Regarding Old Covenant apologetics, what if the covenant were layered from pure justice moving up to justice tempered by mercy; bare law-keeping moving up to obedience of faith?
As a covenant serving a nation often characterized by barbarity who lived among people who sacrificed their children to idols, the covenant would begin to address matters from the lowest common denominator. This would not be the end all by any means, rather this would primarily serve to keep an incredibly dysfunctional people in some semblance of order.
Beyond this, while not abandoning principles/laws in keeping with God’s nature or types and shadows or laws in keeping with the nature of humankind, the covenant would allow men and women to rise to amazing spiritual heights.
Considering that, unlike the New Covenant, the Old served all facets of national life, how else could it be constructed? If this be true, common objections to the Old Covenant are largely removed.
For those who believe in The historical reality of Jesus, the fact that He was born comes as no great revelation. Toward the end of every year, this reality gets a special boost as the subject becomes so unavoidable even the most ardent skeptic finds no escape. From the endless stream of increasingly cheesy movies to majestic, solemn cathedral presentations, Jesus’ birth hits much of the world right between the eyes!
This poses an interesting and awkward dilemma for many of us who ardently believe in the birth of the Christ. Those of us holding a restorationists point of view seek to take a fresh look at the nature of Christianity and revisit the revival of a completely biblical point of view in all we do.
On the matter of celebrating the birth of Christ, may of us may therefore feel somewhat conflicted. We don’t want to throw cold water on efforts to honor the birth of Jesus. Nevertheless, we correctly declare that we neither know when Jesus was born nor have authority to bind any particular day for the celebration of His birth.
In this quest for biblical authority, however, we must not inadvertently slight the amazing fact of the incarnation. As with any biblical truth, we are privileged to praise and celebrate all God’s blessings any day of the year. Jesus was born and that is most worthy of praise and celebration at any and all times!
This post is therefore not another call to put Christ back in Christmas. My sights are set on much more expansive territory. I’m calling for a movement to put Christ back in Christianity.
Labels are an interesting way to categorise things into groups. They are particularly interesting when used to define groups of people in religion. Some of the more common broad-brush terms are: liberal, legalist, and conservative. Like it or not, and some just refuse to acknowledge any proper use of labels, they are not without value. Religious labels may certainly be misused, but religious people are not homogenous, they are different and their differences mean some have more in common with some folks than with others. Essentially, once a biblical center is discovered, religious people tend to either over do, under do, or do. They bind where God has not, loose where God has not, or adhere to what God has revealed. I realise the trick is to find the biblical center and that everyone seems feel they are there, nevertheless, beliefs differ and the Bible does not necessarily teach what any particular person thinks is right. With the acknowledgement that labeling takes us into hazardous and often rancorous territory, we need to venture into its risky environs. However, I want to venture into an aspect of the discussion not often entertained. Believing there to be a biblical center, I propose that both liberalism and legalism exist for one or more of the following reasons: pride, selfishness, loving the praise of men, or ignorance. Walking with Jesus, on the other hand, is the result of loving Him more than self, caring more what He thinks than what others think, and knowing Him as a friend. I’m not a fan of labels myself. They are commonly misunderstood, misused, and all too easily employed. Yet, they do have a place in religious discussion. If we will remember what they really mean and why those characterized by them fall into the groups they do, we can begin to have more honest discussions. The only question then is, can we handle the truth (Jn. 17:17)?
I was the kid in the neighborhood they looked for when a snake was found. The kids in the “hood” knew I would pick one up; all they had to do was do the finding. For whatever reason, I just picked them up. Fortunately, I got over that before one of them got me.
Looking back, I wonder, “What was I thinking”? I suppose a case could be made for my just not having any better sense. I did manage to do more than my share of less than smart things back in the day. I think, however, I have figured it out. The reason I grabbed the snakes up was because I didn’t really think there was anything to be afraid of.
In a spiritual sense, I think this curious fearlessness of mine can go two very different ways. First, we need to learn the things in life we truly need to fear. Scripture tells us some things are to be avoided at all costs (Matt. 5:29-30). Sin is not a game; it has a bite.
On the other hand, we must be courageous in living for Jesus (Jn. 16:33). Even death should not intimidate us when we stand for what is right (Matt. 10:28). A timid Christianity is no Christianity at all (II Tim. 1:7). The Serpent of old fears the day when God will crush him under our feet (Gen. 3:15; Rom. 16:20).
The Devil would back us off in fear. He will offer many ways for us to rationalize ourselves out of a courageous stand. At such times, the little children have it right, let us “run right over him!”
The day was a scorcher; my hometown isn’t called “Hot-lanta” without reason. Rickey Jones, no relation, was wedged a few branches up in a large tulip poplar. “Edwin,” he said groggily, “I don’t ever want to grow up.” “What are you talking about,” I said in my own midday stupor?
Then Rickey said one of the most profound things I’ve ever heard. “Because when people grow up they act stupid.” I carefully collected myself in the face of such weighty thinking. It hit me for the first time with the full force of this profound reality. The grownups I knew had evidently gone through some sort of change when they stopped being children.
My peers in the just-before-teen range were different. It wasn’t just about our not knowing as much or how we lacked in life skills, there was something more significant. We were still holding on to something special.
This was one of those life-changing moments! I made a promise to myself in classic Peter Pan style, “I’m not going to grow up.”
I know some of you who know me are snickering and thinking, “That’s one promise he kept.” I’ll admit adult ways are sometimes not my favorite things. I still believe Rickey made good sense.