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

From: wjp <>
Date: Mon Nov 02 2009 - 19:26:45 EST


OK. I'll try this.

First, the OT reference is to the civil law, the reference Christ's make to is
not the civil law but that moral law before God.

The civil law may vary from community to community, although it ought to follow
the principles of the Ten Commandments. Civil might be viewed as case law for
the Ten Commandments, and this is just how Exodus lays it out.

For the sake of this conversation, let us regard the "eye for an eye" as a principle
of the civil law.

I have no idea how you came about applying this principle in the way that you did.
I have to presume you've read Exodus.

The principle of "eye for an eye" refers to the principle of restoration, and that
restoration cannot be demanded any greater than what needs restoring. In the ideal,
the notion would be to restore, as much as is possible, the situation to what it was

Following case law provided in Exodus, I imagine the bully would first be required
to replace the bike with an bike of equivalent value. As for the damage done to the
boy, the question would probably be to consider what was lost as a result of having
been beat-up. Surely, the boy (or his parents) would be required to pay any doctor
bills. More might be required, but you probably get the idea. By no means, however,
would the boy be "justified" in beating up or having beat up the bully.

I don't think the situation is any different for the Christian or the NT. Following
Romans, the state has the authority to wield the sword. All that entails is that the
state (and not the boy or even his parents) would or perhaps even should be involved
in the restoration, i.e., in the use of the law to curb the activities of the lawless
and to maintain civil order.

It ought to be clear that there is a distinction between our obligations before God
(i.e., the Moral Code) and our obligations before man in a sinful world.
In a sinful world violence must be used often to subdue evil, even killing.
So the civil code permits the existence of soldiers and police.
The question has to do with the motivation of the act.
If we act in violence to protect ourselves, we sin.
If we act in violence to protect another, we do not sin.

This sometimes sounds too easily said to me.
The issue for me is always existential and not abstract.
I, as a sinner, in a sinful world will sin necessarily.
I will violate God's perfect law of Love. Yet that does not free me from being
blameless. I must, nonetheless, try to act according to that perfect law.
And in my trying to do so, even doing the best I can, as a sinner in a sinful
world, I will sin.
The State or Community is instituted to try to make the best of it in this
sinful world. So Judges, police, and soldiers act out of their callings
or offices in this world for the establishment of good, as we can have it.
But we would not need police, soldiers, and judges were the world sinless.

Apparently, such a picture bothers some Christians.
Not me.
I never can outgrow my desperate need for a Savior.
I have no problem believing that I cannot keep God's perfect law
in this sinful world. It's why this world is a perfect one for us and Salvation.


On Mon, 02 Nov 2009 15:57:07 -0500, Dave Wallace <> wrote:
> Dehler, Bernie wrote:
>> Hi Pete-
>> Suppose a Christian boy is beat-up at school and his bike is destroyed
>> by a bully. He says he wants to get even with the kid- eye for eye. He
>> plans to destroy the other guys bike as well as hurt him physically.
>> His Christian parents tell him it is wrong, per Jesus’ teaching, to
>> pay back evil for evil. The boy does it anyway. Is that a sin? Is it
>> immoral? You will likely say ‘yes’ I’m guessing.
>> Now re-work the same scenario with a Jewish family. Since they are
>> following the OT, is it s sin? I can’t guess what you’d say. If yes,
>> they are being held to an account above that which they have accepted
>> from God in the OT. If you say no, then apparently there are different
>> levels of morality from the same God?
>> Maybe your answer will be that people are only accountable for what
>> they know, and reject. It just seems strange to me that one can do
>> ‘evil for evil’ as a command from God (OT) while another says that
> the
>> practice of ‘evil for evil’ is evil (NT). Christians and Jews have
> the
>> same God but different moral directions.
>> So can you clarify using these two specific examples? Is the boy from
>> the Christian family sinning because they have a higher standard,
>> whereas the Jewish boy is not sinning?
>> …Bernie
> Bernie
> Even in the fundy church of my youth I never remember the old testament
> law of the kind you are quoting as being what you must do when a wrong
> is committed. Instead it is the maximum one can extract. That is the
> point or maybe better the catch in Shakespere's Merchant of Venice. If
> you did not study it in school a good summary is at:
> In terms of you example of the Jewish boy. If it or its equivalent
> occurred prior to Christ and the boy not only trashed the bullies bike
> but also had him beaten up, then he broke the commandment. If he only
> trashed the bike then there was no breaking of the commandment but
> possibly there was still sin involved, I don't know. If the same
> occurred in the present age, I don't know what to say and leave that to
> the good Lord.
> Dave W
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Received on Mon Nov 2 19:27:22 2009

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