Recently, I have been reading a new book by a well-known pastor in which the author attempts to recover and reclaim the powerful testimony of Christ in order to make Christianity something worth checking out again, the way it was in the days of Jesus and just after. On its surface, it's clearly a noble pursuit.
But this pastor makes some dangerous assertions and what he ends up doing in trying to reclaim the power of Jesus is to weaken it.
Because here's his basic point: he claims that the reason that Jesus was so worth following way back when was because He was doing an entirely new thing. And if Jesus was doing an entirely new thing, then the "old" thing that God was doing - namely, all of the Old Testament - is essentially irrelevant to everything that we want to do or ought to do as Christians.
We're wasting our time, he says, with the Old Testament. In fact, he goes so far as to say that one of the worst things we're doing to our faith is giving ourselves and our loved ones Bibles that have two testaments in them at all, especially when we "pretend" that the Old Testament is just as inspired and relevant as the New. What we ought to be teaching our children is that it's the New Testament that matters and that the Old maybe sometimes can be used for reference, but it shouldn't be taken seriously because that's just something God was doing until He could get Jesus here and now that Jesus is here, it's not relevant any more.
At this point, I have firmly split you into two camps. Some of you are saying to yourselves, what? Is this guy serious? Is he legitimately a Christian pastor? You can't just throw out the Old Testament! It seems blasphemous, even if you can't articulate exactly why it's such a problem. Others of you are saying to yourself, yes! It's about time! We need to de-clutter Christianity and get down to the basics of it, which, let's be honest, don't start until you get to Matthew. We need to spend more time in the Gospels and less time in the Tabernacle.
After all, it's by the testimony of the disciples that persons came to believe in Christ in the first place. So that's all we need - the testimonies of the disciples and then a few of those things that come afterward that show us how to do it.
But we'll get to that. What's important at this point is to recognize that this second perspective, the perspective that says that we don't need the Old Testament because Jesus has done a radically new thing and we "just" need Jesus not only misses the heart of the story of God, but it directly contradicts what Jesus Himself said.
Jesus said plainly that He did not come to abolish the Old Testament. That He did not come to make the law a moot point. That He did not come to undo thousands of years of Jewish history. He says He came to fulfill these things. He says He came to build on them. He says He came to carry the Jewish flame into a new fire, one that centers on the Cross.
And if Jesus Himself says that we can't throw out the Old because He's turning it into something New, then it doesn't really matter what this pastor says or what sounds nice or what's convenient to a modern Christianity that continues to try to shake off the weight of true discipleship, we must embrace the Old Testament with the same fervor and passion as the New. To preach anything else is a dangerous theology.
And plain wrong.
We're going to look at this this week. We're going to look at why we need the Old Testament when everything about Jesus is neatly tied up in the New. We're going to look at why we can't throw out the Temple because of the Cross. And we're going to look at what we lose if we do, which is something extremely vital to our faith.