To avoid the sanctimony of those who slander redemptive historical preachers.
Tim Bayly needed to vent and took aim at redemptive historical preaching. The occasion for the outburst is not entirely clear. One reason is that the Baylys have little tolerance for anyone who doesn’t share their convictions. Another may be that Tim is preparing for an upcoming Clear Note conference on preaching. It seems that at this conference Tim is planning to do to the disciples of Ed Clowney what David did to Goliath.
In response to a professor who warns about isolating biblical narratives from the overarching narrative of salvation, Tim slashes and burns:
Holding David up as a hero is to isolate this narrative from the flow of redemptive history? Really? “Only a boy named David, only a little sling” is out the window now? Everyone all through church history has been wrong to speak well of David’s courage and faith? We must only speak well of God’s power and plan? To hold David up as an example to the young men and little boys of the church is to “isolate” the story of David and Goliath “from the flow of redemptive history?”
Bunk and double bunk.
Well, how much bunk is involved in explaining to those little boys who sing about David and his sling what they should think of David and his prurient thoughts about a certain bather named Bathsheba? How do you explain to the child who collected all of
Bobby Barry Bonds baseball cards that the all-time home run leader cheated? Maybe avoiding heroes in the Bible is a good idea.
But the problem with redemptive historical preaching goes deeper:
The failure of men who take pride in being Christ and Gospel-centered isn’t that they’re wrong in affirming how types and examples point to Christ. Reading, teaching, and preaching Christ in all of Scripture is foundational. Obvious.
Their failure is that they deny the morals and virtues of the types and examples–the flesh and blood of history, if you will. It’s as if no one is capable of loving David as a man and desiring to be like him while also loving the God Who made him as he was and worked through him to accomplish his sovereign decrees, including the very public execution of blaspheming Goliath, the very public vindication of His Name resting on Israel, the eventual replacement of King Saul with this man whose Davidic Line would end with our Messiah, and so on.
To speak of courage and faith together does not tie even, or especially, very young boys’ brains in knots. They get it. God has made man capable of amazing intellectual feats and those feats are often seen at their most brilliant in little people who haven’t yet had blinkered professors tell them they can’t think that way. Those possessing wisdom rather than degrees are fully capable of thinking both ways at the same time, and for intellectuals to tell them that they must choose one way and delete the other from their mind, also deleting all those obvious paths criss-crossing between both ways, is for professors of hermeneutics and exegesis to chain Scripture to the same pulpits the Roman Catholics had chained it to back at the time of the Reformation.
Well, tell this to the apostle Paul who could claim all sorts of bona fides in the virtue and courage sphere of Old Testament heroes and called those qualities rubbish:
. . .though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith. . . (Phil. 3:4-9)
Paul seems to be wary, as redemptive historical preachers are, of putting confidence in human ability to keep the law, to be moral, even to be heroic. That kind of esteem for human morality has a tendency to lead people not to trust in Christ but to look to themselves and their own righteousness.
In fact, if Tim Bayly had listened to more redemptive historical preaching, he would not only be saved from a lack of charity, but he might regard his own moral posturing for what it is — double bunk.