Originally posted by NewYorkDore: OK, my question of the week is as follows:
If Jesus said that God’s Word is truth (John 17:17), why do most Christians view much of Leviticus as no longer valid. How are things like no tattoos (or even observing the sabbath) ignored while certain other things are adhered to.
Further, why are the rather minimal penalties for rape (marrying her if she's a virgin plus 50 silver pieces to the dad, Deuteronomy 22:28-29) and abortion (payment to the husband, rather than death as for a murder of a human, Exodus 21:22 vs Exodus 21:12) ignored in modern times -- noting, of course, that I do not argue that our criminal code is in any way related to the bible. Just giving another example of no longer adhering to biblical literalism.
Note, I don't want to get into the argument that the bible condones rape or abortion... I don't believe anyone would argue that. That said, a literal reading of the bible does indicate that rape and the killing of a fetus are essentially property crimes against the father of the maiden / fetus.
Let's ignore that and I'll agree that that interpretation is not taught by anyone. I don't want to make that the argument here. The issue is why some bible passages are:
a) taken literally while others are read metaphorically or as allegories; and b) commandments that are deemed to no longer apply while others beside them are felt to be sacrosanct.
As with the discussion on Jesus addressing homosexuality, drug addiction, etc., I'm not looking for an argument on the merits of the arguments, I'm just asking for you to lay out the various intellectual arguments as to why A and B happen.
Here we go with one of the most controversial topics in evangelical Christianity. How to read the Bible and what to apply. Most of these thoughts can be found in my favorite book on hermeneutics because it is the most honest book I've ever come across regarding hermeneutics--The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read The Bible by Scot McKnight. Most of the thoughts are Scot's but I'm in agreement with the ones I'll put forward.
First, I really like NYD's chalkboard it gets to the heart of the issue quickly and visually. So let me throw out a test McKnight gives his students. Christians only on this one.
Which of these commands SHOULD WE OBSERVE TODAY? By the way they're all from non-believers and atheists favorite book Leviticus.
1) Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy (19: 2) 2) You must observe my Sabbaths. I am the Lord your God (19:3) 3) When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. (19:9-10) 4) Do no go about spreading slander among your people. (19: 16) 5) Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of materials. (19:19) 6) Do not eat any meat with the blood still in it. (19: 26) 7) Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard (19:27) 8) Do not...put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord. (19:28) 9) Stand up in the presence of the aged (19:32) 10) Keep all my decrees and all my laws and follow them. I am the Lord (19:37)
Now truth be told most Christians don't follow but maybe two. #1 and #4. Why? Well some would attempt long convoluted arguments about the holiness code but that's not really it. What it is is that God's people change, culture changes, and we have learned from the New Testament patterns of DISCERNMENT especially as relates to the patterns set forward by Jesus. Fact of the matter we adopt and adapt the Bible. But hopefully we do so on the clear patterns of scripture, consistent with the gospel, i.e. the life of Jesus Christ, and the leadings of the Holy Spirit.
One of the reasons I'm no longer a Southern Baptist is that dropped from the SBC's 2000 Faith and Message was the proviso that scripture should be interpreted in light of the person of Jesus Christ. Fundamentalists said that led to liberalism but since Christians have always adapted and adopted it really meant now discernment would be made by a self-chosen few. Therefore, women would be relegated to second class status though the trajectory of scripture and Jesus' interactions with women portrayed only equality. This is a long argument but one that is taking hold in more and more churches and especially among young evangelicals even some more conservative ones.
But this all goes back to what spurred NYD to ask his question. Whereas the Levitical law would have called for the stoning of the woman in John 8 Jesus instead acknowledged the sin, challenged the woman to sin no more, and offered forgiveness. Even Jesus adapted and adopted and his interactions, especially the one with the adulterous woman, he portrays a pattern of grace that is a way forward from the harsher aspects of the OT law.
This is very simplistic but it's a good starting point for a wonderful and rollicking debate from all sides. Game on!