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

From: dfsiemensjr <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 13:07:42 EST

I believe there is a further distinction to be made. The moral
imperatives in the Old Testament speak generally to a more primitive
situation, one where there was no central government with established
courts and constabulary. Note the need for cities of refuge. New
Testament times reflect a strong central government, little mentioned,
and personal responsibilities. Augustine recognized that humans are
citizens of two states. My Anabaptist ancestors, in trying to live by the
Gospel, missed this point. They did not recognize that their pacifism
could not endure but for the protection of the state against criminals
within and foes without. But they were right in opposing /cujus regio
ejus religio/. (Did I get the Latin right?)
Dave (ASA)

On Tue, 03 Nov 2009 12:15:46 +1100 Murray Hogg <>
> Hi Pete,
> I quite agree that the issue IS a great deal more messy and you're
> quite right to bring attention to the fact - indeed, I was very
> conscious that the broader question of "alignment" of the Gospel and
> the OT Scriptures remains, my comments on the Sermon on the Mount
> not withstanding.
> That said, however, I would want to urge that we err when we
> introduce the Sermon on the Mount as part of that problem. People
> often speak as though the Sermon on the Mount is primarily a
> critique or abrogation of the Law (a "new law" or "new morality")
> when it is, as I understand it, directed not at the Law itself, but
> squarely at its misuse by the religious hierarchy in first century
> Judaism.
> Further, I would argue that in offering this critique Jesus tells us
> a great deal about how NOT to go about the theory and practice of
> religious morality. At the very least it tells us that; (1) the
> people one might think are, morally, most "beyond the pale" are, in
> fact, the "blessed" by God's standards; (2) that one cannot, in
> fact, codify every aspect of appropriate moral behaviour; and (3)
> that the person you should most worry about in respects of obedience
> to the Law is yourself, not the "sinner" upon whom one presumes to
> sit in judgement.
> And if one can see those three observations as valid, then I'd
> suggest that one is pretty close to understanding why the Sermon on
> the Mount is not an abrogation of the Law but a critique by Jesus of
> the interpretation and use of the Law by his religious
> contemporaries.
> All of which is merely to explain why I took the particular tack I
> did. The problem is, indeed, messy, but it isn't made any tidier by
> making incorrect assumptions and, off the back of them, asking the
> wrong questions. To my mind questions like "how do you explain the
> contradiction between the Law and the Sermon on the Mount" fall into
> the same category as "have you stopped beating your wife yet?" i.e.
> to take them as they stand is to agree with a premise which one
> might consider to be questionable in the extreme.
> Perhaps I should just add that, in my view, most of the "how do you
> resolve this contradiction" dilemmas which crop up presume a
> particular view of Scripture which is a very long way from my own
> position. Experience suggests when it comes to dealing with the
> Christian appropriation (or not!) of the OT Law, then one's views
> regarding the nature and purpose of Scripture are often the most
> influential, and lest considered, factors.
> Blessings,
> Murray
> Pete Enns wrote:
> > Murray, I appreciate your point in your final paragraph, but I
> think the
> > matter may be a bit more messy, not only in the Sermon on the
> Mount but
> > throughout the NT. The primary issue is how to "align" the Gospel
> and
> > Israel's Scripture, not simply the centuries of postexilic
> accretions.
> >
> > Reading the Book of the Covenant and Deuteronomic Law (e.g., stone
> the
> > rebellious son; virgin daughters are the father's property) side
> by side
> > with the NT reveals a true theological problem Christians have
> been
> > working through since the first Christian writers.
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Received on Tue Nov 3 13:32:09 2009

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