What does that plan of redemption involve? Scripture teaches us to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of our sins, it teaches us about grace, it teaches us about the fruits of grace in that Christ teaches us how to live in this world as He also saves us from our old ways and patterns of life, it also teaches us to hope in the future as history comes to its close wherein we will be finally delivered from this sinful world. Christ is all over the pages of Scripture as He teaches us how to serve and witness to Him in a sinful and evil world.
One of the debates that has entered the Presbyterian & Reformed part of Christendom over the last 50 years is the debate over preaching. And one of those fields of debate is over what is called “Redemptive Historical Preaching.” The debate is especially in the area of RH preaching as it pertains to moral teaching in the church. Some believe that moral teaching should be emphasized more than often happens in RH preaching. Others believe that RH preaching is a guard against moralism.
It is always good to pick a fiery example of the opposition to rigid redemptive historical preaching, since everyone’s heart starts to beat a little faster and the temperature in the room starts to rise. One of those opponents is the Presbyterian pastor down in the States, Pastor Tim Bayly (This brother has done good work within the Presbyterian and Reformed Churches at large). He writes in one article: “Redemptive-historical browbeaters are scholastics out to destroy the Reformation doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture.” He continues (commenting on the history of David and Goliath): “But nowhere and never does such lifting up of Christ require silence concerning the many vices, virtues, morals, and laws these same stories record.”
Redemptive Historical Preaching heavily emphasizes the reading of Scripture through the grid of history at the center of which is Christ. It provides an emphasis on the metanarrative for a postmodern world. Tim Bayly rightly points out that men like Michael Horton, Tim Keller and Bryan Chappell all espouse redemptive historical preaching. He forgets too mention in this article that the early proponents of this homiletical style came from the Netherlands: men like Klaas Schilder.
My dad and uncles and many pastors that I grew up around were trained within the Redemptive Historical method at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. I was also trained within this tradition at the Canadian Reformed Theological Seminary. It runs thick through the churches that come from the Dutch tradition and has caught on especially among those who desire that preaching be Christ-centered.
I don’t necessarily buy Pastor Bayly’s critique of the redemptive historical method as much as I can see how there may be a critique of some redemptive historical preaching.