Thursday, September 20, 2012

The New Testament is not the Law

I came across two interesting quotes recently which come from vastly different sources yet say much the same thing:

“I think Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew we were turning his letters into torah.” — F. F. Bruce, Evangelical Bible scholar and preeminent authority on the life and teachings of the apostle Paul

"I have no doubt but when the apostle, under the influence of Divine Love, addressed an epistle to the Corinthians, that he was rightly directed therein. And as he knew and was led into a right knowledge of their states, so he could administer to their needs and to their instruction. But I don't apprehend that he had the most distant idea that he was writing to nations yet unborn, and of whose states and conditions he could have no knowledge. Nor do I believe the Divine Wisdom had any design, when he influenced the mind of the apostle to write his several epistles to the Corinthians, that he intended them for after-ages. For had that been the case, he would have made them as plain and clear as he did the law to Israel, so that every one should understand it alike. And although the law to Israel does not concern us in the present day, yet every one that sees it, reads it alike--it admits of no controversy. But not so with the writings of the apostles, for the best and wisest of men generally all disagree respecting them. And the Scriptures of the primitive Christians from the early ages of Christianity have been one principal cause of all the division, all the controversy, all the war, and all the persecution and cruelty that have convulsed and drenched Christendom in blood ever since it has been called a Christendom.

And does it not impeach the wisdom and goodness of our Gracious Benefactor to suppose he ever intended those writings as a rule, when the best of men cannot understand tham alike? Surely had he intended them as a rule to after-ages, he would have made them as clear as he did his law to Israel.

But the reason is obvious--as the gospel law is inward and spiritual, and cannot be comprehended in outward characters, but must be written in every heart distinctly. As our states and conditions are all different and distinct from each other, so the law of God is distinct in every heart, and is always suited to the state and condition of every heart, and of course must act diversely in each mind, according to the diversity of their several dispositions, propensities, and passions. Therefore no literal law or creed can take place under the gospel--except in moral or outward things--for no outward law can bind the soul, as the government of the soul is exclusively the prerogative of God and not of man." - Elias Hicks, 19th century Quaker minister, Letter to William Poole, 1823


Post a Comment

<< Home