Monday, June 21, 2010

The Old Testament - in or out?

One of the questions I have been asking myself lately - and this comes out of the debate about same-sex unions - is how do we determine which parts of the OT are in and which are out?
I know that in one sense they are all 'in'. I also know that for many people they are almost all 'out'. A common cry about the same-sex thing is 'we don't believe in Leviticus anymore'.
John Bailie has written something that asks these sort of questions.
The thing with the OT is that sometimes Jesus reinforces the commands and actually makes them more demanding - such as in the Sermon on the Mount where he says 'you've heard you shouldn't murder, but I'm telling you not even to be angry in your heart' and so on. Then there are other commands that get done away with - the Sabbath being one. Peter's vision of the sheet with unclean animals also does away with some of the OT law - but which part? How much of it?
I'm sure that people have thought and written about this, but I'm feeling the need to get a bit more on top of it for myself.

3 comments:

Thomas Scarborough said...

There is the threefold classic distinction, with regard to Old Testament law: civic, ceremonial, and moral law. People seem to get these all muddled up. By and large, it would seem to me that these categories work. One also has the threefold use of the law within the Church: civil, pedagogical, and normative. The Reformers said that it really comes down to one thing: the covenant of works vs. the gospel.

Anonymous said...

Oh Thomas, Life would be a whole lot easier for you if you just became a Dispensationalist.

Thomas Scarborough said...

I'm pretty good at it already, with my dispensations of Port in the evenings.

The "orthodox" theology I refer to has been much debated, especially the uses of the law within the Church. I don't concur with all of the party line, being rather antinomian or anarchist myself. However, it's useful to know what theology has said by and large.

But you should see that I hold great promise. I've got as far as TWO dispensations by now ... law and grace. Others haven't progressed beyond ONE.