I love the Living Word of God, the Bible. Of course, God also speaks to us through His wondrous Creation, and in the still, small voice of His Holy Spirit, who literally dwells in those who have accepted Christ as Savior. But His Bible is our complete, detailed instruction manual in all things that pertain to this life and the one to come. It is a resource of inestimable value whose counsel and decrees overwhelmingly trump every competing authority on every possible question. To believe that and act accordingly is the essence of what it means to have a “Biblical worldview.”
Much of the church of the modern western world has lost that Biblical worldview. Biblical literacy has plummeted, worldly “wisdom” has supplanted Biblical authority in the minds of “average” Christians on any number of issues, and most disturbingly, the church as a whole has developed what I characterize as New Testament myopia. The Old Testament is regarded as “Jewish stuff,” largely irrelevant to Christianity except in small doses to illustrate some point of New Testament doctrine.
However, when Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” he meant ALL Scripture, certainly including the existing New Testament writings, but he used the Greek word graphe, meaning the Old Testament. In fact, when Paul wrote 2 Timothy the “New Testament” had not yet been assembled, and 2 Peter, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation and the Gospel and letters of John had not even been written. Jesus Himself told His disciples in Matthew 23:2-3: “The scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So practice and observe everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.” When was the last time you heard THAT preached in a Christian church?
It’s one thing to affirm the New Testament truth that Christians are not bound to the letter of the law or the rituals. It’s an entirely different and unscriptural matter to treat the law, the rituals, the feasts, the history and the prophecies of the Old Testament as discarded relics of the past and to supplant them with human-created alternatives. As Jesus taught in the Beatitudes, Christians are actually held to a higher standard than the written law, in being subject to it’s underlying spirit and intention (e.g hate is murder, lust is adultery). So while in His grace we can exercise freedom in HOW we keep the law, and we are assured that the penalty for our sins was paid by His blood, we nevertheless remain subject to its underlying principles, and not granted a license to sin in any aspect of it. The Olive Tree into which we are grafted is still rooted in Old Testament soil (Romans 11).
God gave Christians the whole Bible, and all 66 of its books are His Living Word. Jesus didn’t bring the New Covenant to “correct the mistakes” of the Father or apologize for His “excesses.” He said “I and the Father are One,” and built directly upon the foundation of the Old Covenant, teaching emphatically that “until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” His teachings augment and elevate the Old Testament, but as He Himself made clear, they don’t abolish it (Matthew 5:17-19).
New Testament myopia is a relatively recent phenomenon and seems to track the rise of Secular Humanism (the “religion” of Marxism) that arose in America in the late 1800s. Prior to that time the Bible was America’s favorite public school textbook and we followed the Common Law, which is based almost entirely on the Bible, predominantly the Old Testament. Our government was designed on principles drawn largely from the Old Testament. For example, Isaiah 33:22 “For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us” was (and is) the basis for our tripartite governmental structure and constitutional separation of powers. From the time of the Pilgrim’s landing till just a few decades ago Christians read, trusted and followed the whole Bible, and not just the New Testament.
What changed? It certainly wasn’t God or His Word. WE changed, to our detriment, and so today’s public schools train America’s children in Secular Humanism instead of the Bible and our laws condemn Biblical values as “hateful” and unconstitutional.
If I had to point to just one factor that had led the American church to its current state of cultural and political weakness relative to our Cultural Marxist opponents, it is the increasing over-emphasis on New Testament doctrines as a guide to Christian interaction with the world.
The New Testament is a priceless and irreplaceable resource, but devoted almost entirely to the government of the church and the moral and behavioral standards of its members. There is some limited, practical guidance regarding the interaction of the early church with the Roman military dictatorship of the time, but literally no examples of Christian participation in or stewardship of civil government. Providing that guidance is one of the purposes of the Old Testament, as was well understood by prior generations of believers going all the way back to the dawn of the church, the proof of which is the existence (warts and all) of “Christian civilization.” And clearly Christians are expected to understand the principles and practicalities of governance since we are scheduled to “rule and reign with Him” in the Millennial Kingdom (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 20:4).
The Old Testament has many examples of real human beings whom God chose for public service, despite their often serious flaws. I don’t think any of them would pass muster with the church today. By misapplying New Testament teachings on church governance to candidates for civil government, we’ve created an unrealistic and self-defeating standard of moral perfection no honest person can meet. Anyone running openly as a Christian must pretend to be morally flawless (which includes publicly stating they aren’t perfect – so as not to seem prideful — while revealing no examples of moral weakness past or present). Ironically, this standard has discouraged or disqualified many Christians of relatively good character while favoring opponents who downplay or outright disavow Biblical values except to pander to Christians based on the results of opinion polling.
Without the anchor and balance of the Whole Bible perspective, Christianity is susceptible to this sort of pietism in every area of public life, not just politics. But ironically, it is also susceptible to the opposite extreme: licence. New Testament myopia in the so-called mainstream churches has led not just to disregard of Old Testament authority but outright hostility to its teachings, producing such rank doctrinal heresies as “gay theology” and endorsement of child-killing through “abortion.”
If any path remains to restore America to its Christian foundations, it must begin with regaining our Biblical worldview and that in turn means renewing our love and respect for the whole Bible.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.