The ten commandment were never meant to be a To-Do List.
A common misconception about the Old Testament is that it’s laws were meant for everyone. This is not so. The laws of the Old Testament were always handed down in the context of a covenant or treaty. The rules were always articulated in the context of a relationship. Outside of that covenant, that treaty, that … Continue reading Misconceptions about Old Testament Law
People coming to the Old Testament for the first time often make the assumption that its laws were intended to be universal, for everyone. Such assumptions, however, are misguided, as they aren't always even applicable for Christians. Some laws were for everyone. An example comes from God's covenant with all people through Noah, recounted in … Continue reading Why the laws of Moses aren’t always for Christians
Many have suggested to me that Jesus advocated the same food laws as Mohammed and Moses. The gospel of Mark, however, tells another story: The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (The … Continue reading Did the prophet Jesus consider any food forbidden?
When interpreting Old Testament law it's important to recognise who it's for. For while some laws were given to humans in general, other laws were given to the Israelites alone. And while some laws were given to the Israelites in general, other laws were given to the Levitical priests alone. And while some laws were … Continue reading Who is the Old Testament law for?
Female circumcision is widely associated with Muslims in Western consciousness, but in truth the practice of female circumcision varies widely between different Muslim communities. Why is this? Well, I came across an intriguing explanation for this in "The Third Choice: Islam, Dhimmitude and Freedom" by Mark Durie. Mark writes: "The modern distribution of female circumcision … Continue reading Why is female circumcision practiced by some Muslims and not others?
I ask this question because it came to mind after some Atheists I know started talking about Satanism, LaVey and the Hebrew roots of the word Satan. I couldn't help thinking of this image, "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" by James Tissot. It illustrates the incident when Jesus called Peter a Satan, that is, an adversary … Continue reading Would you say legalism is as Satanic as licence?
The other day I was reminded of a conversation I had with Rabbi Zalman Kastel at the last Anabaptist peace conference. It started with a question about the Old Testament. He asked me, if I recall correctly, if I regarded the Jewish law as "superceded" or "redundant". After thinking this over I replied, "not exactly". For, … Continue reading Is the Torah redundant?
Having just arrived back from an interfaith conference and opened my waiting email in-box, I find this news report from the Sydney Morning Herald about Jamie Cavanough: A candidate for Bob Katter's fledgling political party declared his preference for buying ''guaranteed non-halal meat'' so his money does not ''go to the Muslim community''. Jamie Cavanough, who is standing for … Continue reading Katter candidate’s anti-Halal comments have the attention of this Greenway resident
Blessed is the one Whose delight is in the law - Tree roots well watered
Sometimes, when comparing the New Testament with the Old Testament, it is said that the God of the Old Testament is about wrath and judgement but the God of the New Testament is one of grace and love. Personally I find this way too simplistic. Not that I don't see a significant difference between the … Continue reading Moses or Jesus?
It seems to me that, given mercy was so prominent in the teaching of Jesus, we have to say either justice is not the only important consideration in Christian ethics or ethics is not the only important consideration governing Christian action. Or to put this another way, restorative justice trumps retributive justice in any form … Continue reading Is justice our only concern in Christian ethics?