Is Typology Part of Grammatical-Historical Exegesis?

Typology has come on hard times these days. It is often thought to be wild, subject to flights of fancy. This is probably because very few people have read Patrick Fairbairn’s book on the subject. For him, it is a completely valid part of the scientific theological enterprise, precisely because it is in itself biblical. Typology is not something invented by the early church. It is in the Bible itself. 1 Peter 3:20-21, wherein the flood in Noah’s time is connected to baptism as a type is to an antitype. For those who have not heard the terms before, a type is a person, place, thing, or idea in the Old Testament that has a larger, better version in the New Testament. Think of it as a repeated pattern that gets bigger the second time around. Or, in computer terms, version 1.0 is the type, and version 2.0 is the antitype.

Now, Dr. Dan McCartney has challenged the idea that typology has any part in grammatical-historical exegesis. This is a part of McCartney’s Christotelic hermeneutic. One reason he adduces is that distinguishing typology from allegory is only partially successful. And since allegory is not part of grammatical-historical exegesis, then neither is typology. McCartney accepts the validity of typological interpretation, incidentally. He is not rejecting typology. He just rejects the idea that typology is part of GHE. Furthermore, his position is that the New Testament authors were not engaging in grammatical-historical exegesis (hereafter GHE). As a result, GHE of the Old Testament will result in the “first read,” which really has nothing to do with the second Christotelic reading. McCartney thinks that we should read the OT the way that the NT writers do, but then accept that it is not the meaning of the OT itself, at least exegeted in a GHE way.

I would challenge this view of things on a number of levels. When Paul in Galatians 3:16 makes a special point about “seed” being singular, and not plural, is not Paul making a grammatical point, something very much within the purview of GHE? Yes, Paul goes on to make a typological point from that, but doesn’t that prove the point? GHE is not so easily separated from typology as McCartney would like to believe. Paul uses both in proximity. Similarly, many of the NT authors make specific points about Israel’s history. One thinks of Paul in Romans 9-11 as an example. Yes, there is typology involved there, too, but there is also GHE going on, in a somewhat broader sense that Paul was aware of and made use of the grammar and the history of the OT to make his points. Just read it through and see how many things that are simple history of the OT Paul points out precisely in order to make typological connections. This leads us to the core of the issue.

McCartney claims that the interpretive moves of allegory and typology are not so easily separable, but he misses a crucial point: everything about typology is tethered irrevocably to history. Allegory is not thus tied to history. Allegory can make a text stand for anything it wants to, whereas typology is firmly limited by history. The methodology is not the key point here. What matters is that nothing about typology is ahistorical. Two very real, very historical events are connected in typology. So, when one does GHE on the OT, one has half of the typological bridge already in place.

On a more basic level, let’s just ask the question this way: how can we get at the meaning of a text in a GHE manner without involving typology, if the text itself has typology built into it? In 1 Peter 3:20-21, the word and the concept of typology are both present. How can we possibly engage in GHE of that text without doing typological analysis to find out what the grammar and history of typology says in that passage? The problem here is that McCartney has sought to seal off typology from GHE, when the New Testament itself does not do that. Does that mean that there is no room for saying anything like, “Our culture of interpretation is different from the first century?” We can say things like that. But we also have to remember that separating interpretive moves like GHE and typology from each other is a distinctly modern phenomena. It would never have occurred to the ancients. Of course, they would never have thought in modern categories of GHE at all. They would probably have just called it “interpretation.”

By way of analogy (a VERY closely related analogy, indeed, one that is part of the same phenomenon), one can look at commentaries these days, and how reticent they are to make any kind of systematic theological statements. If I had a dollar for every time I read, in a commentary, something like “That’s a doctrinal or ST thing, and we can’t deal with that in an exegetical commentary,” I would be fabulously wealthy. The Reformers never took off the exegetical hat to do ST, and they didn’t take off their ST hats to do exegesis. It was all happily mixed up together. They included historical theology and practical theology in there as well. In fact, they tended to do all of them at once, all together. Our growing specialization and fragmentation is not a healthy trend at all. That trend came with the Enlightenment. I believe that a divorce of GHE from typology comes from the same impetus.



  1. October 1, 2014 at 12:30 am

    Q: “When Paul in Galatians 3:16 makes a special point about ‘seed’ being singular, and not plural, is not Paul making a grammatical point, something very much within the purview of GHE?”

    And: No. Paul was using grammar to make a theological (dare we say Christotelic) point. After all, that seed was Christ.

  2. October 1, 2014 at 1:12 am


    I’m perplexed. You accuse McCartney of holding an ahistorical version of typology. And yet in the very article you’re supposed to be engaging with, he explicitly says that typology as he sees it is tied to history.

    “Typology is a theological construction based on a conviction that two events in history or an event in history and a (separate) event in a text are somehow actually related (not just comparable or similar, nor just literarily related) in that the meaning of the former event (or the written record of such) only becomes fully manifest in the later event. Such a construction cannot be derived purely from the events themselves. Historical meaning indeed provides a tethering point for typology, but what drives typology is the fulfillment in Christ, not the historical meaning itself.”

    The point is not that typology is ahistorical. The point is that the typological event/text finds its meaning *as type* in the fulfilling event/text, not simply in and of itself. You may take issue with that way of thinking about the type–>antitype relationship. But to say it is ahistorical strikes me as an unfair characterization.

  3. greenbaggins said,

    October 1, 2014 at 8:29 am

    Jonathan, I did not accuse McCartney of holding an ahistorical meaning of typology. What I was taking issue with was his lumping together of typology and allegory, citing “similar method” as common ground, when in this case, what matters more is that typology is wholly historical. I also take issue with his divorce of typology from GHE. I would say at this point that McCartney and I actually agree pretty much on what typology actually is. Where we disagree is on how typology relates to GHE. That is the force of my comment that while McCartney acknowledges that typology is historical, he does not allow that to influence his position vis-a-vis GHE. Hope this helps clarify.

    Christ Covenant Church (what is your full name, btw?), there we have to disagree. Paul makes a grammatical point, and then says that the OT meaning is that it means Christ. It is a similar point to 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul says (past tense!) that the rock was Christ. It was Christ to the people of Israel.

  4. October 1, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Lane, yes that helps. thanks for the clarification.

  5. October 1, 2014 at 9:14 am

    I would only add that I don’t see a complete divorce of GHE and typology for McCartney. The difference would be that McCartney sees GHE as part of typology, while you see typology as part of GHE. I do think this is a real difference, but I’m convinced that much of it (though not all) is semantic. McCartney is working with a very narrow (“modernist”) understanding of GHE, but his critics, it seems, are often working with a broader understanding of GHE.

  6. greenbaggins said,

    October 1, 2014 at 9:20 am

    I agree with your analysis here. The problem is this: McCartney seems to believe that a narrower definition of GHE is what we should use on the “first reading” of the OT. This is what introduces the disconnect between OT and NT, and a non-organic relationship between the two testaments. So, the difference has vast ramifications for the relationship of the two testaments. The broader definition of GHE, which includes the types and shadows of the OT economy read in the light of the NT is the way we should read the OT.

  7. October 1, 2014 at 9:31 am

    I understand that you prefer the broader understanding of GHE, and I’m quite fine with that. But, I do not see any severing of the organic relationship between the testaments for McCartney. What I see is an establishment of that relationship in a different way than via GHE per se. The relationship, for McCartney, is established by divine inspiration, redemptive history, and the eschatological coming of Christ to fulfill the OT. True, he would not say that GHE of itself *establishes* any such connection. But that does not mean that there is no such connection.

  8. greenbaggins said,

    October 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    How can you say this, Jonathan, when he explicitly says that the gospel is not really in the OT?

  9. Don said,

    October 1, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    greenbaggins 8,
    I’m not sure how you reconcile this statement with, say, McCartney’s closing of: “we must read the Old Testament with Christian eyes, with eyes that believe the Old Testament as part of a gospel book.”

    I understand you have a different working definition of GHE than McCartney, but comment #8 sounds like a caricature of his position.

  10. October 1, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    Where does he “explicitly say the gospel is not really in the OT”? I don’t see that. What I see rather are statements to the contrary.

    Such as:

    “I vigorously and whole-heartedly believe that Jesus was absolutely correct when he told the disciples in Luke 24 that the Old Testament was about him, his death and resurrection, and the offer of the gospel to the nations. And from our post-resurrection perspective, we can see it.”


    “The text of the whole Bible, the assumption of its coherency, and its ultimate purpose in pointing to Christ, provide parameters for determining which interpretations correspond and appear valid, and which do not.”


    “A text written by several individuals from different cultures over the course of several centuries, which is at the same time authored by One who knows where history is going before it gets there, is inherently unique. Grammatical-historical interpretation proceeds on the assumption of the similarity of its text to other texts. The Bible is indeed a text like other texts, but it is also in certain ways sui generis, and thus requires something more.”


    “We must rather, like Jesus and the apostles, go on to see and read the Old Testament text in the context not just of the Bible as a whole, but in the context of redemptive history as a whole. In particular, we must read the Old Testament with Christian eyes, with eyes that believe the Old Testament as part of a gospel book, as a vital story that becomes our story because it is Christ’s story.”

    So, here’s my issue:

    If we assume McCartney’s definition of GHE rather than just force our own definitions upon him, we can see that just because McCartney says the GH hermeneutic doesn’t *of itself* give us the whole apostolic gospel apart from the NT *doesn’t mean* that the gospel is on that account not present in the OT. The fact is that for McCartney the gospel is present in the OT, and on at least two accounts.

    1. McCartney would confess that there is a basic Messianic hope in the OT text pre-Christ…. The hope of one to come who would deliver his people from their sins. What it lacks of itself (from a purely human standpoint) is the *specificity*, apart from the fulfillment in the NT, whereby we can seethe precise form that Messianic hope would take.

    2. McCartney confesses, further, God’s inspiration of the original text, with the express intent that it does in fact point forward to the person and work of Christ as its telos/goal.

    Thus, it is not the case for McCartney that to say “GHE doesn’t of itself give us the gospel” and to say “the gospel is not present in the OT” are the same thing. McCartney affirms the former, denies the latter. So, by all means, take exception to his definition of GHE… I have no problem there. But, please, don’t just ignore that definition and then go on to accuse him of taking the gospel out of the OT.

  11. greenbaggins said,

    October 1, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Jonathan and Don, the way I read McCartney, he is saying that the only way you can get the gospel out of the OT is by something other than GHE. GHE of the OT does not yield the gospel, according to him. He is most definitely saying this. At best, it yields “hints.” So, if GHE does not yield the gospel out of the OT, but the “something more” does, then how is that an organic and unified Bible? By his own definitions, GHE is NOT UNIFIED wiht the “something more,” in that it takes two different readings. He argues that the first reading of the OT should be a GHE gospel-less reading. Only _after_ the “something more” is added do we get gospel in the OT. I doubt we are going to convince each other of anything at this point, so I will let this particular rest here, unless you guys bring up something new that you have not already said.

  12. October 1, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    Lane, “if GHE does not yield the gospel out of the OT, but the “something more” does, then how is that an organic and unified Bible?”

    I already answered that above, to wit:

    “The relationship, for McCartney, is established by divine inspiration, redemptive history, and the eschatological coming of Christ to fulfill the OT.”

    Which is precisely what has led us down this current trail… And around and around in the circle we go.

    The point is that the organic unity of Scripture is not established by any particular exegetical method, but by God himself, his inspired word itself, and the history of redemption which that word illumines.

  13. greenbaggins said,

    October 1, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    Jonathan, the problem with that is that there is no unity between divine and human author. That is not an organic whole. It is effectively nestorianism of the divine and human natures of the Bible.

  14. October 1, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    And, I know old Poythress is bad now (that guy probably should’ve been given the boot in the 80s), but, there is this: “responsible biblical interpretation includes more than grammatical-historical exegesis” (“What does God say through human authors,” in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic, p. 98.)

  15. October 1, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    Lane, I think that is a valid criticism of Enns, to be sure. And it might even be a valid *question* to ask of McCartney. But it certainly is not explicit. It seems to me that McCartney would not *separate* divine and human meaning, though he would distinguish. He even explicitly says, as I quoted above, that there is a *real* correspondence (and not just literary similarity) between each level of meaning. Your assumption seems to be that McCartney or Green would say the “first level” read is purely human and not itself divine revelation. This is an assumption that I believe is based on a *reading into* what they have actually written.

  16. October 1, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    I further want to highlight something McCartney said elsewhere, in his essay in Inerrancy and Hermeneutic:

    “So we may see things in the Old Testament that are *really there* but would not appear apart from the New. Special revelation in the New Testament clarifies the Christocentricity of Old Testament redemptive history.”

    And later, “The New Testament writers did not have our problems; *they knew that the Old Testament spoke of Jesus* and proceeded to understand it in that light. We too know that the Old Testament speaks of Jesus. Did he not tell us so? And are we not therefore justified in seeing him in its pages?”

    (“The New Testament’s Use of the Old Testament,” 116, emph. mine.)

  17. Don said,

    October 1, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    greenbaggins 11,
    I believe what you are writing here is entirely different than your unqualified statement in 8. Thank you for this clarification.

  18. Bill Smith said,

    October 1, 2014 at 4:29 pm

    Let me ask a simple question: Must the divine and human human overlap in order to have an organic revelation? Do not we who live on this side of the accomplishment of redemption, as those upon whom the end of the ages has come, know far more than th OT saints, even the prophets. knew about the meaning and signfiicance of their writings? Are not we who are least in the kingdom greater than John the Baptist?

  19. iain duguid said,

    October 1, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    If I can clarify the concern that I think Lane is raising, it is this: were the Old Testament saints able genuinely to see the gospel during the Old Testament period through a proper understanding of the Scriptures that they had then (albeit dimly), or did that have to wait until the coming of Christ? If the gospel is not visible (even though present) in the Old Testament until the coming of Christ, how were Abraham and Moses saved? On some level, the gospel has to be visible through ordinary exegesis of the OT texts in the OT period if it is to be the means by which God’s people were saved, which is a central tenet of Reformed theology.

    Of course they didn’t have as full an understanding as we have (just as we don’t have a full understanding of the events that will surround the Lord’s return), but they did see enough of the gospel to place their trust prospectively in Christ. So, to take the Isaiah 7 passage, I’m sure the prophet’s original audience didn’t understand the fullness of what it meant. But they could see the contrast between that first young woman’s faith in Immanuel (“God with us”) and the cynical skepticism of the Davidic king, Ahaz. The initial fulfillment in the form of the destruction of the northern kingdom and of Syria was a rebuke to Ahaz and a call to the contemporary audience to trust in the promise of Immanuel, a promise in seed form that flowers completely in the coming of Christ.

    This is not to speak directly to the views of specific people, or to say that the gospel is equally clear everywhere in the OT. But I think that one concern of critics of the TRV is that it sounds as if the gospel is not actually visible through a normal, plain reading of the OT by itself, without the NT. And that, it seems to me, does raise significant theological questions. Does that help to clarify matters?

  20. Reed Here said,

    October 1, 2014 at 5:47 pm

    It helps me. Thanks Dr. Duguid.

    Bill Smith, how about you?

  21. October 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    Dr. Duguid,

    Thanks for taking the time to respond here. I find it helpful to read your input on this. However, I do remain unconvinced regarding the views of McCartney.

    It does not seem to me to be at all a necessary implication of McCartney’s words that there is *no messianic hope* expressed in the OT, even considered of itself apart from the NT.

    So, when McCartney says, as I quoted above, “the New Testament clarifies the Christocentricity of Old Testament redemptive history,” that says to me that there *was* a Christocentricity to be seen in a certain sense pre-Christ, but which is only made *clear* (rather than shadowy, etc.) post-Christ.

    The point is that the fulfilled Gospel gives us the clear picture — the details of fulfillment. The point is *not* that there is no messianic hope or no explicitly messianic prophecy in the OT considered on its own terms. To be sure, Yes, the OT saints were saved by faith in the coming Messiah by types and shadows. Yet, they did not have at that point the full substance to which those types and shadows pointed, but rather looked forward to it by way of anticipation.

    Here’s my issue, and why I keep engaging this matter: What we are now calling “Christotelism” is something of a spectrum. There are orthodox expressions of it and unorthodox. I do not think it is fair or accurate or in line with Christian charity to lump everybody under one category, without first at least trying to understand how they might be read in the best possible light, and then from there pursuing valid lines of inquiry.

    At this point it really does seem that certain men have been labeled and branded and discussion shut off.

    Blessings to you.

  22. Tremper Longman said,

    October 1, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Jonathan is totally correct. And as much as I respect you, as my former student and friend, your attempt to argue that the original audience would even have a glimmer of a future messianic hope, not to speak of any kind of specific understanding of the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14, is hardly persuasive. The thought process that you are attributing to the original audience is highly improbable. And unnecessary. It is true (and Dan and Doug would agree) that there was a messianic expectation that arose from the Old Testament, that was present in the intertestamental period, but it was not well understood until the resurrection of Christ. Again, in this case, I think Jonathan is exactly right.

  23. iain duguid said,

    October 1, 2014 at 8:57 pm

    Thanks for your response. I also respect the many things that I learned from you. I’d just like you to clarify what you said, since clarity is of the essence in this discussion. When you say “there was a messianic expectation that arose from the Old Testament, that was present in the intertestamental period, but it was not well understood until the resurrection of Christ”, do you mean that there was no genuine and clear messianic understanding within the Old Testament itself before the intertestamental period? Or, to put it more precisely, that Isaiah’s contemporaries did not understand on some genuine level that through the suffering servant of whom he spoke, the Lord would take away their sins – that that knowledge only became clear after the coming of Christ? Or would you say that the Old Testament saints knew the gospel, truly and genuinely on the basis of what had already been revealed, even though much of the way in which God would fulfill these rich promises was not yet apparent to them?

    For me, this is one of the pivotal questions in this debate and I ask it because I’d genuinely like to know how you are processing these things (regardless of where other people may be – I don’t know enough to speculate on what their answers might be).

  24. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 1, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    John 8:56 seems relevant unless we try to dismiss the words of Jesus as some sort of culturally conditioned Midrash (I can’t imagine how. There is enough mystery in the statement of Jesus itself which is fine with me).

  25. roberty bob said,

    October 1, 2014 at 10:58 pm

    “. . . the suffering servant of whom he [Isaiah] spoke . . . ”

    When the soon-to-be-exiled covenant nation listened to the sermons of the prophet Isaiah, they heard that the Lord was going to put His Spirit upon His chosen servant so that this servant could lead them out of exile and back to the Land. Manifold salvation blessings would abound.

    Isaiah identifies this chosen servant by various names [Jacob, Israel, Jeshurun, My Servant], but Messiah or Christ is not one of them. So, were the covenant people of that time looking for One who was to come, or were they looking for the Lord to fill them [the chosen nation] with His Spirit so that they [in faithfulness] might fulfill the purpose for which they had been chosen?

    Think of the response Jesus got from First Covenant Church of Nazareth when he read from Isaiah 61 and proclaimed that TODAY this word is fulfilled in your hearing! The congregation had to rapidly adjust their thinking to the rapidly dawning reality that He was the one of whom Isaiah spoke. They could never have made the connection on their own; Jesus Christ, God’s First Evangelist, must point it out in order for it to be seen.

    Did Isaiah and the Old Testament saints know the gospel? Of course. The Lord, through his prophets proclaimed the promises — comfort, joy, redemption, forgiveness, restoration, fruitfulness, fullness — which filled them with hope and longing. At the coming of Christ, and particularly after the resurrection, it becomes evident that He embodies them all.

  26. roberty bob said,

    October 1, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    The Immanuel Isaiah refers to in the 7th chapter is not Jesus Christ. However, when the virgin-born Jesus Christ is revealed as Immanuel in the Gospel, he is shown to be the same kind of sign for faith as the Immanuel who was referenced by Isaiah.

    Isaiah was most certainly not telling King Ahaz that he would see the newborn King Jesus with his own eyes. No. King Ahaz would see the newborn son of a woman known to him, and this Immanuel would be a sign of God’s impending judgment upon him and his people.

  27. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 2, 2014 at 7:59 am

    Re #26: So are you saying Matthew 1:22-23 is 1) wrong? 2) “fulfilled’ is a much more complicated concept than we have traditionally understood it to be? 3) something else (what)? If your point is that people in Isaiah’s day did not use the same vocabulary and have all the details we have to descibe their Immanuel Savior (e.g. Jesus of Nazareth, the eternal Word) then that seems somewhat beside the point of the debate. Progressvive revelation, by definition progresses.

  28. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Lane, Steve Hays has posted a helpful piece related to this discussion:

    Iain/Tremper, as far as defining the christotelic approach it seems that we are agreed that it does not see Jesus and the gospel in the OT itself. Tremper says that the thought process by which Iain connects Isa 7 in the OT to later fulfillment in Jesus Christ is “improbable,” and that “a messianic expectation… arose from the OT” and “was present in the intertestamental period.” This sounds like we are agreed in saying that according to the christotelic method, the OT writers would not have anticipated the NT ending, even though God was employing them to that end. This is exactly how I have read McCartney — I don’t know how else to take his statements that “one cannot really see the gospel” in the OT and the NT fulfillment is a surprise ending, even though he says that from a post-resurrection perspective the OT is “about” Christ.

    Apart from our respective views of this approach, it would be helpful to get acknowledgement from all sides that this is the case, or to gain a clarification.

  29. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 8:59 am

    Reading #28 again, perhaps it might be more precise to say that the christotelic approach does not see the gospel being understood within the OT itself. From a post-resurrection perspective, we see the gospel in the OT. Tremper suggests that the intertestamental era expected the Messiah, but that this took place upon later reflection of the OT rather then within the OT. Within the OT itself, there was not awareness of the gospel. This seems to be the unavoidable conclusion of McCartney’s article and seems to be corroborated by Tremper.

  30. October 2, 2014 at 9:20 am

    It is fairly clear that McCartney *does* say that the Gospel is *really there* in the OT. That is not the question. The question is whether this was always understood by the human authors of any given OT text. If anyone is saying that there was *absolutely no* messianic hope among the OT saints, then I would agree that is something to be rightly criticized. I have taken the difference to be just how detailed and extensive and that hope was. But my problem here though is that *even if* they do think the OT saints had *no* idea of a coming Messiah, it certainly is not *clear* from what they’ve written, and I still don’t see it. So, rather than make accusations, why not bring honest inquiries? Accusation cuts off discussion. Inquiry drives it forward.

  31. greenbaggins said,

    October 2, 2014 at 9:29 am

    The problem, Jonathan, at the moment, is that we cannot agree on what the question is. You say it has to do with how much the human authors understood. If that is your understanding, then please exegete 1 Peter 1:10-12, and tell me how that passage is consistent with McCartney’s position. Does 1 Peter make any kind of distinction between typology and GHE? Is that not a completely anachronistic distinction to force upon NT writers? Rick and I locate the debate in another place. For us, if GHE (and that is another problem: we can’t seem to agree on what GHE is!) cannot get the gospel out of the OT, then how can it be said to be really there?

  32. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Jonathan, I am not sure what accusation you are referring to. My last comments were intended as constructive dialogue. As for understanding McCartney, I do not understand him as saying that that gospel “is there” in the OT in terms of authorial intent but that it is not there by g-h reading. He says that from the NT perspective we can see that the OT is about Christ. Isn’t this the whole point of the OT being Christotelic vs. Christocentric? It ends up being about Christ and his gospel — that is the telos — but it should not be taken that way on its own g-h terms. What else could be the meaning of statements that the OT must not be read as as a Christian book? McCartney says that by g-h means, “one cannot really see the gospel in the OT.” Now what is the point of that statement if he believes the gospel “is really there,” other than to say that we can see that it is there post-resurrection but the OT authors could not? Tremper helpfully says that Iain’s “attempt to argue that the original audience would even have a glimmer of a future messianic hope, not to speak of any kind of specific understanding of the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14, is hardly persuasive.” How can this mean anything other than that the original audience did not have “even a glimmer of a future messianic hope, etc.?” This is not accusation but merely restatement for the sake of understanding. Some will agree and others will disagree. But I honestly fail to see how the christotelic view can be seen any other way than that by g-h means, the OT does not give in itself a witness to Christ and the gospel. It is later reflection on the OT in the intertestamental period that brings messianic expectation and it is an apostolic second reading that “sees” Christ and the gospel in the OT. If this is not the christotelic point — this is not accusation but dialogue — then what could it possibly be?

  33. October 2, 2014 at 9:56 am

    As I have been saying consistently, I do not think the issue is that there is no messianic hope in the OT on its own — there is a gospel there. A will send coming one — greater than Moses or David, etc., who will come and definitively deliver God’s people from their enemies and restore them. I haven’t see anyone yet do away with the category of Messianic prophecy altogether, such that there are *no passages* that are explicitly messianic on GH grounds. The issues are, 1. How pervasive is that Messianism for the human authors? 2. How detailed is that gospel in the OT considered by itself?

    Regarding 1 Pet 1.10-12 — Yes, I would agree that that requires that OT prophets knew of a coming Deliverer. Peter says they had the knowledge of two things that would be true of this coming one. 1. suffering, 2. glory. Why that requires us to see a *pervasive* and *detailed* gospel in the OT, I cannot see.

    And along those lines, the NT is clear that there are things that are essential to the gospel that were very much unknown in ages past — such as “Christ in You” (Col. 1.26-27) and the bringing of the gospel out to the nations (Eph. 3.8-10). These are things, I think, that in light of Christ we can rightly draw out of the OT, that Paul says are mysteries that were “hidden in ages past.” In fact, on the second of these mysteries, Paul draws it out of the OT himself, by his use of Deuteronomy 32.21 in Romans 10.19, applied to God making Israel jealous by bringing the gospel to the nations (which, btw, *is not* what Deut 32.21 means in GH context, but still nonetheless rightly applied to the gospel in light of the coming of Christ and God’s purpose for all of Scripture to meet its goal in him).

  34. October 2, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Rick Phillips,

    1. The reason I say that McCartney says the gospel is really there is because that is exactly what he says himself: “So we may see things in the Old Testament that are *really there* but would not appear apart from the New. Special revelation in the New Testament clarifies the Christocentricity of Old Testament redemptive history.”

    2. Why you need to expand Tremper’s comments on Isaiah 7.14 to *every single passage* in the OT, I’m not sure. But, as I see it, this is a big part of the problem. Why not rather wait and see if Tremper will respond to Iain’s question for himself? Tremper has already said he thinks I am “exactly right”… Perhaps he misunderstood what I have been arguing for, but on the other hand perhaps his one paragraph comment doesn’t really give us the whole story of what he would say on this topic.

  35. October 2, 2014 at 10:34 am

    And by the way, I would also point along these lines out that Green’s paper on Psalm 23 presents the Psalm in the context of the Psalter as *messianic prophecy*, and not just that it arises as such in the intertestamental period. Further, his paper on Psalm 8 presents the Psalm, in GH context, as pointing God’s people even pre-Christ in an eschatological (and therefore messianic) direction.

    So, he says,

    “The stories of Israel and David are covenantal stories and therefore stories with a telos, or destiny. To describe the ideal of what Israel and David are meant to be – glorious and godlike and having dominion over creation – is to describe the ultimate destiny of Israel and “David” (understood now as a messianic figure). Once we read Psalm 8 in connection with Israel’s covenantal history we are inevitably drawn towards an eschatological interpretation – one that finds its full and final meaning in the climax of Israel’s story. Put another way, the primary thrust of Psalm 8 is not creational and static (what all humans are in Adam) but re-creational and eschatological (what Israel and “David” will become at the climax of history)”

  36. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 10:46 am


    I am trying to do what you suggest. It is difficult, however, because while I try to set forth my understanding of the other position, you keep commenting on me — why do I do this? why do I not do that? What I am trying to do is summarize what I believe to be the issue. This issue is not what we think is in the OT from our post-resurrection position or what the apostle thought in their second reading of the OT. We are agreed, that both we and the apostles see the gospel in the OT. The gospel “is there” from our vantage point — agreed. Nor is the issue what the intertestamental period expected, although I thought Tremper’s comment to that issue was helpful. The question is what the OT original audience and human authors thought, understood and intended from their perspective. The question is not whether they had full psychological awareness of all that would be later revealed from their writing. The issue is whether or not they were aware of the gospel and of Christ. So far, all the evidence that I have seen from the christotelic side has the effect of saying no to this issue. Indeed, this is the whole point, is it not? The OT ends up being about Christ – that is its telos — but it does not start out being about Christ. Given all the data that has been provided, this is the conclusion I am drawing. I say this not to make an accusation but to advance a dialogue. One side summarizes its view and the reasons for it and the other side interacts as to the substance of the matter. If that is not acceptable, then at least there should be no complaints that dialogue has been refused. I would think that supporters of the christotelic side would say, “Yes, that is what we mean and here is why.” That would be great. If not, I do hope it will be helpful to show how they are being understood. That is generally a help when one is trying to communicate. That is all this is.

  37. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 2, 2014 at 11:11 am

    The futility I sense in this discussion is the attempt to read the minds of OT Saints for the precise quantum of their understanding. As well as I know my wife, I can’t even read her mind (though in less dense moments I can reasonably infer when she is unhappy with me). 1 Cor 2:11 reflects upon this fundamental quality of hiddenness regarding our deepest thoughts and consciousness. It requires voluntary self-disclosure to know the mind of God who knows all things including the thoughts of OT saints. The mind of God, which is voluntarily opened for us to some important degree in Scripture supplies some insight into the minds of OT saints. Since those saints were not devoid of grace, it requires an arbitrary turn to pure naturalism to suggest (by way of counter argument) that they could not have had “A GLIMMER [caps added] of a future messianic hope, not to speak of any kind of specific understanding of the virgin birth of Christ in Isaiah 7:14.” As alluded to in my earlier post, in John 8:56 there is at least “A GLIMMER” of Abraham’s grasp of Christ. Though a challenging passage (John is loaded with misunderstandings, hard sayings, and enigmatic expressions), I think Ridderbos (and the context about Abraham’s true son and Christ as pre-existent I AM) rightly locates Abraham’s sight and rejoicing in Christ in the miracle birth of Isaac. Jesus’ words indicate at least a glimmer. I sense the Christotelic folks seek to impose naturalistic limitations on the understanding of OT saints. Enns has Paul controlled to a considerable degree by his exegetical culture when he supposedly believes the myth alluded to in 1 Cor 10:4. That is reading Paul’s mind from a naturalistic framework. Silva at least pulled back from this sort of mind-reading a little when approaching a tricky issue in Heb 11:21. Though Grammatical-Historical may not account fully for the mystery side of revelation, I think the issue is whether: 1) there is organic continuity throughout the Bible; 2) there was some apprehension of grace-hope-salvation through a promised seed who is unlike any man that has appeared before; and 3) whether absent our own private experience of some special revelation, we have anything but a grammatical-historical method to rely on in unpacking the special revelation that is now common to God’s people.

  38. RG Leverett said,

    October 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    This is an interesting debate & that’s how I would view it if it was just an academic debate. But the crux seems to be is the Christotelic hermeneutic outside the bounds of the WCF?

    Nothing here from either side has shown me that the Christotelic hermeneutic is outside the WCF and both sides should be able to coexist within a denomination like the PCA or an academic seminary like WTS or RTS. There have always been differences within the PCA & WTS and they’ve been able to coexist.

    As Clair Davis shared when I look at Green’s papers I see little difference between his teaching and what I learned from WTS years ago. There may be shades of difference but nothing so vast that it should cause anyone to be forced out. To make the Christotelic hermeneutic a violation of the Confession would be to become stricter than the confession itself and that would be a huge tragedy.

  39. October 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Rick Phillips,

    With all due respect for you as a brother and fellow minister of the gospel, I consider your claim that accusations have not been and are not being made to be disingenuous. You are a member and representative of a board that has drawn a dividing line on this issue — declared Doug Green’s views to be unconfessional without explanation beyond asserting the charge, and therefore in effect (whether intentional or not) dividing up camps between those supportive of WTS on the one hand and those supportive of McCartney, Green, and Fantuzzo on the other.

    You comment here defending the findings of this board, telling us four months after the announcement (and 10 months after the board’s initial determination) that it was in fact McCartney’s paper that was the main object of your determination with regard to *Doug Green’s* hermeneutic. In this context, your interpretation is presented not merely as a possible one, but as the only possible one.

    I must ask, have you or the board asked McCartney whether or not you understand him accurately? If so, did he give a response? Have you spoken with Doug with regard to his interpretation of McCartney and how that relates to his own position?

    In normal situations I would consider it completely valid to present a possible interpretation of a man’s writing without first discussing the matter with him. This is not, however, a normal situation. This is a matter concerning which an official determination has already been made, and which consequently is bringing division in the body of Christ.

    Further, if it was McCartney’s paper that was the main issue with Doug Green, why did the seminary’s website not include that as problematic, but rather post the Psalm 23 paper, which you have said elsewhere was not the real issue? This is baffling.

    As it is, I stand by my interpretation of what these men are saying. I am convinced based on what I heard in class and in conversation with them that I understand them and their writings correctly.

  40. roberty bob said,

    October 2, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    in reply to #37 and #27 . . .

    The born-of-a-virgin Jesus does “fulfill” the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy, but not in the usually conceived sense that Isaiah was foretelling the birth of Jesus. Isaiah was telling King Ahaz that God was going to give him a sign whether he wanted one or not, and that sign was the soon-to-occur birth of a son named Immanuel, born to a particular woman known by the King’s court. There is not even a hint, or glimmer, in Isaiah 7:14 that the prophet is ALSO referring to a distant Immanuel yet to come.

    However, when Jesus is born of the virgin, Mary, the Evangelist Matthew sees the fulfillment of Isaiah’s original word concerning a son who would serve as a sign of God’s abiding presence among his people. Jesus shows himself to be the ultimate Immanuel. Thus he fulfills the original prophecy.

    In Isaiah 9 the prophet looks forward to a royal son in David’s line who will establish, and reveal the glory, of the everlasting kingdom promised to David . . . which is why it is the most commonly preached advent text. The Messiah is much more clearly seen — prior to his actual appearing — in Isaiah 9, for here it is pointed out that the Israel’s hope will be realized through God’s promises to the House of David. This is quite a different thing than what Isaiah is saying in 7:14.

  41. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 2, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    Re: #40: OK, Here’s my problem: You answered by essentially saying we need to have a proper (or different?) understanding of the word “fulfill” in Matthew 1:23. It is really unclear to me that the word “fulfill” means much of anything on your construction. “No glimmer?” It requires omniscience to know that. But perhaps you (and others?) mean the “text” alone evidences “no glimmer” of Christ and his virgin conception. There are two levels of approaching that: Obviously if we limit our attention to only a few words of text and ignore the whole potential set of contextual and intertextual relationships of that text to other revelation, we will, willfully deprive ourselves full potential meaning (i.e. suppress the truth or draw the shades to keep out the “glimmers”). On another Van Tilian sort of level, there is no meaning period without Christ. Isaiah 7:14 is so many phonemes or graphemes in an ultimately meaningless world where linguistics and post-modernists pretend their ideas matter—or not.
    Taking Isaiah7:14 in the whole context of the history of redemption and revelation to that point, and seeing the word “prophet” is used, and seeing that this “prophet” looks well beyond Ahaz in the rest of his prophesies, I think we have at least a glimmer—unless we are being controlled by naturalistic presuppositions.

  42. Matt Here said,

    October 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Whatever disagreements I might have with with McCartney — and I do have some — I think he raises a valid point about the tendency of some to think of G-H exegesis in a very wooden way. Or to use VanTillian categories, the G-H starts to sound like a ‘brute fact’ that just exists on its own. A good example of this would be someone like Walt Kaiser, and I think his approach to OT inches extremely close to that very thing. So at the very least, we need to make sure that when we speak about the G-H method, we really mean something more like the grammatical-historical-THEOLOGICAL method. At no point when we doing OT exegesis can we just suspend ‘theological’ thinking until after our exegesis is done — the exegesis itself has to be theological through and through. I think the large body of work from both Old Princeton and Westminster Seminaries demonstrate this throughout.

    I was just reading something from Bryan Estelle that makes this kind of point: “Paul develops meanings in these juxtaposed OT texts (e.g. Lev. 18:5 and Deut. 30) that go beyond what is recoverable when these texts are taken isolation from one another in the context of their immediate environment. In other words, strictly grammatical-historical exegesis of the OT texts severed from their NT context leaves us bereft of understanding” (The Law is Not Of Faith, p. 132).

    This of course seems consistent w/ the kind of theological exegesis that I was taught by Dr. Kline, Dr. Duguid, Dr. Clowney, and others. The question remains what it means to be “bereft of understanding”. From context, I don’t think they were saying OT saints were ‘bereft of understanding’ about what these verses meant. Rather, the ‘bereft of understanding’ has to do rather to how their eschatological fulfillment brings them together in ways that were not clearly grasped at the time.

    To borrow the illustration I remember Clowney once using, the Old Testament sees Mount Zion from a distance. Anyone who has driven into mountains from the plains experiences something similar. The destination is clear. What often cannot be seen fully are the various valleys that lie in-between the various peeks leading up the highest peek. Clowney used the example of the ‘comings’ of Christ. From a distance, it all looks like one gigantic coming of Christ…the one mountain from a distance. But it’s clear once you get up and close, that there is an ‘already-not yet’ eschatology that couldn’t be grasped from a distance. The general trajectory of this eschatology seems pretty clear from the OT point of view; the timing of the events as relating to its fulfillment was not.

    All of this really leads me to think that Enns is the ‘boogeyman’ in all of this. What was seen dimly-yet-truly in the case of Kline/Clowney, with Enns we need additional categories like ‘murky’ or ‘messy’! I think it’s certainly hard to square Enns’ views with anything like what Dr. Kline or Clowney taught us about the organic-eschatological trajectory of the OT. To what degree does Green et. al agree/disagree with Enns? That seems like the big elephant in the room that we’re all looking at, but unfortunately we don’t have a book like I&I to look at to see what Green actually believes from the outside. Just an article here, a lecture there….nothing very comprehensive. It wouldn’t shock me if he held some of the same views as Enns; it wouldn’t shock me if he held some views that were different. But in the absence of that information, it seems impossible to tell for sure. But we can surely see the wake causing all of this that started back when Enns was removed.

    Look, I understand there is going to be debate about whether Westminster is tightening the reigns beyond what previous generations would recognize OR whether Westminster is simply trying to get back to things ‘pre-Enns’! Obviously, the ‘friends of Pete’ think the former; people who think Pete went off the reservation from ‘old Westminster’ think the later. I would simply add, as a student of Kline in the late 90’s, he was critical of the way things were going in Philly’s OT department. So it didn’t surprise me at all that this finally came to boiling point in the 2000’s.

  43. roberty bob said,

    October 2, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    OK #41 . . .

    Isaiah preached to King Ahaz that a virgin woman known to him would give birth to a son who would be known by the name Immanuel. This would be a sign unto him. Did the word of the prophet come true in the Days of King Ahaz? I do not doubt that it did — even though Isaiah does not mention it again.

    Did anyone in the House of Ahaz, upon hearing Isaiah’s sermon, think that the prophet was saying that God was going to give King Ahaz a sign that he would never see, because it would not be shown to him in over 700 years? No, of course not. King Ahaz would see this Immanuel soon, while he yet lived. Upon seeing this Immanuel, he would know that God was present on the scene — even in the face of the impending judgment that was soon to befall the House of Ahaz.

    We can wonder about the full scope of Isaiah’s knowledge concerning the coming Christ — and he undoubtedly had astonishing insight — but you cannot take the 7:14 text and make it a prophecy about Jesus our Immanuel. You can take Matthew’s gospel text in 1:22-23 and rejoice that Jesus our Immanuel fulfills Isaiah 7:14 — so that now we can see that the first Immanuel is a type of a greater Immanuel to come, even Christ the Son of God!

    It does not trouble me that Matthew sees Jesus’ birth as a fulfilling of Isaiah 7:14. I glory in that.

    Sure, Isaiah looks far into the future in many of his prophecies. I have given the example of Isaiah 9. But Isaiah’s sermon to the House of Ahaz does not foretell the advent of Jesus Christ, only of one Immanuel who would one day be recognized as a type of our Immanuel.

  44. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 2, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Re #43: I am not sure how much we differ or are talking past each other. You see some kind of fulfillment of Isa 7:14 in Jesus but say that Isa 7:14 did not foretell the virgin conception (e.g. “you cannot take the 7:14 text and make it a prophecy about Jesus our Immanuel”). It sounds like you are saying Matthew was wrong but Matthew was right. I have no issue with some local provisional “fulfillment” of the Isa 7:14 prophesy in the days of Ahaz. My problem is that this alone is a pretty empty event: “Judah, I got good news and I got bad news: The Syrians and Assyrians will not conquer you but the Babylonians will.” It is the God who gives life to barren women (at least as far back as Sarah), a virgin, and the dead that form a thread of continuity and that thread begins has Sarah as earlier context for Isaiah. I see a local provisional sign in marrying a young woman at a time of vicious militaristic neighbors as a kind of sign of faith that God would be with Ahaz and the nation but again, that does not stop the Babylonians who fall within Isaiah’s view (I believe in one Isaiah). So what’s the big deal about Ahaz or the sign to Ahaz and where did God’s promised presence go? These are the sort of existential questions that either cause one to stumble or look for something bigger than a young woman giving birth in a time of looming war. In short, I see glimmers there to people who have faith in a gracious living God who keeps covenant.

  45. Jay Ryder said,

    October 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    With regard to the Hays article, he surmises: “The question at issue is whether the ‘second reading’ finds something in the OT that isn’t really there. Is it like a crooked detective who plants evidence, then ‘discovers’ the evidence he added after the crime.”

    However, I would say that this issue cuts both ways. An overly wrought typology can similarly err by presupposing the very same evidence that the second reading “discovers”. (For an example, see my reference to Vos’ reading of Christ and the Angel of the Lord in the earlier thread).

    In other words, either method will be equally flawed, depending on trajectory. If the theologian presupposes a heretical position, it doesn’t matter very much whether that is his initial, typological interpretive lens or their ancillary (second reading) lens. Granted, it appears that the latter approach might seem more convincing to the modern mindset of the Yale/Harvard academic.

  46. roberty bob said,

    October 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    in reply to #44 . . .

    Matthew sees the virgin conception in the birth of Jesus as the ultimate Immanuel event that harks back to an earlier [first] Immanuel event in the Days of King Ahaz. Matthew says that Jesus our Immanuel is a fulfillment of the Isaiah 7:14 prophecy.

    Usually we think of fulfillment as the coming-to-pass of a foretold event. Isaiah, however, does not preach to Ahaz about an Immanuel who would appear centuries beyond his lifetime. The House of Ahaz and the covenant nation are at a crisis point, and so the Lord has prepared a sign that will both encourage those who live by faith and rebuke those [like Ahaz] who are in rebellion. So, the Immanuel of that time was not “a pretty empty event.” It was an attention getter!

    We don’t know whether Isaiah was thinking “Ah yes, the Lord will show Ahaz this Immanuel, but this will only whet Israel’s appetite for a greater Immanuel to come.”

  47. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    In reply to Jonathan #39… In other words, you are not willing to engage in a conversation with me within the proper bounds of this blog. Then do not complain when people like me refuse to come on these blogs.

  48. greenbaggins said,

    October 2, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Jonathan, you can talk about the theological issues all you want, but personal charges of disingenuousness are out of bounds on this blog.

  49. October 2, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Guys, I’m just calling it like I see it. It is utterly inconceivable to me that anyone would suggest that accusations have not been and are not being made.

    And, Rick, if you’re going to make public comments about the actions of the board which raise very unsettling questions for *many* people, then you can’t expect to not be questioned on that.

    Come on blogs. Don’t come on blogs… I don’t care. But, you did come, and you did comment. So, I’m asking questions based on what you’ve said.

  50. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Jonathan, I have given you the courtesy of offering a dialogue on the substance of the hermeneutical issues. I also was willing to answer principial questions dealing with the seminary boards vis a vis church sessions. I have made no comments on the board action in this case because it would have been inappropriate to do so. But you have chosen to compound speculations based on your apparent ignorance of how boards function and your necessary ignorance regarding what I may or may not have done. If something seems “inconceivable to you,” you just type it and send it, even though you know next to nothing about what actually happened. (Nor, to my knowledge, do you have a right to know.) Of course, I cannot defend myself without divulging information that would be inappropriate to this forum, as you should be aware. Therefore, I have no choice but to cease interacting with you altogether. I do hope that such dialogue as has taken place has been helpful to readers, as it has been to me. Grace and peace.

  51. October 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm


    Why do you write as though you are somehow in a position above me?… You have done me no courtesy, brother. You simply chose to comment on a blog I also happened to be commenting on.

    In point of fact, I have made no speculations whatsoever. I didn’t even say anything about “how boards function,” so I have no idea how I could be betraying ignorance on that point. Actually, I don’t even know what in the world you’re talking about. I said two things that you apparently take such great exception to, 1. Accusations have been made. And, this is true on the face of the matter. 2. I asked questions based on what you have said re. the board using McCartney as the primary source in its discussions of Christotelic hermeneutics.

    This discussion was actually going quite fine, I think, until you took exception to my asking you questions with regard to why you are so certain of your interpretation of McCartney, Green, Longman, et al. I believe the questions I’ve asked here are entirely reasonable based on what you’ve said. I’m sorry if you find that offensive.

  52. greenbaggins said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    Jonathan, this is the offending portion of your comment:

    BOQ With all due respect for you as a brother and fellow minister of the gospel, I consider your claim that accusations have not been and are not being made to be disingenuous. You are a member and representative of a board that has drawn a dividing line on this issue — declared Doug Green’s views to be unconfessional without explanation beyond asserting the charge, and therefore in effect (whether intentional or not) dividing up camps between those supportive of WTS on the one hand and those supportive of McCartney, Green, and Fantuzzo on the other. EOQ

    In this portion, you accused Phillips of being disingenuous on a matter where Rick is not able to respond. You make an accusation about what the board did or did not do based on no evidence. You do not know what happened in the boardroom. And it was a personal attack on Rick. In my opinion, you owe Rick an apology for this.

  53. Jay Brantner said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I have never met a single person involved in this (including any of you), but I make my living by making and evaluating arguments, so if I may. . .

    Y’all are talking past each other something fierce right now.

    Rick Phillips appears to be trying to have a discussion on a theological issue, divorced from any of the political machinations that have resulted from previous discussion on said theological issue. As such, he says that he is just trying to understand the position and is not trying to make accusations about anyone who holds the position.

    Jonathan Bonomo is trying to discuss a theological issue specifically as it relates to said political machinations.

    Hence, Phillips says he’s not making any accusations (which, in this discussion, he appears not to be). Bonomo says Phillips is making accusations (but is referring to past discussions on the same topic in more official contexts).

    And both are frustrated that the other won’t address their points.

    Y’all. You’re just talking about different things.

    FWIW, while I am completely new to this controversy, it seems to me like (***in the context of today only, because I have no knowledge of past discussions***) Phillips misunderstands the main thrust of Bonomo et al’s position but seems to be genuinely asking for clarification. Which strikes me as a good thing.

    Bonomo seems to be asking why Phillips et al would declare something unconfessional before even coming to an understanding of it. Which strikes me as a good question.

    Maybe this would be better if y’all would decide to address both of those questions, but not at the same time? Pick one, discuss it first, then discuss the others. Y’all are both ministers of the Gospel, respectful and constructive dialogue should be totally workable, right?

    I apologize if it’s insulting to your intelligence to have somebody without seminary training come in here and try to tell you what your own arguments are. But I know from experience that sometimes being too close to things blinds people to things that are obvious. So I hope that this is helpful.


    A Brother in Christ

  54. October 2, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Perhaps I wrote unclearly, perhaps you misunderstood, perhaps a little of both….

    But, that comment was based solely on the *accusation* contained in the seminary’s own announcement of the board’s conclusions and decision… It has nothing to do with what did or did not take place behind closed doors. With regard to the discussions of the board, I only asked questions regarding whether Dan McCartney or Doug Green were consulted. I don’t see why calling a public declaration that a man’s views are unconfessional and that they “sever the organic connection between the OT and NT” an accusation demands an apology of any sort.

  55. October 2, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    While I greatly appreciate Jay’s analysis and suggestion, I must move on from this blog now. Honestly, even with how many fruitless discussions I have had about these things with people “from the other side” over the past several months, nothing could have prepared me for how this particular discussion has turned out. And it leaves me extremely discouraged on several levels. It is truly dumbfounding. In fact, the most dumbfounding conversation I have had with anybody by far in a very long list of dumbfounding conversations.

    And by the way, Lane, one parting word: I find it supremely ironic that you are now insisting on apologies from me here, when just last week I was *mocked* — even to the point of childish name calling — all because I suggested that we read our brothers’ words with charity.

    With a very heavy heart… Peace to you brothers.

  56. Joe S. said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    Wow, great post Jay!!

    A person who I used to know at WTS often said that they viewed WTS a little like a struggling couple who bravely carry on despite the the hurt and pain that can clearly be seen in people’s faces.

    I think that it is easier for people who back WTS’ actions to want to discuss the theological issue disconnected from the WTS board’s most recent actions. For people on the other side of the issues there is a deep hurt and pain that makes this type of discussion impossible.

  57. Rick Phillips said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Jay, Thanks for trying to help. I will say though that I don’t think I misunderstand the christotelic approach in its teaching that the OT itself does not contain the gospel via G-h interpretation. Every single statement made by christotelic writers affirms this. It is the point of it being christotelic rather than christocentric. And of course there was a great deal of study and interaction that preceded the board action, primarily by the faculty and administration, whose recommendation the board acted on. This is why you see Gaffin, Tipton, Beale, and now Duguid taking issue with it. So I don’t think there is much misunderstanding involved but disagreement. The misunderstanding comes from the Internet tribunal, which knows no due process. With that said, thanks.

  58. greenbaggins said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    The problem with your proposal, Jay (which otherwise has some good analysis in it) is that Rick cannot comment on the so-called “political machinations.” Anything that happened in the boardroom has to stay in the boardroom.

    Jonathan, accusation is a fairly strong word, don’t you think? From the statement, they found a view of Green’s to be out of accord with the confession. The board and Green came to a mutual agreement about him retiring next year. Accusation implies hostility (I see the statement to be bending over backward to be charitable to Green, actually). It also implies some kind of judicial process. The document does not describe any judicial process. The phrase “sever the organic connection” is an interpretation of Green’s view, not an accusation.

    Questions on whether Green was consulted by Rick are exactly the kind of questions that Rick cannot answer without impropriety.

  59. greenbaggins said,

    October 2, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Jonathan, what mocking are you talking about?

  60. October 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Last comment: Nate Shannon… Maybe two weeks ago rather than last week.

  61. Bill Smith said,

    October 2, 2014 at 5:06 pm

    Several things emerge here: 1. There is an interwining, as I asserted in another place, of the theological and personnel matters. That has been obvious, even in the author’s comments going back to September 17, and subsequent discussions have done nothing but re-inforce that. At times Dr. Phillips has engaged both matters followed by pulling back from engaging both together. At other times the Blog author and edtitor have seen fit to limit discussion to what they deem appropriate. 2. Westminster knows, and as a Board member Dr. Philiips knows, why Dr. Green’s views were determined to be outside the boundaries of the WCF, and how his “retirement” was brought about, but neither the Seminary nor Dr. Phillips are perpared at this point to make a statement or to engage thouse who ask questions – at least not beyond the comments Dr. Phillips has made on this series of Blogs. 3. It is clear the author of this Blog, it moderator, and Dr. Phillips are going to set the limits of what may be asked and said here. That is their right as this is their Blog. Whether it is wise is another question. 4. When one looks at this history of posts here, it becomes clear that one of the burdens of the author is to point out and correct certain errors he believes to be outside the bounds of acceptable Reformed orthodoxy and that the author has serious concerns that the insitutions and and denominations within the Reformed world are in danger of destructive drifit. One understands, but it is hoped that others who consider themselves, and are so far as church bodies have judged are, within the boundaries of Reformed orthodoxy, so not agree with the author on the substance of or on how critical the issues. 5. It has been curious to me that Pete Enns has been used as a foil at times for addressing the views of the Christotelic men who, so far as I can tell, do not share his views. 5. It is hard not to wonder how much more strain the rather small conservative Reformed world can bear, as I ask in my own Blog of yesterday (10/1). When does this WTS matter hit the denominations, which appears now inevitable, and then what? If a Board would dismiss a faculty member, how long before a presbytery seems to discipline a minister? 6. As one who looks at this Blog every day, and who most often reads it when looking, and as one who can see that the discussion is not going to advance, I for one would be delighted to see the Blog move on to other topics and concerns,

  62. Jay Brantner said,

    October 2, 2014 at 5:13 pm


    It is certainly possible that I am misunderstanding, since I have much less background in this than any of y’all do. But I believe you have said that according to the christotelic people, the OT doesn’t contain the Gospel (under a GH reading) at all. And, again, if I am reading correctly, at least some of the christotelic people are saying that there are OT passages that do contain the gospel under a GH reading–but there are also OT passages that don’t reference the Gospel or Christ under a GH reading but do reference the Gospel or Christ on the second reading.

    This is what I took to be a misunderstanding on your part of what your interlocutors were arguing. I certainly could be wrong, but that’s how I was reading the dialectic. If I was reading correctly, that would move the target of some of your argument. If I was reading incorrectly, then the christotelic folks here should be able to correct me easily enough.

    “Don’t call me Doug” Green Baggins,

    Certainly, there are some things that cannot be discussed in public. But the questions are certainly good questions, so asking them seems fair game up until the “I can’t discuss this in public” answer is given. At that point, some questions come off the table, other questions go on the table.

  63. RG Leverett said,

    October 2, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Knowing that Green’s forced retirement was because of the christotelic hermeneutic and knowing that many feel angry over the board’s actions then it would be shocking that no one would discuss or ask Rick Phillips about WTS’ actions. It would have been wiser for Rick to stay away from a blog discussing it if there are aspects he can’t discuss.

  64. Joe S. said,

    October 2, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Jonathan, if you knew Nate personally you would know that he is sarcastic but doesn’t mean it personally. Nate and I have carried on many a sarcastic conversation but it was all in good fun. I don’t think that he called you “Bemoano” out of spite or malice. It was just Nate being Nate.

    While I really appreciate Lanes recent attempts to dig in and deal with the theological issues surrounding Green’s “retirement”, I think that both sides are at an impasse. There is not going to be a whole lot of open minded exchange happening. Instead there will probably continue to be entrenching and supporting ones own position.

    I think that Machen wouldn’t disagree with why the WTS board made their decision but I do think that he would violently disagree with how they have done it and the utter lack of clarity as to why specifically (evidence beyond unsubstantiated claims) they are expelling their brothers Green and Fantuzzo. I don’t think WTS will ever say anymore on the issue.

    I hope that Fantuzzo can land a position where he can be treated with dignity and respect as well as appreciated for both his hard work and his talents. I’m very happy that Green is moving on. I can only imagine how stressful the past 5 or so years have been for him. Being examined by the board for a couple years and found to be inside the WCF only to be examined by the board for a couple more years and found to be outside the confession.

    I think that Bill’s point number 5 is probably the biggest question mark. What is the fallout going to be as the small conservative reformed world becomes even more balkanized and broken up by yet another line in the sand…..

  65. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    I wish we wouldn’t discuss the WTS staffing issues – simply because we can’t do so in a manner that helps.

    I would prefer we focus the hermeneutic issue. That is something we can benefit each other and others on.

  66. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Joe, completely over the top and inappropriate. Please refrain in the future.

  67. Joe S. said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:26 pm


    I acknowledge the imagery was a bit over the top but the point is a valid one. What do you do if a professor has established a pattern of systematically spearheading efforts against fellow faculty members? It makes it a little hard to live in unity…. and there are other professors there who still voted to support Enns.

  68. Joe S. said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    I will not comment further on WTS staffing. Unfortunately for many there are very strong emotions tied to the issue. They are wrestling with being theologically orphaned and because of that it can be hard to practice self control when interacting with people who had a hand in the deed.

  69. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Joe, please drop it. Thanks.

    I do not believe that anyone commenting here has any calling to discuss this topic here.

    If you believe you have a personal responsibility to explore this topic, then I suggest you talk with WTS. At best most of those commenting here are dealing with hearsay. And the one who does have some first hand knowledge has offered what in good conscience believes he can offer.

  70. Reed Here said,

    October 2, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    Joe: oops, a bit of crossed posts. Thanks for dropping it.

  71. Bill Smith said,

    October 3, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Just curious: what is the nature of a call to discuss a matter? How is such a call manifested and tested?

  72. Matt Here said,

    October 3, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    Bill, you messed up the typology of this thread. Things were perfect with 70 comments….

  73. October 4, 2014 at 12:05 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

  74. elnwood said,

    October 7, 2014 at 2:18 am

    In Sidney Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, he distinguishes typological interpretation as something that comes after grammatical-historical interpretation. For Greidanus, the first read is literary-historical interpretation, and second read is typological interpretation.

    Rules for Using Typology
    With this background, we can now formulate a few specific rules for handling typological interpretation: First, always precede typological interpretation with literary-historical interpretation (literary includes grammatical). We must know the author’s message for Israel before we look for ways to focus the message on Jesus Christ and apply it to the church. To reverse the process is to court disaster, for literary-historical interpretation is the indispensable foundation for sound typological interpretation. (Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, 257).

  75. Reed Here said,

    October 7, 2014 at 9:04 am


    (Heb 11:8-10 ESV) 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

    Seems pretty clear here that God is telling us that Abraham understood a typological component to God’s words to him. Further, Abraham knew that understanding the meaning of God’s words (singular meaning) necessitated typology.

    In other words, this passage tells us the the Bible itself does NOT support a bifurcated reading between original and final meanings. Abraham first reading led him to the final meaning.

    We may distinguish, for the sake of understanding the task of interpretation, between grammatical-historical and typologically, but we can never separate them and arrive at the intended meaning of the text, no matter how many readings we do.

  76. rfwhite said,

    October 7, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    75 Reed Here: I think you’re on to something there. The thing is, we tend to think that this discussion applies only between the Testaments, but it’s worth remembering that it applies within the OT itself too. As many would appreciate, the phenomenon of intertextuality (aka typology) is documented even within the Pentateuch itself, and between the Pentateuch and the rest of the OT canon.

  77. elnwood said,

    October 7, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    @Reed, I don’t think anyone here is arguing for a completely bifurcated reading between original and final meanings, nor the legitimacy of typological interpretation alongside of grammatical-historical interpretation.

    What I would say is that typological interpretation is a difficult thing to do, and it is often not apparent what we should take as typological and what we shouldn’t. Interpreting typologically is a whole lot easier to do after Jesus, the antitype, has come, and especially when the New Testament interprets parts of the Old Testament typologically for us.

    So, for example Isaiah 7:14. Typologically we can interpret this to be about Jesus’ birth, and we know this for sure because the New Testament interprets it this way. Duguid insists that the original audience would have known to interpret it typologically, and while Longman finds this unpersuasive.

    But if we interpret Isaiah 7:14 typologically, foreshadowing Christ’s own birth, why not the rest of the passage? Is it legitimate to interpret 7:15-16 as saying before Jesus can discern right from wrong or eat curds and honey, two kings will be laid waste?

    Say we interpret Hosea 11:1 typologically to mean God calling his son Jesus out of Egypt. Should we also interpret Hosea 11:2-5 typologically and say that when God calls Jesus out of Egypt, Jesus will turn away and worship idols? (May it never be!)

    So while I agree with you that understanding the meaning of God’s words necessitates typology, it is not altogether clear to me when typology starts and where it stops. And if it’s not clear to us, I’m not sure if it would be clear to the original audience either.

    Yes, Abraham was able to interpret typologically, but he also had the benefit of God speaking to him directly on many, many occasions, whereas we only have what is recorded in Scripture. Thus I’m not sure if we can legitimately extrapolate from Abraham to say that the original audience was able to clearly interpret typologically.

  78. October 21, 2014 at 4:37 am

    […] wanted to post a few brief points to follow-up Lane’s post on the Christotelic hermeneutic and grammatical-historical […]

  79. December 2, 2015 at 12:23 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

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