Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ten Commandments (19) - Why Bother?

No doubt some readers are wondering why I bother with the Ten Commandments. Why do I spend so much effort digging around in the Old Testament. Why not just focus on the gospels? Why not just get on with life.

The answer is that I want to understand God's will for civil government. I am after a biblical approach to political issues. When I go to the scriptures to look for answers on these issues, it quickly becomes clear that there is not a lot on them in the New Testament. There are some hints in Romans 13 and Matthew 22, but I cannot create a political theology just from the New Testament.

If I go back to the prophets and the historys of the Old Testament, I find a little bit more about civil government and politics. However, the prophets put most of their efforts into describing what is wrong. They do not describe a godly system of government.

So to find a complete political theology, I have to go back to Exodus and Deuteronomy. That is where I find most of the biblical teaching on the role of civil government. The reason that these issues are not covered in the New Testament is not that God does not care, but that they are already covered in the Torah, so they do not need to be dealt with again. The New Testament just modifies, where appropriate, what has already been given in the Old Testament. It does not repeat all the good stuff again.

The problem with looking for political theology in the Old Testament law is that a lot of stuff is mixed up together. Universal laws are mixed up with rules peculiar to the nation of Israel. Stuff that is still relevant is mixed up with stuff that was fulfilled by Jesus and is no longer relevant. My aim in digging through this stuff is to develop a political theology that is relevant for today. That is part of what I have been trying to do in this series of posts.

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