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Neglect of the New Testament

The second key issue with Goldingay’s hermeneutical framework that evangelicals should take note of is his ultimate neglect of the New Testament. This rejection is the logical end of Goldingay’s commitment to the inherency of previously non-illuminated truths within the Old Testament. Once these truths are illuminated by the New Testament and found to be inherent to the Old Testament, the New Testament is no longer necessary. The New Testament, then becomes an interpretive tool, but adds nothing new to revelation.

The logical conclusion of this interpretive commitment can be most clearly seen in an article where Goldingay asks if Christians need the New Testament. Interestingly, he answers this question in the affirmative, but actually spends the entire article undermining this affirmation.[1]  In the end, the reader is left to wonder if he truly believes what he has affirmed.

What, the evangelical may wonder, about Christ? Don’t we need the New Testament to tell us about Christ? Well, for Goldingay, the answer is no. He writes, “In a sense, God did nothing new in Jesus. He was simply taking to its logical and ultimate extreme the activity in which he had been involved throughout the OT story.”[2] He explains further when he writes,

“Insofar as God’s act was undertaken for God’s sake, there was no great need for humanity to know about it. It could have been done secretly or left unrecorded. But insofar as it was undertaken for humanity’s sake as a demonstration of divine love, it needed to be done publicly and to be recorded so that people two thousand years later can still be drawn by it. So do we need the NT? Insofar as Jesus’ execution and resurrection were the logical end to a stance God had been taking throughout OT times, then the OT story gives an entirely adequate account of who God is and the basis for our relating to him.”[3]

So, Goldingay believes that the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Christ were the logical end to the work that God began in the Old Testament. Furthermore, if God had chosen not to inspire the composition of the Gospels, Goldingay believes that the Old Testament saint should have been able to discern the truths well enough to be saved. Goldingay further explains this reasoning when he writes,

“In this sense, the gospel did not open up any new possibilities; those possibilities were always present. Yet the story of Jesus’ execution and resurrection is the story of the ultimate expression of who God is, and therefore, they provide the ultimate public basis for responding to God and trusting in him. We do not absolutely need the NT, but we do benefit from it.”[4]

Goldingay here is quite clear about his willingness to dismiss the uniqueness and special nature of the New Testament for the Christian. Later in this article, he even rejects the importance of the New Testament with regard to the doctrine of the Trinity.[5] In fact, even in his final paragraph, Goldingay is unable to clearly articulate why the New Testament is important. He writes, “Yes, of course, we need the New Testament, but what the church needs to see is that the New Testament does not supersede the Old. We need the Old Testament for an understanding of the story of God’s working out his purpose, for its theology, for its spirituality, for its hope, for its understanding of mission, for its understanding of salvation, and for its ethics.” [6] This conclusion is only possible once Goldingay has used the New Testament to interpret the Old. After this step of the interpretive process, Goldingay no longer needs the New.

[1] Goldingay, “Do We Need,” 235.

 [2] Ibid., 236.

[3] Ibid., 237.

[4] Ibid., 237.

[5] Ibid., 244–245.

[6] Ibid., 248.

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