Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Walking In The Light Of Jesus

This morning I had an informal debate, of sorts, with a friend online. 

He wanted to talk with me regarding the "Flat Bible vs Jesus-Centric" approach to the scriptures which I introduced in chapter two of my book "Jesus Untangled:Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb."

At first, we were just comparing the two views, but then it started to turn into more of an actual debate when my friend said that he believed we still needed to read the words of Jesus "in the light of the Old Testament."

This set me off into a much longer exploration that I wanted to share here on the blog with all of you.

Here's how I responded to my friend:

We don't read the words of Jesus "in the light of the Old Testament" because the OT has no light. Jesus is the light that has come into the world. He is the light. He shines on the Old Testament, the Old Testament does not shine on Jesus.

Now, yes, the Old Testament scriptures point to Jesus, so in that sense it does "shed light" on Jesus, but those scriptures do not modify His teachings or His life. He modifies everything.

Jesus is the source. The Old Testament scriptures are the shadow. 
He is the light.  
We are told that there a veil that covers the eyes of those who read the Old Testament apart from Christ; a veil that is only removed when read through the lens of Christ. 

[This process is not reversed].

As Brian Zahnd says in his latest book, "The only thing the Scripture does inerrantly and infallibly is point us to Christ." 

Once we see and receive Him, then He illuminates the Old Testament for us - to show us more of Himself. But without Him we do not have light, or life. 

The Law brought death, not life. It points us to Life and Light in Christ, but it, by itself, does not contain "the Words of Life" as Jesus does."For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." - John 1:17

"Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." - John 6:68

We can agree that, yes, the OT and the NT are inspired by the same Spirit, but with different purposes and audiences in mind. 

But I would add that we begin with Christ and read those scriptures in light of who He is and how He revealed the Father to us, because no one has ever seen God at any time in the past. Only Jesus reveals the Father to us in perfect clarity. [See John 1:18]

It's about a process, I think. There are degrees of "knowing".

We know God best of all in Christ. He is the clearest picture we could ever have of what the Father is really like - and has always been like - and anything that conflicts with the image of the invisible God revealed in Christ must bow and conform to His image [not the other way around].

I think we can agree that my Flat Bible definition [in the book] isn't actually "flat" because in practice the OT scriptures are used to modify Christ's teachings [not the other way around]. 

I use that term "Flat Bible" because it reflects the mindset of the approach that all scriptures [theoretically] have equal weight, even if, in practice, they obviously don't. All too often, the Old Testament scriptures are used to modify the words of Jesus.

The question is: When there is an apparent conflict between the teachings of Jesus and an OT scripture - who overrides who? Who "wins" in that conflict ?

If the words of Jesus are not the one and only standard by which all other scriptures are measured, that [to me] is a "Flat Bible" approach. 

Or, call it whatever you like, but it is certainly not "Jesus-Centric", is it?

Does that help? If not, I have written quite a bit on this subject here on the blog.

Read more here:

No comments: