Does Redemptive History Have Priority To Worldview? With Implications For Preaching -- By: Vern Sheridan Poythress

Journal: Westminster Theological Journal
Volume: WTJ 81:1 (Spring 2019)
Article: Does Redemptive History Have Priority To Worldview? With Implications For Preaching
Author: Vern Sheridan Poythress


Does Redemptive History
Have Priority To Worldview?
With Implications For Preaching

Vern S. Poythress

Vern S. Poythress is Professor of New Testament and Biblical Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary.

We need to distinguish layers in dealing with the relation of history to worldview. We can distinguish the world from human views about the world, that is, worldviews. We can distinguish events in the world from human views about the events, that is, discourses about redemptive history. The world and the events are respectively prior to human views about the world and views about the events. But that says little.

If we compare the world to the events, we have mutual relations rather than merely a completely one-directional priority. The events presuppose an earlier world order in which the events take place. Conversely, the world presupposes events bringing it to its present state. Likewise, human accounts concerning the world and concerning events are entangled in each other.

Stabilities, expressed in a world order, go together with dynamicities in developing that order. Neither is conceivable apart from the other. All of these elements are ultimately rooted in the plan of God. The plan of God includes a plan for a world and a plan for events taking place in the world.

God himself is both stable and dynamic. He is always the same God, with perfect stability. And he is eternally active. The Father eternally begets the Son and loves the Son. The Son executes the plan of the Father. The indwelling of persons in the Trinity is reflected in the correlation between stability and dynamicity in the world.

For preaching, the implication would seem to be that we need both the stability of doctrine and the dynamicity belonging to the telling of stories concerning what God has done.

Which has priority, redemptive history or worldview? Which has priority in preaching? Which has priority in all of life? Several currents today suggest a priority for redemptive history. “Narrative theology” would say that story is more basic than theological affirmations.1 N. T. Wright

suggests that story is fundamental in human life, so that in some ways the story of Israel is the best background for understanding what is happening in the NT.2 In popular Christian circles, “story” seems to be a promising category for Christian communication. To consider the question of priority, we first need some rough definitions for the key pieces: for redemptive history...

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