#11. Something Old, Something New

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So I’ve decided, inspired by my recent blog-crush, www.stuffchristianslike.net, to institute Theological Thursdays. This will be different than Jon Acuff’s Serious Wednesdays mostly because it’s not Wednesday. Now I know what you’re saying… “This blog is going to turn all serious and boring, and I won’t find myself laughing out loud for hours the way I used to after reading your witty witticisms.” As much as I appreciate that well-meaning, but back-handed compliment, I want to assure you that while I commit to going a little deeper on Thursdays, I am simultaneously committing to be equally dry and sarcastic or light and fluffy, every other day of the week. I could even start naming other days like Satirical Saturdays or Whimsical Wednesdays, but admittedly, I don’t think very far ahead, and I’m pretty sure I would just end up writing myself into a literary corner.

Without further ado, I was reading my Bible at the local Starbucks this morning, still crawling my way through 2 Corinthians at a tortastic* pace, when I realized the text was speaking on a topic that has come up in a few recent conversations. I was a little stunned, but then looked around and thought, “This is a God thing. He does this sort of stuff all the time. Act natural. Be cool.” Verses 9 and 10 seem to be speaking clearly about Old Covenant verses New Covenant.

Now some people argue that the Old Covenant no longer applies to our lives, that the New Covenant has replaced it. I can kind of see that. But other people say the Old Covenant is just as relevant as ever and should be followed strictly. But there are a lot of things in the Old Covenant that don’t make sense and that may not apply for a more “modern” or “advanced” culture. These verses helped to make some sense of this tension for me.

 9For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. 10Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it.

These verses point out that the New Covenant far exceeds the Old in glory. So much so that the Old appears to now have no glory at all. But don’t miss this part. The Old does still have glory. It still has relevance and significance, but the New takes priority. The New is given surpassing precedence. I thought of it this way: If I learn a piece of truth and then later on learn another truth that is even greater, does the first truth cease to be truth? Not at all. If it ceases to be truth, then it was never truth to begin with. In fact it was only a theory at best, and the God of the universe does not operate on theories. If I learn how to work a high level, extremely complex math problem that takes pages of hand calculations, and then six months later, I learn how to work the same problem using a calculator taking only a fraction of the time, does it invalidate the truth of the original process, or does it only eclipse it with such utter simplicity that only a fool would continue to struggle when a better way has been provided?

So what’s the application? What happens when the New fails to address, simplify or eclipse something Old? I believe we pray about it. I believe we place it against the backdrop of the entirety of scripture and weigh what makes sense. I believe we seek trusted biblical leadership that we have willingly and joyfully placed ourselves under. In the end I suppose I haven’t reached a single concrete conclusion, but it doesn’t seem prudent to completely disregard the whole of the Old Covenant because of its inferior perceived value relative to the Ministry of Righteousness.

Was that too deep? Did I drown in a sea of metaphoric ignorance? Maybe next Thursday I’ll pack my water wings.

*Tortastic is derived from tortoise, referring to anything exceptionally slow-moving.

 

 

3 thoughts on “#11. Something Old, Something New

  1. I haven’t heard quite that interpretation before, interesting thoughts. Keep in mind that the same passage says that the Old Covenant brought condemnation and death….Not sure I want to remain under that. 🙂

  2. One more thought…its not that learning a new truth makes the old truth irrelevant…This is a difference in covenants. Personally, I don’t think you can be under 2 covenants at the same time. It would be like being married to 2 different people…As Paul says elsewhere, when I die, then my marriage covenant is no longer valid. He uses that analogy to say that we have died to the law (the Old Covenant that Moses brought down from the mountain and which had glory, but brought death and condemnation with it.) Now we have a new husband, Jesus Christ. Thoughts?

  3. Thanks Mica. I certainly don’t want to be under a Covenant of condemnation and death. Who would? Maybe a masochist. Anyway… concerning multiple covenants, the marriage analogy doesn’t hold completely true. Although in some places you could technically be married to multiple people, let’s focus on successive marriages. This is the same covenant but with different people. With God, we have different covenants with the same person, the New replacing the Old, and I don’t think you can truly appreciate something new without understanding the old. So when put into practice, there exist precepts within the Old that we can use for our good and God’s Glory. The fullness of the Law was meant for the Joy of His people to protect them and bind them to Himself. It seems careless to cast-off so much God-breathed wisdom as irrelevant. I believe it is crucial that we seek a balance between legalism and license. Because even though as Christians, we have been gifted, through Christ’s crucifixion, freedom in all things, we are called to lay down our rights to those freedoms with joy and willingness as a testament to something greater. These rights are laid down at different rates for different people as the Holy Spirit imparts truth through scripture, teaching and worship.

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