In With the Old, In With the New
Ever hear ‘You can’t use the Old Testament to disprove the Bible/Christianity!’? It’s often the last refuge for those that either want to have their cake and eat it too, perhaps they don’t understand the connections the two Testaments have. The justification offered is that when Christ came- the whole slate was wiped clean in the sense that the Old Testament is perhaps simply a history leading up to the New Testament, a rough draft, or something similar in overall limitations in the context of Christianity.
In the context of America’s politics and society in general; we hear references to the Old Testament all the time. How often are the Ten Commandments in the news as far as the First Amendment and our heritage/legal system? Have you come across a bumper sticker that reads ‘Ten Commandments: 10,000yrs Old and Still Going Strong’? Perhaps the issue of ‘intelligent design’ and creationism come up which have their origins in the Old Testament? Perhaps the Fact that while going to a private Christian High School in Japan, we read the story of Job and interpreted in the context of its own placement and in the larger context of Christian theology- most notably faith. Another story that pops up is the story of Abraham which reiterates the advocacy of faith in God in the face of trying times.
It takes very little time to realize the implications in certain defensive Christians disallowing mentions of the Old Testament in defending their faith. One of these implications is exactly how to place the Old Testament in the context of overall Christianity.
In the simplest terms possible, the Old Testament provides the events, places, prophecies, and other facets that give the material in the New Testament any legitimacy whatsoever. For if one were to just start reading the New Testament and skip the Old, you might as well start any book in the middle and see how much sense it makes by the end. Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy given in the Old Testament. How would we know that the Jews were actually waiting for a savior King? Why would such a savior be coming at all? The description of the coming savior would be lost as well as there are many references to certain characteristics given in the Old Testament.
Now, one of the aspects of Christianity that creates merit is the fulfilled prophecies that Jesus completes in the New Testament. Such prophecies include his birthplace, method of execution, resurrection, and his ministry. We would not fully understand many of the Jewish customs that are casually mentioned in the New Testament, we would also not understand aspects of the Pharisees, and we would not understand the pivotal aspects of Christ that marked his divinity at all without the Old Testament. In another way, the New Testament provides detailed analysis to Old Testament customs that further illustrates the ‘fullness’ of the two books.
To build on this, I do believe that one can use both the New and Old Testament in discussing Christianity. Jesus himself said that he was upholding the Old Laws of Moses for example. The common attack against Christianity is the barbaric nonsense that occurs in books like Deuteronomy, but this doesn’t need to be the only lines of critique. The New Testament is a fulfillment, not a rewriting, of the Old Testament. The Holy Bible for Christians includes both books and Christianity can only be understood in the context of both books. There is plenty of material in both Testaments to provide interesting debate, but it seems that the Old Testament is a rough cut to Christians when mentioned.
For Genesis starts with the relation of the Word to God correct? In Revelations it is stated that one mustn’t add or take away words from the prophecy, from the word, for if he does then the plagues described in the book of Revelations await him. The characteristics of God are pretty solid- all powerful, all, all, all, etc. If one is going to argue that the Holy Bible is divine revelation, inspired by God and written through man- then each book, each sentence, each parable, each moral, each story is up for discussion. Of course there are changes between the books- no one is arguing that. Yes, the crucifixion of Jesus, for example, ended human sacrifice for divine favor. Sure, Jesus overturns the ‘eye for an eye’ moral in favor of an almost masochistic pacifism with ‘turning the other cheek.’ No one is arguing that there are no differences; no one is arguing that there aren’t changes that occur in the laws of the Old and laws of the New Testament. But Christian theology must and has to deal with the Old Testament, for by avoiding it you will hardly be able to understand the New Testament as it was divinely instructed to provide fulfillment.