Monday, October 26, 2015

Interpreting Old Testament law, coercion and violence through the lens of the cross (part 3)

He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, transitory though it was,  will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious?  If the ministry that brought condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was transitory came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. (2 Cor 3:6-4:6)
 This third example from Paul addresses the same issue of the law and the approach is much the same.

The Old Testament contains killing, bondage, condemnation, coercion and death. Paul shows us how we should approach those issues as New Testament interpreters, and he does not disappoint.

When those reading the Old Testament without benefit of the New Testament revelation of Jesus Christ it is locked, obscured, veiled, and so it and they are under the control of sin and is a ministry of death, coercion etc.

The New Testament surpasses the Old Testament, and it re-frames it, and it unlocks it, to the effect that it is liberated from the death, coercion, bondage etc. enjoined by the face value of the Old Testament texts. As a result of that re-framing, we have, not death but life, not coercion but freedom, and we have a ministry of life and truth.

This interpretation method renounces secret and shameful ways, including the coercion, death and violence of the Old Testament, but is not distortion or deception. However, to those who do not accept the truth of Jesus Christ on the topics of coercion, death and violence will make such charges because the truth is veiled to them by the god of this age.

The revelation of God in Jesus Christ surpasses the face value of the Old Testament and requires a radical liberation and re-interpretation of it.

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