The Old Testament is Dying

Picture2If you’re a Christian, look at your Bible. Does the fake gold trim still gleam on the first 3/4 of your Bible? Flip through the pages; do you still hear that crisp crackle of virgin pages? Do some of these pages still stick together, pure and fresh as the driven snow?

Have you ever read Deuteronomy, perhaps the grandest book in the entire Bible? Do you know the Old Testament law, from Leviticus? If you do, you’ll realize how sincere Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector, was when he pledged to reimburse all whom he’d wronged at 400% each (Luke 19:8; cf. Lev 6:1-7).

Listen to this:

[T]he Old Testament is dying. Much needs to be said about this claim to explain it, let alone establish it, but for me let it gloss it further by stating my firm belief that for many contemporary Christians, at least in North America, the Old Testament has ceased to function in healthy ways in their lives as sacred, authoritative, canonical literature.

These individuals — or in some cases, groups of individuals (even entire churches) — do not regard the Old Testament in the same way (or as highly) as the New Testament, do not understand the Old Testament, would prefer to do without the Old Testament, and for all practical purposes do exactly that by means of their neglect and ignorance of it, whether in private devotion or public worship or both.

All of that is what I mean by the shorthand claim “The Old Testament is dying.” Indeed, in many circles, the claim “The Old Testament is dying,” as stark as it is, is not nearly stark enough. “The Old Testament is dead” is far more accurate.

One Old Testament scholar has lamented,

. . . there remains a distressing absence of the Old Testament in the church. It is possible to attend some churches for months without ever hearing a sermon from the older testament, which represents well over three-fourths of what our Lord had to say to us. This vacuum is unconscionable for those who claim that the whole Bible is the authoritative Word of God to mankind.

Well . . . ?

3 thoughts on “The Old Testament is Dying

  1. Our little Evangelical Free Church in Greenbank, Washington, still teaches from the OT. Last spring our Sunday school went through 1 Chronicles, probably one of the most neglected books. I was skeptical but later amazed at what our pastor drew out of that book. He showed us the author’s purpose in all those genealogies and retelling of Israel’s history to encourage the remnant that returned from exile.

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