How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

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ccgr
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How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by ccgr »

I agree with this site: http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-law.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
Some of the laws were to reveal to the Israelites how to obey and please God (the Ten Commandments, for example). Some of the laws were to show the Israelites how to worship God and atone for sin (the sacrificial system). Some of the laws were intended to make the Israelites distinct from other nations (the food and clothing rules). None of the Old Testament law is binding on us today. When Jesus died on the cross, He put an end to the Old Testament law (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:23-25; Ephesians 2:15).

In place of the Old Testament law, we are under the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2), which is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we obey those two commands, we will be fulfilling all that Christ requires of us: “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:40). Now, this does not mean the Old Testament law is irrelevant today. Many of the commands in the Old Testament law fall into the categories of “loving God” and “loving your neighbor.” The Old Testament law can be a good guidepost for knowing how to love God and knowing what goes into loving your neighbor. At the same time, to say that the Old Testament law applies to Christians today is incorrect. The Old Testament law is a unit (James 2:10). Either all of it applies, or none of it applies. If Christ fulfilled some of it, such as the sacrificial system, He fulfilled all of it.

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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by Sstavix »

I would think it is a case-by-case basis. As Christians, the first priority should go to the New Testament. If there is an issue or situation where NT law doesn't address it, then consult the Old Testament and see what it says. (No examples come to my mind right now, but just in case there are, those are my thoughts on it.) And if there is a contradiction between the OT and the NT, the NT trumps the OT.

If anything, people who cite the Old Testament to justify certain behaviors and wave the banner of Christianity are really doing a disservice to Christians all over the world - especially in places where there are contradictions. Some of those OT laws are pretty strict and unforgiving in their punishments (consider the fate of those in Jehrico - with the exception of those who helped the Israelites, everyone there was killed. Why? They were in the way...) which tends to undermine the message of compassion, mercy and redemption that permeates the New Testament.

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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by SSquared »

One thing to be very careful of when talking about OT/NT is to be wary of just throwing away the Old Testament as if it has no meaning or is no longer useful. Or to solely focus on the New Testament.

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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by brandon1984 »

Sstavix wrote:I would think it is a case-by-case basis.
This ^

The issue is complex and must be approached as such.

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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by Bulldoggy22 »

I think that verse was taken slightly out of context.

“love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and to love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39)

When Jesus said this, he was asked what was the greatest, or most important law out of the ten commandments . I think what Jesus meant, was that he only summarized the entire ten commandments, like "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul" that basically just summarizes the first 4 commandments, and love your neighbor as yourself, summarizes the other 6. I only think the ten commandments apply for today, not any of the rituals or specific details that was only applicable for that time.

Although because Jesus wasn't specific, it really can be interpreted many ways, and we can never really know for sure what He meant, in this life.

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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by ArcticFox »

All of them.

(No, it isn't that simple. Let me esplain... no... too much. let me sum up...)

The Gospel is consistent across all dispensations. It's a matter of understanding. Think about your grade school years.

Unless you're a child prodigy or Wesley Crusher, you probably didn't learn Calculus until you were in High School or College. Before that, you learned Geometry. Before that, Algebra. Before that, arithmetic. Could you have learned Calculus without first knowing Algebra? Could you have learned Algebra before you knew how to multiply and divide? No. You first needed the basics. You knew the volume of a cone by the formula given in Geometry before you knew the Calculus that derived it. If you took Physics before Calculus, you knew how to find the displacement of a rocket given its acceleration before you had any understanding of the Calculus behind it. All of these things came in dispensations, and yet they are all consistent with each other and all part of the same world of math.

Now, it's true that there are certain Old Testament laws and ideas that we no longer use. The same is true of math, isn't it? Once you're in more advanced mathematics you very rarely make use of old style division. Once you know how to integrate in Calculus you don't use Sum functions to add slices anymore to find the area under a curve. Integration is better than summing slices, but you had to know how to sum those slices before you could understand integration.

So it is with the Old Testament vs. newer dispensations. Most of the stuff in the Old Testament is obviously a more pedantic version of what the Savior taught in the New Testament. We don't need to be given an explicit list of things like "don't beat people up" and "don't steal other peoples' stuff" when you have the Golden Rule. You could take a lot of Mosaic law and categorize it under the various, more advanced teachings of Jesus Christ.

There are a few things that we have outright eliminated, like killing witches and forcing women to cover their heads, but those are signs of the times more than they are matters of Gospel necessity. In those days, there may have been very clear and obvious reasons for these things that are now lost on us, millennia later, but we know not to do them. (This here is where the meat of this discussion lies... Which items are in this particular category?)

There were also laws that were pragmatic, not spiritual that we no longer need to worry about, like keeping a latrine away from camp and staying away from menstruating women... not matters of spirituality as much as matters of sanitation in a bronze age culture whose medical knowledge was... inadequate. Today, we have cleanliness that takes care of those needs just fine.
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Re: How much of the Old Testament laws apply today?

Post by ChesterKhan »

A former-Baptist pastor turned Catholic theologian and apologist Scott Hahn, as well as a Catholic theologian John Bergsma, propose the following solution. From the "Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: New Testament":
Eight times in his letters Paul uses the expression "works of the law".... Each times he denies these works the power to save us and subjects them to theological critique.... But what are the "works of the law"?

...Several modern scholars believe Paul had something more specific [than the Mosaic Law itself, or works in general] in mind when he used the "works of the law" formula. According to these scholars, Paul used this phrase to refer primarily to the Mosaic ceremonial works. It is mainly the visible expressions of Jewish life and identity, like circumcision, dietary regulations, purity codes, Sabbath observance, and the liturgical calendar of the Old Covenant feasts, that Paul contrasts with faith.... Some corroborating evidence for this view in the Dead Sea Scrolls, where to Hebrew equivalent for "works of the law" (ma'ase hattorah) turns up in a context where laws containing purity, sacrifice, festivals, and foods are central issues of discussion (scroll fragment 4QMMT)....
Hahn then goes on to explain the theological backing for this claim - for one thing, these were intended to mark out the people of God and distinguish them from the rest of the world - an obsolete function in the international body of Christ.

For another, the Mosaic rituals were like prophecies - like, 'this is what you need, and this is what you will receive someday'. (Think of the "circumcision of the heart" that occurs in baptism, for example - assuming, of course, you believe that baptism actually has an effect on one's soul, unlike circumcision).

Finally, the Mosaic ceremonial works drive home the point that man cannot save himself by his own works - for example, Abraham impregnating Hagar. The Sabbath and sacrifices also served to remind Jews that they depended on God and His grace and mercy.

He concludes by noting that the ceremonial works "point beyond themselves" to the crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ - God's intercession for our salvation.

For more information on this point of view, I highly recommend Scott Hahn's "A Father Who Keeps His Promises", and Bergsma's "Bible Basics for Catholics". (I think this webinar outlines the latter: http://vimeo.com/42695370" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;)

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