In an article on the 9Marks website (adapted from the Southern Baptist Journal of Theology), Thomas Schreiner writes on the issue of “Preaching and Biblical Theology.” He notes, “If we preach the scriptures canonically, using biblical theology, then we will proclaim Christ from both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We must avoid the danger, of course, of simplistic allegorizing or forced connections between the testaments. We will not fall prey to such errors if we have properly done the work of biblical theology and followed the hermeneutic of the apostolic writers themselves. The apostolic writers, after all, believed the Old Testament itself pointed to Christ and was fulfilled in Him; and they were taught their hermeneutic by Jesus Christ Himself, just as He opened the scriptures to Cleopas and his friend on the road to Emmaus (
“In this regard, some have claimed the hermeneutic of the apostles was inspired but should not be imitated today. Such a view is flawed because it suggests the fulfillment the apostles saw in the Old Testament does not accord with what the texts truly mean. If this is the case, the connections drawn between the testaments are arbitrary, and the apostles (and Christ Himself!) do not serve as models for interpreting the Old Testament today.
“If we believe, however, that the apostles were inspired and wise readers of the Old Testament, then we have a pattern for reading all of the Old Testament in light of the fulfillment accomplished in Jesus Christ. The storyline and structures of the Old Testament all point toward Him and are completed in Him. When we read about the promise of Abraham in the Old Testament, we realize it is fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The shadows of Old Testament sacrifices find their substance in Christ…
“If we do not preach the Old Testament in terms of the whole canon, we will either restrict ourselves to moral lessons from the Old Testament; or what is just as likely, we will rarely preach from the Old Testament. As Christians we know much of the Old Testament no longer speaks directly to our situation today. For example, God has not promised to liberate us from political bondage as he freed Israel from Egypt. The land of Israel is politically volatile today, but neither Christians do believe their joy will come from living in Israel, nor do they think worship consists in going to the temple to offer sacrifice. However, if we do not preach the Old Testament canonically in light of biblical theology, it too often will be passed over in Christian preaching. In doing so, we not only rob ourselves of wonderful treasures from the Word of God, but we also fail to see the depth and multifaceted character of biblical revelation. We put ourselves in a position where we do not read the Old Testament as Jesus and the apostles did, and hence we do not see that the God’s promises are yes and amen in Jesus Christ.” (Click here to read the full article.)