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Christianity and Narnia The Allegory of the Chronicles of Narnia (Religion and Narnia Discussions)

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Old 04-18-2012, 04:12 PM
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Default Law and Grace

This is a carryover from the Covenant thread, because it had wandered over into a discussion of rules, laws and the place of grace in the life of believers. If you had more on the subject you wanted to say there, please say it here. Or consider ...

Most Christians do not attempt to keep Old Testament laws, but do believe the 10 Commandments and other OT directives, such as tithing, are still important for believers.

Which OT laws do you think are still necessary for Christians today, and why? Which ones do you think can be discarded, and why are they discardable? Upon what do you base your judgment?

What was the point of the OT law, and if you believe it is no longer valid, do you have new or different laws you embrace instead, and if so, where did they come from and why do you believe in them?
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Old 04-18-2012, 05:11 PM
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Thanks for the move, response forthcoming!
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Old 04-18-2012, 11:06 PM
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I am still young and I don't profess to know much about the "Law" of the Bible. In recent years, I've begun to question a lot of the principles that were instilled in me. When you're a kid, it's easy to accept the Church's teachings without considering that they might be false or mislead somehow. But as I've gotten older, it's become apparent that some Christians just don't get it. Maybe I'm one of them. Because it's impossible for EVERY theological concept proposed by man to be true (obviously).

Since I started paying attention to religious debates and discussions, I've noticed that a lot of what we talk about is centered around rules. We seem to love rules. Rules make things simple, exact, black and white. When we have rules to follow, we know exactly how to achieve certain goals. We want to live eternally with God? OK, then do A, B, and C, but NEVER do X, Y, and Z. Want to be eternally damned? Do the opposite.

What I find repulsive about this way of thinking is that it makes God seem like some kind of supervisor rather than a loving Father. It makes me think of a guy sitting at a desk with a line of people waiting to be evaluated for their morality. I see you've done A and B, but you've also done X. I'm sorry, but I can't let you in. Next.

Another image which I find equally disturbing is one of a God who simply weighs the good against the bad (also known as the "Good Works" God). Weeeell, you've done some bad stuff in your life, but I'm going to let it slide because I see you were a missionary in China for 17 years. I also see that you read your Bible every day for that period of time. Good job. Welcome to Heaven.

I think our understanding of the Law (in the context of these two scenarios) is backwards. Under these circumstances, the Law leads us to Christ. But I think we're supposed to see it as Christ leading us to the Law.

There's this very important concept in Christianity that I know Inky has touched upon a lot. It's the idea that as we build a relationship with Jesus and surrender our hearts to him, he changes us and we gradually become more like him. So as we mature as a Christian, we grow to love his teachings, his standards, and his Law. If we are serious about following him, the "rules" will naturally become important to us. Yes, there is a lot of self-control and discipline involved, but God's love and strength are what enable us to observe the Law.

How do you convince a young boy or girl to follow the rules when there is no loving parent/child relationship established? Even if you somehow FORCE them to adhere to your demands, they're going to grow up and ignore the rules altogether. There needs to be a foundation of love. That's the bottom line.

This is my perspective on "The Law" as a whole. I'll probably get to the OT and Ten Commandments some time in the future. I need to do some reading and praying before I express my beliefs on them.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:07 AM
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Event the rabbis in the Jewish tradition acknowledged that the laws of Torah fell into three basic categories: the moral (having to do with behaviour), the juridical (having to do with civil governance of Israel), and the cultic (having to do with worship). Examples of the first category would be the Ten Commandments, examples of the second would be guidelines about property rights and sentencing guidelines, and examples of the third would be instructions for sacrifices and holy days, as well as things like the kosher laws.

When Israel inhabited the Promised Land as the free people God intended them to be (roughly 1300BC-586BC), all three types of rules applied, though were followed sporadically. When God permitted the Assyrian conquest of Israel in 722 BC and the Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586BC, that meant the Israelites could no longer follow those laws pertaining to civil governance - they now had to live by the laws of their conquerors.

This precipitated a crisis in Judaism, for now it was no longer possible for them to keep Torah (a condition which the prophets had warned of.) It also forced another interesting question: as the Jews dealt with the Gentiles around them, some of the Gentiles wanted to learn more of this God of theirs, and asked how they could follow Him. What could they do, given that they were not born of Israel and uncircumcised?

This gave rise to the threefold distinction, and the ruling - later recognized by Christian teacher such as Augustine and Aquinas - that the heart of the Law was the moral law: the Ten Commandments, even distilled down to the two Great Laws to love the Lord with all your heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. The other laws could be applied as possible, especially by the Jews, but the heart of Torah, the part that applied to all people, was the moral law.

This was why St. Paul used the term erga nomou, usually translated "works of law", alongside his moral admonitions. Erga nomou is a specific reference to sacrifices and rituals, the cultic part of Torah, as distinct from the moral law.

Of course, it's important to point out that obeying the moral law is not something that we do which earns us membership in the family of God. We are made part of that family by faith and baptism. We walk out the moral law because it is "the family way", and reflects our Father's goodness to the world.
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:06 AM
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I can't believe this discussion has gotten past the first couple of posts without someone mentioning the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of Jewish old testament law...the fact that it is for JEWS. They were picked to be a light to the nations and given a lot LOT more laws than non-Jews were expected to follow.

The law for non-Jews was the simpler Noahide Laws. Any gentile that followed these seven laws was considered righteous and assured of eternal life.

1. You shall not commit murder
2. You shall not commit adultery
3. You shall not worship idols
4. You shall not steal
5. You shall not commit blasphemy
6. You shall not eat the flesh of an animal while it is alive
7. You shall respect the courts of law

That's it. No reading labels to see if something is kosher. No argueing whether people are going to Hell if they worship on Sunday instead of Saturday, or even if they go to Synagogue at all. No clean and unclean, no penalty for stepping on a grave or working on the sabbath.

Being Jewish is like being in the Army. Civilians walking down the street have to obey the litter law and not cross the street except at the crosswalk. The Soldier has to worry about whether he has his commanding officer's permission to even be there, how long he can stay, and if an MP is going to catch him with his tie on crooked or shirt pocket unbuttoned in public. Big difference.
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EveningStar View Post
I can't believe this discussion has gotten past the first couple of posts without someone mentioning the MOST IMPORTANT aspect of Jewish old testament law...the fact that it is for JEWS. They were picked to be a light to the nations and given a lot LOT more laws than non-Jews were expected to follow.

The law for non-Jews was the simpler Noahide Laws. Any gentile that followed these seven laws was considered righteous and assured of eternal life.

1. You shall not commit murder
2. You shall not commit adultery
3. You shall not worship idols
4. You shall not steal
5. You shall not commit blasphemy
6. You shall not eat the flesh of an animal while it is alive
7. You shall respect the courts of law
ES

Thanks for posting the Noahide laws, which I was about to refer to - though I was about to have to look up what they were - I knew there were seven, but I never knew which ones. Now I've seen them, I'm confused - how did those seven come to be applicable to Gentiles when they're not all mentioned in the pre-Abrahamic part of Genesis?
I would adopt the same kind of model. The Law of Moses is for Jews. Not being a Jew, it doesn't apply to me. None of it. Not even the Ten Commandments. The only things that do apply are the things that are set out in Genesis 1-11, which apply to all humans, and those which are accessible to reason. So, such things as:
- devotion to God
- rest on the seventh day (implied by God's resting on the seventh day and making it holy)
- respect for marriage
- modesty in dress
- no murder (but capital punishment mandated for murder)
- it's ok to eat meat, provided the blood isn't in it (reinforced by Acts 15)

Other rules are mandated by reason, for example, no theft, no lying, respect for authority.

However, with the coming of Jesus, I think that Galatians 3 applies here too. Those rules - whether the rules applicable to Gentiles or those specific to Jews - are there to help us to understand God's character and grow to be more like him. Even the rules that are for Gentiles, I don't follow them because they are rules, but because that is the way God would live.

All the laws give an insight into the character of God. Some rules I understand clearly and follow their principles, even if not the letter of the rule. Other rules I don't really understand why they are there, so I may follow in the hope that one day I will understand better.

Peeps
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:39 PM
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good thoughts everyone! of course Lila and I seem to be on the same spiritual journey so her post completely resonated with me, but I learned something from PoTW's, and I tried to give ES rep for the soldier vs citizen example, but I was prevented because apparently I have repped him too recently ... and Peeps, I found your logic very sound. Like Lila, I am thinking and praying on this ...
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Old 04-19-2012, 07:26 PM
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OT: Reputation is not a popularity contest, it's used on paid membership forums to reward people for worthwhile content and expert advice. People who answer a certain number of questions about repairing Nikon Cameras or adjusting the timing on a Camaro to the satisfaction of the members get a reduced fee or free membership.

That said, as a mod, I sometimes have to tell people things they don't want to hear. All I need is to tell someone they can't put, "A Vote For Jenkins is a Vote for Murdered Babies" in their siggy and see the red pencil come out. Yeah, I disable reputation...do you blame me?
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Old 04-19-2012, 09:49 PM
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One thing that we should all remember is the moral law is simply this:

How to love one another.

When asked what the most important law was, Jesus didn't quibble, evade, or indulge in rabbinic debate. He just laid it out, straight from the hip: love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Then He said something interesting: "on these hang all the Law and Prophets."

In other words, these commandments were the foundation for all the others. They were just commentary and specific expansion of those core laws.

We humans need that expansion because we can get really vague and rationalizing when it comes to "loving". We can say things like, "sure, I love my business partner, but it's clear to me that he's becoming too attached to worldly goods, which is why I'll siphon these funds out of the business - to keep his focus off filthy lucre." We need God to tell us that no, stealing from someone is never an expression of love for them. We can think things like, "My spouse is always depressed in my presence. Perhaps I'm part of her problem. Maybe the loving thing to do would be to leave her to get her life together - and I prefer my secretary's company anyway." We need God to tell us that no, loving our spouses never entails leaving them (Jesus toughened that law up considerably.)

Thus the moral law is simply practical instructions on how to love someone. The Ten Commandments are only a start (as Jesus made clear in Matt 5:21-48 and elsewhere.) The demands of the Kingdom are much more rigorous than the Ten Commandments - but that stands to reason. Those under the Old Covenant were trying to prove themselves faithful servants in God's house, like Moses. We under the New Covenant are God's sons and daughters, trying to love our lost brethren home. To do that, we need clear, unequivocal instruction on how to love them.
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