Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
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30-01-2012, 11:04 AM
Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
I was arguing with a Catholic friend about his blatant disregard of Old Testament commands such as killing adulterers or homosexuals. He gave me the argument that "you have to see the morality of those commands in context, as they applied differently to desert tribesmen", and I didn't have a ready response. As I looked it up and thought about it for a while, I came upon some new insights (new to me, anyway) that I decided I would share with you guys.

Reasons why Christians Shouldn't Disregard the Old Testament Laws:

1. They were not given with an expiration date. I've often heard it said that Jesus' return changed "the law", but no one has given a scriptural reference for why this should be. Not one law was given with the command to "follow this until Jesus returns".

2. Jesus didn't tell anyone to stop following the Old Testament laws. Upon being accused of breaking the sabbath, Jesus makes a fallacious argument (circumstantial Ad Hominem) by saying that others can't accuse him of dishonoring the sabbath because they would, too (if the life of an animal was at stake) and that David "dishonored" the shewbread in the same regard (based on the assumption that David couldn't have also been sinful). When Jesus protects the adulteress, he says that there is no one just and upright enough to carry out the punishment. These are two great examples of opportunities for Jesus to say "it's time to stop punishing people with death penalties for these laws", and whether you agree that his arguments were right or correct, they were not based on getting rid of these laws. Plus he said "not one jot or tittle from the law shall be removed". In his every action and word, he endorsed the entire Old Testament as still being relevant.

3. The distinction of "Old Testament" is not one made by any of the bible's authors. There was no New or Old Testament until the bible went to the printing press. Whenever the bible refers to itself, it is always "the word" or "the law" or "the scripture".

4. There are commands still followed today that are only found in the Old Testament. Things like "thou shalt not murder" or "thou shalt not steal" are (seriously) not given again in the New Testament, but are still believed to be necessary for Christians to follow. There is a double standard created this way to defend the right to eat shellfish and pig but not to have same-sex relations (found in the same bible chapter). What determines which of these laws still applies and which ones don't?

Mostly importantly in regards to my argument...

5. "Context" arguments employ selective sampling. Was the world so different 10 years before Jesus was born and 10 years afterwards? When we're told about "context" of such brutal commands as those found in the Old Testament, we're told they were given to "tribesmen"... but they were still followed after these tribesmen settled down and built cities. If Jesus' return was the point at which these laws changed, then what about Jesus' return changed the "context"? The Jewish lifestyle didn't change all of the sudden just because Jesus was born or died. In fact, there's no reason to assume that it was widely known at the time of either event that they happened, and only in retrospect many centuries later do we see these all-important and religion-changing events as common knowledge.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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30-01-2012, 11:22 AM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
One big argument you are likely to hear is that these punishments have not gone away at all but rather that god has recognized that these rules are too harsh for us to follow here on earth.

As a result he sent Jesus to relieve us of our sin so we could just focus on living in a way where we try to draw closer to god. It's also why god allows suffering. By letting us taste of mercy and suffering side by side it no longer matters if god or Christ interferes in our lives we show who we are by which of those two choices we inflict on other people.

Do we stand by when suffering happens or do we show one another mercy as Jesus asked us to do?

We will suffer the punishments for every law we have broken if we don't accept the mercy of Christ.

I used to give the above short answer all the time when someone brought up any of those questions you asked only a few years ago. Nowadays I don't buy any of it and I think it's theologically correct but logically wrong and immoral on many levels.
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30-01-2012, 01:11 PM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
Soooo....
You want the fundies in Oklahoma to reinstate stoning for blasphemy and adultery? That wish may yet be fulfilled. I hear such rumblings.
(On the up-side, Newt is high on the indicted list.)

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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30-01-2012, 01:55 PM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
Christians disregarding the OT?

Love it. Do it again. Harder. Faster. Eternally...

...And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

What is missing from the epic poem above?

What can no civilized man condone; asks the man of lawlessness?

Muah...ha...ha...ha...

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30-01-2012, 02:45 PM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
(30-01-2012 11:04 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  1. They were not given with an expiration date. I've often heard it said that Jesus' return changed "the law", but no one has given a scriptural reference for why this should be. Not one law was given with the command to "follow this until Jesus returns".

The Law was a foundation for Jesus' teachings. He didn't come to get rid of the Law but to fulfill the Law. Jesus gave us "laws" and His sacrifice was for all types of men; not just the Jews. This was a huge revelation and one that the Jews didn't like.

Matthew 22:37-40
37 And He said to him, “ ‘YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ 38 “This is the great and foremost commandment. 39 “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ 40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

We are to love God with everything we have, and we are to treat others as we want to be treated.

Quote:2. Jesus didn't tell anyone to stop following the Old Testament laws. Upon being accused of breaking the sabbath, Jesus makes a fallacious argument (circumstantial Ad Hominem) by saying that others can't accuse him of dishonoring the sabbath because they would, too (if the life of an animal was at stake) and that David "dishonored" the shewbread in the same regard (based on the assumption that David couldn't have also been sinful). When Jesus protects the adulteress, he says that there is no one just and upright enough to carry out the punishment. These are two great examples of opportunities for Jesus to say "it's time to stop punishing people with death penalties for these laws", and whether you agree that his arguments were right or correct, they were not based on getting rid of these laws. Plus he said "not one jot or tittle from the law shall be removed". In his every action and word, he endorsed the entire Old Testament as still being relevant.

Jesus healed on the Sabbath. Because of the legalistic evolution of the Law, the Pharisees interpreted miracles as “work”. Jesus reinforced how asinine this thought process was.

Jesus responded that way towards the adulteress because of the intent of the crowd. They wanted to kill her because they were trying to accuse Jesus; not because they cared for the law.

Jesus was referring to the laws given by YHWH, not the constant amendments done by the Pharisees.

Quote:3. The distinction of "Old Testament" is not one made by any of the bible's authors. There was no New or Old Testament until the bible went to the printing press. Whenever the bible refers to itself, it is always "the word" or "the law" or "the scripture".

Yes. I’m a little confused to the relevance.

Quote:4. There are commands still followed today that are only found in the Old Testament. Things like "thou shalt not murder" or "thou shalt not steal" are (seriously) not given again in the New Testament, but are still believed to be necessary for Christians to follow. There is a double standard created this way to defend the right to eat shellfish and pig but not to have same-sex relations (found in the same bible chapter). What determines which of these laws still applies and which ones don't?

This is where the two aforementioned rules that Jesus gave come into play. There isn’t a double standard.

The other laws that are mentioned mostly in Leviticus are Jewish customary and purity laws. These were given by God to the Jews as a way to set them apart from the rest of the world. They were to be set apart to prepare the way for the Messiah, and as a way to keep the Messianic line pure.

Quote:Mostly importantly in regards to my argument...

5. "Context" arguments employ selective sampling. Was the world so different 10 years before Jesus was born and 10 years afterwards? When we're told about "context" of such brutal commands as those found in the Old Testament, we're told they were given to "tribesmen"... but they were still followed after these tribesmen settled down and built cities. If Jesus' return was the point at which these laws changed, then what about Jesus' return changed the "context"? The Jewish lifestyle didn't change all of the sudden just because Jesus was born or died. In fact, there's no reason to assume that it was widely known at the time of either event that they happened, and only in retrospect many centuries later do we see these all-important and religion-changing events as common knowledge.

Yes, the context IS important. All those laws, all those commands were for the Hebrew people. They were God’s plan to keep the Messianic line pure and to ensure the survival of the Hebrew race. As I said, the Law stood as a foundation for Jesus’ ministry and that is evident with the two laws that Jesus gave.

Jesus came to save all types of men; not just Jews. This is why the “Old Testament” laws that were meant only for the Jews became obsolete as strict “laws” and why Jesus’ teachings became the new “law”.

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30-01-2012, 05:36 PM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
My response to this is usually "How do you distinguish the parts of the Bible that you have to follow and those that you don't?"

Then show them that they're using their own judgement to decide what's moral anyway, so why bother with the Bible at all?
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31-01-2012, 08:27 AM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
I'm glad you responded, KC, but I wish that you'd back up your assertions with evidence. For instance, you're arguing that it was not Jesus' command that you should do no work on the Sabbath.. Are you familiar with the story in Numbers of the man who gathered firewood on the Sabbath and, after a consultation with God, was put to death? It wasn't the Pharisees that made up this rule of "no work on the Sabbath", it was "the Lord".

When discussing the adulteress, you feel that it was wrong for them to try to kill her because of their "intent", wanting to accuse Jesus? What about that passage made it look like a trap? The Old Testament is perfectly clear on the punishment for this sin (also the will of "the Lord"). Considering their "intent", you are committing an Ad Hominem fallacy by describing their actions as right or wrong based on the people committing these actions, not whether the actions are objectively right or wrong. The pharisees are always painted in a negative light in the New Testament, but one should remember that they are carrying out the law as it was told to them. They were literally following what the bible told them to do, and just because the bible makes them look like asses for doing it doesn't mean they were asses. If the woman had murdered somebody, would Jesus have still been right to protect her? If you say "no", you're employing a double standard --- the bible's prescription for both sins is the same, and there's nothing inside the bible that ever tells Christians to treat them differently.

Again, the pharisees were not "amending" the law... they were following it exactly as described in the bible.

Now when you describe laws given as ways of keeping the Jews "pure" and paving the way for Jesus, you're adding your own textual criticism. My first point was that none of this was told to us in the bible. Can you cite scripture to back up your assertion that these things were commanded as sinful in order to "prepare the way for the Messiah?" Can you cite scripture that says that these laws were meant to "keep the Messianic lines pure?" Just saying it doesn't make it true.
(30-01-2012 01:11 PM)Peterkin Wrote:  Soooo....
You want the fundies in Oklahoma to reinstate stoning for blasphemy and adultery? That wish may yet be fulfilled. I hear such rumblings.
(On the up-side, Newt is high on the indicted list.)

No, I'm glad that Christians disregard these laws and their punishment. But I want them to recognize that they're applying their own moral standards to the bible, even though they claim to be following it.

The same distinction can be made of Muslims in America and Iran. In Iran, the law supports their freedom to follow the Qur'an as written, and they do. In America they can't, so they rationalize their actions to make it appear as though they are following it exactly as Allah would want them to do it. I've also heard them make this "context" argument, though not referring to this context that I've described here.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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31-01-2012, 08:43 AM
RE: Christians Disregard the Old Testament Too Quickly
Hasn't every holy book got a few thousand annotated commentaries by learned theologians through the ages?
It's not necessary for every believer to make his own judgment directly from ancient texts; that's what they pay clergy for.

It's not the mean god I have trouble with - it's the people who worship a mean god.
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