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"New Testament Church?" or "New Covenant Church?"


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#1 Tim

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Posted 30 December 2011 - 02:59 PM

One of the things that struck me about the different approaches at the debate was the way in which many churches of Christ completely disregard the Old Testament Scriptures. The words of the prophets seem to have no value whatsoever, and their prophecies no necessity of actual fulfillment. It seems many are fine with the prophecies that refer to Christ's first coming, His birth in Bethlehem, His being conceived by a virgin, etc. Yet, the prophecies of His triumphant return, and overthrowing the armies of the nations, and the peace on earth that follows (found all throughout the prophets), are somehow just glossed over or completely ignored. Why?

It became evident to me during the debate that my opponent (and perhaps many others in the CofC) have mistaken the "Old Testament" for the "Old Covenant." Yes, the "Old Covenant" has been superseded by the "New Covenant," according to Hebrews 8 (quoting Jer. 31). But, the text is specific about exactly what was made "old" by the coming of the "new." And it had absolutely nothing to do with the Old Testament Scriptures, but only regarding the Law given to Israel at Mt. Sinai. There are other covenants and promises in the OT Scriptures that have nothing to do with the Law of Moses. One is of course the Abrahamic Covenant, which Paul says is the hope of all who have been baptized into Christ (Gal. 3 & Heb. 6). Jesus stated plainly, in the Sermon on the Mount, that "not one jot or tittle" would pass from the Old Testament Scriptures until all is fulfilled.

By discarding the rest of the OT Scriptures along with the "Law" (Exodus - Deuteronomy), these Churches of Christ have thrown out the foundational material for the New Testament. They do not interpret theological terms based on their Old Testament usage, nor do they see any need to harmonize their interpretations of the NT with OT prophecy. Bro. Doughty made that point very clear when he spoke of one statement of an Apostle overthrowing all of the OT prophets. When he approaches Scripture in this way, he is left to interpret the NT in a vacuum. Yet, it is never really a "vacuum" because other (non-biblical) philosophical presuppositions fill that void. And in my opinion, the Gnostic concepts that were so evident in some of Doughty's presentations, are the result of abandoning the OT foundation. It seems to me that the single mistake of confusing the "Old Testament" with the "Old Covenant" is at the root of this error.

Are there any CofC evangelists / preachers / elders who would like to challenge this observation? It seems to me that this is a foundational issue, with wide ranging implications. I mean, if God is not bound to fulfill the prophecies made by His prophets, on what basis can we suppose that He will fulfill the words of Jesus Himself? or the Apostles? Did not all of these speak what was revealed to them by God? What is at stake here is the very integrity of God Himself!

Tim

#2 LoganMM

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:28 PM

Hey Tim,

Here are a few implications from this line of reasoning.

If what we read of Paul's second letter to timothy is true, and it is, then CofC churches are basically say they are unwise for salvation or perhaps without the fear of God, and unequipped for every good work.

14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom[a] you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God[b] may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2 Tim. 3:14-17

It also points to the fact that not only do they not trust the old testament scriptures, but consider the apostle Paul in error when he asserts their value.

#3 Tim

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 04:43 PM

Hey Logan,

Welcome to the forum.

The thing about the passage you quoted is that the "Scripture" Paul was referring to was the Old Testament -- the Law and the Prophets. This is evident from the context. He was speaking of the "Scriptures" that Timothy had learned as a child. He was the son of a Jewish mother and Greek father. His Jewish mother and his grandmother had taught him the Jewish Scriptures. (2 Tim. 1:5).

Acts 16:1-3
1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.
2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.
3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.
NKJV


Timothy joined Paul's team as an adult. Certainly Paul would not have taken him with him unless he was at least in his 20s. This was about AD 44, before any of the NT books had been written. Therefore, when Timothy was a "child" learning the Scriptures, he was learning "the Law and the Prophets." And Paul said that these books are sufficient "for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness." The term "teaching' is the same as "doctrine." Therefore, according to Paul, what we would call "New Testament" doctrine can be gleaned from the OT Scriptures, which was the only Bible the earliest Christians had for several decades after Pentecost. Peter also said that prophets are relevant as well.

2 Peter 1:19-21
19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation,
21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
NKJV

2 Peter 3:1-2
1 Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),
2 that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior,
NKJV


Peter held both the Apostolic Preaching and the words of the prophets on the same level of authority, and their application in the churches. The Apostles quoted from the OT prophets and Psalms extensively to support their NT teaching. They appealed to the OT Scriptures as a legitimate authority, equal to their own as Christ's Apostles.

I think it is a tragedy the way in which Chuck Doughty dismissed the OT Scriptures. In doing so, he dismisses the many quotations of the Prophets by the Apostles, feeling free to interpret these quotes with complete disregard to the contexts in the prophetic writings from which they came.

I know that his attitude is not the unanimous opinion of preachers in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ. I believe it is prominent in the a capella churches, not so much in the instrumental churches. And this is also part of the reason some of these churches battle over "authority" in the NT for every practice. They refuse to consider OT prophecy and precedent for things like instrumental music, or choirs, etc.

Tim

#4 Joel

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 10:52 PM

Hi Tim,

When considering this notion of the OT being "overthrown", it does make you wonder what its proponents think the NT authors were doing when they quoted the Old Testament incessantly. And not simply quoting but basing major theological points on Old Testament Scriptures (the same ones they seem to think no longer matter)?




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