15 May 2008

Marcionism & Churches of Christ: What Value, REALLY, is the "Old Testament" #6: A "New Testament" Pattern

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Exegesis, Hebrew Bible, Hermeneutics, Ministry, Preaching, Restoration History

False Doctrine Illustrated

Previous installments: Part 1 , Part 2 ,Part 3 ,Part 4 ,Part 5

Recently I had a discussion with a preaching brother about the “Old Testament.” This brother wanted to do more exploring both personally and congregationally of the First Testament believing that God has a Word yet for his people there. But this brother was explicitly told not to preach form the “Old Testament” anymore. This is but the latest incarnation of Marcionism within the Churches of Christ. This attitude finds expression through the following sampling of common terminology:

“We are New Testament Christians” (question where in the “NT” does anyone ever make such a claim?)

“We are not under the “Old Testament””

“The ‘Old Testament’ was abolished”

“The ‘Old Testament’ was removed”

“The ‘Old Testament’ was nailed to the cross”

There is just enough truth in these statements to be dangerous but none reflect the wholeness of the “NT” teaching on the matter. For example the actual “pattern” of the first century church is to appeal to the “authority” of the “Old Testament” to settle nearly all issues. All the NT writers: Matthew, Luke, John, Paul, James, and the Hebrews Preacher consistently use the Hebrew Scriptures as their scriptures … not the “NT!” The NT scriptures are written upon the template of the “Old” … they use the language, the images, the “atmosphere” of the “scriptures” … the writings as they are called.

Paul affirms explicitly what all the “NT” writers demonstrate by their actual practice. He declares, quite clearly, that far from being “nailed to the cross” or “abolished” or “removed” as some carelessly claim, rather he states that the “Old Testament” makes us wise unto “salvation” (that must mean the Hebrew Bible says something of continuing validity about that notion), that it is to be used for “teaching” (i.e. doctrine!) and even for “rebuking” (cf. 2 Tim 3.14-17). Paul clearly does not tell Timothy not to preach from the Old Testament!

We need to think and reflect deeply on what exactly is the relationship between the Newer Covenant and the Older Covenant. Does the Newer one imply that the older is now worthless and of no value? Does this stage of the Story imply that the previous ones were somehow less than spiritual or holy? Or is it the case that the previous Acts of the Drama actually provide the meaning for the one we are in now? Do the characters of the current Act simply appear contextless? Out of thin air so to speak?

If it were not for previous stages of the Drama explain how we could even respond to such questions as:

“Who is the Christ/Messiah?”

“What is the Son of Man?”

“Who is the Son of David?”

“What is the kingdom/reign of God?”

“Who is this Father of Jesus he prays to?”

“What in the world does it mean to be ‘Children of Abraham?’”

“What in the world is the ‘New heavens and new earth?’”

There are so many more to list. But the NT simply assumes the readers/listeners have a knowledge of these things. But each of these themes come from the Hebrew Bible, not the New Testament.

Perhaps one reason we have avoided this material is because we have reduced the Christian faith to polemics about elders and the fine points of ecclesiological structure (which to honest the NT itself says remarkably little about) rather than embracing the heartbeat of the Story itself.

In our next I will explore an analogy between new covenants and periods of engagements. Maybe it will help us embrace the biblical teaching that the Hebrew Bible is still God’s word and has inherent authority for our lives today.

Seeking Shalom,

Bobby Valentine

13 Responses to “Marcionism & Churches of Christ: What Value, REALLY, is the "Old Testament" #6: A "New Testament" Pattern”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    ““What in the world is the ‘New heavens and new earth?’””

    I know, I know, pick me!!

    It is the new (never before) spiritual relationship between God and the spiritual body of Christ (His church) after she has gone through their own spiritual death burial and resurrection in the Roman persecution (wilderness) as the body of Christ.

    What do I win? 😉

    Hello Bobby.


  2. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Perhaps a refresher course in gnosticism, 😉

    Seeking Shalom,
    Bobby Valentine

  3. Stoogelover Says:

    Fortunately, for the last 15 years I preached, I did not have to deal with the mentality of “leaders” who forbid to preach from the OT. I love preaching from the OT. I taught a six month class on the tabernacle as snapshots of the Savior … very interesting class, saturated with the presence of Christ!

  4. Royce Ogle Says:

    Let’s see….hmmmm. I believe when Paul wrote to young Timothy telling him “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” he was specifically talking about the OT. Zondervan and Thomas Nelson didn’t have a shop in the middle east in the first Century.

    Some church leaders are too goofy to be leading a Boy Scout troop much less God’s people.

    His peace,
    Royce Ogle

  5. Wendy Says:

    Those who can’t see Christ in every chapter of the OT aren’t looking very hard.

  6. Jeanne Says:

    Gee, Royce, that’s scarey. I’ve seen some pretty goofy people leading Boy Scout troops.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    OT RULES!!!!
    or is that UT?

    I always get those confused.

  8. Keith Says:

    I find it ironic that the some people who have devalued the Hebrew scriptures also try to read the NT as if it were part of Leviticus. Consider the 684 NT rules listed here. If God wanted to provide us a rule book he would have. Instead he provided us a story book, which is much richer in meaning than a rule book could ever be.
    Just an observation,

  9. D. Doser Says:

    “We are not under the “Old Testament””

    I’ve been guilty of using this quote myself over the past few years.

    I’ve found that I pull that one out within the context of “A Christian’s relationship to civil government.” What I’ve found in several of my Christian brothers and sisters (that I’m close to), is a selective use of Old Testament scripture to justify a political (Republican) agenda. I find it difficult in these discussions to get into the Old Testament in context and in whole – so I fall into the “We aren’t under the OT anymore” trap. (This is because I need to know my OT better.)

    I think the difficulty is that there is a large segment of the American Christian population who (deep down) truly believe that America is the New Israel and somehow Americans are God’s new chosen people. I think there is a feeling of some (very vocally) who see the modern (American) Christian’s role as being the instrument of God’s wrath/condemnation/judgement vs. one who would follow Jesus as – one who is here to save the world not condem it. (Changing hearts vs. enforcing morality.)

    There is definitely a selective listening to the OT going on in American Christianity today. The concept of peace and justice as well as other aspects of Sammuel; Jeremiah; Amos; and other prophets messages seem to be ignored. [Bobby – you had posted a streaming audio sermon here a while bacK – on Amos, I think – that was fantastic.]

    (I’m still waiting for that Constitutional ammendmant for the Year of Jubilee! – cancelling debts every 50 years and the return of property! Or an ammendment prohibiting adultery. Or one prohibiting touching menstrating women. Or….)

    While I am guilty of being dismissive of the OT myself (I think because I simply don’t know it that well) – It should be studied in context and in whole. AND I believe it is still scripture and relevent. God is God – from creation through eternity.


  10. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    Doug I appreciate your confessional approach to this. I think we all could learn from you here. We all “pick and choose” from time to time that which is convenient for us … at least I have been guilty of that.

    There are also many who have imagined the USA to be a “new Israel.” This is not only wrong it is dangerous. Richard Hughes explores this myth in his rich book “MYTHS AMERICA LIVES BY.”

    I do believe the “OT” is misused to justify many things. The book of Joshua for example was never intended to be an example of what Israel was supposed to do. In that case Israel was functioning as God’s divine instrument of judgment , as far as I know we have never received those kinds of marching orders. KINGDOM COME briefly looks at some of that material in chapter 9.

    Thanks for joining in the discussion.

    Bobby Valentine

  11. nick Says:

    A Jubilee Amendment might be the most just measure since the 13th Amendment.

    Christians have got to learn how to live Jubilee lives, though, before the world will believe anything we have to say.

    in HIS love,

  12. Anonymous Says:

    I have only worked with 3 congregations but have preached for many:VBS,SYS,Meetings,Summer/Wed series and I have never had anyone to ever tell me not to preach from the O.T.
    I don’t agree with all that you say about the NT/OT but just wanted to say that I have never heard anyone forbid or discourage teaching from the O.T.
    Sonny Owens

  13. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    What is it you disagree with Sonny?

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