WASHINGTON – After calling for Christians to “unhitch” from the Old Testament, declaring the Ten Commandments null and void and it might not be surprising to read in mega-pastor Andy Stanley’s new book that he considers all of the Hebrew Scriptures, written by Moses, the prophets, King David, King Solomon and others, “outdated and obsolete.”
The shock might be the source and authority he cites for his opinion.
In “Irresistible: Reclaiming the New that Jesus Unleashed on the World,” released last week, Stanley, whose churches are attended weekly by some 34,000, making it one of the largest congregations in the U.S., attributes his assertion not to himself but to the author of the New Testament book of Hebrews.
But the author of another new contrasting title says, by making that claim, Stanley is guilty of making a sophomoric exegetical error unworthy of his doctoral degree in theology and his role as pastor of one of the largest churches in America.
“In citing Hebrews 8:13 as validation of his ‘outdated and obsolete’ characterization of the Hebrew Scriptures, affirmed as the God’s Word by Jesus, the apostles and every author of the New Testament books, is either making a rookie mistake or, worse, deliberately deceiving his own readers,” concludes Joseph Farah, the author of
The Book of Hebrews does not call the Old Testament “outdated or obsolete,” Farah says.
“That’s just flat out deception,” he says.
While some modern translations use those terms with regard to the Old Covenant, that’s not the same thing as the Old Testament, Farah asserts. The Book of Hebrews, in fact, quotes extensively from the Book of Jeremiah, which prophesies the coming of a New Covenant – not the same as the New Testament, Farah points out. While these words, “covenant” and “testament” can be used as synonyms, he says, they are not used that way in either the original Book of Jeremiah or the latter Book of Hebrews.
“The author of the Book of Hebrews is referring not to the 39 books of the Old Testament,” Farah says. “He’s referring instead to a specific prophecy by Jeremiah of a time in the future when God will fulfill the promise of the New Covenant, interestingly with the House of Judah and the House of Israel, at which time He will ‘put My law in their inward parts and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ This is a Kingdom of God promise that has not yet been fully realized, but which will be undoubtedly when Jesus returns as King of kings and Lord of lords, ruling and reigning from Jerusalem, if you take Scripture literally, as I do.”
Jeremiah 31:34 adds: “And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
The author of the Book of Hebrews makes clear that he is talking about the covenant of a sacrificial system that was in place before the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and before Jesus atoned once and for all for sins of the world.
Hebrews 8:12-13 goes on to say, after quoting from Jeremiah 31: “In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” Some other modern translations use the words, “outdated and obsolete.”
“I have never heard of any scholar attempt to suggest that the writer of Hebrews was equating the New Covenant with the New Testament, which, by the way, had not been written or compiled yet,” said Farah. “The only Scriptures, the only Bible in existence at the time Hebrews was written as a letter, much later to be incorporated into the New Testament, was what we sometimes call ‘the Old Testament,’ in Hebrew, the Tanach, or the original Hebrew Scriptures.”
In chapter 18 of his book, he cites 1 John: 4:16 with what he calls a “unique” theological statement: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”
“John equated God with love,” he writes. “This was novel. This was unique. This would change the world. God is love is a uniquely Christian idea.”
Stanley’s book is the No. 1 book at Amazon in the “church leadership” category. Farah’s in the No. 1 book in the “Old Testament” category.
Farah has repeatedly challenged Stanley’s assertions on the irrelevance and inapplicability of the Old Testament before the release of his new book and subsequently:
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