Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Old Testament and Saints

As Christians, do we need to read the old testament? Christ is the fulfillment of the old testament. (yes?) Jesus has told us everything we need to know about life and we are to live. (yes?) So, why not just read and study the new testament? -Gordon

The main reason we study the old testament is because we cannot understand the New Testament without it. Yes, it is sufficient to read the words of Jesus-- but we read the rest of the NT so we can gain greater understanding of Jesus. We read the OT for the same reason. Do you think you could understand what Jesus is saying about divorce unless you had read Genesis 2 to see what the context of Jesus' quote was? The NT never describes who Adam was, who Moses was, why the Children of Israel were in the wilderness, why David was a big deal, let alone describing such words as "messiah" "son of God" or "sexual immorality". The OT is the sourcebook of the NT. So we must study the OT to have at least a working knowledge of it, so we can understand the NT. Now, Job is never mentioned in the NT, yet his story greatly resonates with Jesus' theology of suffering. Ecclesiastes is never mentioned nor quoted yet the Preacher's philosophy is deeply connected to Jesus' view of this world.

Another reason is because the OT is the sourcebook for the church. The Chronicals of Narnia is fun, but it just isn't as realistic or gritty as the OT, which talks about people struggling to follow God. No one could have written a better book that helps one appreciate the difficulties and complexities of living for God-- both struggles and joys.

For the same reason, I think we need to read biographies of saints. We need a lot of stories to live. If we don't have stories, we don't understand life. It is a shame that we surround ourselves with secular stories of secular heroes from Arnold S to Jack on 24 to Harry Potter (although there is a religious side to that one) to whatever and yet we have a deep culture of story which helps us know how to live in Jesus through trial and victory. And I don't mean the modern rags to riches stories. The real ones, like the recent movie Amazing Grace about William Wilberforce. And we should read about Francis of Assisi, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Jim and Elizabeth Elliot, Anthony of Egypt, Archbishop Tutu. And have you even heard of Peter Waldo, Cathrine of Sienna, St. Sebastian, Amy Carmichael, George Muller? If not, it is a shame. We should all read about the great cloud of witnesses who have passed on before, to keep their memoires alive, and to be like them.

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