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Deleting the Old Testament

Quite a few Christians on the more liberal side of the spectrum (I’m talking to you Tony Campolo) claim that the Old Testament is no longer valid and that Jesus abolished the Old Testament in favor of the New Testament. They think that this strategy will allow them to get out of stoning people to death for the various “sins” that were talked about in the Old Testament. It is a way of saying, “Hey, we know that the Old Testament is really fucked up and definitely NOT a good guide for moral life, but we will just pretend that God never said, ordered, advocated, or did those things and still call ourselves Christians.” On the surface it is actually a pretty good strategy. I mean who would or even could really defend the morality of that God and the things ordered by Him? All I really have to say to prove how immoral the God of the Old Testament is is quote Numbers 31: 17-18 in which God orders Moses to murder and rape an entire village. The fundies often yell context until I tell them what the context is (that the people of that village worshiped… another God).

Anyhow, who wants to defend that? So the strategy of just crossing out the Old Testament is a good one. However, there is little basis for such a massive deletion, except of course that the Old Testament is seriously retarded. All wisecracks aside, Biblically speaking there is little basis for the “breaking from the old covenant in favor of a new covenant.” In fact, Matthew 5: 17-18 refutes such a break or deletion from and of the Old Testament. Here the red letters that some Christians are so keen on worshipping specifically forbid ignoring the rest of the Bible. Luke 16: 17 also makes such a break unbiblical. But then there are a few passages that contradict these passages because the inerrant Bible is so consistent. Ephesians 2: 14-15, Hebrews 8: 13, and Galatians 3: 24-25 all support the deletion of the Old Testament. So what should a Christian do? Delete the Old Testament or not delete the Old Testament? I guess we should do as Tony Campolo suggests and go with the red letters in which case, the Old Testament stays and God is still a tyrant.

But don’t get me wrong, I am delighted that so many Christians today feel that the character of their God is so flawed, that they can pick and choose the parts of the Bible they like and reject the parts that are just plain old ridiculous and/or immoral. I do that with lots of books all the time. But then again the books that I read never claim to have been written by the Creator of the Universe. The authors that I read are human and from planet Earth just like me and so I take into account when they were written, what their biases are, and what their point of view is. I agree with some of these authors on some things and disagree with them on other things. But the Creator of the Universe wrote the Bible to be timeless; he has no biases, and has the ultimate point of view. So shouldn’t he be inerrant? Shouldn’t the Old Testament be just as valid today as it was two thousand years ago? Why would God change his mind about so many important issues like slavery, rape, or whether women are the property of men or not?

The character of Jesus certainly said some cool things in the New Testament so I can understand why some Christians only want to accept those things as divine. For instance, there is that great story in John about those without sin throwing the first stone. That’s a good story… however, most textual analysis scholars are pretty sure that it never happened and that the story was added to the Bible hundreds of years later. And what about that part of the New Testament where the character of Jesus specifically states that he has not come to bring peace by has come to bring a sword? Or when he says that in order to follow him one must hate their entire family? Maybe we should write a New, New Testament that breaks that covenant in favor of a more tolerant and moral covenant.

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