Thursday, May 24, 2012

“Christian” Ideas that Aren’t (1)


1.    “I’m more of a New Testament Christian.”

I’ve heard this one more times than I care to remember.  The latent and explicit anti-Old Testament “Marcionism” (the heretic in the early church who rejected the Old Testament as Christian scripture) is rampant in all almost all branches of the American church. 

Truth is there is no such thing as a “New Testament Christian.”  Christian means one who belongs to Christ, which means “Messiah.”  Messiah is a key Old Testament idea toward which the entire Old Testament points.  Christ can, therefore, scarcely be understood apart from it. 

In fact, apart from the Old Testament, one inevitably ends up with a “Christian” gospel of individual salvation which amounts to forgiveness, peace with God, and assurance to eternal life in heaven.  That no warning bells go off for most of us about the adequacy of such a view of salvation can only be evidence that we have neither read nor understood the Old Testament.

In short, there is not, nor can there be, such a thing as a “New Testament Christian.”  Whether we think it for good or ill, the Old Testament is the essential and integral context and setting from which Christianity emerged.  As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22).  Would that we would learn that too!

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