Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance Part 4: Application Theory in Relation to the Old Testament -- By: Ramesh P. Richard
BSac 143:572 (Oct 86) p. 302
Methodological Proposals for Scripture Relevance
Application Theory in Relation to the Old Testament
[Ramesh P. Richard, Pulpit Pastor, Delhi Bible Fellowship, New Delhi, India]
When theologians and preachers discuss application theory, they should not be canvassing for particular speculative hypotheses. Their concern should be to make authoritative in modern times what has been authority—and thus authoritative—at all times, namely, the entire body of the Scriptures. Such discussion and discovery is “theoretical” by nature, but only in the sense of articulating the theological phenomena of relationships underlying the Scriptures so that the truth is wed with relevance. This last article in this series deals with the important question of the connection and application of the Old Testament to the life of the church.
The hermeneutical heart of this series on Scripture application may be stated as a question: To whom is a specific Scripture passage addressed? This question is explained by others: To which people of which time in the continuum of God’s working with humanity does the passage directly refer? Does the teaching of the Old Testament bind those under the New Testament? What are the criteria for deciding what applicational benefit or force a specific Old Testament passage has for the present? An Old Testament application theory helps answer these questions.
It must be affirmed again that applicability is not the decisive element in the placement of a particular passage in the scheme of history. It is not the capacity of a passage to be related to contemporary life or one’s willingness to consider obeying the literal meaning of Scripture that determines the “dispensational” location of a
BSac 143:572 (Oct 86) p. 303
passage. Obviously some passages cannot be applied any longer (cf. Lev 21:16–21; Deut 23:1), but this in itself does not determine the use or nonuse of a passage for application. Christians (including both dispensationalists and nondispensationalists) who have unknowingly appealed to this applicability criterion exalt extrabiblical criteria on a par with scriptural ones. An alternative to this issue must be proposed. A measure of unanimity prevails in evangelicalism concerning the direct relation of the Epistles (and to a certain extent, the Gospels). The working out of interpretive and applicational guidelines for epistolary literature was discussed in the third article in this series. But unanimity recedes in the discussion of the use of the Old Testament.
Relating the Old Testament to Christians is a ...
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