A wave of the Spirit we should be catching?

surfer

I came across a blog post today that summed up what I think has become a significant movement within christianity.

Learning from a “hippie heretic”

The post was This Nameless Movement of God on Chuck McKnight’s blog Hippie Heretic, and it was based on just one premise (taken from fellow blogger Brian Zahnd):

“God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God was not like Jesus. We have not always known what God is like—but now we do.”

The unstated, but clear, corollary of this statement of belief is that if there is any portrayal of God that is less than the character of Jesus, then it must be a misunderstanding.

This leads Chuck to 5 statements he rejects.

1. God had to punish Jesus for our sins (penal substitutionary atonement)

Jesus’ death was about more than just punishment, so penal substitutionary atonement is an incomplete (Chuck would say “wrong”) understanding. I have discussed this further in Why did Jesus have to die?.

2. God will punish sinners forever in hell (eternal conscious torment)

Close study indicates this is not what Jesus taught – see Three views on hell and judgment. A more detailed study is at Hell, what does the Bible say?

3. God meticulously plans all events (theological determinism)

This is the view of some Calvinists, but instead of glorifying God as Reformed doctrine tries to do, it seems to diminish God.

4. God has ever sanctioned or participated in violence (just war theory)

Did God really command his Old Testament people to kill and annihilate? Did Jesus command us to love our enemies and turn the other cheek if attacked? How can these ideas be reconciled? Should we be pacifists and peace-makers today?

5. God’s inspiration of scripture entails a text that is free from human mistakes (inerrancy)

It doesn’t look like this is the case, and there are good reasons for believing it isn’t true (see In what way is the Bible a special book?). And rejecting this teaching doesn’t necessarily lead to anarchy and loss of faith – in fact it may increase faith.

Spirit or heresy?

Most of these are “hot button” issues, dearly loved by many christians.

But there seems to be a new wave of thinking that Chuck has summed up well in these 5 rejections.

(I think this new wave also includes the rediscovery of the Kingdom of God and of the importance of christians to be caring for the poor, the marginalised and the hurting as part of our living in the Kingdom.)

Forty years ago, I came to the conclusion that the church was entering a time of change that would prove as important as the reformation. Already we have seen charismatic gifts going mainstream, the breakdown of denominationalism, the growth of simple or house churches and an increased emphasis on social justice, community welfare and the environment.

I believe the matters Chuck has raised are a next step, and I see more and more people, good faithful christians, rejecting these teachings in favour of the picture of God given to us in Jesus.

I believe this is a new wave of the Holy Spirit, and I think it will lead to much contention, but eventually much good.

Watch and see.

And join in!

Photo: MorgueFile

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “A wave of the Spirit we should be catching?

  1. rwwilson147 says:

    The main problem I have with this kind of absolutizing of “the character of Jesus” as being equivalent to that of God is that it tends to result in contradictions. You know, like God couldn’t command the killing of anyone because Jesus wouldn’t do that. Come on guys, get a rational grip on even the hermeneutical problem that creates and you might begin to rethink things a bit. Jesus wholly affirmed the Old Covenant Law as not passing away forever and in it his Father commanded the execution of persons guilty of a wide range of disobedience and sin, not just the slaughter of those immersed in cultures with endemic immorality and idolatry. Besides, the New Testament portrays Jesus as the perfect HUMAN more than the absolute GOD. Jesus is presented to us by the apostles as the perfect human example to follow , , , , wait for it , , , , under the NEW COVENANT principles, teaching, and practices (transcending those of the Old). If one could reasonably absolutize some reduced image of Jesus from aspects of his life, while ignoring the parts of his teaching that confirm the character of God one sees in the portrayal of YHWH in the OT, then McKnight’s (and others’) argument might be at least partially persuasive. But rejecting the OT characterization of God, seeing that portrayal as being invalidated by the character of God revealed in Christ, is self-contradictory. The very TEACHING of Jesus contradicts the argument so I don’t find it at all compelling.

    The hermeneutical problem this absolutizing of the pacifist character of God (supposedly revealed in Jesus’ willingness to die at the hands of sinners) raises is no small matter. This hermeneutic is popping up sometimes (!) even in evangelical circles (like that of Greg Boyd and Brian Zhand), but more often is the sort of stock in trade of old and new Liberals. Rejecting any association of God with the violent commands witnessed to throughout the Old Covenant narrative one adopts inherently an hermeneutic of the authority of human perspectives over anything considered divine by every author of what is considered New and Old Covenant scripture. Once one is committed to rejecting the validity of such vast portions of scripture as required by the pacifist absolutizing of the character of God as viewed through these reductionist rules, one has no rational grounds for affirming the authority of ANY of scripture. All one is left with is the individualized authority of relativized subjectivities. So, why should we have faith in Christ, even a pacifist one, if it is one in which his and the apostles’ teachings are also reduced by this myopic hermeneutic? The implications are staggering, but going unexamined by too many.

    Like

  2. unkleE says:

    Hi, thanks for sharing your views. Perhaps I can share a few thoughts of my own on the matters you raise.

    “You know, like God couldn’t command the killing of anyone because Jesus wouldn’t do that.”

    Jesus is recorded as saying, in answer to a request to show them the Father, that if we have seen him we’ve seen the Father (John 14:9). I know some scholars don’t accept that this part of John is historical (do you accept it is?), but I am willing to draw the conclusion that God’s character is like Jesus’, and anything quite different must be not from God or else misunderstood. What hermeneutical problem do you see with that?

    “Jesus wholly affirmed the Old Covenant Law as not passing away forever”

    Luke 16:16 seems to suggest that he saw the gospel as replacing the Law for those who were willing to accept it, but the Law remained for those who wanted it. But he warned us that the law stood as a whole, not a bit could pass from it. I don’t know any Jew or Christian today who obeys the whole law, so I can’t see that is an option. Do you try to obey the whole law?

    “Jesus is presented to us by the apostles as the perfect human example to follow”

    Yeah, I agree with you if you are suggesting that too many christians ignore the humanity of Jesus. But of course it exists side-by-side in the NT with his apparent divinity, and it is now fairly well established by historians that within a very short time after his death, Jesus was being worshiped alongside God. Sure it took quite a long time after that for them to work out their theology of that, but the practice shows us that they saw Jesus’ life as exhibiting divinity.

    “Once one is committed to rejecting the validity of such vast portions of scripture”

    I think you may misunderstand the view I and others hold here. We don’t reject the validity of scripture, we just say that all scripture is not necessarily factual history. Few people would think that the parables of Jesus are factual history, so we already know that other forms of literature can still convey God’s truth. So if (for example) the early chapters of Genesis look like myths, or folk tales (and they do, because there are clear parallels with folk tales and myths of that time), then there is no reason not to treat them as such, while still believing they reveal something God wanted us to know.

    “the individualized authority of relativized subjectivities …. this myopic hermeneutic”

    These are great phrases, but they don’t reflect what I and others think. I have prayed a lot about these matters, as well as studied a lot, and I think I have a consistent view. I’m not sure you understand it (no reason why you should) but I’m happy to discuss it if you want. Also, as I’ve suggested in this post, this isn’t individualised, it is a growing movement.

    Thanks again.

    Like

  3. rwwilson147 says:

    I may have overstated the case somewhat by saying “once one is committed to rejecting the validity of such vast portions of scripture.” But I still think it is an inherent implication of the rejection of any form of violence as being incompatible with the character of God (because Jesus wasn’t violent). This perspective is not merely dependent on a rejection of those scriptures as being “factual history” but as not having any relationship to what God would actually do, because “we know what God is like because we know what Jesus was like.” OK, on the face of this argument one might reasonably suppose that the New Testament representations regarding Jesus are not “factual history” either, right? I have no problem with understanding Genesis, and even some OT narratives as having mythic, and largely metaphorical significance. My point is that if one rejects all portrayals of God as having commanded the execution of particular kinds of sinners because “we know God isn’t like that,” then why not reject the teachings of Jesus that portray God as judge and executioner of those who refuse to submit to his authority? Why shouldn’t we likewise reject the portrayals by Jesus of the Son of Man coming in judgement to destroy those whose lives are devoted to sinful self-indulgence and lack concern for the needs of others? The violence of God’s judgement doesn’t end with the Old Covenant–it is evident in the New Covenant teaching of Jesus, the apostles, and Revelation especially.

    You and those espousing this “non-violent” view of God don’t explicitly reject the authority of scripture nor depend on subjectivist relativist experience in promoting this view, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a necessary implication of such espousal. Carefully read the teaching of Jesus, and the apparent implications of his parables, and I think one must find that Jesus does not reject every participation of God in the inevitable violence of just retribution.

    Like

  4. westofthebluemountains says:

    I contend that people interpret the Bible as a reflection of their own characters, ie how they would like it to be. The Bible is so full of contradictions that there is ample opportunity for this. So in some ways if some devotees cherry pick the violent parts that means they themselves are violent, if they pick the peaceful parts then they are peaceful people themselves. So in some ways Bible interpretation is a character test. Maybe that is how it was meant to be.

    Like

  5. rwwilson147 says:

    Those of us like Jesus that receive the scriptures as the revealed relationship of God to his people do not find contradictions in scripture–there are conundrums and antinomies perhaps, but for those in a positive relationship with the God who has revealed him/herself through and in the people of the scriptural narratives God can’t contradict him/her-self. Absolute historical precision and even narrative consistency is not to be expected of pre-modern history.

    The character test may be whether one has a positive approach to the God who has revealed him/her-self through biblical history or not. If I reflect a positive characterization _vis-a-vis_the whole witness of scripture concerning God it doesn’t mean I am either a violent person nor purely pacifist. I can be pugnacious about scriptural interpretation without be pugilistic.

    Like

  6. rwwilson147 says:

    The rejection of the Old Testament portrayal of God as having commanded the execution of those having engaged in behaviors explicitly proscribed as capital offenses, or the denial of the involvement of YHWH in commanding military conquest, is implicitly a rejection of the authority of scripture. The rejection of these portrayals of God as “not factual history” bleeds over into “not accurate portrayal.” If not accurate as a portrayal of the God who called Israel into covenant with YHWH then the whole corpus of canon is called into doubt and disrepute. This line of reasoning is inherently dismissive of the authority of scripture and undermines faith in the Christ of history. One can reconfigure a Christ according to one’s expectations, but that would be a Christ of individualized faith rather than the Christ of history. To reject even selectively some scriptures of the OT is to reject not only those of the OT but those of the NT because it inherently invalidates Jesus’ affirmation of the OT Word of God. Think about it.

    Like

  7. westofthebluemountains says:

    To reject even selectively some scriptures of the OT is to reject not only those of the OT but those of the NT because it inherently invalidates Jesus’ affirmation of the OT Word of God. Think about it.

    That’s what I mean about contradictions. How are we supposed to reconcile this ?

    Like

  8. unkleE says:

    “This perspective is not merely dependent on a rejection of those scriptures as being “factual history” but as not having any relationship to what God would actually do, because “we know what God is like because we know what Jesus was like.” “

    Hello again. Thanks for your response. I think I would like to respond by sharing a little of my personal history.

    I have been a believer in Jesus for over 50 years, since I was a teen. At first I accepted what I was taught about the killings in the OT. But it wasn’t long before I began to feel uncomfortable. I could accept that God had the right, as creator, to do what he chose with us, but it didn’t seem right to command “Thou shalt not murder” and then command his people to murder. Nor did it seem right to ask emotional people to do what was sort of God’s dirty work – it was too likely to promote a blood-thirsty culture, which we actually see in the Middle East until this day.

    Later on I spent two years as a conscript in the Australian Army during the Vietnam war. I didn’t have to fight, but I was taught how to – to a degree at any rate. I went into the army believing in the fight against communism, but came out believing that fighting was generally wrong – it rarely solves anything (though it sometimes does) and it was clearly quite contrary to the teachings of Jesus.

    So now I had a bigger problem. I couldn’t see how God could command the Jews to kill and yet Jesus teach us to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. I went for years, decades actually, feeling that the commands to kill were deeply disturbing. I felt, and I still feel, that all followers of Jesus should feel disturbed by them. Even if they were genuinely of God, a christian shouldn’t feel they are “normal” but should feel uncomfortable with them, otherwise they haven’t really grasped what Jesus was on about.

    I was aware through all this that CS Lewis, an expert on ancient literature and history, had said that the Bible began in myth. Then I found that the archeological evidence indicates that Canaan probably wasn’t in fact conquered in the way depicted by the OT. So I spent a couple of years, on and off, praying for God’s guidance on how I should resolve all this. I cannot point to any blinding revelation, but I did come across several books which reinforced the idea that these early events were a mix of history and myth.

    So I have come to a view that doesn’t devalue the Bible at all, but accepts it for what it is. It doesn’t require me to try to defend the indefensible, and argue that a loving God gave those commands, and appear totally unloving and quite unlike Jesus in the process. I feel that this view is the truth.

    “OK, on the face of this argument one might reasonably suppose that the New Testament representations regarding Jesus are not “factual history” either, right?”

    I have never been able to see the logic in this argument. If I argued that the book of Revelation is a vision, so Mark must be a vision too, no-one would accept that. So we can see that not all books in the Bible have to be the same genre. So we judge the books to be what they appear to be. Genesis reads like myth or folk tale, so maybe that’s what it is. Joshua reads like a mix of history and legend, so maybe that’s what it is. Job reads like an extended parable or poem, so maybe that’s what it is. And the gospels read like historical biographies, so maybe that’s what they are.

    “I think one must find that Jesus does not reject every participation of God in the inevitable violence of just retribution.”

    I haven’t said he did. I haven’t spoken about God’s ultimate justice at all. What I have spoken about is the killings in the OT vs Jesus’ commands to love. But we need to see the full picture. When Jesus was confronted with “sinful” people, he had compassion on them, it was only the religious hypocrites he condemned. And when Jesus approached Jerusalem for the last time, and knew terrible things were going to happen to those who lived there, he wept. If God judges, it seems clear to me he will judge like that, with grace, compassion and tears. We must be careful, I believe, to never present a less loving and gracious attitude than that.

    I think these things are very important for followers of Jesus, for we show what we believe in our actions as much as our doctrines. And I think it is generally true that if we can’t imaging Jesus agreeing with an action, it probably isn’t right. And I don’t think Jesus would have killed all the Amalekites.

    Like

  9. unkleE says:

    “The rejection of these portrayals of God as “not factual history” bleeds over into “not accurate portrayal.” If not accurate as a portrayal of the God who called Israel into covenant with YHWH then the whole corpus of canon is called into doubt and disrepute. This line of reasoning is inherently dismissive of the authority of scripture and undermines faith in the Christ of history.”

    I wanted to give my thoughts on this as a separate response. I think three things are important here.

    1. The Bible isn’t one book, but 66, written by dozens of different authors over a millennium (more or less). There is no necessary reason I can think of to assume that all books must be equally historical or equally informative. So I’ve never been able to see any reason to reject the whole Bible because of my views of one book.

    2. I’m told the Jews saw their scriptures as a sort of conversation, presenting different sides of different questions. A simple example is Proverbs 26. Verse 4 says: “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be just like him.” but verse 5 says the opposite: “Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes.” If the scriptures were a textbook of infallible godly commands, these two couldn’t be there side by side. But if the Bible contains various sides of some questions, then they make sense. I could give other deeper examples of how doctrines have changed through the OT and into the NT, showing that the Bible isn’t an immutable text book.

    3. I wonder if someone asked you why you believe in Jesus, what you would say? I know that my reasons for believing, and my understanding of what Jesus wants me to do, are all shaped by the NT, not the OT. For sure the OT helps me understand Jesus, but he said (and Paul said) that the OT commands were part of the old covenant that has passed away, and now we live in the new covenant. So if the book of Genesis or Joshua are not part of my reason to believe or my understanding of how I should live, then having a less literal view of them cannot change any of that.

    So I don’t feel that the “Christ of history” is in any way undermined by my view of Genesis or Joshua. But if I was comfortable with the killings, I think that would reflect badly on God’s character.

    Like

  10. unkleE says:

    “So in some ways Bible interpretation is a character test. Maybe that is how it was meant to be.”

    I think you are onto something here. Many christians think God gave us the Bible to give us knowledge, and of course that is true. But I don’t think it’s the whole story. In the end, the Bible communicates more than just information, and God is looking for a response – not just right belief, but right response.

    Like

  11. rwwilson147 says:

    A bit slow to respond, but perhaps some challenge is in order anyway.
    Regarding your comments in response to my saying that dismissal of some of the OT portrayal of God is a hermeneutical move that undermines the value of all scripture, including the portrayals of Jesus as God among us (paraphrasing here, but let’s move on).
    1. You may not feel the need to consider everything you read in the Bible equally valuable, but dismissing huge chunks of it surely diminishes the value of the rest. This seems a reasonable critique; you may need to find a more discerning mode of analysis that isn’t self-immolating.
    2. Proverbs, being wisdom literature, may not be a very good place to go to find justification for subjecting scripture to our personal conversational predilections–ad hoc application doesn’t hold authoritative sway over NT teaching. The trajectory of teaching throughout scripture comes to a pinnacle in that of Christ–if the teaching of Jesus portrays God as justifiably bringing judgment that includes violent consequences it doesn’t seem conversationally valid to ignore or dismiss that as debatable.
    3. What we are commanded to do in the NT and what God is free to do are two different things. This is my main point: conflating what we are told to do as followers of Jesus under the New Covenant does not determine what God can and will do in future judgment (or in the present). This kind of conflation of concepts seems to me to be a kind of intellectual violence that disrupts any possibility of submission to God through scriptural teaching as comprehensively authoritative regarding his character and will for us. Paul, as I understand him, did not say that the OT Law had “passed away” even though he surely believed that New Covenant teaching had surpassed that of the OT (though perhaps not for Jews?). If Genesis and Joshua were not part of how Jesus and Paul and the other apostles reasoned to believe or how they thought they were to live then Jesus’ teaching would have been dismissed as irrelevant (eg., Jesus depended on Genesis for his understanding of the nature of marriage–to cite but one example).

    The question is not whether one is more of less literal in appealing to the authority of God in scripture, but whether one is more or less committed to the accuracy of scriptural portrayals of God. Again, if one dismisses huge chunks of scriptural portrayals of God one has effectively dismissed all of them (including those related to Jesus). There are, in short, inherent conceptual contradictions in the absolutizing of the pacifistic picture of Jesus as the only portrayal of God.

    Like

  12. unkleE says:

    Hi, I think you may have missed my comment before that I don’t “dismiss” or “reject” any portion of the Bible. Perhaps you should go back over what I have said in the comments here. Thanks.

    Like

  13. rwwilson147 says:

    Saying one doesn’t and not speaking/thinking in a way that doesn’t dismiss major aspects of the scriptures can be rather different. Rejecting Old Testament portrayals of God commanding violent judgement as being in error is in fact a dismissal of major aspects of the Bible. I think it is extremely challenging for us 2000 years later to comprehend the conceptual god/world-view of Jesus and the apostles and second Temple Judaism. Jesus and the apostles embraced and express in their teaching an apocalyptic view of the extended biblical narrative. If one is sensitive to the apocalyptic elements of Jesus’ teaching there is no way one can imagine that he conceived of God his Father as being non-violent. Yes, God does want the very best for all of his creatures, especially his specially endowed human ones. But that doesn’t mean God’s nature has suddenly come to be seen as unwilling or unable to deal with evil and injustice through the use of violence in enacting judgment, particularly in “that Day” when the Son of Man returns.

    Like

  14. unkleE says:

    I’m sorry, but you still don’t seem to understand. I’m not “rejecting” or “dismissing” anything. I’m taking the Bible for what it is and what it presents itself as.

    The early parts of the Bible look like folk tales or myths, they are very similar to, possibly taken from, other ancient middle eastern myths and folk tales, there are contradiction within the text if you take it all to be historical, and the archaeology often doesn’t support the stories (of the conquest). You can read more about all this in What scholars tell us about the Old Testament.

    So that appears to be the Bible God has given us. I am reading it as it actually is. If I read it your way, I would be dismissing or rejecting what God has given us and holding on a to a human construct.

    If you think I’m wrong and you want to discuss the issue with me, you really should read that reference and discuss why you think it’s wrong. Thanks.

    Like

  15. rwwilson147 says:

    I may be misunderstanding what you are saying. There is a fair amount of this kind of theological thinking floating around and I may be responding in part to what is being said elsewhere. Nevertheless….
    Not sure what you are saying here:
    “I am reading it as it actually is. If I read it your way, I would be dismissing or rejecting what God has given us and holding on a to a human construct.”

    Historical criticism aside (I skimmed the article you linked)….

    Even though there may be [historical?] “contradiction[s] within the text if you take it all to be historical, and the archaeology often doesn’t support the stories (of the conquest),” I don’t think that necessarily results in a discounting or invalidation of the portrayals of God as enacting judgment through acts of violence. If one rejects as mistaken or false all portrayals of God’s willing or commanding violence then most of Exodus (the plagues, including slaughter of the first born, the horse and riders submerged in the sea), all the judgments enacted or exacted in Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, then one has rejected as invalid the theology of about four fifths of the Pentateuch. What’s left? This is the essence of my argument against the trendency of pacificistic contemporary Christian folk who are rejecting the validity, accuracy, and/or authority of the OT portrayal of God as willing and able to do violence based on their post-biblical conceptualizations and reductionistic approach to understanding Jesus and his teaching.

    Like

  16. rwwilson147 says:

    Ah, backing up a bit in your last response:
    “I’m taking the Bible for what it is and what it presents itself as….
    The early parts of the Bible look like folk tales or myths, they are very similar to, possibly taken from, other ancient middle eastern myths and folk tales”
    I’m pretty sure the Bible doesn’t “present..itself as “…myths,” and especially not as “taken from, other …. myths.” Don’t get me wrong, I love a good metaphor, a great symbolic representation of all things beyond the scientifically reproducible–I get it. But still, even textual criticism can’t remove the fact that God is portrayed as willing to do judgment through violence. That is the question here, right?

    Like

  17. westofthebluemountains says:

    If God was willing to do judgement through acts of violence, why isn’t he doing so today ? Or if he is why isn’t he letting us know about it ?

    God seems to have disappeared from the scene 3,000 years ago, or are believers just willing to pronounce daily reality as “Acts of God” ?

    Like

  18. rwwilson147 says:

    How would one know S/He isn’t doing judgment today? The “why” questions are always intriguing–but I invite you to join me in waiting expectantly for the re-emergence of a globally applicable prophetic witness. Jesus said somewhat ambiguously that it was prophesied that Elijah WILL return and restore all things (this may reasonably include an appropriate attitude of humble submission to the witness of scripture as a whole!). Since all things have not yet been restored yet it seems there is more to come. Perhaps God is speaking clearly today to churches S/He considers faithful but we just aren’t in touch with them. If you are willing to see how God is working today then I think you can find how S/He is working, however ambiguous that work may sometimes seem.
    Grace and peace to you in Christ.

    Like

  19. unkleE says:

    “Historical criticism aside (I skimmed the article you linked) …. If one rejects as mistaken or false all portrayals of God’s willing or commanding violence then most of Exodus (the plagues, including slaughter of the first born, the horse and riders submerged in the sea), all the judgments enacted or exacted in Numbers, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, then one has rejected as invalid the theology of about four fifths of the Pentateuch.”

    Hi! That is the point. The article you skimmed contains a summary of evidence that the early parts of the OT contain considerable amounts of legendary material, some would say almost totally legendary (though I and most scholars wouldn’t go so far). That is what the experts say. We either give serious consideration to what the experts say, or we don’t. But if we don’t, we are putting aside the only evidence we have and relying on blind faith in the historicity of the text. You are free to do that, I am not trying to change your mind, but if you want me to change MY mind, as you seem to, you are going to have to offer some decent evidence.

    But let me ask you some questions that I think may be relevant, please.

    1. Do you think every part of the Bible is equally applicable today?

    2. What do you make of Jesus’ statements that he was beginning a new covenant (e.g. Luke 22:20), that we have a choice between the old and the new covenants (Luke 16:16-17) and that he had a command that changed, or superseded the OT commands (Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28)?

    3. What do you make of the fact that when both Jesus and Paul quote some OT passages which mention God’s vengeance and violence, they omit those phrases? (To understand this, please see Old Testament God angry, New Testament God loving. Right? Or wrong?, and I hope you don’t just “skim read” it).

    Thanks.

    Like

  20. rwwilson147 says:

    Thanks for continuing the conversation; I hope we all benefit from the exchange.

    I woke from my afternoon nap today thinking about the theological implications of saying one has “rejected as invalid the theology” of various Old Testament texts. I think there is a distinction to be made between saying, as scholars and I do, that there are legendary, even mythological, elements sometimes even prominent in OT narratives, the prophets, and the Psalms, and saying the theology is therefore invalid. First of all one needs to understand the theology from the perspective of the authors and hearers in the cultural context in which it was written. There are reasonable arguments that can be presented to understand the legendary and even mythological content as metaphorical and therefore primarily symbolic. If one finds oneself on the horns of an intellectual dilemma it may be because one has spent too much time in and around the Temple of Baal.

    So, even though OT texts contain mythological and/or legendary material that doesn’t necessary demand that one conclude that the content of the OT is invalid. There are true myths and false myths (as well as some that are partially one or the other). My OT prof said that Genesis 1-11 was mostly to be considered “historical myth.” Yes, theologians can put square pegs in round holes! Theologians can also conclude that the pegs and the holes of OT scripture are preposterous distortions of reality. This seems to often be the kind of intellectual dismissal proposed by those from a secular or liberal christian rationalizing perspective that is pre-committed to discrediting the validity of scripture and its authority (for whatever reasons they may have).

    Now, on to your questions.
    1. Every part of the scriptures (O & NTs) are “equally applicable” when properly applied congruently with the perspectives and Spirit of the NT Church. Within the NT itself we obviously see not only various perspectives but also a developing understanding of how to apply scripture. Nowhere do we find any hints that the NT authors saw the OT as having invalid portrayals of the character of YHWH.

    2. Yes, God has brought forth his anointed one in establishing a New Covenant. But it isn’t easy to do a “repeat after Me” when Jesus says “but it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”(Lk.16:17) I think we Christians 2000 years later have a bit of a hard time understanding what Jesus meant by that. To me, “is invalid” isn’t much if any different from “become void.” Hence my objection to people saying that any reference to God doing violent things can’t be true because we only know the character of God through the nonviolent Jesus–I think that misses a few things and leads to untenable and self-contradictory theology. In no case that I am aware of does Jesus’ teaching supersede the OT commands. Even with regard to the most obvious case of food laws Jesus doesn’t just invalidate them, just argues that aren’t as relevant as the more pressing moral matters of the Law. When Jesus says “you have heard that it was said” he is referring overwhelmingly to contemporary interpretation and additions to the OT Law and not the Law itself. Jesus didn’t say his teaching had “changed, or superseded the OT commands.” Matthew 5:21-22, 27-28 are examples of his upholding and clarifying the intention of the OT Law. In the Matt. 5 discourse he quite emphatically says “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” He pretty clearly thought he was merely teaching what the OT Law implied.

    3. I think the NT authors, following Jesus’ teaching, believed that the violence of God’s judgmental (I use that term intentionally) wrath (and this one too), was still to come at the “end of the age.” The apocalyptic expectation that God would intervene in power to bring (violent) judgment on evildoers was re-conceived in light of the messianic events enacted in and through Jesus as being delayed until the return of Christ, when the Son of Man would come to judge the world. Now I will go read your linked post. Ooops, jumped down to the comments section and found my contributions there. “My impression is that when you say “… that there was vengeance in the OT but only forgiveness and love for enemies in the NT” you create too great a dichotomy. Yes, Jesus refined and even amended OT Torah, but that doesn’t equate to a changed portrayal of God.” This is what you and those in the MennoNerd realm are arguing: the OT portrayals of God as commanding violent acts of judgment can’t be true because “we know” God through Jesus. The problem is, you aren’t actually seeing Jesus as who he is portrayed as being in the NT and pose arguments based in reductionistic methodologies.

    OK, my apologies for not re-reading your “Old Testament God angry, New Testament God loving. Right? Or wrong?” right now. But I did read it carefully before and might humbly suggest you re-read my comments there because I am confident that I read what you said quite closely, commented carefully, re-read it when you replied, and did my very best to understand what you were trying to say and responded responsibly and theologically. This is the best I can do. If I am still misunderstanding you or Jesus please let me know how.

    Like

  21. unkleE says:

    “First of all one needs to understand the theology from the perspective of the authors and hearers in the cultural context in which it was written. “
    Yes, I think this is the correct starting point.

    “saying the theology is therefore invalid”
    I make no comment about whether the teaching was “right” at the time, but I say we shouldn’t apply old covenant thinking in the new covenant, so if an old covenant teaching contradicts a new covenant teaching then we can say it would be wrong for us to follow the old covenant one. Would you agree?

    “Nowhere do we find any hints that the NT authors saw the OT as having invalid portrayals of the character of YHWH.”
    “Yes, Jesus refined and even amended OT Torah,”
    I find it difficult to reconcile these two statements of yours. Personally, I think Jesus clearly corrected, or enlarged out of all recognition, or modified, many OT teachings.

    “In the Matt. 5 discourse he quite emphatically says “until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” He pretty clearly thought he was merely teaching what the OT Law implied.”
    Yes, I’m sure you are right. The Law stands 100%. But this means that if we think we should obey the Law, we have to obey it 100%. But when did you visit the temple, sacrifice a bull, send women with periods outside the city, stone an adulterer, or release a goat into the wilderness on Yom Kippur?? I certainly have never done those things. So none of us has gone anywhere near obeying the Law.

    If that was the whole truth, there’d be no hope for any of us. But fortunately Jesus has shown us the way out. If we enter into the new covenant as Jesus tells us in the parallel passage in Luke 16:16-17, we avoid the Law. Paul says the same in Romans 7:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 3:6.

    So an important question: Do you think we should obey the whole Law? If not, then when you say every part of scripture is applicable, you presumably don’t mean so applicable that we should believe it is true for us today and so we should follow it?

    “OK, my apologies for not re-reading your “Old Testament God angry, New Testament God loving. Right? Or wrong?”
    There is no need to apologise. You have no obligation to read my stuff. It was just that I thought you were criticising me for things I didn’t think, and it would save time if you had a better understanding.

    Like

  22. westofthebluemountains says:

    If Jesus had advocated throwing away the Old Testament I doubt if he would have been in a position to continue preaching. He would have been ostracised or possibly killed, so I think his support of the OT was political rather than theological. Does that make him “less Holy” in the eyes of Christians ? Possibly, but you sometimes have to be pragmatic to get your message across.

    Like

  23. rwwilson147 says:

    Responding to your last comment first. I think I am criticizing you for what you are saying in print, whether it is what you “think” you are writing may be different from the way it reads, but I don’t think I’m not being objective, just critiquing the theological implications of what you have written. I commented extensively in the previous post you referred to, so I apparently wasn’t very clear or convincing in what I said there. I may still be misreading you, so don’t give up on me yet. 8>)

    The problem I see is in the implications of using words like “contradict” when one compares the teaching of the NT with that of the OT. If the NT authors don’t see a contradiction then why should we impose one on a theology supposingly based in the NT? Is there actually a contradiction in the NT in relation to the OT? Really? Or is this not a conclusion we might reach not based on what is in the NT but based on our own (mistaken?) assumptions and/or conclusions rooted in our own experiences?

    Jesus surely refined and redirected OT into the New Covenant context, but did he do that in a way that embodies a contradiction to what came before? Did he think the teaching of the OT was henceforth invalid? I can’t imagine him using this kind of language in relation to the differences in his teaching to that of the OT.

    Regarding the question of whether we are to be 100% obedient to the OT Law one needs to first address the different relations we gentiles have to the OT Law in contrast to Jews. Even Paul never argued that Jews weren’t any longer obligated to obey the OT Law! He was nevertheless aware that not everything in the OT Law was to be applied to how Jews were expected to live–adaptation and modifications of OT Law were clearly part of Second Temple Jewish life, as they were even more so for Jewish followers of Jesus. Detailing the divergences and changes is well beyond my ability, but I’m confident that it is not accurate or appropriate to categorize those changes as contradictions.

    When Jesus says:
    “The Law and the Prophets were until John” (Luke 16:16) you seem to have an idea of WHAT they are no longer. The question is what they were then and what they are now in relation to the “good news of the kingdom of God.” I would contend that they are neither invalid nor contradictory to the content of the NT. Notice that in Rom. 7 it is “our sinful passions” that are the problem, not the Law itself. Yes, it is no longer either Jew nor gentile that should live according to the letter of the Law but by the Spirit we are all called to fulfill the Law.

    Reflect on Rom. 2:12-16: 12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them 16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    Paul doesn’t ever say there is a contradiction between the two Covenants, quite the contrary. Under the NT we are all called to do “the work of the law [which is] written on [our] hearts.”

    Your post was about the question’s posed by Chuck McKnight’s “New Wave” theology. I contend that this kind of theology is ultimately self-contradictory and self-defeating because any theological hermeneutic in relation to the OT is or should be applied to the NT as well. If the OT texts, teaching, covenant obligations, and/or characterizations of God are in error, mistaken, invalid, and/or contradictory then since the very textual context and basis for the New Covenant is in error that can only mean that the NT texts, teaching, covenant obligations, and/or characterizations of God are in error, mistaken, invalid, and/or contradictory also. The NT is rooted in, based on, and all-together dependent on the OT–consider the OT mistaken, in error, invalid, contradicting the NT, etc., and one has by necessary implication declared the NT mistaken, in error, invalid, and contradictory. Thinking that we can as individuals, or as gathered groups pick out particular texts as in error inevitably implies that everyone has the authority to do the same, rejecting in part or as a whole the teaching of the NT, the Gospel, the revelation of God in and through Christ our Lord. I find that problematic, to say the least.

    Like

  24. unkleE says:

    Hi, I think I will just concentrate on two matters.

    1. You object to the word “contradict”. But consider this passage (Matthew 5:38-39):

    ““You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

    The first sentence says it is right to take revenge or punish equal to the harm done, but the second and third sentences say not to do that. A contradiction. But the first is from the OT (Exodus 21:24; Lev. 24:20; Deut. 19:21), the second is from Jesus (and the contradiction is even greater if you read the verses referenced).

    So there is at least one place where Jesus contradicts the OT. Would you agree?

    2. I wonder could you answer the question I asked previously please: Do you think we should obey the whole Law? If not, then when you say every part of scripture is applicable, you presumably don’t mean so applicable that we should believe it is true for us today and so we should follow it?

    Thanks.

    Like

  25. rwwilson147 says:

    First of all, let’s recall that the debate here is primarily about the claim that if God is said to have commanded or caused violence again anyone in the OT we can know with certainty that this characterization of God was in error, was mistaken, too culturally-contexually biased to be of use for us today in knowing God, because the Jesus we know reveals a truer picture of God. So, the question is not “did Jesus teach us to follow a different ethic than taught in the OT.” My objection is that too large a theological conclusion is being drawn from the divergence of Jesus’ New Covenant commands and his refinements of ethical trajectories given to the people of God from those of the OT. The argument is not about whether the term “contradiction” can be appropriately applied to the teaching of Jesus in regard to the contrasts between the two.

    1. These are just my impressions, and I haven’t done a detailed study of the history of the “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” interpretation and application in Israel. My understanding is that it was given as a just restraint against excessive vengeance, limiting appropriate judicially applied punishments. During 2nd Temple days it was being interpreted as a justification for personal acts of vengeance even in the slightest instances of insult or conflict. Hence Jesus’ denial of the validity of the inappropriate ways the law was being interpreted, but also charting a new trajectory of application of OT principles (restraint of personal vengeance) into pro-active promotion of shalom in acts of personal self-denial and other-service. So, actually, I don’t see even this as an example of Jesus contradicting the OT because the “you have heard it said” is not “you have seen it written in the Law.” More could be said about why this isn’t a contradiction, but I’ll leave it at that.

    2. I think I already answered this question. If I remember correctly I said Jews may still be obligated to observe the whole Law (but even that is subject to interpretation and may be debatable), but gentiles and Jewish believers in Messiah Jesus are definitely all obligated to adhere to NT teaching. It is not a question of whether the OT is “true for us today.” It is, I think true, but we are not under the old covenant! I said that all of the OT is applicable to us as followers of Christ because as Paul said “all Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,,,” (2 Timothy 3:16; cf. Jesus’ affirmations of the OT Law). As people of faith in Christ, members of the New Covenant people of God, we are obligated to follow the teaching of the apostles rather than the Law as a whole or the explicit teaching of the OT, except as it leads us to faith in and obedience to Christ. May we all come to know him better and follow him more closely.

    Like

  26. unkleE says:

    Hi, thanks again for your thoughts.

    “let’s recall that the debate here is primarily about “

    I’m glad you said this, because it gives me opportunity to say that I write this blog for those who are interested in the ideas I have been pondering and are on a similar journey. I’m not actually that interested in “debate”, for I think it rarely achieves much, and I have no wish to debate you or change your view – that is your business not mine. I have tried to avoid adversarial language in responding to you, and tried to simply outline my own beliefs in response to your questions and comments.

    “The argument is not about whether the term “contradiction” can be appropriately applied to the teaching of Jesus in regard to the contrasts between the two.”

    I’m not sure whether that means you accept that there was at least one place where the NT contradicts the OT, but I’ll leave that up to you to consider further.

    “My objection is that too large a theological conclusion is being drawn from the divergence of Jesus’ New Covenant commands and his refinements of ethical trajectories given to the people of God from those of the OT”

    Yes, I agree with you here. But this isn’t the only reason why I consider some OT matters, including the commands to genocide, are probably not historical and/or true. I have touched on these reasons before, so I’ll just summarise:

    1. The genre of the OT before David seems like it is often saga or folk tale rather than simple historical narrative.
    2. Parts of the early OT are clearly similar to other ancient near east writings that we regard as partly legendary and were written earlier.
    3. Archaeology doesn’t confirm most of it and seems to show some parts are unhistorical.
    4. The commands attributed to God don’t conform to the God revealed in Jesus, and by the standards of Jesus, some commands are evil.
    5. The Bible clearly shows progression in understanding of God and teachings, from Law to Prophets, and from OT to NT. So thinking some commands reflect a more primitive view is consistent.
    6. It doesn’t make any difference to my understanding of Jesus whether some of the OT is legendary or not. They were his scriptures and that is what is important.

    “My understanding is that it was given as a just restraint against excessive vengeance ….. I don’t see even this as an example of Jesus contradicting the OT because the “you have heard it said” is not “you have seen it written in the Law.”

    (1) But the passages saying that WERE INDEED in the Law, as I gave the references.
    (2) In other respects, we agree here. Jesus said a particular command given 3 times in the Law was contrary to his teaching, and he gave us a new command. That is an example of progression, where an old command is no longer applicable.

    “As people of faith in Christ, members of the New Covenant people of God, we are obligated to follow the teaching of the apostles rather than the Law as a whole or the explicit teaching of the OT”

    Then I think we are agreed here too. Thanks.

    Like

  27. rwwilson147 says:

    ISTM that stating one’s views or presenting an argument may not be that different. To ask the question “A wave of the Spirit we should be catching? is to pose a question for debate. I don’t think that the NT contradicts the OT. Our conception of “simple historical narrative” is different from that of people in biblical times. Legendary or even mythological elements can be interwoven in poetic and symbolically representative narrative without being therefore untrue. To declare OT commands of God “evil” is to act as judge over God as revealed to us–if Jesus so declared I would be inclined to agree with you but he didn’t and so the presumptuousness of your declaration is on you not something obvious from NT teaching. The progression in understanding God and His teachings is evident, but the progression is not as much in the teaching as it is in the understanding. A progression to the belief that OT authors were mistaken and in error about what they say about God is not evident from scripture, not even in the NT–that is an interpretation imposed on the texts by contemporary exegetes (I think they are in error). How Jesus understood the OT texts and teaching should inform our beliefs instead of enthusiastic mis-interpreters of his teaching. Yes, the “you have heard it said” passages are in the texts but Jesus in that case is contradicting mistaken interpretations of them not denying the validity of the OT texts. He was, I repeat, not “contradicting” the teaching of the OT as contrary to his, but correcting misinterpretations of it. Jesus understood everything he taught as being rooted in and extensions of the teaching of the OT Law, summarized in his simplification of it: love God and your neighbor as you do yourself. He didn’t see a contradiction; some of us do. Thankfully “we are agreed here”: “As people of faith in Christ, members of the New Covenant people of God, we are obligated to follow the teaching of the apostles rather than the Law as a whole or the explicit teaching of the OT.” Grace and Peace to all in Christ.

    Like

  28. rwwilson147 says:

    I thought I should offer another clarification. There is a difference between saying we should follow the “new wave” of the Spirit of Jesus and calls to follow the “new wave” movement that commits one to consider OT portrayals of God as evil based on distorted interpretations of the NT. This is the essence of my objection to mistaken arguments for obeying the non-violent NT ethic. Do follow Jesus in considering the OT as the eternal Word of God; do not follow contemporary quasi-Marcionites in proclaiming justified a dis-trust of the OT narrative characterizations of God based in misinterpretations of NT teaching.

    Like

  29. unkleE says:

    Hi, I think we have now clearly identified the differences between us.

    1. You think my expressing a different view to yours is posing a question for debate, whereas I think it is offering an opinion to be considered and discussed.

    2. You think the statements “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” and “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” are not contradictory, the apparent contradiction is only because of a wrong interpretation, whereas I think the contradiction is clear, there is no other way to interpret the statements and Jesus made it clear he was correcting or changing the old commandment.

    3. You apparently think the Old Testament is “the eternal word of God” and therefore cannot be contradicted, whereas I see no such claims in the Bible, but rather examples of the OT being corrected by the NT.

    I don’t think we are likely to move from those positions, do you?

    Like

  30. rwwilson147 says:

    RWW: I’ll quote your remarks and comment as RWW.
    Hi, I think we have now clearly identified the differences between us.

    1. You think my expressing a different view to yours is posing a question for debate, whereas I think it is offering an opinion to be considered and discussed.

    RWW: No, your title (” A wave of the Spirit we should be catching?”) posed the question for debate. Synonyms to “debate” are “discuss, talk over/through, talk about, thrash out, hash out” as well as “argue, dispute.” I think I have been discussing your stated views.

    2. You think the statements “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” and “If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” are not contradictory, the apparent contradiction is only because of a wrong interpretation, whereas I think the contradiction is clear, there is no other way to interpret the statements and Jesus made it clear he was correcting or changing the old commandment.

    RWW: There are in fact a variety of different ways Jesus’ “eye for eye . … but I say to you” has been interpreted, so there are other ways to interpret it. I think you are not considering the historical context and the likely implications of the difference that makes in understanding what Jesus said.

    3. You apparently think the Old Testament is “the eternal word of God” and therefore cannot be contradicted, whereas I see no such claims in the Bible, but rather examples of the OT being corrected by the NT.

    RWW: Did I use the phrase “eternal word of God”? If Jesus didn’t think he was contradicting the OT why should we? If Jesus didn’t think he was correcting the OT primarily (even tho in one case “Moses gave you that commandment” because of the hardness or your hearts) why should we make that such a prominent aspect of our approach to the OT? Even in such a definitively binding way as to discredit major and extensive aspects of the OT as mistaken, in error, false representations of God, etc.?

    I don’t think we are likely to move from those positions, do you?

    I’m inclined to think you are mis-representing my positions to a certain extent so it isn’t easy to answer that question, but if that is how you feel, then I suppose you weren’t actually posing a question for discussion when you started this thread.

    Like

  31. unkleE says:

    Hi RWW,

    ” No, your title (” A wave of the Spirit we should be catching?”) posed the question for debate.”

    May I give you a short discourse on discussion? I am currently reading a book, Difficult Conversations which discusses how generally futile arguments tend to result from having “a battle of messages” (where each person acts as if they are right and the other person is wrong) rather than a “learning conversation” (where each person tries to understand and learn from the other while offering their own insights).

    I am trying to have a learning conversation, asking you to explain your view, trying to understand it, presenting my own view in a non-dogmatic way that doesn’t in any way say I am the only one who is right nor try to push you to think the same. If you look back through this conversation you’ll see lots of evidence of that in the language I have used.

    Saying “No ….” is indicating you think yours is the true understanding and mine is wrong. And you are saying it about something I wrote! Do you see the problem here? You are telling me that you know quite certainly what my words meant!

    I suggest to you that the “synonyms” you have offered are not exact fits (synonyms almost never are, or some words would be superfluous). I think some of those words represent something like a learning discussion while others are more like a battle of messages.

    So let me make myself clear. I am not interested in a battle of messages. I think I am right about certain things, and if someone thinks oppositely, then I think they are wrong. But I recognise I am not infallible. So I try to express my ideas in open language that doesn’t shut the other person down, but leaves the discussion open, friendly and cooperative rather than adversarial.

    I think your language is often more adversarial and a battle of messages. I don’t blame you for this – this is the way I naturally speak too. But I am learning that on the internet battles of messages aren’t generally helpful. So I’m hoping you might come to the party.

    “There are in fact a variety of different ways Jesus’ “eye for eye . … but I say to you” has been interpreted, so there are other ways to interpret it.”

    I am interested to hear any other reasonable ways to interpret this.

    “Did I use the phrase “eternal word of God”?”

    Yes, actually, you did, see your comment on 13 November, 2016 at 2:58 pm, and you urged me to see it that way.

    “I’m inclined to think you are mis-representing my positions to a certain extent so it isn’t easy to answer that question, but if that is how you feel, then I suppose you weren’t actually posing a question for discussion when you started this thread.”

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I have asked you many questions, tried to understand your answers, and echo them back to you.

    But I was actually posing a question for discussion, and we have in fact had a discussion, so I cannot understand why you say this. But all conversations have to stop somewhere, and when two people have explained their views without agreeing, then that is often a good time, don’t you think?

    Thanks.

    Like

  32. rwwilson147 says:

    Ah, so teach me that saying “no” isn’t OK–aren’t you inherently saying no to my saying no? Contradictions are a possibility I am open to; if I contradict you by counterargument that is different from contradicting you based on your misunderstanding of what I said, and different from asserting that you are contradicting yourself. Discourse is complicated.

    Ah, again, so I am dogmatic but you haven’t been? OK, maybe. But please consider an alternative interpretation to the process. I can only proceed on the basis of what words mean in common conversation. If I misunderstood that you were asking a question about whether we as Christians should follow some “new wave of the Spirit” can you blame me for thinking that you were asking a question that is possibly refutable?

    Ideas and interpretations are either debatable or they aren’t. If you think I’m wrong to debate the question you posed then who is being more dogmatic? The marketplace of ideas is inherently adversarial–it can’t be avoided. I think you haven’t always represented back to me what I said but some possible interpretation of that which you found wrong or misguided or whatever, in effect saying “NO” to what I’ve said also but …

    If you read a variety of commentaries on what Jesus meant when he said “you have heard that it was said” you will find alternatives to your idea that he was contradicting the OT Law.

    Ah, yes, I did write the phrase “eternal word of God” but it wasn’t my thought but that of Jesus. I don’t think I was misinterpreting what Jesus meant by saying that not a jot or title of the Law would pass away until all things were accomplished and heaven and earth passed away. So, if you want to dispute that idea please take it up with Jesus.

    In any case, if you can more simply present your case about Jesus contradicting the OT from the explicit teaching of Jesus rather than an imposed presuppositional
    lens I’d be more open to considering it. I’m pretty confident that the apostles and authors of the NT didn’t think Jesus or they were contradicting OT Law or the Prophets or the Writings. Again, if you have evidence that they did, then I’ll relent from thinking that they did or that we should.

    I do hope we have had a discussion worthy of rereading and rethinking.
    All the best to all in Christ.

    Like

  33. unkleE says:

    “No” isn’t necessarily a word we should never use. But in a discussion, I think we need to be wary of directly contradicting someone as if our view was fact, especially when it is telling another person how they are thinking. But you notice I didn’t tell you what you should do, rather I invited you to join me in being less adversarial. The choice is yours.

    “can you blame me for thinking that you were asking a question that is possibly refutable?”

    I don’t blame you at all (I said that too!). And I don’t mind you expressing a different view and suggesting I change my view. I am just trying to be less adversarial, and hoping you will respond to that. i.e. share your view as I share mine, and leave it to me if I accept it.

    “If you think I’m wrong to debate the question you posed then who is being more dogmatic?”

    I have tried to avoid saying you are wrong (though I may have slipped up slightly somewhere). Instead I have just shared what I think, and read what you think. We both know we disagree, but the discussion goes better, in my opinion, when the two people leave each other a little more space. God respects our freedom to disbelieve, and I think we should all give each other the same freedom. Plenty of people don’t agree, but I will still try to discuss that way, and I hope others will take up the idea too.

    “If you read a variety of commentaries on what Jesus meant when he said “you have heard that it was said” you will find alternatives to your idea that he was contradicting the OT Law.”

    Well I don’t recall any such explanations, so I’d be interested if you gave some examples.

    “I was misinterpreting what Jesus meant by saying that not a jot or title of the Law would pass away until all things were accomplished and heaven and earth passed away.”

    I don’t disagree at all, I think that is fundamental. Jesus is saying the Law remains totally, whole, complete. So do you keep the Law 100%? Do you even try to? Is it even possible for you to keep the whole law? If you cannot, where does this leave you?

    This is the most important question we have discussed, I think, and I’m really interested in your answer.

    “if you can more simply present your case about Jesus contradicting the OT from the explicit teaching of Jesus rather than an imposed presuppositional lens I’d be more open to considering it. I’m pretty confident that the apostles and authors of the NT didn’t think Jesus or they were contradicting OT Law or the Prophets or the Writings. Again, if you have evidence that they did, then I’ll relent from thinking that they did or that we should.”

    I don’t think I have used an “imposed presuppositional lens”, I have just taken the scriptures as they stand. But even if I had, I think this is another example of adversarial argument that is unhelpful, for you cannot possibly know my motivations. So I think those sorts of comments take us nowhere.

    I gave you that evidence regarding “an eye for an eye”, and I haven’t seen any other explanation of that. I have written it up in more detail in The Old Testament Law and Christians, so you might like to check that out. Whether you think I’m right is up to you.

    Thanks.

    Like

Please leave a comment - anonymous is OK, but please identify yourself with a username. An email address is needed if you want notification of new comments. Please be courteous and constructive - see the Comment policy (link in the footer).

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s