Hebraic Heritage: What is the deal with the Old Testament?

It is wonderful that students can receive a free copy of the New Testament, but I admit to being saddened that they don't get the full picture.

Jim Fletcher 88 224 (photo credit: )
Jim Fletcher 88 224
(photo credit: )
In the silly 1979 film, "The Jerk," Steve Martin's character pumps gas for a living. For some odd reason, a madman targets him for death. While Navin works around the station, the killer starts firing at him with a hire-powered rifle. As the simple-minded station attendant stands next to a stack of oil cans, he notices that they seem to spontaneously sprout leaks. As it dawns on him that someone is shooting, he yells, "He hates these cans!" A Christian could be excused for feeling he's in a similar situation today, as an assault on the Bible is in reality an assault on us as people of faith. We seem not to be aware of it, though. And it isn't funny. At almost every point in our culture today, I feel like shouting, "They hate these prophets!" Scholars, entertainers, and religious figures seem to want to rid us of the Hebrew Scriptures. They aren't the only ones. For what were probably pure motives, many missionary groups decided in the last century to jettison the Old Testament from Christian Bibles, feeling that the New Testament presented the Gospel, which should suffice. Today, even the Gideons pass out "New Testaments." Gift Bibles with 29 books (The NT, Psalms, and Proverbs) can be purchased in Christian stores. Why? Isn't that half our Bible? Yes, it is, and besides giving us half the story, it also has hardened attitudes toward Israel and the Jews. Whole generations now have no understanding of God's People, mostly because there is little Old Testament teaching in churches. The reality that the Bible makes known to us - God is sovereign and knows the end from the beginning - is a foreign concept in American churches today. We are too concerned with personal fulfillment, perfect relationships, and wealth. The great promises of predictive prophecy have been air-brushed from our Bibles. It is wonderful that students can receive a free copy of the New Testament, but I admit to being saddened that they don't get the full picture. I maintain that there is a very old conspiracy to attack the reliability of the Bible. It's a given that the mainline churches have de-emphasized the Hebrew Scriptures (to the extent that people don't even know what "the Hebrew Scriptures" are). But we err if we think evangelicals aren't also contributing to this travesty. The Southern Baptist Sunday School Board allowed - in 1961(!) - the publication of a book by Ralph H. Elliot that said, in part, "Many human authors, worship circles, and redactors appear to have had a part in shaping Genesis over a long period of time." That would have been a surprise to Moses. And notice that Ralph used the word "appear." That's a euphemism for "I don't have any evidence to back this up." And why would scholars like Elliot insist on redactors, worship circles, and many authors? So that Genesis (and subsequent books) could contain mistakes and contradictions and myth, and propagandistic nationalism, of course. So that it becomes unreliable as a conduit for history and pure philosophy for living. As Pierre Marcel, a French pastor, once said, "The battle is now within the fort." Marcel "got it" and presumably contended for the faith. He was in the minority. Ronald Osborn, writing in The Pulpit (1960) said, "The impact of natural science, of evolutionary thought, of historical criticism, of form criticism, of demythologizing, has left us with a Bible utterly unlike the Book our mothers read." He hates these prophets! All this, my friends, is why young people are leaving our churches in droves. It is why mystical worship practices are entering our churches. And it is why support for Israel is in jeopardy. Why waste time reading a book that is mistake-filled and mythical? This is a critical point that many of our Christian leaders miss, even ones who promote Israel. Until we begin teaching the whole Bible - that it is reliable and defensible in every area - Western Christianity will be the victim of the same spiritually wicked gravitational pull that has gripped Europe. The Hebrew Scriptures are remarkable for their clarity, historical reliability, and highest ideals. If we want to grow support for Israel, we should make it a priority to educate ourselves on this point. Time is of the essence. Jim Fletcher is a member of the executive committee of the National Christian Leadership Conference for Israel (NCLCI). He can be reached at [email protected] Previous Entries What if the Bible is true? By the power of God Religion and academia Not enough good teaching material Our Jewish Roots - Educate, educate, educate