Monday, September 9, 2013

Dividing laws in to moral, civil, and ceremonial

In their massive work Kingdom Through Covenant, authors Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum address the oft-procured argument that the laws of the Old Testament are divided into three categories: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The most common purpose for which these divisions are that I come across is to decipher what laws from the Old Testament are still in effect and applicable to New Testament believers. To that end, the authors write the following:
It is common to categorise and classify the laws as (a) moral, (b) civil, and (c) ceremonial, but this classification is foreign to the material and imposed upon it from the outside rather than arising from the material and being clearly marked by the literary structure of the text. In fact, the ceremonial, civil, and moral laws are all mixed together, not only in the Judgments or ordinances but in the Ten Words as well (the Sabbath may be properly classified as ceremonial). Those who claim the distinction between ceremonial, civil, and moral law do so because they want to affirm that the ceremonial (and in some cases, civil) laws no longer apply but the moral laws are eternal ... This is an inaccurate representation of Scripture at this point. Exodus 24 clearly indicates that the Book of the Covenants consists of the Ten Words and the Judgments, and this is the covenant (bot Ten Words and Judgments) that Jesus declares that he has completely fulfilled and Hebrews declares is now made obsolete by the new covenant. What we can say to represent accurately the teaching of Scripture is that the righteousness of God codified, enshrined, and encapsulated in the old covenant has not changed, and that this same righteousness is now codified and enshrined in the new. (355)

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