Pastor Andy Stanley in Atlanta recently preached that the New Testament apostles “elected to unhitch the Christian faith from the Jewish Scriptures. And my friends, we must as well.” Why? Because we must not “make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God” (Acts 15:19). The faith of the next generation, Stanley said, may depend on our willingness and ability to be liberated from “the whole worldview” of the Old Testament. I disagree. Jesus taught that the Old Testament bears witness about him (John 5:39). Moreover, Christian history has already shown us where churches go, once they diminish the Bible in order to make it less difficult for people to turn to our Lord.
But my purpose in starting this review with a reference to Stanley’s sermon is to highlight the relevance, urgency, and timeliness of this excellent book by Christopher Wright, How to Preach and Teach the Old Testament for All Its Worth. No one who understands and appropriates the wisdom here in Wright’s book could make the assertion that Pastor Stanley made. Instead, any pastor who does receive instruction from this wonderful book will, far from making it more difficult for people to turn to God, make that step of faith more obvious, persuasive and satisfying.
The reasoning throughout this book is consistent with the broader trend we all have been benefiting from in recent decades. Wright, Edmund Clowney, Graeme Goldsworthy, Sidney Greidanus, and others have been helping pastors, especially, read the Old Testament in a more Christ-aware and gospel-sensitive way. A properly biblical-theological perception of the Old Testament has finally been established in its authentic and rightful place between the minute scrutinies of exegesis, on the one hand, and the atemporal mega-categories of systematic theology, on the other. What sets this book apart for our special attention is the wisdom Wright shows in making gospel-centered hermeneutics directly usable to anyone who might be new to this way of reading the Bible.