Our long-time contributor, cartoonist and all-round good guy, Carl d’Agostino, raised the question many Christians raise, in response to yesterday’s post on Marcionism, which is why we have the Old Testament at all? At my request, the comment made by Servus Fidelis forms the basis of his post here. C451
Carl, let me try to explain why the Old Testament really matters.
Did God create a covenant with the Jews and did He found a church and make of the Jewish People the Chosen Ones or not? If not, then the God of Abraham, Isaac and Moses is a fairy tale and the Decalogue a mere fabrication without any meaning at all. It makes no difference to you that God brought the Israelites out of Egypt or that God instituted a hierarchy and a priesthood and led them through the wilderness of this world to a land of milk and honey. Are you sure you wish to throw out the prophets and the psalms of David and the foreshadowing or models of the reformed Church and the NT practices that Christ instituted and commissioned in His own Blood? It is still the work of God and it is the nature of revelation that it should unfold and blossom. Every blossom of beauty starts with a seed; God’s words are not without significance in any age. His instructions are not arbitrarily dismissed until or unless God makes the change and abrogates one practice for another. Let us also not confuse the Law and the law. The small letter law seems to be more like what we call practice; which should reflect the Laws of God and bring them to life in the living of the people from day to day.
Without an understanding of the richness of the OT you will never have a proper understanding of the NT. All of the new testament reiterates and quotes passages from the old. You can hardly read a single book in the NT that does not do this and note that they speak with great honor and respect for what their God has done for them. You would throw out all that which is not in keeping with modern evolution of thought or all that is not based in a mere historical record by men. Your faith would be impoverished by its lack of understanding of the development of Christianity whose roots go back to prehistoric times.
Was Christ wrong to follow the Law of the Jews? There is no escaping His Jewishness. He did not come to change a jot or a tittle of the Law and yet He did throw out the extraneous dross that had built up within the faith and abrogated many practices (the law) which were no longer appropriate. He interpreted the OT so that it is understandable and thus the OT sheds light on Christ and lives its history in expectation of His arrival.
Parsing the works of God is an impoverished faith without roots and without meaning; and it misses much of the workings of the One True God . . . as in a world bereft of the OT, He is a God that cannot get things right and makes mistakes and does not meet the modern enlightened thoughts of men of our enlightened times.
God to the modern enlightened and moral superior age that we live in, is cruel and unforgiving and violent and yet there is another way of reading the OT. Is there anything more beautiful than the Song of Songs or anything worth gaining from a reading of the Psalms and Proverbs or the book of Wisdom? Is the history of the maturation and corruption by men of God’s Church not a lesson worth studying and learning from? It is a totality that cannot be avoided. It is like chucking your grandparents from your family tree because you are of a different age and understanding of things than they were.
Headlines: God makes a big mistake and tells the Jewish people that He will be their God and that they will be His people. Since we think that the OT is not befitting our New God then He must not be an omniscient God since He makes such fundamental moral, ethical and judgmental errors . . . and so why should you or anyone else accept Him today if He was capable of such big and obvious blunders in the past?
Perhaps more time should be spent looking for the themes (the seeds) of our modern faith and the patience and love God endured on our behalf until such time that He felt that mankind was ready to hear the Word of God in the flesh and complete His plan for our salvation. Give thanks to God for the whole journey of humanity as it was necessary or it would not have occured.
And as to our own sinfulness and disobedience: O happy fault. For it gave to us a most remarkable Redeemer.