Saturday, December 13, 2008

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

The link between the Old Testament and New is problematic for many Christians, and has been since the first century. A typical evangelical view might be summarized as the moral law remains but the ceremonial law has passed away. To which I say, "rubbish!"

The law as a means or a measure of relationship with God, moral, ceremonial or otherwise, is caput, beyond doubt. It never did work as means of achieving rightness with God, and it never could have-- it wasn't meant to. It was no more than a means of restraining the Jews until Christ came, and uncovering for any exposed to it the fundamental sinful nature of mankind. It actually fertilizes our inate sinfulness, and offers no remedy nor instruction as how to overcome it. Those who choose to live by a legal principle, inspired though it may be in the Old Testament, are fallen from grace and apart from the benefits of Christ, even if they call themselves Christian.

Is there some benefit to the Old that is still viable in the realm of the New? Yes, for there is a revelation of God there and the intimation of Christ. People have claimed that the Old Testament God is different than the New, but that is an utter impossibility. There is but one God and he is immutable. What God revealed himself to be in the Old Testament, he still is today and always will be. Any conception from the New Testament cannot be taken to adapt, assuage, adjust, or evolve what God was in the Old.

For some this may present a difficulty. Aligning Old Testament martial characteristics with what appear to be touchy-feely New Testament graces can prove to be a climb up Everest. God, however, does not change and we need to let his self-disclosure speak for itself. With a cat in one arm and a dog in the other, we must wrap our arms around the totality of all he reveals himself to be and embrace God for who he is, majestic and enigmatic. God, as we're introduced to him through our friends Moses and the Prophets, may be a bit scary, but in order to truly know the inviting God of our friends the Apostles, it is incumbent upon us to make new friends but keep the old.


Anonymous said...

how about with a lion in one hand and a lamb in the other?

it is difficult to understand that God wants for us to be a certain way, and that we can not be that way in our own strength, and knowing that the Holy Spirit is in us to help us to learn some of these things and change our heart in this direction, and to know that we are to listen to the Holy Spirit and follow, all the while being given God's grace and mercy through His Son, Jesus.

to know that this is a continual process...on and on and on...

what a process we are in!

i often try to use my own strength and fall flat on my face. i often lose patience with the process and want to have changes happen faster or in a different way and usually end up in a time of attitude adjustment...kind of like a child getting time out.

i know it is best to be patient and live in God's grace and follow the Holy Spirit.

and it really is good to see as much as we can of the picture that we have been given.

thank God that He has not given up on me.

good post.

Heanous said...

Great Post! The old timers referred to this topic as follows: "The Old Testament is the New Testament contained, the New Testament is the Old Testament explained". That being the generalization that it is, isn't very far off I don't think. I often find myself flipping back and forth. Sometimes I feel lead to study in the NT but it isn't long before I feel like going back to the OT. I am glad for both. I think they give us a bigger picture of who God is. While He is gracious and merciful He can also be fearsome judge when it is needed. Plus it is also a great source document for historical references. (That ones for you Pops!)

Anonymous said...

“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”

So, if God is immutable, the New Testament God is...?

SLW said...

He who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it in the day of Jesus Christ. We must remain in faith through our trials, tribulations, and frustrations to see it.

SLW said...

Jesus sure didn't have any problem with the Old Testament. Imho, the major error in using the Old by those living in the revelation of the New is legalism: the notion that abiding by those laws, or even permutations of them, grant an individual merit before God. That is not just heresy, but damnable heresy.

SLW said...

Is that a direct quote from Dawkins? If so, that leaves me wondering who you might be.

God is what he is and does what he does, whether we like it or not. As I said, he's enigmatic, and quite beyond our ability to fully comprehend. As the prophet Isaiah (55:7-9) tells us: 'Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."'

But God has said some things about himself and our relationship with him clearly:

He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30).

For those hardened in unbelief there is no hope, but for those which humble themselves and believe, there is life and peace. We are not God's equals and discover nothing about him trying to stand toe to toe.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this is a direct Dawkins quote. Ok, so God is what he is and does what he does. So, then he is...(I won't repeat the quote). And so Jesus is cool with genocide.

Tony Scialdone said...

Amen, brother!

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

SLW said...

Jesus never repudiated the displacement and death of the Canaanites (who were actually several disparate tribal groups) by the Israelites. God does get to do with the earth and the people on it what he wants. It certainly is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. However, it would be a mistake to infer that Jesus supports ethnic cleansing or genocide as a repeatable principle of action by mankind as a result.

SLW said...

Welcome to the Sound. Are you my old friend, RIP, or a Tony totally unconnected?

That's the principle straight from the Apostle's mouth.

Anonymous said...

So, Jesus doesn't repudiate genocide, but we're not allowed to do it again. Very confusing.

Ok, we're not allowed to commit genocide anymore. So, the immutable God changed His position on genocide then, yes? How many other positions did He change?

SLW said...

No change at all. He commanded one instance, one time in time. We cannot take that as a banner and go do likewise on the basis of precedent. There were reasons for that instance within redemptive history that will not and cannot be repeated.

Anonymous said...

"There were reasons for that instance..."

Yeah, I believe that's called "situational ethics" or "relativism".

SLW said...

For you perhaps, I call that God being God.

Anonymous said...

As you please.

Anonymous said...

i have a question you want to take a wack at it?