Redemptive-Historical Hermeneutics, Divine Authorship, and the Christotelism Debate

Reformed Forum kicks off their 2014 Theology Conference with a live recording of Christ the Center. In this special episode, Lane G. Tipton speaks about the differences Christotelism and Christocentrism with regard to biblical hermeneutics. A debate has been raging for several years, and the panel seeks to clarify the issues and what is at stake.



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Christ the Center focuses on Reformed Christian theology. In each episode a group of informed panelists discusses important issues in order to encourage critical thinking and a better understanding of Reformed doctrine with a view toward godly living. Browse more episodes from this program and learn how to subscribe.

6 Responses

  1. Philip Walker

    Very helpful episode, as always.

    I think it’s clear that the “mystery novel” analogy is not helping to advance the discussion because different people hear it wildly differently. It seems to be heard by some as the idea of a book where the resolution does obviously flow out of the main story (the “surprise! bet you never saw that coming” school); but others hear the idea of a story where the resolution is foreshadowed, hinted at, and pointed towards in more and less subtle ways (the “author is dropping hints and clues; listen carefully and you too may be able to work it out” school).

    If one reads detective novels the second way and adopts the analogy between them and Scripture, then surely one ends up with roughly the understanding of Scripture that Dr Tipton describes with approval.

    1. Steve in Toronto

      I always understood the analogy to be that the conclusion is present in the story from the beginning but only visible in retrospect.

  2. Mark G

    Any analogy is going to fall short at some point and is going to be problematic if overextended since there is no book other than the Bible that reveals (divinely through human authors) the one plan of God’s redemptive word and work.

    1. Philip Walker

      For sure. But my point is that it seems it is not even getting off the starting blocks, since people understand it so differently: so much so, in fact, that anyone wanting to use it has essentially to handle the doctrine explicitly in order to explain the analogy!

      1. Mark G

        That’s a valid concern. Since scripture is divine revelation of God’s unfolding plan of redemption any comparison with stories in general is going to have limits which require qualification.

  3. Jeff Lembke

    Whatever analogy is used has to communicate the culpability of OT hearers in not recognizing Christ. The Mystery story analogy doesn’t do that. I don’t think I’ve ever read a mystery and looked back and said “I should have figured that out!”

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