Dale Ralph Davis on the OT, Church Life and Discipline

Interview here. Some highlights:

On the Old Testament:

Could you tell us how you think about preaching from the Old Testament and what principles you use?

“The basic thing is that you try to show people … let me put it this way … Since God has given us the Old Testament revelation it comes to us in the form of literature. And that literature in whatever form it came God intended as a revelation of himself. So whether I have song or whether I have narrative, or whether I have prophecy or so on, I’m being most faithful to whatever text I have if I show God’s people what God’s revealing about himself in that text. Which means that if it’s a narrative passage will it involve some historical background? Yes it may. But if that’s all I do I’m not being faithful to that text. I need to show them what that’s declaring about God. For instance if I’m in 1 Samuel or something, you don’t just explain how David escaped from the people of Keilah and the Ziphites etcetera, in First Samuel 23, but you need to show how God was at work there, and how God in his gracious providence, for instance, provided Jonathan as a means to encourage David.”

[I’ve heard the comment that some would prefer his new commentary on the Psalms to be more Christocentric, not sure if they would apply the same to some of his other work.]

dale ralph davis - tim - aj
Tim, DRD and AJ

On Church Life

Can you tell us a bit about Woodland Presbyterian and its size and what the people there were like and how church life worked?

“Probably about 200 people more or less and when we would have new members join us we would tell them it’s sort of a vanilla type church, as we called it. We didn’t try to do anything super duper. We didn’t have fancy programs or something for everybody and our view was that as far as families went (we had a number of single people in the church too) they were better served by trying to practice godliness in their own home rather than dragging themselves off to church all the time for some activity. So, because of that we put the emphasis on the preaching and teaching of the Word, so we had morning and evening services on the Lord’s day. But we didn’t have a whole lot of other stuff.”

Can you tell us a bit more about practicing godliness in the household? Were there specific ways you encouraged families to relate to one another?

“I think in our America culture, there’s a mentality in the church that people think we need to provide people with this and this and this. If they think there’s a need for something, then somehow the officers or the eldership of the church has to provide them with something, they have to start a program, they have to start a small group, they have to do this or that. Our view was if you feel the need for something like that, and it’s not there, then go start it. ‘You want a small group Bible study?’ ‘You want some help with it?’ well holler at us ‘You think there ought to be prison ministry?’ then check out what options there are, then start one or get involved in one but don’t necessarily expect the ‘government’, don’t expect the church to level something down from on high on you. I guess it’s trying to put responsibility on the initiative of the believers that feel the need and say use your own ingenuity and initiative about some of these things and don’t expect some program, we’re a church of two hundred people, we just can’t do everything. And it was a little bit of a struggle, because people aren’t geared to think that way, they’re a bunch of socialists, and to get them to think that way sometimes is a little bit of a trick.”

On love and discipline

“We tried not to go to situations where we carried them out to a point of formal discipline, we tried to handle it informally, but sometimes I think people knew if there wasn’t a proper response to things and if they continued in an unbiblical mode, like walking away without justification from a marriage relationship or something, I think they knew that they would face a disciplinary procedure from the church. I think that was in the background. We weren’t severe, we weren’t going around looking around for offenders, but this comes up in your lap, those things take place. But I do think our people knew that if something like that happens, and if they didn’t make a biblical response then they would be subject to discipline from the elders. I think that doesn’t deter people, I mean they’re going to do what they’re going to do, but I do think that was in the background, and sometimes I think some of that helps. We would even have people who might come to the elders and ask them about some situation and ask them if we were dealing with it or not. So there was a sort of an expectation that there would be a certain level of discipline if there some kind of public sin or that sort of thing.”

Via Ref 21

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