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

From: Pete Enns <>
Date: Wed Nov 04 2009 - 07:58:36 EST

Ryan, I think you are partly right in highlighting where the NT and OT
are on similar trajectories, but there are so many instances where the
NT simply abrogates what the OT "teaches" that any "theory" of the NT/
OT relationship that will prove convincing will have to address the
data more comprehensively.

I think it is very clear that there are many laws in the OT that are
no longer valid, not because we live in a different time, but because
Jesus came and said "don't that any more."


On Nov 3, 2009, at 2:51 PM, Ryan Rasmussen, P.E. wrote:

> Bernie said:
> I can understand morals changing or evolving, esp. with a ‘meme’
> idea of cultural evolution. But thinking that God is the ultimate
> sense of morals, then God changes the morals, poses a logic problem
> for me. Why didn’t God just say the morals once, and have them good
> for all time? Was it because humans weren’t evolved enough
> culturally so they couldn’t handle it yet? Again, that feeds into
> the ‘meme’ idea. The whole progressive attitude of morals which you
> seem to suggest smacks to me of cultural evolution (and I think you
> are right in seeing it that way).
> I'm confused.
> OT: Leviticus 19:18 (New International Version)
> 18 " 'Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your
> people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.
> NT: Matthew 7:12 (New International Version)
> 12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you,
> for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
> I don't see where the changing and evolving is taking place?
> Pete said : “Eye for an eye in the OT is a means of bringing
> official "legal" restitution. It is not meant for making personal
> decisions. I likely agree with Murray here, in our previous
> exchange. You may not be picking a very good example to make your
> point. ”
> Bernie replied: "There’s not really that big of a difference.
> Instead of a person making a judgment, it is a court (which is
> hopefully more fair and unbiased). So I think it is still
> interesting to see exactly what “eye for eye” meant (OT law
> example), how it was applied, and how it compares/contrasts with the
> NT."
> On the personal level which you argued, I would say that Lev. 19:18
> strictly prohibits revenge. I do believe it would be wrong (sin)
> for the Jewish boy to have acted on his own in spirit a of
> vindictiveness in your example. "Eye for eye", in my view, is more
> about limiting punishment/restitution by a governing body on the
> behalf of someone who was wronged to a "punishment/recompense that
> fits the crime".
> Or as Glenn highlighted in a reference: "According to the laws in
> chaps. 17–26, two qualities are the girding pillars of a holy life,
> i.e., justice and love. Justice means equity. This is stated
> fundamentally in the principle of lex talionis, an eye for an eye, a
> tooth for a tooth, a life for a life (24:20). This principle does
> not imply that punishment was carried out by inflicting bodily
> injury in kind, but that punishment for harm to a person is to be
> commensurate with the harm done, not greater, as revenge dictates,
> nor less, as indulgence desires. This principle was a great
> advancement in law codes, for it raised personal injury from a civil
> tort to criminal law, increasing the social worth of a citizen.
> Throughout these laws the worth of each person is affirmed. [WBC,
> Leviticus, Intro]
> I think some of the confusion here is that you are looking at laws
> that were established for a culture so different from our own and
> assuming that they have the same value/societal implications as
> ours. Would we ever stone a woman who lied and posed to be a virgin
> in today's times? Does someone's virginity have the same
> implications today as it did in the ANE?
> I think the main contrast I see in the NT is that Jesus brings the
> same unchanging morals to a focus in our inner world rather than
> constraints on the outer world.
> Ryan
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Received on Wed Nov 4 07:58:56 2009

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