Genesis Through Joshua- Exodus: Modern Perspectives on the Mosaic Law

The Challenge
The OT laws were gifts from God for Israel. How can we apply these laws today?

1) The Problems
The law is a complicated issue because OT laws are complicated. We need to exercise humility when applying the OT law to modern life.

2) The Controversy
The diversity in opinion over the law has always existed. You can find a dominant tendency but not an anonymous voice in history.

Major Trends among Evangelicals regarding the Law
1) Dispensationalism
2) Reconstructionism
3) Traditional Calvinism

1) Dispensationalism
i) The variations among dispensationalists
There are many different threads of Dis. Among the more extreme include Schofield and Darby. The Old Schofield Bible represents a strong view of Dis. The New Schofield Bible moves away from the extreme viewpoints represented by the previous Schofield Bible.

ii) Segmentation of Redemptive History according to C.I. Schofield
These ages are separate divine economies:
Eden- the age of innocence
Fall to the flood- the age of conscience
Noah to Babel- the age of human government
Abraham to Egypt- the age of promise
Moses to John the Baptist- the age of law
Church Age- age of grace
Millennium- age of the Kingdom

Fundamentally each age has its own way of defining the relationship between God and man.
Dispensationalism has been known to say that sinners can be saved by keeping the law in the dispensation of ‘Moses to John the Baptist’.
What about transferability? Can we transfer the law of Moses to the Church age?
Answer: Yes if the teachings of the older age are re-affirmed by the teachings of a later age.

Dis say that 9 out of the 10 commandments are to be kept. The Sabbath principle is not re-affirmed in the NT therefore not to be obeyed.

iii) The Authority of OT Law
The OT law is an inseparable unity. The whole of the OT law will be re-instituted in the millennium. This means the temple must be re-built and animal sacrifices will be re-instated.

iv) Evaluations of this view
Views on the separation of the law
The focus that Dis. have on the effect of Christ’s coming. They take the question ‘What did Jesus do?’ very seriously. They claim He changed the divine economy dramatically.

The segmentation of the Bible. The Bible represents itself as an organic unity.
Dis. tend to have a negative view of the law.

2) Reconstructionism
i) Variations
Moderate = Greg Bahnsen ‘Theonomy in Christian Ethics’
More extreme = Garry North

ii) The unity of Redemptive History
The Bible is like a seed. It grows into a tree. Scripture is one unified revelation of God growing throughout time. Each age builds cumulatively throughout time.

iii) Transferability
Everything from a previous age transfers over unless a revelation from a newer period specifically modifies old principles.
Civil authorities should respect and follow the judicial and moral OT laws with proper sanctions and restrictions. The ceremonial laws are not to be obeyed

iv) Evaluations of this view
The unity of the Bible
They have a positive view of the law

They separate the judicial and ceremonial laws.
They don’t have a high view of Christ’s coming in terms of Christ’s expansion and application of OT principles

3) Traditional Calvinism
i) Unity and diversity of Redemptive History
See chapter 7 of the Westminster Confession of Faith.
Covenant of Works (pre-fall)
Covenant of Grace (promised after the fall and fulfilled in Christ)
The Covenant of Grace is differently administered. The OT is full of the shadows of Christ. The NT is full of the substance of Christ.
The OT and NT are similar and separate. About the two testaments: ‘same substance, different administration’ –Calvin.

ii) How does the Law relate to NT believers?
The WCF divides the law abruptly between the judicial, ceremonial and civil laws.
The moral law binds all people at all times. Christ doesn’t take away from the law. He strengthens the 10 commandments.
Christ is the fulfilment of the ceremonial laws. All worship is given in a new way.
Christ is the fulfilment of the judicial laws. We are no longer a theocracy.

iii) Evaluations of this view
One covenant with different administrations
Christ brings a new way of life
The OT law is looked upon as a positive law

It assumes a sharp distinction within the law.

Dr Pratt’s Position
Dr Pratt leans towards traditional Calvinism. The NT makes out that the OT moral law is given to us today as NT principles.
The Kingdom of God is not a theocracy anymore. From the judicial laws we learn principles of equity and justice.
We learn from the ceremonial laws general principles of holiness and worship.

OT laws are for today but must be understood in the light of Christ.


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