fourth chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel may hold meaning for some, regarding the ‘cohesiveness’ of sacred Scripture around the Person of Our Lord:

    “32They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us* while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ 33That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ 35Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

    36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’ 37They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, ‘Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, ‘Have you anything here to eat?’ 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

    44 Then he said to them, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.”

  15. says

    It seems pretty clear from Luke 24:27, 24:44, and John 5:45-47, that Jesus thought that Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings(That was the way of saying all of the Hebrew Scripture) were about him. In case there was any question, he even say “all the Prophets,” and that means Samuel. I believe him and his hermeneutic . I think it is far superior to a moralistic view of scripture, even when it is hard to preach. I have preach through all the books mentioned (Proverbs, James, Philippians) with a Christ-Centered/gospel centered hermeneutic. It is sometimes a pain and requires a ton of wrestling with the text, but if you take the time to do it, WOW! It is worth it; your heart will burn within you like it did in the disciples on the road to Emmaus when Jesus did explained the scripture to them.

  16. volfan007 says

    No one is saying that Jesus is not the main attraction of the Bible. And, history is His story. And, we should see Jesus on every page of the Bible. And, we should uplift Jesus, and bring Him glory in all that we do and preach and teach. No one is saying that we shouldnt be.

    But, there are some passages of Scripture that are about having faith in God when facing huge odds….like David and Goliath…also, David said that God helped him kill a bear and lion, as well. And, Elijah standing against the false prophets with God’s help, and God helping him to deal with a wicked Queen and King. And, some passages are about a woman nailing a man to the floor, by hammering it thru his temple.

    Anyone, glorify Jesus in all we do…..lift Him up in everything we do….in our singing; preaching; teaching; witnessing; etc; etc; etc; etc.


    • Jason G. says

      How do you KNOW that the point of that passage is to have faith in God while facing huge odds?

      I mean…are we supposed to have faith in God when facing huge odds? Of course we are. But how do you KNOW that passage is about that? Samuel never says that. How do you know that is the authorial intent?

      • volfan007 says

        Because, David talked about his faith in God helping him to defeat the lion and the bear…and how God would help him to defeat the giant, Goliath, as well.

        I know, because I can read. :)


          • volfan007 says

            Are you saying that it’s not? There’s a man of God….trusting God….in a very scary situation….and he’s trying to do what God would want him to do. And, he’s trusting in God to help him to defeat the giant, just like HE did with the lion and the bear.

            Also, when you read the account of the woman nailing the man’s head to the ground in his tent….where’s the Gospel being preached there?


          • Jason G. says


            It is very clear that you (and others) are not paying attention to how people are describing and applying a Christ-centered hermeneutic. No one is saying every passage has a direct Gospel application (though everything does fit within a redemptive historical context). Nor is anyone denying there is a moral aspect to a text. Nor is anyone denying authorial intent. In fact, just the opposite on all of those things. I am not sure if people are not hearing the responses or are ignoring the responses. I know that people have not read the key books about such preaching (Clowney, Greidanus, Goldsworthy, etc)…if they had, then the objections would be different.

            I am not denying that you said is true enough…but I reject that it is the “main point”. If the main point is moralism, if the story is only told to convey a morality lesson, then the Pharisees were right in their understanding of the Old Testament. I don’t think any of us want to say that is true. Yes, there are moral lessons present, but they are not the “main point.”

          • volfan007 says

            Pharisees would not like my preaching, at all.

            Once again, Jesus is the main point of the Bible. We should lift up the Lord Jesus in our preaching and teaching of the Bible.


          • says

            On the surface, the main point of the passage is a historical account of David slaying Goliath while trusting God. Anything else is interpretation and drawing from the passage what it does not say. Applying faith lessons from the passage may have some relevance, but it is not the direct teaching of the text. The direct teaching is of David’s faith, David’s actions, at a particular time in history.

            No one stops at this level because we all realize the passage is conveying more than its most direct meaning. We turn to hermeneutics to try and understand all that God (more than even the human author) intended to convey. One school of thought emphasizes the moral side of the story: what I can and should do with God’s help. Another school of thought emphasizes the grace side of the story: what God will do to accomplish his will.

          • Bill Mac says

            David: That is one reading of the passage, and I’m not saying it is wrong. But could you not also easily come away with the idea that God has raised up a deliverer for His people, someone humble (perceived to be) weak? Is it not equally valid? And it is certainly Christological. Who is to say which one is what the author intended?

          • volfan007 says

            Bill Mac and Chris,

            I’m preaching Jesus, today. I’m gonna lift Him up, as I preach in Acts 2. I try to lift up Jesus in everything I do. I want to glorify and lift Him up.

            Chris, I believe that both sides are true. God will help us to face the “giants” in our life; by faith in an almighty God, who loves and helps His children. And, God will do things to accomplish His will, as He uses people. I really see no need to disect the 2.

            Bill Mac, as I said to Chris….yes, of course, we see both things.

            Let’s worship the Lord Jesus, today….lift Him up….glorify Him…as we worship our Savior.


          • cb scott says

            A-Men Vol!

            The ultimate goal of any biblical sermon preached must be faith. Faith? Yes, faith!

            Faith in Christ and Christ alone for the saving of one’s soul.
            Faith in daily living to face any and all issues, obstacles, trials, temptations, crisis, direct snares of the Trapper, and indirect snares of the Trapper.
            Faith to live out the faith of our fathers in such a way that other people become our brothers and sisters in the faith, that they may also live by faith and produce fruit (other disciples).

            Preaching, teaching, living, and serving is a faith proposition and a faith proposition comes only by living by and living out a biblical worldview. And a biblical worldview, has The Lord Jesus as the singular foundation for life.

            Therefore, a gospel preacher will always be able to take any Text and with “sweated out” accuracy as to what the Text means and permits, “make a beeline to the bloody cross and glorious resurrection of King Jesus. And if you can’t do that, then repent and start doing it or quit preaching. And if you are not baptizing converts in your ministry, get on your knees before holy God and repent, read 2 Timothy asking the Holy Spirit to open your mind and heart and get about the work of the ministry.

  17. Greg Harvey says

    Here’s a Christ-centered hermeneutic. One wonders how much eisegesis took place:

    “25 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

      • Debbie Kaufman says

        Then David what is all the fuss about if you, Eric and CB are not saying something different? It seems there are some strawmen arguments afoot and we are simply pointing out the true argument in this debate. CB then responds with it’s just because Eric attacks Calvinism, to which I reply…well duh, because it is not just Calvinists that believe this and it seems to agree somewhat with what is being said by both sides here, so what is the problem?

        • cb scott says


          My comments really have nothing to do with the fact that Eric Hankins writes articles against Calvinism. He does write articles against Calvinism and some of which he has written, I greatly disagree.

          Also, when he addresses individual Calvinists who are problematic, I can’t help but wonder why there is such a silence about those in a specific state convention.

          However, he has written some things in his recent post related to a “Christ-centered hermeneutic” approach to Scripture of which I agree and he also gave some credibility to the new president of MBTS in the article of which I appreciate. Nonetheless, he did make statements in the post about the Gospel Project that I feel he could have left out and still made his point quite well.

          My beef here is due to the same people constantly attacking what a few write simply because of their opposition to Calvinism. In addition, I think it rather hypocritical for any pastor to make such great arguments for a Christ-centered hermeneutic and yet, not baptize converts.

          Debbie, if you missed my comment above, #71 posted 10-21-2012 at 12:01 PM,please read it. Therein, you will find my basic reason for entering this thread in the first place.

          Lastly, I think you statement in this thread wherein you quoted Driscoll who stated, “We are not looking for Christ instead of David. We are looking for Christ behind and beyond David,” may be the best statement made thus far in this debate in relation to this post and to that of Eric Hankins he posted on SBC Today.

          Therefore Debbie, for that statement, I say: Bravo!

        • volfan007 says


          I preached from Acts 2 last Sunday, where Peter preached the Gospel using OT Scriptures. Peter quoted the Psalms, and the prophet Joel, and he pointed to Jesus and the Gospel. That’s what I preached, and I also preached about being filled with the Holy Spirit, and how being saved and filled with the Spirit should make us want to witness to lost people. Because, that’s what I saw in the passage.

          Debbie, ERIC HANKINS is contending that we should get to the AUTHORS intent about a passage of Scripture. And, every Scripture is not about the Gospel. For example, a lot of the Proverbs, including the one about a contentious woman, and it’d be better for a man to live on the roof…in the corner of the roof….than to live with a contentious woman. Or, like the passage where Jael nailed Sisera’s head to the ground. Or, like David and Goliath. The story is about a man, who loved the Lord, who believed God to watch over him and give him what he needed to defeat the giant, who was rebellious and ungodly. And, the young man, David, killed the giant with the help of God. That’s what we’re told happened.

          Now, Debbie, is the Bible about Jesus….yes. Does the OT point to Jesus…yes. Should we see Jesus on every page….yes. The entire Bible is about God’s redemptive plan for man…yes.

          But, not every passage of Scripture in the Bible teaches the Gospel. And, there’s nothing wrong with preaching that God will give us the faith to deal with life’s problems and to live for God, as we teach about David and Goliath, or about Daniel in the Lion’s Den.


          • cb scott says

            For surely if we are faithful to the gospel and begin to baptize converts, we will find ourselves in the “Lion’s Den” and we need, due to our weakness as human beings, constant reminders that God’s sufficient grace is with us.

            John the Baptist found himself in prison. he sent a message to Jesus asking Him if He was really who He claimed to be.

            John had been faithful to his mission. No greater man has been born among women that John the Baptist, however he needed God’s assurance that in “the Lion’s Den, God was with him.

            I think he died knowing he would quickly be in the presence of the Father. Surely, we all need the same. That is, if we are faithful to our mission and seek the souls of lost and dying men, women, boys, and girls with the biblical gospel as revealed from the Creation account to the last of the Revelation.

      • Greg Harvey says


        I considered responding, then didn’t, then noticed Debbie’s response. In short, I’ve heard Arminians (and probably the occasional Armenian) Traditionalists, hemi-demi-semi-Calvinists, and five-point Calvinists all frame up the story of the Bible pointing to Jesus based on that verse in sermons. I’m absolutely positive that some or all of those preachers included soteriological speculation at some point as they made the transition from that set of verses to a broader examination of Scripture and a weaving of the Gospel story in terms of shadows, types, and symbols in the OT.

        Jesus himself started me on that path for my own sake by comparing himself and the serpent being lifted up. I was like “WOW…can’t ignore THAT type.” Now I have to confess: I’ve never felt I was that good at language arts and my female co-learners especially in high school could do laps around me as I tried to figure out symbolism in modern literature. I felt inadequate that they could see it, explain it, and I immediately understood what they saw, but I couldn’t find it on my own.

        Because of that experience–and a general disdain of one specific variant of biblical symbolism, namely numerology–I am one of the slowest people in the world to ascribe to a Christ-centered explanation of types and symbols that aren’t like stupid explicit in the text.

        But to make the intuitive leap that everything Chandler or York comment on supports their soteriological belief in Calvinism and that, especially, a Christ-centered hermeneutic creates an especial suspicion for Calvinists? I’m sorry. I gracefully decline to go there. My Bible quote was intended to just simply suggest that this methodology dates to Jesus and therefore ought not to be–in and of itself–a cause for suspicion.

        I’ll add to it that the human authorial intent is irrelevant for many of the symbol/shadow/type-casting passages. Certainly no one before Jesus came and said that would have assumed that was a type or that it was in any way connected to the Theocratic system of sacrifice and atonement per se. Why? Because liturgically it wasn’t really included in the daily worship pattern at the altar or in the festivals in any major way. As opposed to the Paschal lamb being highlighted in the Festival of Passover.

        Now I have to caution you before you respond: I don’t on a daily basis dig into Scripture for the purpose of either preaching or teaching it any more. So I’m sure you could take apart what I wrote and find evidence that I’m just trying to show Eric (in specific) or Traditionalists (in general) up. Not really. I just think the claims here are a bit overwrought.

        Which is pretty much what CB is also saying I think. I’m very much a fan of as little additional layering on the actual text as possible, to be honest. I’m an anti-fan of rabbinical tradition whether it is of Jewish or Christian origin. We should not have to know what all of the other writers and thinkers have said in order to understand the Bible. I’m very Southern Baptist about that principle. It is either directly understandable–with the participation of the Holy Spirit–or it is essentially gnostic knowledge that is passed along via specially anointed priests. My beliefs emphasize the former, not the latter, and precisely so that the Bible receives its proper place as the central source of revelation and knowledge of God in the church (local, denominationally affiliated, and universal.)

        • volfan007 says


          Maybe you’ve missed all of my comments on this issue where I’ve said that the Bible is about Jesus? Maybe you’ve missed all the comments I’ve made where I said that history is HIS story? That the Bible is overall a book about God’s redemptive plan for man? That we should see Jesus on every page of the Bible? Maybe you missed all of those comments?

          Also, I believe the passage about the snake on a pole is most certainly about Jesus and salvation….the NT teaches us that it is. It’s not just about snakes biting people, and God making a way for them to be healed. But, that it was all about Jesus dying on a cross to heal man of his sin sickness. Of course….

          But, when I read passages about how a man should treat his wife and children; or about living with a fightin’ woman being worse than a dripping faucet; or about how a Believer should pay his bills; then I’m not seeing the Gospel being taught in these verses. Are you? I do see godly wisdom being taught. I do see how a Believer should live for the Lord. But, I am not seeing the Gospel being taught in those passages.


          • Greg Harvey says

            I simply will return you to my original comment. the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus instructed these two disciples as follows (emphasis mine) “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

            Since we do not apparently have a transcript of that interaction, perhaps speculating the extent of what Jesus taught in either direction demonstrates a lack of humility? I am not saying _I_ know how every verse points to Jesus or points to the Gospel. I’m saying I’ve been surprised by some verses that I didn’t expect pointing to the Gospel. It isn’t even whether or not it was the snake bite or looking at the serpent that provided salvation. It’s very specifically that Jesus compared the event to lifting up the Son of Man.

            I also think Chandler probably overemphasized his understanding of a clear meaning of the David v. Goliath story. But i can’t for the life of me see how that got turned into a Calvinistic perspective or how all of his Christ-centered hermeneutical interpretations therefore are essentially drenched with the Doctrines of Grace. As I said, that looks like an overreach on Eric’s part and it seems CB essentially agrees with that.

  18. Jason G. says

    At the end of the day…if a Pharisee would applaud your sermon from the OT, then you did something wrong.

  19. Eric Hankins says

    Hey All,

    I’ve enjoyed reading all the comments. Thought I might try to state simply what my blog was about, since it looks to me like it got lost by several folks pretty near the top of the thread. First, I am for, I repeat, I am for preaching Christ from the Old Testament. Again, I am for it. Every OT text should be connected to the over-arching story of the redemption found in the person and work of Christ. Without it, OT preaching can devolve into lifeless moralizing. I state this clearly in the post.

    What I am critiquing, what Allen is critiquing and Kaiser is critiquing, is reading theological ideas into texts where those ideas are foreign to the original intent or de-coupling the different textual “horizons” from one another. As most of you note, preaching Christ from the OT requires care, hard-work, and humility because it is complex and easy to goof up. So, I am not making up a problem that rises in certain approaches to Christ-centered hermeneutics. Walter Kaiser sees some problems and Jason Allen sees some problems. That’s why they wrote books about them. Allen sees these problems both with Clowney and with Greidanus. He finds much good in them but, in the end, sees them as departing from the author-centered standard established by Kaiser. This is the thesis of the dissertation.

    Furthermore, I cite two examples of these problems. In doing so, I am not commenting on everything York and Chandler have written or said. However, I did not find these particular examples buried in something these guys said 20 years ago in a private conversation. Chandler’s comments are the promotional video for the curriculum. If LifeWay didn’t want people to think that was the hermeneutical approach being used in the literature then they should have picked a different promotional video. When I first watched that video some time ago, I thought, “That’s not correct.” Chandler is setting a Christ-typology of the narrative over against an understanding of David being presented as an example of covenant faithfulness for us, as though his reading sets aside an application that challenges people to stand faithfully in the face of difficulty. Chandler communicates that that reading harms people, that the Bible is not road-map to life. Those are his words. There is no other way to take his comments. And these comments are advertised as the approach to understanding OT narratives in The Gospel Project. So, I believe they are fair game for criticism of The Gospel Project.

    Hershael York’s comments were made at a Calvinism Conference just a couple of months ago. He was speaking as the representative of five point Calvinism and he was giving a defense of limited atonement and he used Day of Atonement as a biblical basis. When I first listened to those comments, I thought, “That’s not correct. He’s using Christ-typology to read a theological concept into a text where there is no warrant.”

    I read Allen’s dissertation because I was concerned about his connections to Calvinism, but I didn’t know much about him. I state this clearly in the post. What I found was that Allen’s concerns about Clowney and Greidanus matched my concerns about York’s and Chandler’s comments and the Gospel Project. And Voila! a blog post is born.

    If I have misused Allen’s dissertation, make the case. If I have misused York’s statements, make the case. If I have misused Chandler’s statements in the video, make the case. If I have connected these things unfairly, make the case. It is not necessary for me to demonstrate from the existing Gospel Project curriculum that they are doing bad hermeneutics. I am using their promo of their product.

    In closing, thanks, Dave, for a fair-minded interaction with the obvious “original intent” of my remarks, rather than reading into them your own presuppositions about me :)

    • Dave Miller says

      This area of hermeneutics has not been a major study of mine, but I find it interesting – especially since I have been working to both accurately preach Proverbs and also provide a gospel context for its teachings. So the Christ-centered vs. author-centered discussion is one I think is helpful.

      I appreciate you stopping by and giving your insights.

    • says

      Dr. Hankins,

      Dr. York answered you at SBC Today. Mike Leake answered you here. What is your response? We understand your reasoning. What is your response to York and Leake?

      Also, what presuppositions do you think people are reading into your article? In your article you say, “This ensures not only that every text might “preach Christ,” but also that every text might preach Calvinism.” I agree with Leake that this is a “ridiculous claim.” Associating The Gospel Project with this assumption is unfounded and unproven. Where’s your quotes from The Gospel Project? You’re finding Calvinism where it’s not being presented. Furthermore, you use the guilt by association logical fallacy to go after Jason Allen (he’s strongly associated with SBTS and Steve Lawson) as possibly promoting Calvinism at MBTS.

      You should be above using logical fallacies to make your point. If you must use logical fallacies to prove your point, it proves you can’t use logic to make your point. If you can’t make a logical point, you don’t have a point.

      • cb scott says

        “If you must use logical fallacies to prove your point, it proves you can’t use logic to make your point. If you can’t make make a logical point, you don’t have a point.”

        Yeah, that is kinda like the argument some pastors use to make the point of justifying their ministries, yet they never baptize anyone.

        Such an argument can not be logically made, yet they write articles to make it. However, the truth is, they have no “logical point” to make, just an illogical point (unbiblical point) which actually mens they have no point.

          • says

            Good question, Jared. Whatever logical argument might be made from CB’s statement (there were none) does not invalidate the questions you raised to Dr. Hankins which are drawn from his own arguments.

          • cb scott says

            Actually Mark,

            It is extremely logical. Maybe you might be one of those pastors. Maybe Jared, you might be another. I am sure you can check for yourself and answer your own question.

          • says

            CB, Jared named the guilt by association fallacy with supporting evidence. Which logical fallacy are you referring to with the pastors you alluded to and how would you support your assertion? Just curious.

          • cb scott says

            It is simple guys. If you don’t baptize anyone there is a problem and the best place to find the problem is in the mirror.

            Again Mark, I feel you will seek a weakness in Eric Hankins’ article for the same reason you sought one in Pete’s. Eric Hankins has challenged Calvinism.

          • says

            Who said anything about Calvinism? I thought his article was not about that. Please don’t start your false witness against me again.

          • says

            CB, how many sinners must a pastor baptize in a week in order to be a faithful Christian? Also, what you’re arguing has nothing to do with Leake’s or Hankins’ articles, my comments, or logical fallacies. Instead of interacting with these articles or my comments, you point to another article. Your points make no sense in this context.

            I believe planting and watering is just as godly as baptizing. Why do I believe this? Because this is what Scripture argues. Paul argues that the person who plants and waters is nothing, for God gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:5-9). Pastors and churches must remain faithful when the harvest is plentiful and when it isn’t. We must labor consistently while leaving the increase up to God. Amazingly, if my church leads our association in baptisms next year, ya’ll will think I’ve done something more faithful than when we baptize no one. Yet, you cannot separate a year’s fruit from the many years of labor prior to the harvest.

      • Eric Hankins says

        I have responded to Dr. York at SBC Today.

        Mike’s stated argument is: “that the Christ-centered hermeneutics that Hankins critiques is nothing that I have been exposed to, nor is that which he critiques the Christ-centered hermeneutic that is present in TGP.”

        First, I guess I didn’t get the memo that said, “Only the Christ-centered hermeneutics to which Mike Leake has been exposed are real.” So, Since Mike’s not familiar with what I’m talking about, that means I’m making it up? In what universe is that legitimate? Furthermore, Mike admits that he really isn’t all that familiar with Clowney, Greidanus, or Kaiser and that that might be the reason why he isn’t familiar with what I’m talking about. Uh, yeah, might be.

        A bit later Mike, referring to my “foreign” claim that some use the Christ-centered hermeneutic to read theology into texts, says, “While I am certain that there are those out there and even those that employ a Reformed Christ-centered hermeneutic I have not been widely exposed to that.” Again, the logic is that since Mike has never be exposed to evidence of my claim, even though such evidence is probably “out there,” my claim must be “foreign.” That’s just really bad thinking.

        But wait! There’s more: “Dr. Hankins then proceeds to say that such eisegesis will insure that ‘every text might preach Calvinism’. That is simply a ridiculous claim. Sadly, some Calvinists are guilty of this. But that which I have been exposed to in Christ-centered homiletics and within the pages of TGP such a claim is insulting.” So, my claim is “ridiculous” even though by his own admission it does actually happen. I don’t think “ridiculous” means what Mike thinks it means. Again, since Mike hasn’t been exposed to such eisegesis, even though he admits it happens (and I prove it does with York’s treatment of Day of Atonement), he’s insulted. I’m sorry that Mike is insulted by facts not in his direct experience; I cannot help that.

        Let’s keep going: “Throughout the article it is implied that those that use such a hermeneutic are not concerned with taking seriously authorial intent. At one point he even accuses of ‘ignoring authorial intent’ and ‘allegorical manipulation’. Again, everything that I have been exposed to make a huge deal out of the original authors intention. Goldsworthy, Wellum, Schreiner, and a host of others within the movement abhor allegorical manipulation.” (1) Along with me, Allen and Kaiser make the claim that Clowney’s version of Christ-centered hermeneutics opens the door to ignoring authorial intent. It is the whole point of Allen’s dissertation. (2) Again, just because he has not been exposed to Clowney does not mean the claim is fallacious (3) I am not talking about Goldsworthy, Wellum, or Schreiner.

        A little more: “What Hankins critiques in this article is not the Christ-centered hermeneutic that I am familiar with. Nor, do I believe that it is that which is employed by the writers and editors of The Gospel Project. Might some of the writers have been influenced by Greidanus & Clowney? Perhaps.” Mike is right. I am not critiquing the Christ-centered hermeneutics Mike Leake is familiar with. I am critiquing the Christ-centered hermeneutics of Clowney and Greidanus based on a dissertation written by Jason Allen. I didn’t know my thesis could be falsified by someone’s lack of knowledge of it. That’s a new one for me. Moreover, Mike pretty much admits that he has no idea what specific approach to Christ-centered hermeneutics The Gospel Project is using. They might in fact be using Greidanus and Clowney for all he knows.

        Finally, Mike watched the Chandler video three whole times and determined that even though Chandler says that Bible is not a roadmap for life and that such thinking harms people, that’s not what he really meant. He meant that it’s not “fundamentally” a roadmap for life. That’s a pretty good example of reading meaning into something that clearly isn’t there.

        So, what has Mike Leake demonstrated? “Hankins must be wrong because I’ve never heard of such (even though it is pretty likely that this sort of eisegesis takes place) and because Chandler really meant something else than what he said in the promotional video explaining the hermeneutical approach of The Gospel Project.”

        Well, who can argue with that?

        • says

          Dr. Hankins,

          Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the sharpening. The chief thing that you have exposed in my piece is my frequent statement that “I haven’t been exposed to ____” You are correct in your assertion that just because I have not been exposed to something does not mean it exists. That is true.

          But I think you are too quick to dismiss my argument. My statement that “I haven’t been exposed to it” is not meant to make the argument that “Only the Christ-centered hermeneutics to which Mike Leake has been exposed are real.” That is not my point. If it were it would be a stupid one. At the end of the day we might still find that my argument is stupid. But that is not it.

          My argument is that while you are making a valid observation (along with Dr.’s Allen and Kaiser) about a danger within Christ-centered hermeneutics you err in connecting this particular hermeneutical method to that of The Gospel Project.

          Here is the logic of my argument:
          Premise A: The Christ-centered hermeneutic employed by TGP is the one that I am familiar with
          Premise B: That which you critique is not what I am familiar with.
          Therefore, what you critique is not the Christ-centered hermeneutic used by TGP.

          That is the reason for my statements about not being all that familiar with Clowney or Greidanus or Dr. Allen’s thesis. So, mostly what I am going off of is how you are presenting them. And what I am saying is that your jabs towards the TGP and the Reformed community at large are misplaced because I am familar with TGP and the Reformed community and what you are critiquing isn’t largely present here. Again, I’m going to make a few statements that rightly limit myself–I don’t know everyone in the Reformed community nor have I read every page of TGP.

          I think I have made an argument that ought to be considered rather than dismissed.

          • Eric Hankins says


            I appreciate the fact that you think I am wrong in the way I am presenting Clowney, Greidanus, and Allen because you view Christ-centered hermeneutics another way. Unfortunately, that does not suffice as an actual argument. If I have Clowney, Greidanus, and Allen wrong, then you will have to prove it by citing the actual work of Clowney, Greidanus, and, especially, Allen. Honestly, his dissertation can be read in a couple of hours.

            Also, as I have already stated, it seems abundantly clear that, if The Gospel Project’s very own promotional video is espousing a particular approach to hermeneutics that is identical to the criticisms that Allen makes, then I am justified in raising concerns about the hermeneutical approach that might be found in The Gospel Project based on Allen’s critique. Now, it may be the case that the writers of The Gospel Project actually disagree with what Chandler is saying, but wouldn’t you agree that it is rather strange to have a promotional video that doesn’t actually represent what you are trying to sell?

            Moreover, just this evening I was made aware of a blog that was written nine months ago by a guy named Mike Riccardi who raised all the concerns I did about Chandler’s video. Chandler was asked about the critique and agrees with it, stating that he leaned a too heavily on allegory! Here is the post: Now, if Chandler thinks that his approach was too allegorical, am I not justified in judging it so? Nine months ago Chandler himself admits that the video is not good and yet there it sits. Can you not concede that I have a point?

          • says

            “then I am justified in raising concerns about the hermeneutical approach that might be found in The Gospel Project ”

            Sure, one is justified in criticizing what *might* be found in anything, but coming from a group that has launched repeated attacks against The Gospel Project and has yet to provide zero evidence from the material itself, it just looks like more dirty tricks. Repeated attempts to fling mud in the hopes that some of it sticks.

          • says

            Dr. Hankins,

            I never said that I disagree with how you are presenting Clowney, Greidanus, or Allen. I’m not in a position to say that. But I do believe that you are connecting dots that aren’t there concerning TGP.

            Concerning Chandler, I agree with Ricardi’s critique. Actually I think it’s a valid concern that those of us concerned with Christ-centered preaching need to heed. I appreciate you raising it. I find it unfortunate, though, that you see in this an occasion to take jabs at TGP and The Reformed community.

          • says

            Zero is often seen as a sign of completion: no breaks in the ring of information. So what I meant was there has been no completion, no continuous information.

            Okay, that might be spin. I’ve been watching debates.

        • says

          Dr. Hankins, I’m disappointed by your dismissive, snarky comment to Leake.

          You dismissed Leake’s entire article as if he didn’t make a single logical point. Why not deal with the argument that he made concerning The Gospel Project not practicing the type of hermeneutic you’re concerned about?

          Here’s some questions for you:

          1) What does the statement “Calvinism is the gospel” have to do with Jason Allen or The Gospel Project? Are you performing eisegesis by reading into these men this statement as if they’ve argued it?

          2) Where is the proof in your article that The Gospel Project or Matt Chandler for that matter uses Christ-centered hermeneutics to teach Calvinism from every text?

          3) Why haven’t you provided any quotes from The Gospel Project? If The Gospel Project indeed is using the Christ-centered hermeneutic to teach Calvinism from every text, then show us. Provide some proof. I didn’t see where Chandler in the promo video taught Calvinism from David and Goliath.

          4) Why did you take a shot at Jason Allen using the guilt-by-association logical fallacy?

          • says

            Wait a minute, Jared. Chandler never mentions Calvinism in the Gospel Project video, but he does make a straight line to the gospel. Hankins, however, did make an assertion about TGP possibly teaching that Calvinism is the gospel or that it might teach Calvinism from every text. Therefore, it is actually Hankins who asserting that Calvinism is the gospel.

          • Dave Miller says

            Eric Hankins has argued a point that you fellows disagree with. But he has not behaved badly or lobbed insults. Argue against the points he made, but stop attacking him as if he has somehow behaved badly.

          • says

            Dave, attacking him? That’s an over the top assessment. Hankins’ comment was dismissive and snarky (sarcastic). That’s not inaccurate or an insult.

          • Dave Miller says

            Eric and Mike had a productive exchange. Charges of snarkiness etc do not further the discussion.

          • says

            Dave, come on man. Dismissiveness and snarkiness don’t further the discussion either. I don’t think Hankins’ initial comment to Mike furthered the discussion one bit. He didn’t engage Mike’s main argument at all.

            Furthermore, my questions are legitimate questions based on Hankins’ original article.

          • Dave Miller says

            He was neither dismissive or snarky. He had a discussion with Mike. They have both been respectful to one another. I hope we can all maintain that level of conversation.

            Group hug all around.

          • Eric Hankins says

            Dave, thanks, again, for trying to shepherd this discussion toward some rational interchange.

            Mike, thanks for at least conceding that a number of the points I make are salient. You are sticking to your guns on the idea there is not a connection between Allen’s critique and the hermeneutics of The Gospel Project. I appreciate your commitment. You certainly have a right to your opinion, but, at this stage, that’s all it is. You still have failed to mount an argument for your case. And, you have not answered my central claim: Is it reasonable for me to infer that the hermeneutics espoused on The Gospel Project’s promo video will be the hermeneutics used in the material? Yes or No. Stating that you don’t think that hermeneutic is being used in the curriculum is beside the point. Again, at this stage, the best you can do is say: “Even though the hermeneutics espoused in The Gospel Project’s promo video are, by the speaker’s own admission, not good, I don’t think such hermeneutics will be used in the curriculum, even though I haven’t seen it all.” It’s a nice opinion and I hope it is the case, but it isn’t a strong argument. The problems with Chandler’s hermeneutics happen to be identical with Allen’s concerns about certain approaches to Christ-centered hermeneutics. So, I have indeed “connected the dots” between The Gospel Project and Jason Allen.

            Jared, I will make one final attempt: What, if any, is the relationship between The Gospel Project’s promotional video and the curriculum? Am I incorrect in assuming that there is one? They are using the video to make the case for why people should use the curriculum: “Here is why you should use this for your Sunday School material. We are going to read the Bible this way!” But what if the way Chandler is reading the Bible is, now by his own admission, incorrect? I’m I not justified in raising concerns that hermeneutics in the curriculum may not be great? Of course, I am.

            I am not arguing that the belief that “Calvinism is the Gospel” is the driving force of The Gospel Project. I am arguing that the hermeneutics advocated in their promo video are subject to the same kind of exegetical mistakes on display by those who read Calvinistic doctrine into texts where it does not exist, as does Hershael York. Jason Allen raises legitimate concerns about these weaknesses, and I raise them with respect to the Gospel Project. I am not taking a shot at Jason Allen. I am agreeing with Jason Allen. I suggest you take a look at Mike Ricardi’s critique of Chandler that I reference above. He makes the case pretty well.

            Chris, for real? Zero evidence? Dirty tricks? Flinging mud? C’mon, man. Is the promo video not directly related to the curriculum? Is the promo video not subject to my criticism’s? How about Ricardi’s, which Chandler himself admits are essentially correct? All you guys are left with is this argument: “Don’t assume that hermeneutics used in the promo video are the hermeneutics used in the curriculum! And, just because there are clear cases of Reformed guys using these faulty hermeneutics to read Calvinism into texts doesn’t mean that it could happen in the curriculum!” Your karate is not strong.

          • says


            What Chandler did was note that he could have clarified himself better if he was doing more than a *three minute* video clip. You are judging the hermeneutics of an entire curriculum based on a three minute promo clip while offering zero references to the material itself. That is not even close to reasonable. Your only other example comes from a brief illustration that had nothing to do with TGP, and your take on that illustration was corrected by the person who made that illustration. I realize you refused to accept his explanation, but as I say, not even close to reasonable.

          • says

            Dr. Hankins,

            Chandler’s concession isn’t saying what you want it to.

            “Thanks for your encouragement and email. I read Mike’s [Ricardi’s] critique and agree with most of it. The issue was having only a few minutes to try and show how a couple of chapters and a ton of history points toward Christ. I leaned a little too heavy on allegory in the video and could have done a better job of setting things up with more time. Overall I thought the critique was helpful and brotherly. Blessing!”

            What do you think Chandler means by “better job of setting things up with more time”? Knowing Chandler, I believe he means that he’d have shown the authorial intent and then attached it to the larger story.

            Have you read through TGP? Are you teaching through it?

            I have and I am. What I am saying is that the fears that you have about TGP are not present.

            I agree with the dangers that you and Dr.’s Allen and Kaiser are presenting. There is a real danger in Christ-centered hermeneutics to jump too quickly to the overall story without grounding it in the authorial intent. I might get kicked in the face for saying this–but I think Spurgeon sometimes did this. Though he might have been correct in his application or his theology sometimes he made that beeline a little too quickly without grounding his points in the authorial intent of the passage. I think that is also what you see with Chandler’s video. In a three minute video he spoke of the “top level” without grounding it in the bottom or middle level.

            Keep in mind what TGP is meant to answer. The curriculum developed because people continuously asked Lifeway to develop a curriculum that was deeper and more Christ-centered and not moralistic. What Chandler is doing in the video is saying, “here is what we are doing. We aren’t going to use David and Goliath to teach you morals…” Did he overstate his case? Yep. Did he tend a little much towards allegory? Yep. But that video was not intended to say–“dear seminary professors, this is the method that we are going to use”. The intention was to say, “Dear people that have been wanting a curriculum that is Christ-centered and not moralism…here you go”.

            Again, I’ll say with Chandler that he could have done a better job in that video. And perhaps the folks at TGP would benefit from producing another video that promotes something similar.

            Sorry for the lengthy comment…but allow me to give you a sample from TGP. In the 4th lesson of the Winter edition we read about the Exodus. In the second point which covers Exodus 12:5-13 we read,

            “From the text above, we see that God laid out a very specific substitute for the people of God to rely on for their salvation from the tenth plague. To be saved, Israel was called to act faithfully, to demonstrate that they were God’s people by holding a Passover feast and spreading the blood of the Passover lamb on the doorposts.” (I could keep going but I just want you to note that they are grounding everything in the text)

            It continues, “What a picture this is, and what a call to action for the Israelites!” (Notice that? For the Israelites! Again they are doing justice to the textual horizon). A little further down it says, “This act of God [calling for the Passover] positioned them in the posture of faith opposite the broken spirits Moses encountered in Exodus 6. This demonstration of power ignited the faith needed for the Israelites to believe God would finally rescue them from slavery. And that’s just what God did…”

            In the application and conclusion they say, “The story of the Passover points us forward to the cross–the place where God did not hold back anything to rescue us..”

            I don’t want to cut and paste the whole lesson. But I hope that’s a big enough sampling to show that this is what I am seeing throughout TGP. They are grounding their points in the text with the original authors intention and then they are making a Christ-centered application. They are doing something very similar to what I referenced with Dr. Wellum above.

          • says

            Dr. Hankins,

            Thank you for interacting with the folks here. Chris has all ready written what I was going to write. However, I would like to expand a little in reference to your challenge to Mike.

            And, you have not answered my central claim: Is it reasonable for me to infer that the hermeneutics espoused on The Gospel Project’s promo video will be the hermeneutics used in the material? Yes or No.

            My answer is no, it is not reasonable for you to infer that the hermeneutics espoused on The Gospel Project’s promo video will be the hermeneutics used in the material. However, it is reasonable for you to inquire if your observation is the case.

            1. Chandler is not the sole author of TGP.
            2. Chandler admitted he leaned heavily on allegory and did not have adequate time to fully explain his position.
            3. It is unfair to judge someone’s entire hermeneutic based on a sound byte.
            4. Advertisements are meant to attract users of a product, not detail all of the features, benefits and intricacies of said product.
            5. There is a lot of material from TGC available for you to be a good Berean and test your inference about the hermeneutics used in the material.

          • Eric Hankins says

            Chris, that’s all Chandler said? He just needed more time? He says that leaned too heavily on allegory. Do you think he leaned too heavily on allegory or do you think he got it right? If you think he leaned too heavily on allegory, do you think it’s fair me to think he leaned too heavily on allegory? If it’s fair for me to think he leaned too heavily on allegory in the promotional video for TGP, then do you think it’s fair for me to be concerned about the allegorical use of Christ-typology in the TGP? At this point, at this point, before a review of the curriculum, which is not available in its entirety, at this point, is it fair to raise concerns? At this point, I don’t have to give other examples that TGP is not using questionable hermeneutics. I have given a clear example from their promotional video. The best you can do is say, Well, don’t judge the curriculum by its promotional video! Can you not concede that that is not a particularly strong argument? Can you not also concede that I am justified in raising my concerns? You make the claim that, so far, you don’t see bad hermeneutics in the curriculum. Great! That’s not rise to the level of falsifying my claim that the promo on it’s face justifies my concern.

            I raised York’s treatment of Day of Atonement as a perfectly good illustration of what happens when Christ-centered hermeneutics are not done carefully. It can lean too heavily on allegory and manipulate the meaning of a text. So, I ask you, Is York’s exegesis of Lev 16 valid? Is limited atonement a legitimate exegetical inference from this text? York’s defense of his approach is exactly what Ricarrdi demonstrates to be fallacious. York, in fact, does not correct my use of him. He just ceases to reply.

            Mike, Chandler’s concession is saying what it’s saying. It has nothing to do with what I want to say. It does, however, strengthen my argument to “knock-down” status. Chandler concedes that his approach to the text is not good. He concedes that Ricardi’s concerns about the way Christ-centered hermeneutics can be erroneously employed find their mark with respect to his video. Your belief that he would have talked about authorial intent is, again, beside the point. You’re just speculating. Your asking me to watch Chandler’s promo and conclude, “Well, that’s not what he really means and that’s not going to be characteristic of TGP.” Again, not a good argument.

            Mark, just so I’m clear. What I hear you saying is that, from the video itself, the video that is promoting the product, the video of the guy who is a widely regarded authority on preaching, a video that he has subsequently stated does not represent good hermeneutics, which are the kind of hermeneutics that Allen raises as real danger in this approach to the text, I was not justified in making an inference about the curriculum? It’s just an astounding way of thinking. The best you can do is say, “Don’t pay any attention to the promo video, just read the curriculum.” I didn’t major in marketing in college, but I’m pretty sure that’s not how promo videos are supposed to work.

          • says


            The curriculum won’t be available in its entirety until after they stop producing new material. If we have to wait until then to critique it on its own merits, we’ll probably have to wait a while.

            Fortunately, we don’t have to wait until then. We do have actual material available to evaluate and consider. The promo video (one of several; what did you think of the others?) presents one example of what this material seeks to accomplish: to take something other than a Veggie Tales approach to teaching the Bible. In that three minute video Chandler stretches his own interpretation, but there is no reason to jump from his three minute video to the conclusion that TGP as a curriculum has a fundamental flaw. If you cannot illustrate the flaw from the curriculum itself, you do not have a case.

            As for York’s illustration, I absolutely think it is legitimate for what it was and what it was intended to convey.

  20. says

    I posted some material on Clowney that’s distilled through Richard Lints’ book The Fabric of Theology. I think it’s helpful to the discussion. If you want to see it, click on my name above. I haven’t read the blog that initiated Mike’s response, so if you have a comment for me or read the material, I simply ask that it would pertain to hermeneutics not Dr Hankins or Dr Allen.

  21. Christiane says

    St. Augustine understood the complexity in the cohesion of the sacred Scriptures:

    ““The New Testament lies hidden in the Old and the Old Testament is unveiled in the New.”

  22. Debbie Kaufman says

    And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. –Luke 24:27

      • Randall Cofield says

        When you (and Eric) posit that the story of David and Goliath is first and foremost a moral story about “facing the giants”….YOU are…

        The ENTIRE CONTEXT of that story is GOD’S FAITHFULNESS in raising up a deliverer for His people.

        I find the “moral” interpretation of this passage used by both you and Eric to be utterly man-centered. The Bible is FIRST and foremost God’s revelation of Himself and His purpose of Redemption. It is only about us SECONDARILY, as the unworthy recipients of Redemption.

        Peace, brother.

        • volfan007 says


          The point of the story of David and Goliath is that a man of God, David, who loved the Lord, trusted in God to help him defeat a lion, and a bear, and a giant. He trusted in a God, who was faithful to him.

          Now, we all can say that this shows that God raised up a deliverer for Israel, which also shows us that God raised up a Deliverer for us. And, we can also show that this passage teaches us that God takes care of His people…that He is faithful to us….and, that we can handle all the “giants” in our life, by trusting in a faithful God.

          But, the story is about God using a saved man, who loved the Lord, to deliver His people from the Philistines.

          Now, Randall, let me hear how you preach about the contentious woman, and how a man is better to live on a roof; than to live with an angry, fighting woman. And, I’ve been around some angry, fighting women before….and I wondered how any man could live with them….and I’ve felt sorry for the fellas, who’ve had to live with them. But, please tell me how that preaches the Gospel, and is not just wisdom?


          • Randall Cofield says


            Now, we all can say that this shows that God raised up a deliverer for Israel,….(BUT)….The point of the story of David and Goliath is that a man of God, David, who loved the Lord, trusted in God to help him defeat a lion, and a bear, and a giant. He trusted in a God, who was faithful to him.

            Take a look at the above and you’ll see who your focus is on in your interpretation of this passage. Man-centered. I rest my case.

            Now, Randall, let me hear how you preach about the contentious woman, and how a man is better to live on a roof; than to live with an angry, fighting woman.

            Ephesians 5:21-31, especially vss. 25 and 28.

            Gospel-centered enough for you? 😉

            Peace, brother

          • volfan007 says


            Man centered? lol. Ridiculous. GOD was faithful to him. God delivered him. God did it….

            And, while you are giving a good remedy for the contentious woman, that’s not what the passage is about.

            Also, we could look at many passages about not getting into debt; spanking a child to teach them; etc, etc, etc….which do not teach the Gospel.

            Good grief,


          • Debbie Kaufman says

            Is there a point in your continuing to point out the passage of the contentious woman? If you point it out one more time I am going to scream! It could also apply to the contentious man, because for some reason on some of your comments I want to sit on a roof or hike a hundred miles away because to my ears it sounds like a dripping faucet.

          • Randall Cofield says


            Also, we could look at many passages about not getting into debt; spanking a child to teach them; etc, etc, etc….which do not teach the Gospel.

            Not getting into debt? Umm…Romans 13:8.

            Spanking a child to teach them? Uhhh…Hebrews 12:4-13.

            I can do this all day long…

            The fact that you refuse to see (i.e. “You have shown me nothing”) the foreshadowing of the Gospel in these texts (though they all have clear correlative texts in the NT) does not mean that they do not, in fact, point us to the Gospel.

            Ga 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.

            Peace, brother.

          • volfan007 says


            I’m bowing out of this “conversation,” because I see no value in pursueing it any further.

            I preach the Gospel. I try to lift up Jesus every time I preach. I’m gonna just leave it at that.


          • Randall Cofield says


            My brother, I have no doubt that you preach Jesus.

            I was merely addressing your contention that the passages you were offering have no connection with the Gospel.

            God bless.

          • Daviss Woodbury says

            David (volfan),
            Since you keep bringing up the Proverbs passages about living with a quarrelsome wife (Prov. 21:9 & 25:24), I am curious how you preach those verses. Do you preach it from the perspective of the woman, that she should not be quarrelsome? If so, I can certainly see a direct line to Eph. 5:22-24, which is an explicit connection to the gospel. Do you preach it from the perspective of the husband, that he is to be patient and endure even a quarrelsome wife? If so, I can see a direct line to Eph 5:25-33, which, again, is an explicit connection to the gospel? I guess the third option would be to preach simply that life is hard and dealing with quarrelsome people is unpleasant. What do you offer the congregation from that passage. And I’m not saying this to be quarrelsome; I am genuinely interested in how you would exegete and apply that passage. Blessings.

          • volfan007 says


            I teach it as it says….that living with an angry, fightin’ wife is a bad thing. It’d be better to live on the roof, than to have to live with an angry woman, who wants to fight. I mean, that’s what the Proverb is saying. It’s just a statement of wisdom.

            Now, how we apply that could go in all kinds of directions, as long as we stay true to the Bible and common sense. Like, dont marry a woman like this to begin with, would be one thing you could say. Also, we could say that a man should try to make his wife a happy woman, if he’s able. And, we could say that a woman like that shouldnt act like that….that that’s not the spirit that a godly woman should have….that God is not pleased with that kind of attitude. And, most certainly, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, we could say that if that woman is an Unbeliever that she, FIRST AND MOST OF ALL, should be saved…she needs a change of heart….she needs a work of grace in her heart.

            But, the Proverb just simply teaches that it’s a bad, bad, bad thing to live with a woman, who is angry and wanting to fight.

            Daviss, the same thing with the passages about spanking a child…and disciplining a child. The passages are dealing with the best ways to raise a child…to teach them to behave. But, they are not preaching the Gospel. They are talking about how to raise a child.

            Now, once again, should we teach that the best way to raise a child is to teach them about Jesus and the way to salvation….YES! Of course! Why? because a child might be the best behaved child in the whole town, and can still not know the Lord…and grow up to die and go to a Devil’s Hell, because the child never got saved. BUT, the verses dealing with the discipline of a child are not teaching or preaching the Gospel.

            Do you see what I’m saying?


          • says


            Can you show me where someone is advocating that every verse of the Bible is strictly about Jesus and/or the gospel?

            I see you keep bringing up the “contentious woman” but I have yet to see anyone advocate what you are saying.

          • Daviss Woodbury says

            I do see what you are saying, and I appreciate your response. I will say that, were I to preach those passages, I would start where you do, but in the application I would feel that I had done a disservice to my congregation if I did not connect it to the passages I mentioned in Eph. 5 and uncover the bridge to the gospel. That’s not to say that the gospel is the main message or idea of the Proverbs passage, but that I think it can naturally connect to the gospel in terms of application. I understand the passages about discipline in the same way. There is the original, intended meaning, but then that meaning can be connected to a gospel application without doing violence to the original text. Thanks again for your response, and may God richly bless your ministry and your church.

    • Christiane says

      King David authored the ‘messianic psalms’ . . . prophetic in their pointing to Christ and His mission

      ” . . . a pack of villains encircles me;
      they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
      17 All my bones are on display;
      people stare and gloat over me.
      18 They divide my clothes among them
      and cast lots for my garment.”
      (from Psalm 22, a psalm of David)

  23. Randall Cofield says

    Has Dr. Hankins Accurately Represented Matt Chandler and Mike Riccardi?

    Dr. Hankins,

    Having followed this kerfuffle from the beginning, it seemed good to me to write an orderly account for the most excellent readers of this blog. :-) I hope to accurately represent what Matt, Mike, and you have said.

    In your original piece you stated:

    Under the auspices of making sure that Christ is proclaimed in every sermon, the net effect of such an approach is often to pry texts out of their contexts in order to insert the preacher’s own theological pre-commitments. This ensures not only that every text might “preach Christ,” but also that every text might preach Calvinism.

    You have yet to offer any evidence that Chandler’s treatment of the David and Goliath text was an attempt to preach Calvinism.

    You further stated:

    Now, there is nothing inappropriate about seeing in this story an analogy to the Christ-event. There would be nothing at all wrong with emphasizing that analogy as a particular approach to interpretation or preaching. What is wrong is saying that, since the “Christ-centered meaning” of the text has been discovered, the narrative has nothing to say about faithful living, since the Bible, in Chandler’s opinion is not a “roadmap to life.”

    First, Chandler nowhere in that clip says that the narrative has nothing to say about faithful living. This seems to be a clear misrepresentation of Chandler on your part. May I ask why you misrepresented what he said?

    Secondly, Chandler nowhere said that the bible is not a road map to life. He does clearly contend that the bible is not first and foremost a roadmap to life, but is first and foremost God’s revelation of Himself and His Redemptive Purposes. Again, why misrepresent what he has said?

    You further state:

    He seems to indicate that teaching people that the Bible is a roadmap from this passage actually harms them. In doing this, Chandler abandons the sound hermeneutics of, for instance, Fee and Stuart, who teach that every OT narrative has three interpretational levels: a “bottom level” which deals with the meaning of individual narratives, the “middle level,” which deals with the story of what God is doing in Israel, and the “top level,” which is God’s great plan of redemption, ultimately revealed in the story of Christ. (Italics added)

    Not so. What Chandler does contend is that viewing the Bible only as a road map to life is harmful, and even gives examples of how this sets us up for failure. He then goes on to point out that ”ultimately” the Bible is about God’s Redemptive Purpose in Christ. Rather than “abandon[ing] the sound hermeneutics of…Fee and Stuart,” Chandler, while acknowledging the “bottom level” points us to the “top level” of interpretation. And this “top level” is largely missing in the pulpits, Sunday School literature, and devotional literature of the SBC. (More on this below)

    In your post above, you state:

    Moreover, just this evening I was made aware of a blog that was written nine months ago by a guy named Mike Riccardi who raised all the concerns I did about Chandler’s video. Chandler was asked about the critique and agrees with it, stating that he leaned a too heavily on allegory! Here is the post: Now, if Chandler thinks that his approach was too allegorical, am I not justified in judging it so? Nine months ago Chandler himself admits that the video is not good and yet there it sits. Can you not concede that I have a point?

    Here is Chandler’s actual response to Riccardi’s critique:

    “ Thanks for your encouragement and email. I read Mike’s critique and agree with most of it. The issue was having only a few minutes to try and show how a couple of chapters and a ton of history points toward Christ. I leaned a little too heavy on allegory in the video and could have done a better job of setting things up with more time. Overall I thought the critique was helpful and brotherly. Blessing!”

    You insinuate that Chandler, in responding graciously to Riccardi’s critique, has conceded all that you have laid at his feet. Not so. Notice that Chandler points to time constraints that do not allow a full demonstration of how he arrived at his “top level” interpretation of the passage. Admitting that in the video he leaned too heavily on allegory is not tantamount to Chandler conceding that your point is valid. Notice, Chandler says he could have “done a better job of setting things up with more time.” This is a gracious response to critique, and, to be sure, an admission of inadequacy in the video, but he is not retracting his Christ-centered application of the text. Nor should he.

    Moreover, your contention that “Mike Riccardi …raised all the concerns [you] did” leaves the impression that Riccardi is in full agreement with your post over at SBC Today. Obviously, Riccardi is not in such agreement. Notice the following from Riccardi’s critique:

    Now, please hear me. What follows is not my attempt to give Matt Chandler a hard time or call his faithfulness into question. I haven’t followed his preaching very much, but everything I have heard him preach, I’ve liked. I also acknowledge that the context of this brief, 3-minute video is not one that lends itself to academic precision or nuanced qualification. I get that. So please don’t think of this post as me pooh-poohing Matt Chandler.

    While Riccardi wisely and graciously conceded that a 3-minute video is not adequate grounds for unqualified critique, and that he liked everything he has heard Chandler preach, you did no such thing. You attempted to hang a unilateral accusation on Chandler (and TGP).

    Notice here that Riccardi makes a distinction that your post fails to make:

    See, even if the Gospel isn’t the proper interpretation of every individual text, we can get to the Gospel in the application of every sermon. And understanding the story in its own context and for its own sake will get us there, authorial intent and context well intact. And not only does it have the advantage of being faithful to the text, it actually sheds even more glorious light on the Gospel than by looking at the text, shrugging, and saying, “Uhhh… Jesus!”

    You have accused Chandler of using a Christological hermeneutic to arrive at his interpretation of David and Goliath. This completely misses the salient point. Chandler was making a Christological application of the text over-against an exclusively moralistic application.

    Notice that Riccardi drives this point home in the very next paragraph:

    We don’t have to choose between (a) a Christocentric hermeneutic, on the one hand, and (b) a failure to read the OT as Christians, on the other. We must allow the text to speak for itself, considering both what the original author was intending and what the original audience would have understood. And we should also faithfully make application to Christ and the Gospel. What we need is contextual, grammatical-historical interpretation with Christocentric application.

    Chandler, in his video, was in no way ignoring authorial intent. He was making a Christological application of the text, and you have over-reached in your critique of him by ignoring this and jumping to the conclusion that he is abusing the Christocentric hermeneutic. It appears that you simply assumed Chandler was ignoring authorial intent, and was trying to “ensure… that every text might preach Calvinism.”

    Perhaps you owe your brother an apology?

    Dr. Hankins, you seem to contend that the SBC suffers from a hyper-tendency (among Calvinists, obviously) to a Christocentric hermeneutic. I contend that we suffer from the very opposite.

    Pick up almost any piece of Sunday School or devotional literature in virtually any Southern Baptist Church and you will find the OT texts treated with a purely moralistic hermeneutic and application with breathtaking consistency. It has long been frustrating to me that we see the living, powerful Word of God in the OT thus divorced from the Life and intent of its Author and Object. The result is that far too many see the OT as a disjointed collection of moral stories, and the over-arching, glorious history of God’s Redemptive Purpose is completely missed. Every conscientious pastor in the SBC knows that this is a massive problem among our people.

    Yet you offer the rather caustic comment:

    If The Gospel Project is intending to teach people to see how all of the Bible is related to the overarching story of God’s plan of redemption, that’s worthy goal, although I’m not sure why such a concept needs its own Sunday School curriculum. (italics added)

    Really, brother? You don’t see how the concept of the “overarching story of God’s plan of redemption” is worthy of its own Sunday School curriculum?

    Grace to you, brother.

  24. says

    You know, I keep reading people go back and forth on whether or not every verse or passage is about Christ. It’s not an either/or. I wouldn’t characterize it as a both/and though, because it’s not a peer-peer relationship. The account of Christ is the metanarrative of the Bible. It is the largest context for every passage in the Bible. You don’t stop evaluating context at the human author level. At the end of the day, you end up with how the passage fits in with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So if I preach from the law, I come back to how Christ fulfilled the law. If I preach the prophets, I come back to how their prophecies are messianic. If I preach narratives, I usually start with Christ, drill down to what it happening in the passage and widen back out to how it impacts the account of the gospel. This is the way the apostles handled scripture. I can do no less.

  25. Benji Ramsaur says

    There is application from the OT, but it is not direct, but indirect:

    For Ex.

    1. Gen 3:15 –> (Directly) to Christ’s Victory

    2. We Enter into a Faith-union with Christ

    3. Gen 3:15 –> (Indirectly) to our Victory via Christ (Rom 16:20)

    Moralistic Interpretations come from not having an OT text first pass through Christ before they apply to us.

  26. Roger Simpson says

    Dr. Hankins:

    I am joining this comment stream a little late because I wanted to carefully weigh my words before jumping in.

    I am a layman so I am not the “sharpest tool in the cabinet” when it comes to theology. Is it OK for laymen like myself to dialog with you on your thesis which raises issues with Lifeway’s publication of TGP?

    Is so, then I’d request that you lay out a “bill of particulars” referencing citations from specific TGP lessons that are indicative of an inappropriate assimilation of Calvinist theology into TGP curriculum.

    The locus of the discussion right now is dueling PhD theses. I have to admit this leaves me a little numb.

    One possible problem could be that — since Lifeway’s materials are copyrighted — it might take written permission from them to publish the “objectionable” citations on this (or some other) website. If that is the case, I’ll volunteer my services to work with Lifeway to obtain appropriate copyright clearance so that the citations can included for the specific purpose of open debate of theological issues in the SBC. If necessary, I’ll set up a special web site to be a repository for these citations.

    If the past is any indication of the future then I don’t think it is likely that Lifeway is going to make any modifications to their publications without significant input from a number of constituencies across SBC life – especially since TGP is wildly popular and going into multiple printings. That being the case, I think that broadening your argumentation to reach the “guy in the pew” is a pre-requisite to tangible results.

    Roger Simpson Oklahoma City OK

  27. says

    I understand that this discussion may be over now. However, there is thing we’ve all overlooked in this discussion pertaining to Chandler’s TGP video which Dr. Hankins touched on in his original critique.

    We should have asked and sought to answer: What was the authorial intent of Chandler’s TGP video?