One of the first great heresies that confronted the early church was Marcion's effort to throw out the Old Testament from the Christian Bible. He said that the God of the Old Testament was the vindictive God of law who was wholly unlike the gracious God of the gospel. Marcion therefore contended that the Old Testament has no revelation for the Christian faith.
Marcionism was rejected by the church. But as Dr. John Bright points out in his book, The Authority of the Old Testament (Baker), Marcion has lived on in tendencies within the church to downgrade the place of the Old Testament in the sacred canon.
We need to be reminded that the Scriptures used by Jesus and the apostles were those of the Old Testament. The spirit of the New Testament prophets is subject to that of the Old Testament prophets. The God and Father of Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament. Its Scriptures were those which Jesus said "cannot be broken."
In his book, The Kingdom of God (Abingdon), Dr. Bright likens the relationship between the Old and New Testament to that of a building and its roof (pp. 192-198). He very aptly points out that a roof without a building can be used to cover almost anything! We can too easily talk about New Testament theology or New Testament Christianity as if the New Testament were to be understood in isolation. The only valid kind of theology is biblical (the whole Bible) theology.
. . . it is impossible rightly to set the New Testament apart and to construct a purely New Testament religion without regard to the faith of Israel. The New Testament rests on and is rooted in the Old. To ignore this fact is a serious error in method, and one that is bound to lead to a fundamental misunderstanding of the Bible message. He who commits it has disregarded the central affirmation of the New Testament gospel itself, namely that Christ has come to make actual what the Old Testament hoped for, not to destroy it and replace it with a new and better faith. . . .
We devote this issue of Present Truth Magazine to a series of articles on the Old Testament. The main article, by Graeme Goldsworthy, Th.D., presents a bird's-eye view of the Old Testament's unfolding revelation of the kingdom of God concept. Should the Old Testament be allegorized, spiritualized, literalized or moralized? Dr. Goldsworthy has some interesting observations on its proper handling. The writer is an Anglican clergyman whose area of special interest has been the Old Testament. He did his Th.D. studies at Union Theological Seminary (Virginia) under Dr. John Bright.
For if anything is clear, it is that Christ did not come to contribute a new ethic. . . .
Nor was Christ's mission to teach his people some new and loftier idea of God. . . . .
The New Testament, then, does not present us with a new religion which we may. study for itself alone. — Ibid., pp.193-196.
We are well aware that in this issue we are touching on some sensitive areas. We too want to remain open to truth as we plead with our readers to remain open to reasonable Christian dialogue.
"Come . . . ,let us reason together . . ."