How does the Gospel Provide Unity to the Bible?

Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian ScriptureView book details at WTS Bookstore

This essay interacts with Graeme Goldsworthy in Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture on the following question: “How does the Gospel provide unity to the Bible?”

By arguing that only the Gospel is capable of providing unity to the great diversity found in the Bible, Goldsworthy means that “proper interpretation of any part of the Bible requires us to relate it to the person and work of Jesus” (p. 84) and those “specific details in the process that leads through the whole progressive revelation and comes to focus on Christ as the fulfiller” (p. 86).  In summary, the Gospel is the hermeneutical key and the biblical-theological center of the Bible.  This is the topic of chapter 7.

But interestingly, Goldsworthy lays some essential groundwork for his argument for the Gospel as unifying the Bible in chapter 6 where the possibility for such a unity within diversity is possible.  For the evangelical (or anyone who accepts as plausible or probable that God is the inspiring author of the OT and NT) such a case is a helpful refresher.  But Goldsworthy is attempting to persuade the person who ignores the divine source of Scripture and recognizes only its human authorship.  Chapter 6 compares the orthodox doctrine of the two natures of Christ (both fully divine and fully human) with the evangelical doctrine of the Bible (the inspired Word of God and the work of human authors).  I find this strategic line of reasoning winsome and persuasive by taking a catholic doctrine that all professing Christians accept (the deity and humanity of the person of Christ) and applying the same concept to the more evangelical doctrine of Scripture (possessing a fully divine and human origin).

With the foundation established that someone (Christ) and something (the Bible) can exist as a unity in diversity, Goldsworthy argues it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that actually provides the unifying structure to the OT and NT Scriptures.  Accordingly, it is the Gospel that unifies the literary variety (pp. 68-69), historical progression (pp. 69-72), and progressive revelation of the Bible (pp. 72-76).  This approach to reading and understanding the Bible’s central theme makes sense of the OT-NT teaching of type-antitype (pp. 76-78), promise-fulfillment (pp. 78-79), and salvation history-eschatological goal (pp. 79-80).

So how does the Christian utilize the message of the Gospel to “cash out” the various diverse contents of the Bible?  According to Goldsworthy, since the Gospel (the message of the kingdom of God as preached and fulfilled in the person and work of Christ) is the center and high water mark of biblical revelation, it is the Christian’s entry point to interpreting all of which the Bible teaches.  For example, he asserts that the basic biblical pattern of God’s design for creation is “(1) God as Lord; (2) his people living before him as his willing and loving subjects; (3) and the created environment within which God relates to his people” (p. 86).  We can discern this pattern in all redemptive epochs: in the Garden of Eden, during the patriarchal period, in the Israelite theocracy, in the Babylonian exile and return, in the NT church, today, and in the consummated eschatological kingdom of God.  But we understand the purpose and stage of the kingdom of God through the lens of the Gospel because the God’s Gospel of the kingdom is most clearly revealed and finally fulfilled in the person and work of Christ.  Goldsworthy’s insight that the Gospel is the Christian’s entryway into the rest of the Bible is a necessary and helpful rule for all Christians to read (and live) the entire Bible—both OT and NT—as Christians.

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This entry was posted in Biblical Theology, Book Review, Preaching, The Christian Life and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How does the Gospel Provide Unity to the Bible?

  1. Anonymous says:

    wonderful site!!!! interesting stuff keep up the good work

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