Expository Preaching and Redemptive-Historical Models

A generally helpful post on what expository preaching is not led me to think particularly about redemptive-historical models. His seventh “busted myth” runs like this (quoted in full):

Expository preaching is not always historically-redemptive preaching. Biblical preaching proclaims the Person and Work of Christ. It also explains what the text means by what it says. Surveying the history of redemption may present the gospel and protect the sermon from moralism. But faithful preaching does not ignore the historical and literary setting of the text. 1 Samuel 16 is not primarily about how Christ slays the giant of sin for us. It is about how God helped David defeat Goliath to introduce the young shepherd as the newly-anointed king. We must preach the former without neglecting the latter.

The problem here is one of definition. Some, like myself, would see the the first two sentences as a contradiction. If we are to preach the person and work of Christ from the Old Testament, how can we possibly do that without historically-redemptive preaching? Other models would be closer to pure allegory. But the problem here is one of definition. If, by “historically-redemptive” (I usually reverse the terms to read “redemptive-historical”), we mean that the preacher stays inside the history of redemption, and never applies the text, then that isn’t preaching at all, but rather a lecture. If we mean an A.W. Pink-ish tendency to find Christ under every rock and cranny, that is not helpful, either (though some of Pink’s ties to Christ work quite well; we shouldn’t throw out the redemptive-historical baby with the allegorical bathwater!). If, however, we mean that every sermon on an Old Testament text takes into account the fact that the entire Old Testament is about Jesus Christ, and gives us a history that culminates in the person and work of Jesus Christ, then all Old Testament preaching (and NT too, for that matter!) must be redemptive-historical. One of the most crying needs in our day and age is to put the Bible together for the person in the pew. How does it all fit together? So it depends on what Mr. Charles defines as “historically-redemptive” as to whether good expository preaching is or is not historically-redemptive.


  1. Larry Wilson said,

    December 18, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    FWIW, over several decades I’ve observed that critics of preaching that’s informed by biblical theology, but who have no firsthand knowledge of it, tend fairly consistently to reverse those terms and speak of “historical redemptive” rather than “redemptive historical” preaching. I’ve often wondered why that is.

  2. roberty bob said,

    December 19, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Undoubtedly there are some who [make a poor attempt at] preaching a sermon — to exposit / explain their chosen text — with little to no context, historical or otherwise. When that happens, the first statement of the above quoted paragraph rings true. However, the first statement would be contradictory of a good sermon.

  3. David R. said,

    December 21, 2017 at 8:02 pm

    The cited passage is not terribly clear. But trying to fill in the gaps, I doubt he’s criticizing biblical theology per se. Rather, I would guess he might view redemptive-historical preaching as the sort of preaching that first explains an OT narrative, then shows how that narrative has interesting parallels with what Christ has done for us, and then by way of application closes with some sort of exhortation to look to Christ.

  4. roberty bob said,

    December 22, 2017 at 12:35 pm

    Mr. Charles says, “We must preach the former without neglecting the latter.”

    If Mr. Charles truly means what he says, then it is imperative for us preachers of the David / Goliath story to stress that Christ slays the giant of sin for us; we “must” do this without neglecting in our preaching the fact that the slaying of Goliath is the occasion in which the newly-anointed David was presented to God’s covenant people Israel.

    So, it seems that Mr. Charles favors, or prioritizes, the moralistic over the historical-redemptive. He is only troubled that many preachers fail to take account of the h-r.

  5. December 27, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    […] is a minister in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and is pastor of Momence OPC in Momence, IL.  This article is used with […]

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