Tim Keller and the Torah
Tags: gospel coalition, law, Old Testament, Tim Keller, Torah
According to a posting on "The Gospel Coalition" blog last week by the coalition founder Tim Keller, any Christian who follows the mandates of the Torah "denies the power of Christ's death on the cross." Keller says, "Those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others." He goes on to explain which laws Christians must not follow.
Among the laws that a Christian must not observe and if he does, he will deny the power of Christ's death on the cross, are the "'the clean laws' of diet and practice." In addition, Keller says a Christian "can't offer animal sacrifices."
The Dietary Laws
How does eating kosher deny the power of Christ's death on the cross?
We know that all the apostles kept kosher. Were they denying the power of Christ's death on the cross? To learn about eating kosher, Peter's vision of a sheet in Acts 10, Yeshua's statement about "all foods clean" in Mark 7, and other questions, click here for our book Biblically Kosher.
We know that we cannot bring animal sacrifices. The Temple no longer exists, and the Bible forbids offering sacrifices in any place except the holy Temple in Jerusalem. But the Temple did exist in the days of the apostles, and we know that the apostles participated in the sacrificial system.
The most obvious example is Paul of Tarsus, offering sacrifices for purification and the completion of Nazirite vows in Acts 23. Was Paul denying the power of Christ's death on the cross when he brought sin offerings and burnt offerings at the completion of his vow?
To learn more about the meaning of sacrifices, why we don't bring them today, and why they will be offered again in the future, click here to see our book "What About the Sacrifices?"
The Foolish and Erroneous Bible
Keller explains that when we understand that Jesus cancelled the ceremonial and civil aspects of the Torah, "It all falls into place. However, if you reject the idea of Christ as Son of God and Savior, then, of course, the Bible is at best a mishmash containing some inspiration and wisdom, but most of it would have to be rejected as foolish or erroneous."
Which laws of the Torah does he think we should reject as foolish or erroneous? Obviously, he means the purity codes, the dietary laws, the holy days, and the penalties of Torah.
More Consternation over Homosexuality
Why is Tim Keller taking shots at the Torah? Is he concerned about Messianic Jews and Judaizers? No. He is reacting to the constant barrage of mainstream blather that criticizes Christians for condemning homosexuality while failing to observe other "Old Testament" standards. After all, the prohibition on homosexuality is in the part of the Bible that Christians believe to be obsolete.
You have to admit, they have a pretty good point. And nothing irritates conservative Christians more than the homosexual agenda. (The prohibition is also mentioned in the epistle to the Romans and included under the frequently mentioned, apostolic prohibition on sexual immorality, but most of the voices lodging that claim have never actually read the Bible.)
So Tim Keller is trying to save the day by explaining to everyone that certain parts of the Old Testament are cancelled and other parts are not.
Torah for Christians
In Messianic Judaism, we don't believe that Jesus cancelled any of the eternal unchanging Torah. Instead, Jesus said that heaven and earth would disappear before a single jot or tittle would disappear from the Torah.
At First Fruits of Zion, we covered all of this from a Messianic Jewish, Torah perspective in my book "Restoration: Returning the Torah of God to the Disciples of Jesus."
You can read a pertinent section of the book at this blog post: Is the Bible B.S.?
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