What about the Old Testament, 2

J.J.M. Roberts has a terrific new article in the latest edition of Christian Studies, entitled, "The Importance of the Old Testament for the Church." Roberts is certainly one of the best (if not the best) OT scholar the Churches of Christ have ever produced. He’s taught at Johns Hopkins, Princeton Seminary, etc., and written a number of influential articles and books.

He writes:

"The emphasis in the Restoration tradition on ‘rightly dividing the Word,’ on recognizing the different dispensations reflected in scripture, on seeing a clear distinction between the old and new covenant was a correct and important insight, but even correct insights drag in their wake unintended, incorrect, and harmful consequences. In the Restoration tradition the emphasis on being under the new covenant has led to a serious neglect and even disparagement of the Old Testament as of no relevance for modern believers. Patently false dichotomies between Law in the Old Testament versus Grace in the New, a God of Wrath in the Old Testament versus a God of Love inthe New Testament, harsh punishment in the Old Testament versus forgiveness in the New, etc. have been widely passed off as true largely becuase the Old Testament has been little read and seldom seriously studied in our tradition. One does not need to listen long in a typical Bible class to hear such negative, uninformed stereotypes about the Old Testament scriptures, and it is not unusual to hear the complaint that classes on an Old Testament book or sermons on an Old Testament text are a waste of time. After all, as New Testament Christians, of what relevance is the Old Testament to our lives?"

Roberts notes that Churches of Christ are by no means the only ones with this problem. Adding that he believes there are other more serious cases of such, (Marcion, Adolf von Harnack, etc.)

My question is… why does this way of thinking continue?

Dr. Tim Spivey is Lead Planter of New Vintage Church in San Diego, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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Share Your Thoughts

4 thoughts on “What about the Old Testament, 2

  1. Trey-
    I know that Yahoo has midseason fantasy leagues about to start up. Let me know if you are interested. Maybe we can get something going.
    As to the OT, what I have found is that the people in my church have been told for years and years that it is not really that important and they just can’t get past what they have been taught. I think a bad interpretation of Colossians 2:14 and the old Jule Miller filmstrips, which emphasized “rightly dividing the Word” have influenced people as much as anything.

  2. Kent–good to catch up with you again. I need a good fantasy baseball league. Know of any?
    As for Tim’s question, I want to chime in on your comment, Kent. Perhaps that’s the way back to the OT for some of our folks who can’t see past Paul. If we want to understand Paul, we must understand God’s Word the way he did. So an exploration of the OT is, in fact, a necessary enterprise for a proper exploration of Paul. I’m of the opinion that this still does the OT a disservice–after all, the OT is vital work in its own right. But at least it could provide motivation for some of our otherwise Testamentally-challenged folks.

  3. Tim-
    Good to see Trey Finley making an appearance. Trey is a good man and a great Texas Rangers fan, along with myself. Trey is also a great fantasy sports player.
    Anyway, if there is one topic that the church I minister for consistenly struggles with, it is this topic about what the relationship to the OT should be for Christians. The church I preached at in college struggled with this and the church I am at now struggles with it. And it’s a pretty important question to understand if you want to understand the NT, specifically Paul. So, I think this is an area we have to place some importance upon because we cannot continue to push it to the side.