Old Testament Law: which bits do we ignore and why?

The Bible is neatly separated by an unequal Old an New Testaments.  A friend of mine once argued that since the best books are usually trilogies, it should be split into three: The Old Testament, The New Testament and… The Return of the King(?) (Revelation).  There are also two major “covenants” (agreements, in this case between God and man), which are featured, broadly speaking one in each Testament, though in reality there is some wide blurring at the edges.

The “Problem”

Jesus says “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” (Matthew 5:17-18, NIV)  So the Law stands then?

Not quite so simple…

Peter is visited by a large sheet which “contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”  14 “Surely not, Lord!”Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”  15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” (Acts 10:12-15)  So the Law can be changed then?

And there are yet more obvious things, such as the utter lack of Christians stoning people for adultery (the last one I was aware of was an atheist on a “Year of Living Biblically” spree- yes he even printed a book about his experiences, including somewhat sheepishly throwing small stones at a man who admitted to adultery).

The beginnings of an answer… Continue reading