Abraham Kuruvilla’s book, Privilege the Text, offers a theological hermeneutic for preaching. I have surveyed the book here and offered some review here. Today I would like to nudge our thinking in respect to AK’s suggestion that we replace a Christocentric approach with a Christiconic approach. That is, rather than trying to see Christ in every text of Scripture, we should see a facet of Christ’s perfect morality in every text, and as we present that theologically derived “divine demand,” the hope is that our listeners will be moved to align themselves with it and thus become progressively sanctified into the image of Christ (hence, “christ-iconic”).
What I took too many words to state last time is that I find this goal entirely too restricted. The goal of preaching is not my individual, nor even our corporate, conformity to a perfect Christlike morality. I believe Christian preaching should be looking for a greater transformation than I believe will result from the “Christiconic” model. Let me suggest some five alternative models, with a few comments. Please note that the morality desired in the “Christiconic” model is surpassed, rather than dismissed, in these suggestions:
1. Christotelic (Seeing Christ as the goal of Scripture) – Perhaps we should be aiming to preach individual texts in such a way that the goal of all Scripture (Christ) is not superimposed on and forced into a text, but is honoured as the goal of the whole? I know that this can fall foul of some warnings included in Kuruvilla’s book relating to Christocentric models that don’t privilege and honour the preaching text. I agree that there is a risk of the specifics in a pericope being “swallowed up in the capacious canvas of [Redemptive-Historical] interpretation.” (p240) Fair point, but again, John 5 should sound sufficient warning at the danger of interpreting a text with a goal of self-improvement, while missing the person of Christ. Let me push on to more explicit labels for our ponderings.
2. Christodoxological (Preaching that aims at the worship of Christ) – Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess. Let’s preach Bible texts in such a way that rather than pointing to ourselves and emphasizing our need to apply them, we are pointing to a Christ so captivating and wonderful that he is worshipped. And what about if it is not obvious how to preach Christ in the text at hand? Feel free to preach Theodoxologically, showing how the text reveals God. (And if you make sure you are preaching the “person” rather than just truthful assertions, then in many ways you are “preaching Christ” even while avoiding forcing the text into a mold it did not sign up to be in.)
Tomorrow I’ll offer three more suggestions for our thoughts.