Poythress on Grammatical-Historical Exegesis

Posted by David Gadbois

I wanted to post a few brief points to follow up Lane’s post on the Christotelic hermeneutic and grammatical-historical exegesis.

1. The debate brought to mind these brief snippets from Dr. Poythress’ Understanding Dispensationalists regarding the relationship between typology and grammatical-historical exegesis. It strikes me that many of the errors of the hyper-Christotelic method are actually features of the dispensational hermeneutic method, even though this charge has been lobbed toward the critics of this method.

A Limit To Grammatical-Historical Interpretation

One more difficulty arises in relation to typology. As I argued in the previous chapter, the significance of a type is not fully discernible until the time of fulfillment. The type means a good deal at the time, but it is open-ended. One can anticipate in a vague, general way how fulfillment might come, but the details remain in obscurity. When the fulfillment does come, it throws additional light on the significance of the original symbolism.

In other words, one must compare later Scripture to earlier Scripture to understand everything. Such comparison, though it should not undermine or contradict grammatical-historical interpretation, goes beyond its bounds [emphasis-DG]. It takes account of information not available in the original historical and cultural context. Hence grammatical-historical interpretation is not enough. It is not all there is to interpretation. True, grammatical-historical interpretation exercises a vital role in bringing controls and refinements to our understanding of particular texts. But we must also undertake to relate those texts forward to further revelation that they anticipate and prepare for.


Perhaps even more forcefully, he says that the grammatical-historical method itself contains a built-in open-endedness that is amenable to the fulfillments that the NT teaches:

I claim that there is sound, solid, grammatical-historical ground for interpreting eschatological fulfillments of prophecy on a different basis than preeschatological fulfillments. The Israelites of Jeremiah’s day should have absorbed (albeit often unconsciously) the earthshaking, transformational character of the eschatological coming of God. It is therefore a move away from grammatical-historical interpretation to insist that (say) the “house of Israel” and the “house of Judah” of Jeremiah 31:31 must with dogmatic certainty be interpreted in the most prosaic biological sense, a sense that an Israelite might be likely to apply as a rule of thumb in short-term prediction.

What I am calling for, then, is an increased sense for the fact that in the original (grammatical-historical) context, eschatologically oriented prophecy has built into it extra potential. With respect to eschatology, people in the Old Testament were not in the same position as they were for short-range prophecy. Eschatological prophecy had an open-ended suggestiveness. The exact manner of fulfillment frequently could not be pinned down until the fulfillment came.


2. One resource that I cannot recommend highly enough on this topic is the audio recording of the recent Christ the Center conference on the subject of Christotelism. In fact, I have benefited greatly from all of the Christ the Center podcasts. Lane Tipton, in particular, was not someone who was “on my radar” until I heard him speak on these podcasts, and I’m very glad that I’ve received exposure to his various insights, especially on this matter. You will note that he does not consider the “Christotelic” hermeneutic, per se, to be the problem. But, rather, the problem is when the Christotelic hermeneutic is not joined with a Christocentric hermeneutic. He argues that the bare Christotelic hermeneutic (what I would term the hyper-Christotelic hermeneutic) cannot account for the fact that Jesus and the Apostles held the Jews culpable for failing to identify Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.

3. Robert Reymond, in his Systematic Theology, outlines 16 points (pgs. 528-535 in the 1st edition) in defense of the proposition that “the requisite condition for salvation is identical in both the Old and New Testaments; the elect were saved, are saved, and will be saved only by grace through faith in the (anticipated or accomplished) work of the Messiah.” The foil here is, again, the dispensational view. But I wonder how the hyper-Christotelic view can account for the passages that are marshaled in defense of the proposition that the object of faith of the Old Testament saints (i.e. the Messiah) is the same object of faith shared with the post-Incarnation saints. Another way of framing this argument is: does not the unity of the covenant of grace exclude the hyper-Christotelic hermeneutic? We can grant that the OT saints only knew a shadowy, incomplete, shrouded-in-the-mist-of-the-future Messiah. But if Jesus of Nazareth is merely something the NT authors project backward into the OT, how can it be said that the NT saints share the same Messiah, the same object of faith, as the OT saints?

Reymond writes:

The last thing that Paul would have wanted anyone to believe is that his was a “new doctrine.” In light of these Old Testament examples it would have never dawned on Paul to say: “We know how the New Testament saint is saved-he is saved by grace through faith in Christ, but how was the Old Testament saint saved?” Instead he would have reversed the order of the sentence: “We know how the Old Testament saint was saved- he was saved by grace through faith in Messiah; we had better make sure that we are saved the same way, for there is no other way to be saved.  pg. 528


  1. roberty bob said,

    October 21, 2014 at 6:56 am

    The OT saints believed God, and trusted Him to provide and to make good on all of His promises. These provisions / promises included an atoning sacrifice for sin, a king on David’s throne, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, and so forth. It was [and is] the joy of NT saints to proclaim our Lord Jesus Christ as God’s YES to all of these promises. Let the House of Israel know that this Jesus . . . is Lord and Christ!

  2. rickchaim@juno.com said,

    October 21, 2014 at 9:40 am

    Please define “Christotelic” and hyper-Christotelic”.

    davejes1979 posted: “Posted by David Gadbois I wanted to post a few brief points to follow-up Lane’s post on the Christotelic hermeneutic and grammatical-historical exegesis. 1. The debate brought to mind these brief snippets from Dr. Poythress’ Understanding Dispensat”

  3. RG Leverett said,

    October 21, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    Who are representatives of hyper-Christotelic? Can you give examples & references from their works that show that they are hyper-Christotelic?

  4. David Gadbois said,

    October 21, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    #2 and #3: Did you guys listen to the conference audio? I am referring to those that Tipton refers to who do not have a Christocentric hermeneutic to balance and complement their Christotelic hermeneutic. Tipton doesn’t use the “hyper” term, but it is appropriate inasmuch as Christotelism is not itself bad.

    There is, no doubt, a continuum of views but certainly Enns and McCartney would reside on the unorthodox side of that continnum.

  5. elnwood said,

    October 21, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    For those keeping score: first, it was called Christotelic, then GreenBaggins started calling it the Two-Readings View (TRV). Since it is now acknowledged that a Christotelic hermeneutic is not in itself bad, and two-readings is not bad in of itself (cf. Ferguson), the new term of choice is hyper-Christotelic.

    @David Gadbois, I came to a different conclusion from reading Poythress regarding McCartney’s hyper-Christotelicism.

    In particular, Poythress seems to be affirming McCartney’s main point in his 2003 ETS paper: that grammatical-historical interpretation is not sufficient, and that typology is necessary to go beyond grammatical-historical interpretation.

    Poythress: Hence, grammatical-historical interpretation is not enough. It is not all there is to interpretation. True, grammatical-historical interpretation exercises a vital role in bringing controls and refinements to our understanding of particular texts. But we must also undertake to relate those texts forward to further revelation that they anticipate and prepare for.

    McCartney: There is certainly a necessity for us to do disciplined grammatical-historical interpretation. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking that grammatical-historical interpretation of the Old Testament is going to give us all we need … The answer will not come by trying to squeeze the apostles into a modern mold, but by recognizing the nature of their non-grammatical-historical activity and its connectedness to the text as a divine text, one that bears reference to a divine history that pushes beyond the limits of what grammatical-historical method can discover.

    Poythress’s point about dispensationalism is not that it undermines or contradicts G-H interpretation (the part of the quote you emphasized). A dispensationalist usually seeks to put everything under the umbrella of grammatical-historical interpretation, which both Poythress and McCartney critique.

    For example, McCartney critiques dispensationalist John Walton:
    One recent writer (John Walton) has even gone so far as to deny the term “hermeneutics” to anything which is not a strict application of grammatical-historical method.

  6. David Gadbois said,

    October 22, 2014 at 4:02 am

    Yes, perhaps I should have been more clear- the Christotelic hermeneutic is the same thing Lane (Keister) referred to as the Two Readings View.

    Your analysis ignores the real problem with McCartney’s view.  He accepts the validity of typology, sure, but the problem arises in both how he define and conceives of typology and its relationship to the grammatical-historical method.  If typology is only a retrospective projection by the interpretive community, and not intrinsic to OT revelation, then we are dealing with a truly liberal and unorthodox view.  Poythress, on the other hand, is saying that typology arises out of and, indeed, is demanded by grammatical-historical interpretation.

    Tipton summarizes the problem (transcribed from the audio):

    McCartney says that a type only becomes a type once something has superseded it and it is recognized by the interpretive community.  And then the interpretive community realizes that what was previous turns out to be not the final, consummate stage of things, it’s only a type.  And then interprets their experience perhaps as now the final stage.  So that typology…is not intrinsic to the revelatory process, but is rather something that is known only after the type has become a type, after something has superseded it.  

    ….So typology in the nature of the case is [according to Christotelists] an ex post facto reality that is imagined, the connections are imaginative connections created by the interpetive community…Versus the [correct] idea that typology is intrinsic to the organic, progressive revelatory process itself.  That typology is built into the history of special revelation.  That the types are crafted by God, ordained by God, and function in themselves to be harbingers of things to come.  To be patterns divinely ordained that future events will follow and supersede.  And so, the way I ask the question, “is typology only retrospective?”  It’s what McCartney says, Brueggemman says the same, Von Rad says the same, Enns says the same.  Or is typology not only retrospective but intrinsic?  You see the point?  It’s not only something you can see after the fact but something that is built into the nature of revelation from the outset.

    ….We say the typical connections intrinsically and organically exist, between type and antitype.  And the Christotelists from the liberal tradition moving into the way that tradition is co-opted by Enns and McCartney and others, they say no, those typical connections are supplied by the creative interpretive community.

  7. elnwood said,

    October 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    David Gadbois,

    Yes, according to Tipton, McCartney denies that typology is intrinsic to OT revelation, and says that typology is something imagined by the interpretive community.

    However, I believe a careful reading of McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper shows that he does see typology intrinsic to OT revelation, and that Christ as the Center of OT, and not as something imagined by the interpretive community.

    So McCartney writes:
    If we do not adopt the viewpoint of Jesus and the apostles that Christ’s death and resurrection is the key focus of the Old Testament, that Christ is himself the centerpiece of all God’s promises, that Christ is the true Israel, true Son of God, that the meaning of the biblical texts for the present-day people of God has to do with our relation to God in Christ, then how can our interpretation be deemed in any sense Christian?

    And also:
    Just as a good mystery writer knows the solution to the puzzle even as he lays out the material, so the Bible’s divine Author knew the end of the story before he set out the process of revealing the story in time. 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.

    I think where Tipton and others get confused regarding McCartney is that McCartney distinguishes between what can be understood from the OT via G-H from what can be understood by typology, and especially typology after the fact, when the typology becomes clearer.

    So when McCartney says that, in many passages you can’t see Christ via G-H, others misunderstand him to say that Christ isn’t there. But that’s not what McCartney is saying at all. He’s saying that Christ is there, but you don’t see him if you strictly use G-H (and not typology), and you don’t see him clearly in typology until you see the anti-type.

  8. RG Leverett said,

    October 22, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks Elwood. Seems like w reasonable explanation of McCartney. I had McCartney back in the late 80s early 90s. I find the critique that he’s not orthodox unconvincing. It seems to me that much of this controversy stems from a reding the worst in one sides work. This is a theological controversy that is much about nothing.

  9. roberty bob said,

    October 22, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    ” . . . the fact that Jesus and the Apostles held the Jews culpable for failing to identify Jesus as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.”

    They were not held culpable for failing to identify Jesus as the Messiah, but for refusing to believe in him once he was revealed. Not even the Apostles had the ability to identify Jesus as the Messiah on their own; this knowledge was given to them from God in heaven.

  10. roberty bob said,

    October 22, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Robert Reymond said that the OT saint was saved by grace through faith in the Messiah [or Christ]. So, then, this saint was a Messianic Jew. Right? Or, should we just come right out and call our OT saint a Christian?

    Can a person have as the object of his faith a Messiah who has not yet been revealed? How can he call upon one whose name he does not yet know? As I recall, people of faith were not called Christians until after the ascension of our Lord — specifically among the believers in Antioch.

    It has always bothered my that the Christian faith is differentiated from OT Judaism, as though these should be regarded as two different religions. I’ve always believed that the OT covenant people were of the same faith as the NT covenant people because there is one solid tree trunk of true religion [Paul’s olive tree in Romans] in all creation. What, then, is the best designation for the one true faith? What name is able to encompass both the true faith of OT times and the Christian faith of today?

    The Christian Faith?
    Judeo-Christian Faith?

  11. Joe S. said,

    October 23, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Some of you guys quote Tipton like he is speaking gospel truth. It is important to understand that Tipton is speaking from a biased and narrow viewpoint. Just because Tipton says that McCartney says something doesn’t make it so. It is just Tipton’s interpretation of McCartney. Be a Berean and read McCartney for yourself….

    Here is an opposing viewpoint to attempt to balance things out:



  12. David Gadbois said,

    October 23, 2014 at 3:28 am

    RG, even if the critics are wrong about McCartney, that hardly entails that this controversy is much ado about nothing. There are, by even the admission of critics, far worse figures than McCartney.

    Elnwood, it is hardly definitive evidence to cite an 11-year-old paper from McCartney. 11 years ago, one could even be forgiven for identifying Enns as orthodox. And even that article is not without its problems. Indeed, inasmuch as Tipton has personal relationships and correspondence with McCartney and the other Christotelic folks in the presbyterian sphere, wouldn’t that potentially allow us access to their up-to-date views?

    Speaking of Enns, McCartney co-wrote another problematic article with him back in 2001.

  13. RG Leverett said,

    October 23, 2014 at 7:03 am

    While there may be room for debate regarding Dan McCartney’s writings I’ve seen nothing that warrants the extreme reaction that leads to calling him “hyper” or not “orthodox.” At best this is an overreaction to Pete Enns and at worst it seems to stem from a desire to return WTS to some sort of pre-Clowney state.

  14. October 23, 2014 at 10:57 am

    “Tipton has personal relationships and correspondence with McCartney”? Really? David, you don’t really know what has gone on at WTS the past several years, except from an outsider’s perspective. I assure you that McCartney does not believe he has been represented fairly or accurately. Further, taking issue with presenting that 2003 paper as evidence of McCartney’s orthodoxy is fairly humorous, given that that paper is actually the main source of contention. Tipton has published and spoken against that specific piece many times. Rick Philips recently called it the “main source of record in the Christotelic debate.” The notion that anybody should just accept Tipton’s word for it and embrace his critique as accurate just because he taught in the same building as McCartney for a while — especially considering the contention between Tipton and his colleagues throughout those years to the present day — is, well, let me put it nicely: not very smart.

  15. Ginger said,

    October 23, 2014 at 11:04 am

    What they are suggesting seems to be a type of Kantian transcendence. Which isn’t surprising if your consider the American hatred of limits.


  16. David Gadbois said,

    October 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

    Jonathan, you will note that I did not assert that Tipton had credibility “just because he taught in the same building as McCartney for a while.” Get a grip. Tipton mentions specifically that he has had conversations and correspondence with these men. And that testimony is just one line of evidence.

  17. roberty bob said,

    October 23, 2014 at 11:17 am

    [ Narrow is the lane that keeps the reformed doctors of theology within the bounds of orthodoxy, and few doctors there be that find it. ]

    — attributed to one of the self-appointed boundary setters of orthodoxy named Lane, or perhaps to the other one also named Lane

  18. October 23, 2014 at 11:42 am

    David, you cited Tipton’s supposed relationships, conversations, and correspondence — none of which anybody has any access to, nor do we know the content or nature or time of these supposed conversations — as evidence of the veracity of his understanding. But that is in fact no evidence whatsoever, especially considering that these men believe their views have been misrepresented. We must go on what is currently available to us. I’ve actually had lots of correspondence with the very same men myself over the past several years, but I haven’t put that forward as evidence that I’m right.

  19. elnwood said,

    October 23, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    David Gadbois, my point was simply that what Tipton says regarding McCartney’s views do not seem to be in keeping with McCartney’s published work, specifically his 2003 ETS paper.

    Have you read McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper? If so, do you agree with my assessment, that what Tipton said regarding McCartney doesn’t represent McCartney’s published views?

    I would assume you do because you suggest that Tipton may be using other sources, but I don’t want to speak for you.

    I think it’s very important to read and understand both sides of this debate. Proverbs 18:17 says, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.” Biblical wisdom compels us to examine both sides before we judge, and calls us to test to see whether what has been said is true.

  20. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 23, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    I listened to the Tipton lecture. It was about 2 hrs long though the most important stuff comes in the first hour. It mentions McCartney and perhaps the issues in some prior posts are interactive with his comments but that is not how I remember the lecture. Most of what I remember is clearing up misconceptions about what the debate Christotelic debate entails and problems illustrated by Enns. McCartney is mentioned but those remarks did not stick in my memory. That could just be due to my age and faulty memory but if he said anything major it probably would have stuck. He does not mention Green at all which I suppose may reflect the present working situation both are in. That renders the views posted of Logan and Barker re Green somewhat beside the point of this thread—or at least beside the points Tipton made in his lecture. I found the Tipton lecture helpful and hope the critics have listened to it. Not knowing that much of Green’s position, there are a few questions that I would pose if I were examining man for office who represented himself as devoted to the Christotelic hermeneutic, e.g. “Are Apostolic hermeneutics simply adapting hermeneutics of 2TJ culture (such as Qumran), or are Apostolic hermeneutics at a more fundamental level reflective of a God given revelatory design and method pre-dating the 2TJ literature? Let’s go through WCF I (especially I.9) sentence by sentence and see if your hermeneutic matches the WCF….”
    I wonder how many people now attacking WTS defended Enns a few years ago. I am not hearing any mea culpas here. I trust the theological judgment of the current WTS administration more than the one that brought us Enns. The seeds of his heresy were present in 1996 or there about.

  21. Joe S. said,

    October 24, 2014 at 12:10 am


    I think the seeds of Enn’s heresy goes back much farther then 1996. For a while the WTS bookstore was selling CD recordings of a WTS hosted Bible conference where Moises Silva was endorsing an incarnational view of scripture. I wonder how far back in WTS history an incarnational view of scripture goes…it definitely predates Enns.

  22. elnwood said,

    October 24, 2014 at 2:22 am


    You wrote “I trust the theological judgment of the current WTS administration.”

    I, for one, would also like to trust the theological judgment of the current WTS administration. However, for there to be trust, there needs to be transparency.

    For example, regarding Enns, we all knew that the debate was about the orthodoxy of Incarnation and Inspiration. Everyone read it, people wrote reviews, and Enns debated it at the ETS conference and in the ETS journal. So when WTS finally gave him the boot, people may have disagreed, but we all knew what the debate was about. You didn’t have to just “trust the theological judgment of the WTS administration” because you could read I&I and decide for yourself.

    Regarding Green, there was no such discussion before he was forced to retire, and even months afterwards it still isn’t clear what Green wrote or said that warranted his forced retirement.

    We were told that the WTS administration asked Green to revise his Psalm 23 paper. Dozens of former faculty and students of WTS read the paper, and signed a statement saying that they thought the Psalm 23 paper was within bounds. Later we were told that the WTS administration didn’t ever judge the orthodoxy of the Psalm 23 paper at all. So why did they ask Green to revise it?

    We were told that they judged Green’s statement to the “Affirmations and Denials” to be out of bounds. Yet, they have not released his statement, so we don’t know what he wrote that was out of bounds. Further, we were told that just four years prior in 2009, the board approved the statement by a vote of 18-0. So why did they change their mind? What made them revisit the decision at all? I had assumed that it was the 2010 publication of the Psalm 23 paper, but now we are told that the Psalm 23 paper was never judged. So what, then?

    In this thread, I have pointed out that Tipton’s statements regarding McCartney’s views do not accurately represents McCartney’s views in his 2003 ETS paper. If Tipton is inaccurately representing McCartney, then it puts doubt in my mind that the WTS adminstration accurately understands Green’s Christotelic view.

    Again, I would like to trust the WTS administration and understand how they came to their decision. However, they need to be more forthcoming about some very important questions:
    1. Why was Green asked to revise his Psalm 23 paper if it were never judged?
    2. Why did the board reconsider and change its mind so quickly from its unanimous 2009 decision?
    3. What did exactly Green write in his statement that the board deemed out of bounds?

    And regarding the Tipton audio, what is Tipton’s source for claiming that “McCartney says that a type only becomes a type once something has superseded it and it is recognized by the interpretive community”? If it’s not McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper, then what?

  23. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 24, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Re 22 and incarnational: Postings can be hard to interpret when it comes to irony and stuff like that so I don’t know exactly what is intended. Just affirming that Scripture is incarnational does not tell us much (pro or con) unless we know what the person’s way of teasing out that statement is. People have lined up differently as to the accuracy or utility of the incarnational analogy. If “to err is human” is your view, then the Enns incarnational analogy begins with a faulty view of the incarnation to begin with. I postdated Silva’s time at WTS. Though I sometimes wondered about his approach, what little I read of him did not indicate the flawed version of incarnational analogy I think Enns represents.

  24. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 24, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Re 23: I simply do not know enough of McCartney to address some of this. What I recall from Tipton’s lecture is that viewed the approach taken to 2TJ in the hermeneutical enterprise (esp Qumran) as a marker of where the bad view of Christotelic emerges in various proponents of that hermeneutic. Since that resonated with my concerns, I found him persuasive. Anyone in doubt should just listen to the lecture. As to transparency at WTS, this calls up the issues of previous threads. From my experiencing of dealing with issues of controversy and having heard a thing or two about the previous controversy at WTS, I think it would be acting as a poor fiduciary for the Board to legally expose their institution to potential litigation in a world filled with hungry lawyers. So I think WTS has tried to give as much information as might reasonably be expected. We all are curious and would like to know more. My denomination does not allow doctrinal trials to be held in executive session. But WTS has the inbuilt difficulty of not being a denominational seminary so it must muddle along the best it can with such things. That’s life.

  25. October 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Guys, you have to understand the history here. McCartney and Green are both without question in Tipton’s crosshairs in all this. And McCartney’s 2003 paper is without any doubt Tipton’s main source for assessing McCartney’s views. Why? Because in 2011 Tipton published an essay directed specifically against that very 2003 paper (Btw, Why critique a 2003 paper in 2011? I think the reason will be apparent in just a moment.), and his critiques of McCartney in that essay have simply been repeated in various venues throughout the years since then. This latest audio is no exception, though gladly with some more balance and an appropriate plea for charity and patience in discussion.

    But, note the timing of all this. Tipton began the anti-Christotelic tour in 2010, lecturing against these views in class, writing the essay for the OPC 75th, doing internet podcasts on the topic, and even posting a video (for his doctrine of Christ class, Feb. 2011) on the seminary’s website directed against Christotelism. In fact, the first few class hours in both doctrine of Christ and doctrine of Salvation when I was at WTS (I took these in 2010-2011) were devoted to “the objective presence of Christ in the OT,” over against dispensationalism on the one hand and Christotelism on the other. Again, this all began in 2010. Consider for a moment: What action of the Board occurred the previous year? And here’s the thing. Everybody at the seminary at the time knew that all these efforts were directed toward Green. When we WTS students heard the term “Christotelic,” we thought, “Doug Green” (and our other two OT profs, to a somewhat lesser degree). And Tipton never once made any effort to balance out his statements by even remotely implying that he was not directing them toward his current colleagues in the OT department.

  26. Reed Here said,

    October 24, 2014 at 9:38 am

    All, cease and desist public ruminations about the motives of ANY ONE in this subject: Green, Tipton, WTS board, or McCartney (et.al.)

    It shames me to have to point out that this is a form of gossip. To engage in it willingly IS of the worst sins imagineable.

    I’ll not assume anyone is engaging in its knowingly. I will say you now have heard what I think of it. If you wish to debate the nature of gossip with me, contact me privately. BUT CEASE AND DESIST HERE!

  27. RG Leverett said,

    October 24, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Its fine if you don’t want WTS or their decisions discussed here. Your blog your rules.
    But its another to accuse those who question WTS the board and president of gossip and one of ” worst sins imaginable.” Its perfectly reasonable for men like Sam Logan, Will Barker, alumni and supporters to question WTS especially if WTS has a standard that is stricter than the WCF and when questions are met with stony silence.

  28. October 24, 2014 at 10:11 am


    I was not even remotely engaging in gossip. I was giving publicly accessible information — all these things can be very easily verified, except perhaps my own interpretation of events, which is by no means unique to me. People can make of it whatever they will. I’m simply giving my own interpretation of events that have occurred (publicly) and things I saw (publicly) take place with my own eyes, and the eyes of many other students. Why these sorts of things should be considered out of bounds in this discussion is beyond me.

    But, I will leave it at that.

  29. October 24, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Reed, since you requested private contact, I would like to. Please amil me as I can’t locate your contact info. on this site. I take great exception to your accusation and consider it completely out of line.

  30. October 24, 2014 at 10:22 am

    “email” me… (“amil” goes to show what I’ve been writing about lately, I guess!)

  31. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    One correction to #23, last sentence” change postdated to pre-dated. On other matters: Since the Tipton audio lecture is a major point of the initial post, I have been interested in clarifying or defending Tipton in terms of that and in terms of its content. Many other sources and discussions are outside my field of awareness and even the lecture is lengthy and it is hard to remember all the points made. Tipton’s points about a “both/and” (Christocentric and Christotelic) mirror Lillback’s position paper remarks. The lecture seemed to me to be more about principles than people, though obviously people who are out of accord with the “both/and” are implicitly criticized and in some cases named. The “both/and” is a major point that I remember. The remarks on 2TJ are also about principle. A “brute fact” approach was mentioned, if memory serves. Are all of these ideas advanced by Tipton agreeable concerns to those on this list? If so, then presumably the individuals on the list finding fault with Tipton think those concerns are not germane to people they think have been misunderstood or mischaracterized. In short, those principles and their relevance are worth discussion. For the most part, I have not seen that.

  32. Reed Here said,

    October 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    RG and Jonathan, thanks for your comments. Blog rules, reminded repeatedly. Do you care to abide by?

    (Stuart, please, you too. Pls don’t respond to to the comments dealing with the WTS decision. )

  33. October 24, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Stuart: To be clear, I was not meaning to insinuate any impure motives for Tipton (though given Reed’s reaction I guess he assumed I was). I am fully willing to say that he has been and is doing what he thinks is right, with a clear conscience, and that his focus is the underlying principles/presuppositions that he really does see to be at play in all this. So, that wasn’t the point of my above statement about the recent history of these discussions. However, the principles/presuppositions that Tipton thinks are dangerous cannot be divorced from the men who hold and teach them (or rather, who *purportedly* hold and teach them). I don’t think it’s any secret that Tipton thinks Christotelism as it has been advocated by his former colleagues at WTS is dangerous, and therefore the teaching of those men is dangerous, and therefore it is desirous to not have such men teaching at confessional Reformed seminaries. This is not gossip. It is just reality. Of course, I disagree with Tipton’s take on the issues, but I am not and was not saying he’s been inspired by any malicious intentions.

  34. Reed Here said,

    October 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    RG: I said nothing about comments made by men elsewhere. Clearly I spoke ONLY to comments on this blog.

  35. elnwood said,

    October 24, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Reed, thank you for bringing us back on topic.

    Stuart(OPC), I’m going to bring this discussion back to Tipton’s audio, and in particular to his comments regarding McCartney.

    I wrote the following to David Gadbois:
    My point was simply that what Tipton says regarding McCartney’s views do not seem to be in keeping with McCartney’s published work, specifically his 2003 ETS paper.

    Stuart(OPC), I directed the following questions to David Gadbois, but feel free to answer it as well.
    Have you read McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper? If so, do you agree with my assessment, that what Tipton said regarding McCartney doesn’t represent McCartney’s published views?

  36. RG Leverett said,

    October 24, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    If its malicious gossip to discuss the situation here then by implication it would be malicious gossip to discuss it elsewhere.

    I’ve made few comments here and don’t believe I’ve crossed your line and I acknowledged above that you have a right to set the rules. My objection was the implication that the discussion of a public issue was in your own among “worst sins imaginable.”

  37. RG Leverett said,

    October 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    in your own words among the “worst sins imaginable.”

  38. Reed Here said,

    October 24, 2014 at 2:26 pm

    RG, feel free to interpret my words. I disagree with you.

    And yes, gossip is one of the worst sins imagineable. No need to read my motives by adding the qualifier “malicious”. Like accusing me of accusing the former president of WTS of gossiping, you are reading into my words, and very unfairly.

    And no, I’m not interested in debating you on this.

  39. RG Leverett said,

    October 24, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I apologize I was not trying to read your motives by inserting the malicious since I thought we could both agree that gossip is by harmful and malicious.
    I also wasn’t trying to accuse you of making accusations toward others not engaged here. If it came across that I way it was not my intent but merely that I didn’t see gossip here and that any number of people who care about WTS are asking questions. I also don’t want to debate but wanted to clarify. Thanks.

  40. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 24, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Re 35: There are some limits to what I can say. I have a vague memory of the McCartney references in the 2 hr lecture (other stuff stood out for me); I glanced at the 2003 paper a few hrs ago; I have not bothered to read much of McCartney in general. I’d like to get around to re-reading the joint article he did with Enns on Sailhammer sometime (the first and only read was a few years ago). Just scanning the 2003 ETS paper nothing shocking jumped out. I was curious if a 2TJ basis for Apostolic hermeneutics would be pushed and I don’t recall a strong argument that way, though perhaps a hint. All of this does not allow me to condemn Tipton or McCartney. It just means I would have to study a lot more than I have time for at present to arrive at any conclusions about the accuracy of Tipton’s reflections. I imagine Tipton has studied this quite a bit. By my experience scholars do not typically invent positions for the other guy out of whole cloth—they make inferences that the other guy thinks are unfair; or conversely they dispute the assertion of the other guy (X says Y but really he denies Y based on later statements and context). Sometimes they talk past each other, e.g. because the same terms are used differently by each. “Typology” might be such a term. I suspect the private inter faculty discussions during Enns thing some did serious shaping of how faculty came to view the positions of each other. In #20 I mentioned the kinds of questions I would ask of “suspicious” people if they were a candidate in my presbytery. Example: “Are Apostolic hermeneutics simply adapting hermeneutics of 2TJ culture (such as Qumran), or are Apostolic hermeneutics at a more fundamental level reflective of a God given revelatory design and method pre-dating the 2TJ literature.” I am curious if anyone has a clue from published writings how the different names that have been mentioned would answer this. My sense is that Enns truly fits the “brute fact” approach Tipton mentioned in his lecture. It certainly seems to me that those who want to retain Christotelic but Christocentic, not so much, fit a brute fact approach. That is my inference but scanning the 2003 paper did not answer the question either way for me. It seemed more cautious than Enns.

  41. October 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Here are some statements from Tipton specifically regarding the McCartney paper in question that might help. These are from Tipton’s essay, “The Gospel and Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics.”

    Tipton: For McCartney “Typology for McCartney is not grammatical historical because the driving force of typology is fulfillment in Christ in the New Testament, which is set disjunctively over against the original historical meaning of the Old Testament.” (202)

    My comment: “Disjunctively over against?” Is this a fair representation of what McCartney actually says? It seems far more accurate to say that McCartney posits a real connection between the two (which is in fact literally what he says in the paper.

    Tipton: McCartney “has presupposed something other than the history of special redemptive revelation as the ‘original context’ for understanding the Old Testament Scriptures.” (204)

    My comment: What, exactly?

    Tipton: “It seems that McCartney advocates a notion of history in the Old Testament that is more akin to the Kantian notion of phenomena (i.e., history devoid of any distinctive theological content) than the history of special revelation.” (204)

    My comment: Oh my. Really?

    Tipton: “Constructing typology merely in epistemic categories as McCartney does betrays the Enlightenment turn toward the knowing human subject rather than the revelatory activity of the triune God.” (207)

    My comment: This completely misconstrues what McCartney actually argues: which is that type and antitype *as such* are really and redemptive-historically connected, but that we only see the full meaning of the type in light of the antitype.

    Tipton: “On McCartney’s model the witness to Christ in the Old Testament is understood as a potential one that is actualized after and in light of the fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (210)

    My comment: Again, this runs directly counter to much of what McCartney says in his paper. He argues that the OT always was and is about Christ — that was the divine intention. What changes post-resurrection is our understanding, not the meaning of the text as such.

    Tipton’s conclusion re. McCartney: “The net result of McCartney’s approach is that he must find some way to get Christ in the back door of the Old Testament, having denied him access from the front door. Hence, he forges his wrong-headed Christotelic hermeneutic based on a host of biblically and theologically erroneous presuppositions.” (212)

    My comment: Well, gee, that’s a great way to advance discussion and encourage ongoing dialogue, isn’t it?

    In response to the broad contours of Tipton’s critique, I offer my own interpretation of McCartney that was linked above by Joe S..

  42. roberty bob said,

    October 24, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Does anyone know how many wrong-headed and theologically erroneous presuppositions there are in a host? Well, Lane Tipton has been keeping track of how many of them Dan McCartney has, and it has been determined that they tally up to an entire host of them. My guess is that a host is somewhere in the hundreds and thousands, a multitude too numerous to count.

    Also, Lane Tipton has watched Dan McCartney attempting the impossible simultaneous act of blocking Jesus from ringing the front door bell while sneaking Jesus around to the back door of the house so that he can get in.

    I remember the seminary professor who bombed his theological enemies into oblivion with shock-and-awe efficiency. The fire-bombing was deserved because the enemy was standing where he didn’t belong: disjunctively over against!

    I’m just reacting to the Tipton quotations offered in post #41. Brutal!

  43. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 24, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    I guess I’ll partially answer my question in #40. Just scanned the 2001 WTJ McCartney-Enns article. Among other things there is this:
    “Why is it deemed problematic to acknowledge that they [Jesus and the Apostles] interpreted Scripture using methods similar to those used at Qumran for example, especially given the great similarities in their eschatological outlooks? Why is the hermeneutical context of the first century, in which the apostles thought and wrote, so easily ignored when the hermeneutical question of how they handled their Scripture is precisely the point of discussion?”
    I think this is the sort of thing that leads to the “brute fact” concern. If inspired authors are merely using a method from Qumran which at Qumran was stumbled upon because they were dealing with biblical revelation, it probably is no big deal. Akin to a conservative theologian using insights gleaned from a liberal theologian because the liberal is still dealing with an inspired text however much he corrupts major parts of it. But this 2TJ approach to hermeneutics seems to avoid or minimize talking about the overarching primal design of God’s revelation. Such a design supplies the organic connections that some want to minimize or deny.

  44. Joe S. said,

    October 25, 2014 at 12:05 am

    This is one of the things that has bothered from the beginning of this discussion. Positions are being attributed to people without direct substation. When the evidence is closely examined it is clear the attributed positions may not, in fact, represent what the other party has been communicating. The exercise in post #41clearly demonstrates this.

    Reed, you came down very hard on gossip. How would you react if, in a conversation, the opposing party asserted that you where saying things that you, in fact, were not. I cannot help but imagine that you would be extremely frustrated.

    Let’s turn to the discussion at hand…if McCartney’s views are not being accurately represented in Tipton’s dealing with them, and I think that post #41 has started to build the case that this is so, it should give us all pause in dealing with these things. I would hope that future discussions are based off of charitable, fair, and accurate representations of the opposing view point.

    #42, Do Tipton’s quotes come across as charitable, fair, and accurate in regards to his treatment of McCartney?

  45. roberty bob said,

    October 25, 2014 at 12:40 am

    #44 asks #42 (me) “Do Tipton’s quotes come across as charitable, fair, and accurate in regards to his treatment of McCartney?”

    No. It’s a hit piece, a hatchet job, being tarred with a broad brush.

    I just finished reading the supposedly problematic Enns / McCartney critique of Sailhammer on the Hosea / Matthew out-of-Egypt-have-I-called-my-son passage. I found the article to be sensible, not at all controversial, and in keeping with the principles of solid Reformed hermenutics. I can hear the heavenly host(s) rejoice!

  46. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 25, 2014 at 6:26 am

    Since I don’t have the book with Tipton’s essay, I am reliant on a secondary source that is critical of him This is a bit removed from the start of the thread in which Poythress is mentioned (never to be heard about again) and Tipton is mentioned in terms of his lecture. I thought the lecture was fine. Guess I’ll have to buy the book now (more royalties for Tipton, Yay!!!).

  47. Reed Here said,

    October 25, 2014 at 9:02 am

    Joe, debate position, not person. If you think an argument is wrong, show that.

  48. October 25, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Stuart, you certainly shouldn’t just take my word for it, so I’m glad you’re going to read the volume for yourself. Just so I’m clear, though: my reason for providing those quotes was part of the argument I made earlier on this thread: the reason the lecture is problematic from the perspective of somebody who has been engaged in this debate for five years now is because it is not an isolated incident. It is part of a larger project, dating back to at least 2010, which does have the specific McCartney paper that is in question in this discussion as the centerpiece of critique. I’m just imploring everybody to read McCartney for themselves (and in concert with the rest of the man’s work) to see if Tipton’s characterizations of the work of his former are fair or accurate, rather than just take his word for it and interpret their work through the consummate eschatological hermeneutical lens Tipton has provided — a Tipto-telic re-reading, if you will.

    The most fundamental problem I see with Tipton’s critique (in addition to isolating the most problematic sounding statement’s from McCartney’s own qualifications in the paper) is that he takes everything McCartney says about the change in our perspective post-resurrection — what we *can see* — and transfers those statements to McCartney’s view of what Scripture as such *is*. Whether or not Tipton is conscious of the fact that this is what he is doing is another question. But it is at least clear to me that he is doing it, and people are buying it.

  49. Joe S. said,

    October 26, 2014 at 12:46 am


    I’m not attempting to debate the person. My whole point was about the positions. Titpton’s position on McCartney appears as if it may not reflect McCartney’s position. I’m not doing to this to attack Tipton as a person in any way. Rather I would support #48’s plea that everyone read McCartney’s position for themselves instead of relying on a source for McCartney’s positions that may not be fairly and accurately communicating McCartney’s positions.

    It comes back to the common theme that attributing a position to a person(s) that they do not hold misinforms ones own position as well as the positions of those who seek to understand all the positions so they can thoughtfully come to their own positions……

  50. Reed Here said,

    October 26, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Joe, I was only answering your question. Please don’t use me as a jumping board.

  51. elnwood said,

    October 26, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Stuart(OPC), thank you for reading McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper.

    I’m about half-way listening to the two-hour Tipton’s audio (it’s really long, so I’m listening to it in smaller chunks).

    I commented above (#7, cf. #19, #35) that what Tipton says regarding McCartney’s views do not seem to be in keeping with McCartney’s 2003 ETS paper.

    What I am referring to particularly is Tipton’s comments regarding McCartney’s views on typology, which begin at 54:49 in the audio, and which David Gadbois partially transcribed in post #6.

    According to Tipton, McCartney says typology is created by the interpetive community, and denies that typology is intrinsic to the organic, progressive revelatory process itself. I think McCartney’s paper does not bear this out.

    What do you think?

  52. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 26, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    I have glanced again at the 2003 article (it takes more time than I have to do a deep analysis of the article). I am not sure how much Tipton is using that article to form all his conclusions about McCartney’s views. McCartney seems to be more about critquing the views of Beale and Longenecker than simply setting forth a full sytematic view of his own. But we may assume that the 2003 article represents something of his postion. I am increasingly of the mind that the issue comes down to a surface reading of the word “type” and what is going on when one engages in a more systematic understanding of the meaning framework or context for the word “type”. On the surface McCartney seems to be engaged in a minor quibble (why then write the article?). Example:
    “Typology is not grammatical-historical. I very much accept the validity of typological interpretation. But even leaving aside for the moment those tricky passages which present enormous difficulty to those who would squeeze them into the mold of typology, and leaving aside as well the difficulties in interpreting predictive prophecies, I would challenge the whole notion as to whether typology can lay claim to a grammatical-historical pedigree.”
    I find it easy to pass over such a remark because I find the whole question of the meaning of “grammatical-historical” or “typology” to require a deeper grounding in a Van Tillian worldview. I wonder about the presuppositions of any view that thinks “grammatical historical” or “typology” is meaningful without having Christ as the transcendental precondition for meaning. Once this is granted, then we get into the gritty process of how that works in particular texts that come to us over historical time. The only way I see that working is to insist that Christ is somehow present all along the way–yes in every text. Somehow Abraham saw Christ’s day. Whether Abraham saw his son Isaac as a “type” as we conventionally think of type might be debated, but somehow he saw Christ. I remember O.P. Robertson used to talk about the Immanuel principle as a hermeneutical key to Scripture. Abraham saw God with him somehow in the birth of Isaac. We can’t read Abraham’s mind to know all of what he thought but Jesus can (cf. John 8) and I believe the “rejoicing”and “gladness” Jesus speaks about points to the laughter of Abraham and the naming of Isaac.
    I suspect that to the degree Tipton is interacting with the 2003 article it might be the following he is thinking about:
    “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 fulfilment in Christ, not the historical meaning itself.”
    I like the sound of that last sentence of that quote. It’s the first sentence that sounds a little fishy (“a theological construction”). Whether Tipton might have been looking at that and overemphsizing it as a controlling idea for the whole position of McCartney or whether McCartney made a choice of words that could be clearer, I think is had to determine from this article alone because the article is centered around Beale, Longencker, and G-H exegesis. The 2001 WTJ article makes me suspicious because the reference to Qumran (2TJ hermeneutics) is consistent with the Tipton criticism I heard in his lectrue and fits the concern I have.

  53. elnwood said,

    October 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Stuart(OPC), thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    The nature of G-H with reference to typology is an interesting discussion, as well as the reference to the hermeneutics of Second Temple Judaism.

    But for the moment, I’m going to hone in on one point regarding the dispute between Tipton and McCartney. And I think it is Tipton’s main point.

    Tipton’s audio emphasizes multiple times that McCartney thinks that Christ is not objectively or intrinsically present in the Old Testament, and is only read back into it. Hence the comparisons to Kant, reader-response theory, being Christotelic without being Christocentric, severing the organic link between the testaments, etc.

    Let me say that if Tipton’s claims are correct, McCartney is in grave error, and McCartney ought to change his views or resign from the confessionally Reformed institution that he teaches at.

    But McCartney writes in the ETS paper:
    If we do not adopt the viewpoint of Jesus and the apostles that Christ’s death and resurrection is the key focus of the Old Testament, that Christ is himself the centerpiece of all God’s promises, that Christ is the true Israel, true Son of God, that the meaning of the biblical texts for the present-day people of God has to do with our relation to God in Christ, then how can our interpretation be deemed in any sense Christian?

    And also:
    Just as a good mystery writer knows the solution to the puzzle even as he lays out the material, so the Bible’s divine Author knew the end of the story before he set out the process of revealing the story in time. 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.

    From my understanding, McCartney is saying the opposite of what Tipton asserts about him: that Christ is objectively and intrinsically present in the Old Testament, and like Tipton, McCartney uses Luke 24 to prove it.

    Do you see the difference in what McCartney writes, and how Tipton represents him?

    I understand your concern regarding 2TJ hermeneutics, but based on your reading of McCartney, would you say that McCartney denies that Christ is objectively or intrinsically present in the Old Testament?

  54. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

    Elnwood: The short answer to your question is that I cannot determine or prove whether Tipton is accurate or inaccurate in his portrayals if one limits the discussion to the 2003 article. I also have not read enough of Tipton or McCartney to go much further than the 2003 article. Some of my reserve is because that audio is long and my memory is of central emphases he made. McCartney came into the discussion but I thought Enns was more often directly in view. Then Christotelism in general was also discussed. At times McCartney was mentioned by name. I have commented on where, using the 2003 article alone, I thought Tipton may have found words that concerned him in relation to typology as a theological construction. One point of my prior post is that a lot of stuff (e.g. the 2003 article) seems unobjectionable on a surface reading. I may have read the McCartney article a few years ago without it making much impression because on the surface it looked like a relatively minor quibble among scholars (so minor on a surface reading one may wonder why bother). Coming from my framework, I believe there is a supernatural element that enters into special revelation that is hard to account for by G-H exegesis. For example, some elements of the gospel in the OT, albeit rather mixed together, can be found by a discursive or analytical process (Bible study): From the life of proto-messianic figure David we can see that the proto-Messianic figure experienced betrayal and suffering; examining Ps 16, Ps 22, and Isa 53 we indications of vicarious human suffering for sin and resurrection. How did Jesus know the specific mode of his death would be crucifixion? OT teaching about the curse of hanging on a tree might point that way, but I assume the human consciousness of Jesus was informed by private special revelation of the very particular mode. When? I don’t know. But I doubt that this level of detail would be ascertainable by G-H exegesis of the OT. Thus when I read McCartney’s 2003 article and see him raising a question about the total sufficiency of G-H exegesis, it does not initially send off an alarm. But that seems not be the whole story. It is different if Jesus or an Apostle makes claims that entail use of special revelation not previously inscripturated (thereby potentially containing particular details not deducible by G-H exegesis and yet perfectly consistent with a discursive method such as G-H exegesis); that I cannot emulate. This is where the 2TJ stuff of Christoltelism looks like it substitutes for or supplements special revelation as injecting an element not lending itself to G-H exegesis. Or maybe more accurately, Christotelism seems (to me) to give short shrift to the divine aspect of special revelation whether OT or privately conveyed special revelation (paradosis) that Jesus and the Apostles had access to. All of this is to say that a surface reading may not tease out the implications of where a man’s position will eventually lead him. That is why I do not assume Tipton is wrong (any more than you assume McCartney is wrong because of what you perceive to be Tipton implications that are not warranted). I think it is not unusual to go back after a problem blows up (e.g. the Enns mess) and look for the seeds of the problem. I thought the seeds of it were in the c. 1996 Enns article in BBR. I do not separate the Qumran/2TJ stuff from your questions because they suggest to me an important context for interpreting McCartney’s words that might differ from a surface reading. By itself, I would not read the words of the 2003 article and conclude that McCartney denies the presence of Christ throughout the OT. However the eruption of the current mess going back to Enns makes me question what exactly is being said (beyond the surface). As I indicated in the John 8 discussion (my previous post), Abraham saw Christ’s day. It is not enough to simply affirm Christ is everywhere present including in the OT, there needs to be some epistemological possibility of knowing him to some degree (not that Christ is some noumenal unknowable in the OT–there’s a Kant word). Abraham did know him in some fashion. When I see others (e.g. Longman) posting on this blog and saying Isa 7 gives not a “glimmer” of the virgin conception, I sense there is a Christotelism that I have serious problems with. Whether McCartney is part of that is beyond my immediate ken but it would be nice if some of these guys would simply repudiate Enns and Longman’s positions if they are not sympathetic.

  55. October 28, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Stuart: As I said before it is important to understand that the 2003 article is in fact the primary focus of Tipton’s critique. It is specifically that 2003 article that began Tipton’s public assault on Christotelism back in 2011 in his essay on the Gospel and Redemptive Historical Hermeneutics. And every single argument Tipton has made against McCartney (et al) over the past few years, and the recent RF conference included, was made originally against McCartney’s 2003 paper. Tipton has never once (publicly, at least) pointed to any specific writing or statement made by McCartney anywhere other than that 2003 paper in the context of this discussion. So, the key issue for us is this: Is Tipton accurately representing what McCartney says *in that paper*?

    Further, it is important to understand that the more moderate Christotelic guys — McCartney included — do not take an awareness of Christ out of the OT considered on its own terms apart from the new. The question is not whether there is a Messianic hope in the OT. The question is just how clear it is. Regarding Longman: His statement about Is. 7 was specifically about the text of Is. 7, and not the OT considered as a whole. (I contacted him personally about this specific issue and his response to me did make that clear — he was not meaning to altogether deny a Messianic hope in the whole of the OT.)

  56. elnwood said,

    October 28, 2014 at 2:39 pm


    I do think some of Tipton’s claims are valid, especially regarding Enns. In particular, Enns now forcefully denies inerrancy, and denies that the Canaanite genocide ever happened, and denies it because he sees it as incompatible with Christ of the New Testament. So I would agree with Tipton that Enns does not hold to an organic unity of both testaments.

    But we need to be very careful about attributing Enns’ views to others.

    Yes, many of his colleagues supported Enns in 2008, but you have to remember at the time that Enns was still working within confessional Presbyterianism and the framework of inerrancy. Enns was a ruling elder in the PCA and a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, which was founded exclusively on the belief in inerrancy. In fact, Enns was the President of the Eastern region of ETS in 2007-2008.

    But he has done an about-face since then, and as far as I know, none of his colleagues have in turn denied inerrancy. It’s worth noting that of all of the “aha” moments in Peter Enns’ blog series (currently up to 17), not one of them was written from a former colleague at WTS.

    So, for example, Longman affirms inerrancy, and has written extensively supporting the historicity of the Canaanite genocide (his section of Show Them No Mercy: 4 views, as well as his book God is a Warrior). which is in opposition to Enns’ views.

    Regarding Isaiah 7:14 and whether the original readers would have known to interpret it as a messianic hope, I wrote the last comment on the “Is Typology Part of Grammatical-Historical Exegesis?” thread, which said the following:

    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.

  57. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 28, 2014 at 7:59 pm

    You are focusing on an extremely narrow question that would better be put to Tipton than to me. I have suggested, without any major commitment, where seeds of a problem might be present in the 2003 paper that may have spoken to Tipton’s concerns. Why those possible sentences may have resonated with Tipton (if they did) and not you, I leave to the vagaries of psycho-hermeneutics (if there is such a thing). I don’t know that Tipton was obsessing on one article and I am not interested in obsessing on it. I also find it extremely hard to believe that the inter-faculty discussions going on about NPP and the Enns mess would not have affected WTS faculty who were later publically critical of Christotelism (I think Tipton was on the newly on the faculty then), viz. the positions of their colleagues and their published work. The inter-faculty discussions, as I understand it, were private–so don’t expect to hear that evidence. With that limitation, you can read other stuff (e.g. the 2001 WTJ article) or talk to Tipton to test if he is being candid or reasonbable. I have no reason to doubt either. I have no deep knowledge of McCartney’s views either, so I guess you need to talk to Tipton.

  58. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 28, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    I appreciate the need to make distinctions in different people’s positions. I have expressed my views that Enns provided evidence that should have aroused concern in 1996 but I think the obscurity of the BBR article allowed him a pass (among other things I could speculate on but won’t). It was I&I that finally blew the lid off. I don’t know that it was any more radical than the 1996 article but I&I hit the public. BTW, I think Beale reported belatedly seeing the problems in the 1996 article as well. Up to that time the WTS faculty had been doing interesting and daring work on hermeneutics. I saw a Silva article that came up to the edge on inerrancy but was careful and did not cross the boundary, IMO. The ostensible goal was to let Scripture define inerrancy rather than some artificial construct from the outside; but I think Enns rendered the notion of inerrancy rather meaningless before he ever got the boot. The fact that he was a ruling elder in the PCA was something that I found greatly concerning rather than exculpatory. Thus I view his more recent positions as the poison coming out into the open.
    Regarding typology, the way a problem or issue gets stated at the outset can set a course that helps or confuses. I probably need to think this through more but I am not sure the word “typology” as it is used in the discussion helps much. As a young evangelical, I thought in terms of type and fulfillment or predictive prophesy and fulfillment. I now prefer to think something along the line of Christ present less fully (OT) and Christ present more fully (NT). There is an organic but also mysterious relationship between the two. I get the sense (maybe wrongly) that words like “Christ” and “Messiah” for some Christotelic folks are avoided when looking at Isa 7 because they consider the words only narrowly to be about a Messianic prediction/expectation of an anointed King to come after the pattern of David. The point I take from Duguid (a post on this blog) is that for OT saints to have saving faith in Christ they needed to see something of him. They were saved by Christ and not a metaphor or a type narrowly defined. How much they saw is only knowable to us in terms of what the NT tells us and what we can deduce using those examples. One thing I think I remember from the Tipton lecture is that we don’t know what exactly they knew. Thus, the degree of clarity of OT understanding is probably a futile debate. They knew and saw something to have saving faith. I have given some suggestion from John 8 (Abraham saw Christ’s day) that may illustrate.
    I have suspected that most of the known Christoletic guys have not gone as far as Enns has today. It is my hope that they are not as far gone as Enns was already between 1996-2008. I don’t know how much I can keep up this thread and or how many are already weary with it, but it has been interesting for me to think about this stuff. Thanks.

  59. October 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Stuart, no, I’m not focusing on an extremely narrow question, in fact. I’m simply observing the fact that Tipton actually published an entire essay directed in express opposition of the McCartney piece in question, and that that essay is his one and only published work on the topic, and that every one of his criticisms of Christotelism (the recent RF talk included) can be found in that essay against McCartney’s “Sould We Employ” paper. This has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not Tipton is candid or reasonable. It has to do with whether or not he is *right* in his specific critiques regarding McCartney’s published work.

  60. elnwood said,

    October 29, 2014 at 3:44 pm

    Stuart, thanks again for the response.

    Duguid (and Reymond, in the Original Post) raises an interesting point about the salvation of Old Testament saints. I myself am not exactly sure how that works, but I would affirm that salvation has always been by faith, and I would say that in the OId Testament it would have been faith in the promises of God.

    But I am uncertain how much they would have to know about the fulfillment of the promises, i.e. the coming of the messiah, to be saved. For example, what did exactly did Abraham believe that credited righteousness to him in Genesis 15:6?

    God says in verse 4 that Eliezar of Damascus would not be his heir, but one from his own flesh and blood. Verse 5 says that Abraham’s offspring would be numbered like the stars in the sky. Abraham believed this and was credited as being righteous.

    I do think you can typologically interpret Genesis 15:4-5, but in its immediate grammatical-historical context, v. 4 is talking about Abraham’s heir from his own flesh and blood, who will be Isaac, and v. 5 is talking about numerous descendants, not the one descendant Jesus.

    So I think Abraham’s faith in God’s promises are salvific, but I am reticent to go as far as Duguid and say knowledge of the messiah is essential for that.

    But that issue aside, even if you accept Duguid’s proposition that knowledge of the messiah is essential, I’m not convinced that therefore Isaiah 7 in particular must have been understood as messianic by the audience, especially when parts like Isaiah 53 are much more clearly predictive prophecy of the messiah. It’s necessary to assume that Isaiah 7 was predictive prophecy as well.

  61. roberty bob said,

    October 29, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    in reply to #60 . . .

    As to the “knowledge of the Messiah is essential” for the salvation of Old Testament persons, I do not see how they could have known of the Messiah until such time as the Messiah was revealed. The truth that a coming Messiah would be God’s way of fulfilling His big promises did not take root in hearts and minds until late in the OT era. Even the much touted Immanuel passage of Isaiah 7 would not have been heard by the House of Ahaz as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus some 800 years hence. It would be unjust to require OT persons to connect all of the prophetic dots that lead to the messiah before all of the dots have been put down. The hand-picked apostles of Christ were unable to connect the dots until the appointed time when the Father revealed to them the true identity of Jesus. Duguid has got to do better than that!

    “So I think Abraham’s faith in God’s promises are salvific . . . .”

    Is there any room for doubt? Abraham believed God and it was credited unto him for righteousness. Can you get any more “salvific” than that?

  62. Stuart (OPC) said,

    October 29, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I think it is not simply that OT saints had faith in the promises of God but in the God of the promises. Thus “God with us” is a present faith anchor for Isaiah and a future hope. God is a [the] Savior. In that sense Isaiah had faith in Christ. I don’t think we need to insist that the details of how this Savior would be actually the God-man and Messiah/Christ needed to be fully grasped in Isaiah’s day. The point I see is that Isa 7 presents a future hope phrased in peculiar language that allows Matthew properly to translate the prophesy as a virgin conception. But the same Savior God is at work. From Adam’s creation from dust to Isaac’s conception through the “dead” (so to speak) bodies of Abraham and Sarah to the intimations of Resurrection (e.g. Ps 16), the message of the OT (by Isaiah’s day) had been that God raises life from lifelessness. The interesting “midrash” on Abraham’s faith when he goes to sacrifice Isaac (Hebrews 11:17-19) tells us not just about God’s power alone but God’s character as grasped by Abraham. God keeps promises so that death will sooner be overturned than God fail to keep his promise. This one seed, Isaac is necessary. The multitudinous seed is in Isaac and the ultimate multitudinous seed is in the one seed Christ (Gal 3:16). I think this sense of a specific faith by Abraham in a God who raises the dead to keep promises is what is endangered by any Christotelism that is inclined to simply treat Heb 11:17ff as an after the fact Apostolic type midrash. It was part of Abraham’s faith long before Hebrews and as I have suggested, I was not simply faith in some obscure future event but faith in a Savior God who was then active in his life. Some passages like Isa 53 have with reason stood out to look more like “predictive prophesy”, but as long as there is death and turmoil on earth, it seems everything is pointing to a future intervention of God (the creation itself groans, Rm 8). What has captured our evangelical imagination about Isa 53 is the specific nature of the prophesy and in some cases, the supposed utility of the verses for apologetics. I think, however, that to the degree the OT gives hope in the future because of what it reveals about the character of God, that all such teaching amounts to predictive prophesy with concurrent hope in the present. Thus, my remarks on the potential of “typology” to confuse the issues.

  63. roberty bob said,

    October 29, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    Well spoken #62 . . .

    But I do differ with you on the “Immanuel” prophecy of Isaiah 7. I do not see Isaiah in the first place foretelling Jesus, our Immanuel; rather, he is foretelling the soon-to-be-born son of a [virgin] woman known by the House of Ahaz. The birth of this son would be a sign of rebuke to King Ahaz and a sign of God’s in-the-flesh presence to the faithful. Matthew views Jesus in the light of Isaiah 7, not because he believed Isaiah was prophesying to Ahaz about the coming of Christ, but because Jesus at his birth is shown to be the born-of-a-virgin son with the same kind of Immanuel presence as the earlier Immanuel. It’s another case of THIS is THAT — type / antitype.

  64. elnwood said,

    October 30, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Stuart, you wrote:
    “The point I see is that Isa 7 presents a future hope phrased in peculiar language that allows Matthew properly to translate the prophesy as a virgin conception.”

    That’s really the crux of the discussion though — does Isaiah 7 really present a future hope that people would have recognized before Christ? You’re saying that it is, but you haven’t shown it. The problem is that Matthew translated the prophecy after the time of Christ’s virgin birth, so we can’t say for sure if he, or anyone else, would have been able to do the same before it.

    As roberty bob (and the vast majority of commentators) says, Isa 7 does present a future hope, but it’s a future hope of a birth of a child to a woman known by the House of Ahaz. The sign was that, before this child could discern right from wrong or eat curds and honey, two kings will be laid waste. This sign was fulfilled within Ahaz’s lifetime.

    After the virgin birth, Matthew was able to apply Isaiah 7 to that. But before Christ came, would he have been able to do the same, looking ahead to the messiah in the future?

    Do you think Matthew would have been able to discern that “born to a virgin” would apply to the future messiah, but not “before this child could discern right from wrong or eat curds and honey, two kings will be laid waste”? Perhaps he would have, but I’m not certain, and if he could, I’m not sure by what hermeneutical principle he would have been able to make such a distinction.

  65. roberty bob said,

    October 30, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    Would any of you preachers out there preach a sermon on the virgin born Jesus — our Immanuel — with Isaiah 7 only as your sermon text? Could you preach that gospel theme from Isaiah 7 alone without letting Evangelist Matthew [1:18-25] come to your aid?

    I have my doubts.

  66. roberty bob said,

    October 30, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Who were the two kings laid waste during the years of Jesus’ infancy?

    No one, not even Matthew, would have been able to discern that the Immanuel of Isaiah 7 would apply to the future Messiah. Matthew is only reporting what was passed on to him [probably from Joseph] — how the Lord came to Joseph in a dream to assure him that his pregnant fiancee was indeed a virgin after all, and that she would give birth to a son who would be called Immanuel in order to FULFILL what the Lord had declared through the Prophet Isaiah. Neither Isaiah nor the House of Ahaz would have had any reason to anticipate this much later act of fulfillment as it was evident that only one sign was in view here for King Ahaz’s own eyes. Isaiah was not telling King Ahaz about a far-into-the-future Immanuel, but of a near-future Immanuel who would be a sign of God’s presence among His people.

    The coming of Jesus, our Immanuel, is a repeat performance of God becoming present to [and with] His people. God fills, and fulfills!

  67. Stuart (OPC) said,

    November 1, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    There has been a lot of ink spilt over Isa 7:14. E.J. Young–an icon of the old WTS maintains that the the Hebrew word [‘almah] is never used of an unmarried woman (he also comments a Ugaritic word apparently related in concept). The Christotelic approach I am hearing here insists on the ability to read the minds of Isaiah and his conteporaries negatively (They could not know).O really? How do we know what they might have thought? On a philosophic level this presupposes the absolute constraints of naturalism and an exhaustive knowledge of all of Isaiah’s (and his contemporaries’) thoughts and experiences (inclduing potential private revelations not recorded in Scripture). I am not asserting what I think the precise quantum of understanding OT saints had of Isa 7:14 in Isaiah’s day.What I believe is that it was possible and likely to have a “glimmer” (to use Longman’s word) or more that something more momentous was involved than the having of a child or two by a young woman in Isaiah’s day. The latter seems like a momentously oversold prophesy that does little to help the existential problem of a later Babylonian conquest. Abraham saw Christ’s day (Jn 8). Why should we assume less of Isaiah. This makes me more suspicious that the critique of Christotelism at WTS is on point. It sounds like a denial of the need to have faith in Christ by OT saints, a semi-naturalist worldview, and a privileging of the “accidental” methods of Qumran in hermeneutics over the design of God that predates Qumran.

  68. roberty bob said,

    November 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    in reply to #67 Stuart of the OPC . . .

    What I’m hearing you say is that the Immanuel born of a woman in the Days of King Ahaz was the Christ. Or something like that.

  69. Stuart (OPC) said,

    November 1, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    re 68: I am saying a child in the day of Ahaz can give a “taste of” but not the fullness of God’s promises.

  70. roberty bob said,

    November 1, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    in reply to #69 . . .

    The Immanuel Promise, as spoken by Isaiah [7:14] came true in the Day of King Ahaz. There was no indication at that time that the appearing of THIS Immanuel was merely a taste of the Immanuel who was TO COME. There was no indication at that time that this was a two-pronged prophecy featuring an Immanuel now and an Immanuel later on. I will grant you that the Spirit of Christ is the Spirit of Prophecy.
    So, in the Day of King Ahaz we can see God setting the stage for the coming of the true King who would reign over the Kingdom without end. Unless the promised Immanuel of 7:14 was one of the sons of King Ahaz [making him a royal descendant in David’s line, in which case everyone would be wondering whether this could be David’s greater son], it is a bit of a stretch to fathom that, upon hearing of this soon-to-be-born Immanuel, the people exclaimed “Aha! He’s preaching Christ!”

  71. Stuart (OPC) said,

    November 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    Re 70: You say: “The Immanuel Promise, as spoken by Isaiah [7:14] came true in the Day of King Ahaz.” So you are saying Matthew 1:22 is an error?

  72. roberty bob said,

    November 1, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Number 71 . . .

    No, I am not saying that Matthew 1:22 is in error. I am saying that Isaiah 7:14 promises the birth of one who would be known as Immanuel, and that he would be born while King Ahaz was enthroned in Judah. Isaiah tells of only one Immanuel, the one Ahaz would come to know in his day. So, THAT Immanuel Promise came true, didn’t it?

    It turns out, however, that a second Immanuel is born some 800 years later, even Jesus Christ our Lord. Evangelist Matthew says that this fulfills Isaiah 7:14. Isaiah, however, was not speaking to the House of Ahaz of Jesus our Immanuel. Was he?

  73. Stuart (OPC) said,

    November 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm

    Re 72: Isaiah was doing whatever Matthew says he was doing. There is only one Savior.

  74. roberty bob said,

    November 1, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    #73 . . . If you say so. Here are the options:

    1. One Immanuel who appeared first in the Day of Ahaz and again in the Day of Caesar Augustus.

    2. One Immanuel who was promised to appear in the Day of Ahaz [as a sign], but whose coming was delayed until the Day of Caesar Augustus.

    3. Two Immanuels: a lesser one promised to Ahaz and appearing in the Day of Ahaz, and a greater one named Jesus the Christ who appeared 800 years after Ahaz. The appearing of Jesus fulfills the original promise even though what Isaiah had foretold [to Ahaz] had already come true.

    OK. What did Matthew say that Isaiah was doing? I’m guessing that you would say something along the lines of option 2. I’m buying option 3.

  75. Stuart (OPC) said,

    November 1, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    Re 74: Please note that Matthew says explicitly that the virgin conception fulfills what was spoken by the prophet (Isaiah). This is applied specifically to Jesus. The text of Isaiah is actually a lot less simple. It presents several options for who “Immanuel” might be if viewed through the narrow perspective of the days of Ahaz (e.g. Maher Shallal Hash Baz, Shear Jashub, yet another unknown child literally named Immanuel, etc.). Can you tell me which one is Immanuel? Is there only one Immanuel? Two? Three? However you seem to assume Isaiah was NOT speaking to Ahaz of Christ. Obviously you cannot prove this. You must rely on unfettered naturalistic assumptions. I cannot prove what precisely was in the mind of Ahaz or Isaiah when Isaiah spoke but I am not condemned to reliance only on naturalistic assumptions. 1 Peter 1:10-12 sets parameters for knowing what the OT prophets knew and they (including Isaiah) had the “Spirit of Christ.” The truth that Christ was proclaimed in Isa 7:14 does not ultimately depend on the capacity or willingness of the receiver to understand. That said, God is said to have revealed himself and the coming of the Christ in the OT. The NT places Christ in the OT (e.g. We may debate the meaning of 1 Cor 10:4 but it says the Rock was Christ).
    The form of your dilemma or question is also problematic. It amounts to which person is the Immanuel signified in Isa 7? It forces or insists upon a simplistic choice between type and anti-type. In Isaiah 7, the Immanuel prophesy is both a sign and a person. A sign, as given by God, is revelatory. The child in Isaiah’s day is a contemporary and future sign (just as the Bible has relevance then and now). The continuance of a seed (even if a remnant that returns) is the only thing that makes it worth bucking up Ahaz. He is entirely expendable as is most of then Israel. That Ahaz might not understand and view the sign as only for his comfort is his problem, not Isaiah’s. Failure to have a “glimmer” is culpable because it fails to see the larger purposes of God at work (“glimmer” opportunity here). It is clear that Ahaz is resisting the prospect of a real sign and its correlate which is revelation (and its correlate Christ). But the assurance of a seed (going back to all the previous covenants) is betokened in having a child at the time fear of extermination looms. The indefectability of the vulnerable church militant is betokened at that time but is ultimately secured in the Christ who is both the sign and the thing signified (contra Saussure or the later postmodernism of Derrida but in keeping with Jn 1:1; Luke 2:34,35). All attempts to subordinate Christ to a sign-signified distinction are as autonomous and doomed as the attempts of philosophy to make their distinctions (e.g. unity vs diversity) more basic than the Creator-creature distinction. In short, Christ was present then and now in the revelation. Alpha and Omega.

  76. roberty bob said,

    November 1, 2014 at 11:23 pm

    #75 . . . Isaiah preached Christ to the House of Ahaz. The promise of Immanuel {God with us] is ultimately fulfilled when the Christ comes into the world. The son born of a woman in the Day of Ahaz who would be named Immanuel serves as a sign to the king and to the covenant nation; the reality shown by this sign would appear when the Christ is revealed to the world. When that happens, as Matthew indicates, the prophecy / promise / sign of Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled. Whatever was seen and experienced in the Day of Ahaz was just a foretaste of the glorious fulfillment.

    This is my conclusion. Thanks for the back and forth.

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