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

From: Dehler, Bernie <>
Date: Sat Nov 07 2009 - 23:04:40 EST

Pete said:
"Indeed, Jesus seems to be speaking entirely of personal responses rather than civil legislation."

The thing is, Jesus quoted the OT rule on 'eye for eye' (which you probably see as a civil rule, not personal rule) and replaced it with a new code of conduct which you now see as a 'personal' rule and not 'civil.'

I think it makes sense if one sees Jesus as an end-times prophet who fully expected the world to be judged and re-made very soon, ruled over by the Messiah (himself). With such a short time until the coming of the new kingdom, there's no need for civil rules, as there is no need for a nation of Israel (no need to seek sovereignty for Israel as they were under Roman rule at the time; the WHOLE WORLD will soon be ruled by Christ). When Jesus rules as Earthly Messiah, they don't need "the law" as if they need someone to teach them, since the Lord God Himself is now ruling in-person.


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of Pete Enns
Sent: Wednesday, November 04, 2009 5:06 AM
To: dfsiemensjr
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on morals (OT and NT)

This is a good point, although I would shy away from thinking that
Jesus' moral teaching owes its distinctiveness to a centralized
government. Indeed, Jesus seems to be speaking entirely of personal
responses rather than civil legislation.

At any rate, this entire discussion reiterates my opinion--if I may be
bold--that the relationship between the testaments remains the crucial
hermeneutical issues for the church, and nowhere is that issue more
focused than on the issue of law. You see Paul himself trying to work
this out (variously) for the churches he is writing to.

Pete Enns

On Nov 3, 2009, at 1:07 PM, dfsiemensjr wrote:

> 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 <
> >
> writes:
>> 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.
>> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
>> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
> ____________________________________________________________
> Weight Loss Program
> Best Weight Loss Program - Click Here!
> To unsubscribe, send a message to with
> "unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Sat Nov 7 23:05:20 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Nov 07 2009 - 23:05:20 EST