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Author Topic: Old Testament vs. New Testament  (Read 1447 times) Average Rating: 0
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Schultz
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« on: May 10, 2004, 05:42:16 PM »

Okay, I thought I'd pick the brains of our resident theological giants here at OC.net.

I'm currently arguing with a friend of mine over the inclusion and use of the Old Testament in the Bible.  He enjoys picking out the rather gory bits and using those as an example of how the "Christian god" is an evil and ruthless being.  He likes quoting from Leviticus and Joshua.  

In the midst of our discussion, he's asked a very honest question, "Why is the OT a part of the Bible"?  

I'd like to hear your thoughts on it, aside from "because the Church says so".
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« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2004, 05:51:33 PM »

Was there a division into the Old and New Testament? When did that terminology come in?

Was it not all 'Scripture' with a growing appreciation that the Gospels and Paul's letters etc were also 'Scripture'?

Is the division not later? Even Reformation?

Questions not answers.

PT
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Fr. David
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« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2004, 06:40:55 PM »

Umm...theological giant?  Hardly.  Some thoughts, though...

There was the separation of the two testaments in the VERY early Church (Origen, I think).  

The main reason that we use the OT, obviously, is because it points to Christ.  That was the catechism of the first believers; they used it (as Christ had) to present a picture of who God was, along with the plan of salvation as traced through history.

As for the gory parts...well...I'm surprised your friend didn't mention Judges or the "waters of Babylon" Psalm where we celebrate the idea of bashing the heads of wicked men's children on the rocks, but...the idea is troublesome.  It helps to look at the OT as being incomplete, like it's waiting for something to happen (which is was).  Christ said He came to fulfill the Law/Prophets (Matt. 5:17), to give it its "cadence" or "resolution," so to speak.

Paul said the Law (and prophets, by implication) was a tutor (Gal 3:24-25) and needed replacing by faith in Christ (v. 26).

Since we see these (and many other) references to the Law undergoing a shift, it stands to reason to ask: what kind of a shift, and why?

The shift seems to be this:

OT: The Isrealites were called to be a witness of God's power within a world that valued land acquisition and cattle quantity, etc. as signs of your God's power and favor; the campaign through Canaan thus seems appropriate for the time.  Also, there's the fact that this land Israel was to inheirit (sp?) was pretty much overrun by tribes who worshipped everything under, and including, the sun, and committed all kinds of lovely atrocities in the name of their god, the tree stump -- the most obvious parallel to the NT with what Israel did to them (i.e., kill to the every last man, woman and child in most cases) would be what St. Paul calls, "giving them over" to their desires (Rom 1:24), or basically, giving them the end result of what they were pursuing anyway within idol worship/child sacrifice/orgiastic sex worship, etc.

NT: The parallel becomes internal.  Finally, the weakness of the Law to transform the inner man is replaced with a law of grace that works man from the inside out.  Now the landscape is not a physical area of land, but an inner area of the soul.  Now there are different enemies -- demons, our passions, etc. -- who want to do things just as bad as (if not worse than!) those the Israelites drove out.  We are to be just as merciless towards them as God commanded the armies of old to be towards His enemies.  Like everything else, the violence of the OT has not only been used to glorify God during the time it ocurred, but also during a future time of which those who chronicled Israel's journey were not aware (1 Pet. 1:11-12).

Hope my rambling answered some questions?
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2004, 10:46:01 AM »

Oh, it did indeed.  Wonderful response, Pedro.  Thank you.

And he does like to bring up the bashing of babies heads. Tongue
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« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2004, 11:47:13 AM »

To just add a further point to what Pedro was saying, the entire OT is the history of the people of Israel, from their fall to them through the centuries refining their people as gold is refined from ore so that one day it would be possible for God to be contained within one of them.  They started out as petty, idolatrous, violent primitives, and at times it seemed as though little had changed.  Yet gradually they were able to form the basis for God's entry into the world.  

Also, the psalm verse about bashing the little ones upon the rocks is an important lesson we all need to take to heart.  If we do not destroy our sins and temptations when they are little, they grow up and destroy us or our children.
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« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2004, 12:42:18 PM »

YEah, I explained how the bashing of the little ones against the rocks refers to our own temptations and sinful inclinations, that we need to cut the nip off at the bud, so to speak.  Of course, he didn't respond to that because, well, I proved him wrong Tongue

I've taken the opportunity to use this as an opportunity to evangelize, pointing out that the Church exists because of these apparent inconsistencies.  The Church is not Man's gift to God (the common Protestant fallacy) but rather God's gift to Man.
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« Reply #6 on: May 11, 2004, 05:04:07 PM »

the Church exists because of these apparent inconsistencies.  The Church is not Man's gift to God (the common Protestant fallacy) but rather God's gift to Man.

Gotta love the whole "Church Invisible" thing -- where only those who are "really serious" (whatever that means) -- are the ones God accepts...and of course, the one saying it is always "really serious."
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