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 The Principles of Theology - Article 7

by W.H.Griffith Thomas


<< Part 2. The Spirituality of the Old Testament

Part 3. The Temporary Elements of the Old Testament

The Article proceeds to state with great care that notwithstanding this unity and spirituality there are features in the Old Testament that are not of obligation among Christian men today. “The Law given from God by Moses, as touching Ceremonies and Rites, do not bind Christian men, nor the Civil precepts thereof ought of necessity to be received in any commonwealth.” In this statement we have suggested some of the characteristics of the Old Testament which, while necessary and important for the Jews in their relation to God, are no longer of force for the Christian Church. Although the Article limits its attention to ceremonial and civil laws there is much more in the Old Testament which is now outside the life of Christian people, and the following may perhaps be regarded as a summary of those elements which are purely temporary and not of permanent binding force:

1. The Ceremonial Law. The whole of the Levitical institutions of priesthood and sacrifice are obviously no longer binding, since they were all fulfilled in the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 2:17; Heb. 9:11; 10:1, 11, 12).

2. The Civil Precepts. The identity of Church and State among the Jews, and the entire arrangement necessary for the preparation of Israel as the medium of God’s revelation are all things of the past, and now it is impossible to insist upon the civil precepts being “of necessity received in any commonwealth.”

3. The Theocracy. The direct government by God was intended for Israel’s life as the channel of God’s religion of redemption, but even with Israel a pure theocracy proved to be too high and spiritual, and a theocratic monarch was introduced. It goes without saying that no such theocracy is possible today in connection with the Christian Church, or any Christian nation.

4. The Legal Spirit and Coercive Attitude. The Old Testament had for its keynote, “Do, and thou shalt live,” and we know from the New Testament that the keynote of the Gospel is “Live in order to do.” The whole tendency of the Jewish life was works, and a spirit of coercion is implied in “Thou shalt” and “Thou shalt not.” All these features are necessarily removed from the spirit of the New Testament, and form part of the temporary elements to which the Article refers. It is noteworthy how strikingly true to modern thought on the Old Testament this emphasis on the temporary features is, and a consideration of it will keep us from the two extremes of regarding the Old Testament as entirely on a level with the New and from the opposite standpoint of dispensing with it altogether. While there are temporary features there are also, as we shall see, other features that are of lasting force and obligation.


>> Part 4. The Permanent Elements of The Old Testament






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The Principles of Theology

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>> 39 Articles Issues pages

>> Griffith-Thomas biography


Article 7

>> Introduction

>> Unity of Old & New Testaments

>> Spirituality of the Old Testament

>> Temporary elements of the O.T.

>> Permanent elements of the O.T.

>> Problem of the O.T. Today

Content of The Principles

>> Index

>> Preface by J I Packer

>> Introduction

>> 1 - Trinity

>> 2 - Christ

>> 3 - Descent into Hell

>> 4 - Resurrection

>> 5 - Holy Spirit

>> 6 - Holy Scripture

>> 7 - The Old Testament

>> 8 - The Three Creeds

>> 9 - Of Original or Birth Sin

>> 10 - Of Free Will

>> 11 - Of the Justifcation of Man




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