Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: An Introduction by Dr. Walt Kaiser Jr.
The first time I encountered the issue that the method of Christ-centered preaching from the Bible was originally intended to solve was in Dr. Sidney Greidanus' work entitled Sola Scriptura: Problems and Principles in Preaching Historical Texts, (Toronto: Wedge Publishing, 1970). In his account of the issue, the problem that particularly arose in the 1930s in the Gereformeerde Kerken in Holland, one to which he and a number of others of us rightly objected, was the manner in which some of the Biblical preaching was being practiced in the Dutch Church at that time. As he saw it, the issue was this:
Simply put, [his and] their complaint was that the preachers, in preaching historical texts [from the Bible], would display the persons mentioned in the texts [of Scripture were used] as models to be imitated, as examples to be followed -- hence the term "exemplary preaching." (Sola Scriptura, pp. 8-9).
These Biblical examples were declared to be normative, but that was not always with the verification of the Biblical author's assertions about those same examples in the Biblical text. Greidanus suspected that this was little more than the influence of 19th century Liberalism, with its emphasis on personality, for had not Schleiermacher's school of thought depicted history as the religious consciousness in individual persons? Thus, the personality idea was used as a bridge from the B.C. situation to get to the more relevant and personal concept of preaching. In the views of many, then, Liberal theology, and such broad provisions for exemplary preaching, went hand in hand!
For some time, I had also been trying to lead future pastors into preaching from the whole Bible, especially on the larger number of narrative texts, for it was clear that even though some 76% of the Bible comes in the earlier testament, there were precious few sermons that dared choose a text from the narrative portions of the Old Testament, not to mention the task of clearly bringing out the authoritative point the Spirit of God was making in these texts, or in any similar passages from the first testament. Thus, the twentieth century Church was being raised on a canon within a canon: the New Testament was being used as the arbiter, and the new coin of the realm, for interpreting, or, in many cases, reinterpreting, the entire Bible. The message of the Old Testament was being reinterpreted to say what the New Testament text taught in spite of the words of the first testament.
Out of this maze of issues, my quest for finding, for myself and my students, a way to preach on the Old Testament text, and in particular to teach and preach on its narrative sections, began as the key issue faced by pastors and teachers of the Old Testament, and it has continued as one of the key issues for my approach to the former testament for now well over a half century.