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Interpreting The Old Testament

From a netfriend:

First, I should make it clear that I believe in the authority of the New Testament. The term “fundamentalist Christian” has become a tautology in the media these days because anybody who believes that any part of the bible is in any way an authoritative document is called a fundmentalist these days. So, if the media glove fits, I wear the glove with pride as would anybody who was a practising Christian.

Now leaving the media definition of fundamentalist aside, and moving to the definition of fundamentalist within the Christian religion, I always thought a fundamentalist was somebody who believed that all of the bible was literally true. This is a big problem in most of the Old Testament because there’s a lot of text in there that conflicts strongly with the Christian faith. But its not such a big problem for Christians to “wriggle out of” as Lindsay Cullen seems to think.

The Old Testament is the history of the Hebrew People, and it is the point of commonality where Christianity, Judaism, and Islam intersect. The Koran, and the Hebrew scriptures also use the Old-Testament of the Christian bible.

The history of the Hebrew people was, as it was for all of their Ancient-Near-East contemporaries, a violent and brutal history. It was a dog-eat-dog world and in order to make sense of it all, one needs to see it as it really was – the struggle for life that it was, as seen through the eyes of the ancient Hebrew people. The modern day equivalent is obvious. Israel, 2002. The history of the Hebrew people over the last 50 years since they got re-established in their promised land, has been a brutal dog-eat-dog business. The pre-emptive strike on the Egyptian Air Force (Moses and the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea), the tank battles with Syria in the Golan heights (Assyrian invasion of Samaria), the Palestinian concentration camps (Joshua and the destruction and eviction of Jericho), the Palestinian rock throwers and suicide bombers (David and his sling versus the Philistine Goliath, albeit role reversal since the Philistines are now in the “David” role), etc, it’s the Old Testament all over again. Then, as now, if the Hebrews were to “turn the other cheek” it would get a Palestinian bomb fragment in it (the modern day improvement over the Philistine sword). Zionism is simply the modern day living out of the Old Testament. If you follow the Old Testament as an authoritative document, you must join the Zionist cause.

Christianity is totally different to Judaism and Islam. The commonality is the Yahweh/Allah monotheistic God and the historical link with the ancient Hebrew nation. The historical link is a thing of the past, not of the present and most importantly not the future of Christianity.

Christianity is a faith system based on Jesus Christ and the new religion he initiated (originally considered a sect of Judaism). Christianity is described in the New Testament. The New Testament is what sets Christianity apart from Judaism and Islam. The New Testament is the Christian bible.

The Old Testament is included in the Christian bible as CONTEXT because it gives us the ability to understand Jesus Christ in his cultural context. He was a Jew, he appeared in the Roman-Governed Hebrew theocracy of 2000 years ago, and much of what he said and did makes more sense when you understand the cultural and religious beliefs of the Hebrew nation. But not for one moment are we taking the Old Testament historical accounts of the Hebrew people as having any relevance to our Christian Faith except as to make sense of the parables (the Gospels), Hebrew imagery (starkly seen in the book of Hebrews), and Hebrew politics (the Gospels Acts and epistles), and prophetic fulfilment which would have mattered a great deal to the 1st century AD Jewish convert. Hebrew religion, culture, imagery, and Hebrew politics of the 1st century AD help us to understand the Christian Bible. But the Christian bible is the New Testament.

Out with the Old in with the New. Archive the Old, study it out of interest if you wish, BUT LIVE BY THE NEW.

This is not wriggling out. We are already out. Christians who spend their time and efforts worrying about the Old Testament are not wriggling out, they are wriggling in to problems that are to do with the ancient religion of Judaism and rightly belong in the too-hard-basket of scholars of Judaism, not scholars of Christianity.

Christianity is very simple, the Hebrew law is (for Christians) abolished. Just love God, love your neighbour and love yourself. Jesus died a voluntary and sacrificial death for the sins of mankind, and he rose from the dead. On this miraculous and selfless act of love, and the principle of love, lies the authority of the New Testament and the uniqueness of Christianity amongst the other religions of the world.


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