Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

From: Pete Enns <>
Date: Mon Nov 02 2009 - 13:18:01 EST


If that is the case, I am glad you are out of your church and
seminary. The manner in which the Gospel "goes one better" than the OT
is a basic Christian teaching. It summarizes much of what is happening
throughout the NT.

So, let me put it briefly here. I will try to respond as I can in the
next few days.

Jesus is the new and improved Moses, and Christians follow his
teaching and now read the Hebrew Bible under the authority of the
risen Christ. Some things that were valid once now no longer are. That
is why, even though "eye for an eye" is in the mosaic legislation (and
reflects ancient moral conventions), with Jesus we have reached-and I
say this without hesitation-- a new level of moral teaching, which
Jesus, as the Son of God and soon to be risen Savior--has the
authority to give.

In other words, the authority of the OT--as serious as that is--is now
subsumed under the authority of the risen Christ. Christians read
their OTs with this in mind, front and center.

I realize that this is not very much in line with a more
fundamentalist, rationalist system of the nature of the Bible (which
you apparently came out of), for here you have "one part of the Bible
contradicting another." But, suspend that reaction if you can. The
entire NT--and I am only exaggerating slightly, if at all--is about
engaging the question of how this new people of God, made of up Jews
and Gentiles--are to be connected to Israel's Scripture while also
seeing how very clearly the empty tomb moves beyond, eclipses, even
subverts that Scripture. "eye for an eye" is only one example. Others
include: temple, sacrifice, land, dietary laws, Gentile inclusion,
etc., etc., etc. The Sermon on the Mount is just one succinct example
of what is happening throughout. (And, as for the Sermon on the Mount,
is it not interesting that Jesus is on a MOUNTAIN giving LAW to the
people, often times prefacing with "you have heard it said but I say
to you...." What do you think is happening there, Bernie?)

I am serious when I suggest that you can help yourself, if you want,
by reading the NT from that point of view, with its over 300 citations
of the OT, and well over 1000 allusions to the OT, and see the case
the NT writers are making. A rationalistic expectation that the Bible
does not behave this way is, strictly speaking, hardly a biblical view
of the Bible.

Hopefully that wasn't a long-winded sermon.

Pete Enns
On Nov 2, 2009, at 12:18 PM, Dehler, Bernie wrote:

> Yes- these questions are serious. In 25 years of attending church
> and attending seminary, they have never been discussed, and I’m
> thinking of them now.
> If you could answer concisely I’d appreciate it. I’m afraid of
> getting a rambling sermon in response from some people.
> …Bernie
> From: Pete Enns []
> Sent: Monday, November 02, 2009 9:03 AM
> To: Dehler, Bernie
> Cc:
> Subject: Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)
> Bernie,
> Forgive me for chiming in. I have been resisting thus far.
> In all seriousness, are you serious?
> Do you mean to say that you really have no idea how this kind of
> situation--the differences between the testaments--is to be
> addressed? Is this ACTUALLY a theological problem for you (which is
> hard for me to imagine), or are you more being the contrarian here?
> Pete Enns
> On Nov 2, 2009, at 11:35 AM, Dehler, Bernie wrote:
> Since the OT says “eye for eye” but Jesus says in the NT NOT to do
> “eye for eye,” would it be immoral (a sin, “missing the mark”) for a
> Christian to insist on “eye for eye” justice since it is contrary to
> Jesus’ teaching? If yes, then is it also immoral for a Jew to
> insist on “eye for eye’’ justice as God told them (for a Jew, who
> rejects the NT but accepts the OT)? If no, then does that mean God
> has different morals for different people?
> Remember- ‘eye for eye’ comes from the Bible (OT) and is from God.
> This is related to the thread of the existence of absolute morals
> being an evidence for the existence of God, the giver of morals.
> One of my Christian friends says this is the best evidence, he
> thinks, for the existence of God (his favorite).

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Received on Mon Nov 2 13:18:47 2009

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