I realize it’s been a while since our last post on Public Theology. That’s because it was agreed ahead of time that I’d do this next series and, with two full-time jobs and a young family, anything from me will be slow coming. Enough about me, though. You can read the last post in this series here, or just pick up in your reading below. Enjoy.
In the last two posts in our series on public theology, we examined the approaches to public theology employed by two notable prophets: John the Baptist and Amos. There are many approaches to the relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Some argue for more radical discontinuity between the two epochs than others. Regardless of what approach we take to entering this discussion, Reformed Baptists must not deny the the existence of discontinuity between them.
For instance, Reformed Baptists overwhelmingly affirm the cessation of the theocratic relationship between God and the ethnic, geographically-identified nation of Israel (see The Baptist Confession, 19.4). With the cessation of this relationship, Gentiles were grafted into the covenant community of God and men ceased worshipping God “on this mountain or that mountain,” worshipping Him instead in truth and in spirit (John 4:19-24). This was certainly a massive shift. God’s people went from a covenant nation comprised of both believers and unbelievers primarily of one particular ethnicity and nationality to covenant communities (churches) comprised only of believers (a credocovenant relationship) from all ethnic groups and nations. The question is whether this shift simultaneously represented a shift in approach to public theology. Certainly, it must have.
In the remainder of our posts, we will attempt to determine the nature and extent of the shift in public theology that occurred between the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the next two posts, we will look to our incarnate Lord and His approach to public theology while on this earth. Particularly, we will examine His approach to public theology during the period known as His incarnation.
First, we must recognize the fact that Christ, in the New Testament, is distinguished from His forerunners. He was different from the prophets who preceded Him.
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2; NASB).
Though Christ was different from the prophets that preceded Him, we also recognize that Christ came as the antitypical Prophet, Priest, and King. By this, we mean that the prophets, priests, and kings of Israel were types of the Christ to come. They foreshadowed Him in the roles they filled within the nation of Israel. As such, the roles to which they were called, and the laws governing those roles, point to the role Christ was to play. Hence, the author of Hebrews writes, “God. . . in these last days has spoken to us in His Son.”
This assertion is of paramount importance. The God of Israel, the immutable God of the Holy Scriptures, the God who spoke through the prophets of old, is the same God who spoke to us through His Son Jesus Christ. We must assume, then, that there must be some great continuity between the prophets and the Prophet. In the next two posts, we will examine both: the continuity and the discontinuity.