Applying the OT law today

Discussion in 'The Law of God' started by Pergamum, Apr 3, 2011.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

  2. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    1. The "distinctions" in the Law come from the New Testament, so of course you won't find any in the Old. Try Hebrews.
    2. There are many things in the Bible that are hard to understand. We ought not reject the law outright simply because we find it difficult to rightly divide it.
    3. The author's point about the Law being "embedded in narrative passages" is, I think, irrelevant, given the way the New Testament uses the Law.
    4. When Paul argues against the Law, he argues against it being used unlawfully--for justification or condemnation.
    i. In contradiction to the author's statement, Paul does in fact draw from the Law to base several of his moral prescriptions.
    ii. Paul and the apostles also counseled that we ought to obey God's Law.
    5. I have no clue where he gets the implied antithesis between "abolish" and "observe." Jesus came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets, the whole of the Old Testament, as he says. I agree that "fulfill" means what he says it does. I have no clue how he got from there to "Jesus was not stating that the Law is eternally binding on New Testament believers."
    i. Christians (well, everyone) are required to keep the sacrificial and ceremonial laws--not in the infantile types and shadows, but in their reality--Christ. He is our sacrifice once and for all.
    ii. I reject his assumption that Jesus was modifying the Mosaic Law. It makes far more sense contextually and exegetically to posit that He was correcting the Pharisees' interpretation thereof.
    6. His approach to interpreting the Law essentially makes it superfluous. Since only that which is repeated in the New Testament is valid, and only to the extent that it is repeated in the New Testament, we really can't look to the Law for moral guidance at all.
    i. It is certainly correct to use the New Testament as a guide for interpreting the Old. However, I believe the correct method is exactly the inverse of Hays'--assume that the Old Testament laws are binding, unless the New Testament explicitly changes them.

    That's off the top of my head.
  3. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior

    A very superficial treatment of the Reformed view with numerous errors.

    For example: The distinctions between the moral law (the Decalogue) and civil, and ceremonial laws are not arbitrary. Genesis makes it perfectly clear that many of the moral laws were clearly written on human hearts before God instituted the Sinai covenant and makes one of those commandments and its God ordained punishment explict when in his covenant with Noah's family God commands the death penalty for murder. Exodus draws a distinction between the decalouge and all other Sinaitic laws when only the 10 go into the ark as the foundation document of the covenant.

    While the legal material is embedded in both narrative and covenantal contexts, the OT makes it clear that the Mosaic laws would make the Israelites appear wise to their neighbours (Deut. 4:6). For that to have been so, the laws must have been of such a nature that their wisdom would commend itself to nations outside the covenant. If that was so, then those laws may be wise responses to identical or analagous situations today. Certainly God's actions in judgment against violations of those laws suggest that nations may enjoy greater "common grace" blessings if they institute any laws may that remain required by general equity as WCF 19:4 puts it.

    Although the Mosaic covenant is obsolete the decalogue (with the possible exception of the Sabbath) undeniably remains the foundational moral axioms which are meant to guide Christians as we walk in the good works for which God has created us. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Sermon on the Mount or Paul's Corinthian or Ephesian correspondence. While we are not under the decalogue for justification or sanctification we are repeatedly commended to walk in its ways. And while Paul "does not generally base his moral teaching on this foundation but on the nature of the gospel, the guidance of the Spirit, and the practice of the churches." as Goldingay observed, both forgot that the Sprit "leads [us] in paths of righteousness for his name's sake" (Ps. 23:3). And what are the paths of righteousness? You got it; the ten.

    Hays' worst error is his misdefinition of "pleroo" which never means "to bring to its intended meaning" a meaning not found in BAGD's discussion of the word. BAGD lists the following meanings that it accepts 1. make full, fill
    2. of time fill up or complete
    3. bring something to completion almost certainly the meaning in Matt. 5:17 where Jesus is completing the Sinai Covenant "the Law or the Prophets" by inaugurating the new.
    4. fulfill by deeds i.e. as a prophecy - the word's most common meaning in Matthew.
    (BAGD's editors also gloss an additional meaning "confirm" but putting this in a gloss indicates that BAGD's editors do not believe this possible meaning has been sufficiently established).

    Yet Hays' suggested approach of "Principalism" is not all that different from that mandated by the Westminster Divines when they noted that the "general equity may require" some Mosaic laws to be instituted and enforced today. Certainly it is similar to how Gouge (a member of the committee who wrote 19:4), went about determing what part of a Mosaic stipulation remained applicable now.
  4. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    He chooses to concentrate on what Christians violate instead of what they practise. By this means he is inviting the reader to engage in a process of self-justification rather than genuine examination in the mirror of God's law. The question is, Should they be violating these commandments? The traditional distinction, which the author funds fault with, gave the Christian adequate tools for discerning the moral relevance of the Old Testament laws for the New Testament dispensation. For example, a "moral" law is something which is right in its own nature. The distinction between male and female is an established creation ordinance. Laws pertaining to the distinction between the sexes are based on this creation ordinance and are therefore regarded as moral. Christians therefore have traditionally understood the command forbidding strange apparel to be of continuing force. Again, "rise in the presence of the aged" is based on the respect due to elders. The actual practice of rising as a form of respect was clearly cultural. While the cultural sign may have changed the duty to show signs of respect remains in force. Food laws are specifically "ceremonial," and separated Israel from the nations -- a separation which has now been abolished by the coming of Christ. Hence the ceremonial food laws are abolished also.

    The author forgets the point of his own article. His article is concerned to show how the Old Testament laws apply today. To know what applies today, outside of the biblical world, requires one to move outside the text which relates to the biblical world. To look at what the whole canon of Scripture has to say with relation to the OT laws is not arbitrary, but necessary. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the rule of faith and life. Application to Christian life does not rest on exegetical theology alone, but also on historical, dogmatic, and practical considerations. The traditional approach was formulated by paying regard to all these areas of theological concern, and not merely to the exegesis of the Old Testament text. It especially took into account the progress of redemptive history and the genuine continuities-discontinuities which it found in the revelation of the New Testament.

    This all seems obvious. What might not be obvious to the reader is the way in which the author is placing this basic tenet of interpretative method in opposition to the traditional approach, while he fails to show that the traditional approach neglected it. The fact is, traditional commentaries drew attention to context. It is foolish to think that they were not sensitive to the flow of narrative.

    This is quite obvious also. The question is, How should one view the Mosaic Covenant? The author considers that it is no longer valid and argues that its laws must therefore be seen as obsolete. Remarkably, he draws attention to New Testament texts in violation of his own standards. He maintains Paul's teaching that a believer is not under the law means that the believer is not under the moral law. All this fails to recognise the continuity which exists between the moral teaching of the Old Testament and the moral teaching of the New Testament. The form has undoubtedly been altered in order to pay due homage to the coming of the Redeemer, but the content is obviously the same because we find numerous appeals in the New Testament to Old Testament teaching which is understood to be morally obliging on the believer. See, for example, the exhortations to put on the new man with terms borrowed explicitly from the Old Testament in Ephesians 4:24-29. The many unqualified appeals to Old Testament moral norms demonstrates that the apostles understood believers to be bound by those moral norms.
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Thanks, keep it coming.
  6. captivewill

    captivewill Puritan Board Freshman

    Not completely accurate. We must learn to go to the law for Information but not for Evaluation once we are In Christ.
    We are not under sin because we are not under Law. And we are not under condemnation because we are not under Law.
  7. nwink

    nwink Puritan Board Sophomore

    Mike, on what basis does Paul instruct the children (whether Jew or Gentile) in Ephesus to obey their parents? What moral obligation is binding on them?
  8. Peairtach

    Peairtach Puritan Board Doctor

    We are under the moral law as a pattern and rule of life but not as a CoW to merit salvation.

    We must look at what is usually called the ceremonial and civil/judicial law to see if there are any important moral principles embedded within it, as well as learning the lessons of typology.

    But we must not re-enact typology. This is the genius of typology that it taught the Israelites when it was up and running, as a childhood Church.

    Now that the Old Covenant typological Kingdom has been dismantled the lessons remain for the maturing New Covenant Israel. Some of those lessons are moral in nature.

    We must learn lessons moral and otherwise but not re-enact shadows which will obscure Christ.
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