Is the Old Testament obsolete ? Should we take our cue from the New Testament in order to live as Christians?

I recently read a book written by Andy Stanley titled “Irresistible - Reclaiming the NEW that Jesus Unleashed for the World”.
In it the author posits that most of all the woes in the Christiandom…crusades, power abuse by 14th Century Catholicism, the prosperity evangelism…etc came as a result of our “mixing” of the teachings of the obsolete Jewish Scriptures(“Old Covenant”) with the New Covenant. The fact that Jesus has come and His “Platinum Rule” supercedes the Old Covenant that was meant for the Israeli’s, in the first place, not us of The Way.

How do you at RZIM feel about his controversial suppositions?

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My take is that we cannot have the New without the Old. We may look at the Old Testament as our reference of where the new covenant comes from. Will wait for others to comment.

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Well I think the author may want to look at the crusades again. It was a response to Muslim invasion on Christian communities. But that’s another topic.

The Bible is full of Covenants. And they all ended except for the new covenant that Jesus brought forth which is the one we are in now. When you read the old testament you see that God was trying to teach two things to the Israeli people. How to love God with everything they have and how to love people as themselves.

In a time where people in all cultures were barabic God met them where they were. So things that the old testament alluded to were revealed when Jesus came as the messiah. The old testament is important because you can’t understand the end without reading the beginning, but you can’t live like those in the old testament did. So I agree the old testament was for a certain people. But it’s important to know why it was just for them and what God was trying to show them.

Hi @mutts,

Great question!

You might find this extended discussion of Andy’s book to be helpful to you:

https://connect.rzim.org/tags/irresistible

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I would also like to add that Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it. But how do you know what he fulfilled without the Old Testament in which the law was found?

Also, to piggy-back off of what Luna said, I think the Old Testament is also there to reveal the devastation of sin and our helplessness to righteousness. It also shows God’s longing for us, despite our continuous sinful nature. It demonstrates the need of a savior (which is found in Christ).

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@mutts Great question :slight_smile: I am sure many people here on RZIM Connect would have different opinions. I led a book study on Stanley’s book after a member raised concerns regarding the book. Honestly, I was shocked by her level of concern. I really enjoy Stanley’s sermons and I still do today. So I could not imagine that there would be any reason for concern. Unfortunately, that turned out not to be the case.

In short, I agree with Stanley that the Old Covenant has indeed ended - period. However, Stanley often confuses the Old Covenant with misapplications of the Old Covenant. For example, the Old Covenant does not promote violence, slavery, legalism or any of the other issues that plague the Church. No - it is misinterpretations of the Old Covenant that result in these practices.

Jesus established a New Covenant, but He also said not one jot or tittle of the law would pass away. Paul the apostle argued that the law was good - it was our tutor until Christ came. So any view that denigrates the Old Covenant as something bad in and of itself is wrong. Yes, compared to the New Covenant the Old Covenant was but a passing shadow. However, God gave the law for a particular purpose to a particular people at a particular time in history and it had a good, life giving purpose for Israel.

As is often taught in seminary, a text without a context is a pretext for a proof text. People can read their own wrong views into Scripture rather than allowing Scripture to change their hearts and attitudes. But that does not make the Scriptures wrong - that is a heart issue with that individual.

Please do check out the book study that @CarsonWeitnauer linked :slight_smile: Below are some of my thoughts and a Podcast that would be worth watching. Christ grant you wisdom.

The Good - The Old Covenant has Ended

I think that Stanley does a great job of making it clear that the Old Covenant is obsolete. Period. It is over. We do not live under it any longer. And that is part of why Jesus came. It’s important to understand the radical nature of what Jesus truly did and Stanley makes it abundantly clear.

The Bad - God Supposedly Played by the Rules of Pagan gods

Stanley appears to follow some of the tenants of the “warrior god” hypothesis. In short, this view says that in the Old Testament the Israelites made a mistake when they actually destroyed the Canaanites. God’s plan was to drive the Canaanites out using natural means, but because the Israelites were so used to the warrior gods of the pagans they did not do what was in keeping with God’s true character.

I find no warrant for this view in the Scriptures. I understand the terrible tension of reading these warfare narratives and I appreciate the desire of Stanley and others to read the whole Bible through the lens of the cross. But I do not think you can justify this position Biblically.

All the gods of the ancient world were human rights violators. Within the context of first-century violence, nobody batted an eye at the violence depicted in the Jewish Scriptures. This was standard fare. Standard warfare. That’s just the way the world was. If the God of the Jews was going to establish a nation for himself, he would have to wade into the fray and play by the rules of the day. Andy Stanley, Chapter 13, Irresistible

In this thread, I try to approach this question of violence in the Old Testament in what I believe is a more Biblical manner.

The Ugly - Stanley Confuses Misapplications of the Old Covenant with the Old Covenant

One of the mistakes I think Stanley has made in the book is categorizing many different exegetical errors in a single umbrella - Old Covenant. When really some of these errors are not directly related to the covenant itself, but misinterpretations of the Old Testament.

Take, for instance, the idea that the old covenant was about hating one’s enemies. Stanley appeals to the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies” (Matt. 5:43–44). Stanley mistakenly assumes Jesus is arguing against the old covenant itself . Nowhere does the Old Testament say “hate your enemy”—it’s not there. Theologians, therefore, have rightly recognized that Jesus is arguing against Pharisaical distortions and abuses of the old covenant. After all, even the Old Testament says, “If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat, and if he is thirsty give him water to drink” (Prov. 25:21).

This is a common problem throughout Stanley’s volume: He often confuses distortions of the old covenant with the old covenant itself.

A Podcast to Check Out

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2 posts were split to a new topic: Were Old Testament verses intentionally mistranslated?

@mutts, I’ve not read the book, but on the question of relevance of the OT somethings come up in my life just this week. I’ve watched a lot of Ravi on YouTube lately, so I’m not exactly certain in which one I heard him talking about his professor and mentor, Norman Geisler and one of his books. So I looked up his books on Amazon and ordered a couple, A Popular Survey of the Old Testament and A Popular Survey of the New Testament. Just received them today and while I was waiting on my computer to load software I perused the first couple of chapters of the OT Survey. Absolutely mind blowing. So much clarity in everything I read.

Anyway, this statement really speaks to this topic (abbreviations mine):

Christ was enfolded in the truth of the OT but is unfolded in the truth of the NT. The New is in the Old concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed…
In short, the promises of salvation in the OT are brought to fruition in the presence of Christ in the NT. What the OT says by way of anticipation of Christ, the NT says by way of realization in Christ.
(A Popular Survey of the Old Testament / Norman L. Geisler / Baker Books / 1977)

This illustrates just how relevant the OT is in understanding the NT. Whereas one might look at the OT as pre-Christ, it is only pre-Christ in His fully human incarnate form. The OT is not pre-Christ in His fully God, second person of the Trinity form. And EVERYTHING about Christ is relevant in our lives.

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Jennifer_Judson
To do justice to the well-respected and much credited and devoted Rev. Andy Stanley who has been church-building extensively and helping many bewildered brothers and sisters in Christ, I sincerely hope you will first read his book before taking any sides. I know where you are coming from. Truly. Many argue for and against this book and more often than not we know where they are coming from. But do we know where Andy Stanley was coming from when he wrote his book? Do read it, not just selected chapters but cover to cover.

In subjection to Him through obedience and love, whom we dont deserve, Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord.

@mutts,

You are absolutely right. And I have great respect for Rev. Andy Stanley, by the way. And I will repeat I have not read the book and my comments were addressing more the question in your subject of the post and not the post itself, which I probably should not have done. It was just serendipitous that that very topic was one on my mind and so beautifully addressed in Dr. Geisler’s words that I wanted to share them.

I may get around to reading it, it sounds very interesting and challenging–which I love–but I’ve got about thirty unread books I’m trying to hold myself to getting read. I’ve a terrible habit of buying books I know will be interesting and letting them languish on my shelves.

God bless.

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Jennifer,
You mentioned “Geisler’s words”. Pray to share?

Thanks.

@mutts – the quote above were the words from Geisler’s book that I was speaking of. I chose these from a much longer paragraph on the Christocentricity of both testaments and that all scripture should be studied in light of Jesus. I’m gleaning wonderful things from that book and I’ve barely begun.

Blessings to you. Pray you have a fabulous day.