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

From: Murray Hogg <>
Date: Tue Nov 03 2009 - 23:56:20 EST

Hi Pete,

Interesting. And I'm sure you'll be interested to know that I often used a "trajectory model" myself - as in;

"The entire trajectory of the biblical understanding of God's relationship with his people is from the forensic and ritual to the pneumatological and christological"

That is, of course, to paint with a very broad brush, but I think it works as a point of departure. It neither denies that Judaism was/is, to some extent, a religion of grace, nor demands that we take an entirely antinomian view of Christian discipleship.

Yet I think it helps as an articulation of what the substantial difference is between OT and NT religion - with one of the most substantial changes being the coming of the Spirit according to the prophecy of Joel (cf. Peter's speech in Acts 2).

One could perhaps quibble about the difference in content between an OT and a NT ethic, but it's a rather trivial distinction when compared against the different "dynamic" which arises in light of an external vs internal "rule of faith" (i.e. the Law vs the Spirit).

I'm sure we could all beat one another over the head with debates about details, but I think most Christians would agree that the "trajectory" of Scripture is, broadly speaking, something like I have here described. Comments?


Pete Enns wrote:
> Thanks, Murray.
> And I think that the notion of "trajectory" is what puts the NT in both
> this position of "confirming" and "challenging" the OT. It is the
> perennial hermeneutical challenge of the church, as far back as Paul.
> Every Christian who looks into this will adopt some model in an effort
> to give as much coherence to the data as possible. For me, a "trajectory
> model" is most helpful because it is flexible and opens up discussion.
> Pete
> On Nov 3, 2009, at 11:47 AM, Murray Hogg wrote:
>> Hi Pete,
>> I like the way you put this; "not a contradiction to be resolved but a
>> trajectory to be understood."
>> All too often I think there can be a tendency to bet bogged down in
>> the minutiae of the biblical text and not appreciate that there is,
>> indeed, an overarching trajectory to it all.
>> In respects of morality, I think the trajectory evidences a move from
>> the idea of following an outward moral code (the Law) to the idea of
>> following an internal witness (the Spirit). Crudely put, I know, but
>> I'm sure I don't need to labour the theological niceties!
>> I should probably acknowledge, incidentally, that "contradiction"
>> wasn't your term. I'll simply remark that I was referring rather
>> generally to the tendency to so focus on Scripture as a bunch of
>> "data" to be systematised that the *function* of scripture as a guide
>> to faith and practice gets lost. I'm not, let me say, against the
>> practice of biblical theology - the attempt to systematise the
>> teachings of Scripture - but I do think we can get just a bit
>> obsessive about the minutiae of it all.
>> Here's to seeking to understand the trajectory!
>> Blessings,
>> Murray
>> Pete Enns wrote:
>>> Murray,
>>> It is both, even within the Sermon on the Mount (although we need not
>>> linger there). Jesus is both addressing the use of Israel's civil law
>>> by the religious hierarchy (but not limited to them) and he is also
>>> abrogating certain laws. A good example is the passage on oaths and
>>> vows.
>>> But there are bigger issues about what the OT itself assumes and what
>>> the NT says. However, although I do not shy away from the notion of
>>> contradiction, I did not use that term to describe this phenomenon.
>>> It is not a contradiction to be resolved but a trajectory to be
>>> understood.
>>> Oh, and hi :-)
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Received on Tue Nov 3 23:56:49 2009

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