I AM the Vine

Excerpt from I AM the Vine

An exceptionally popular pastor and writer came out with a book in which he criticized the church’s “incessant habit of reaching back into the old covenant concepts, teachings, sayings, and narratives.” Later in the same book, he asked readers, “Would you consider unhitching your teaching of what it means to follow Jesus from all things old covenant?”

I haven’t read the book, which may have a lot to offer, and I realize his words may have been taken out of context. I certainly do not want to be unfair to him. But, that said, it seems to me the church has made precisely the opposite mistake. We have not reached back into the old covenant concepts, teaching, sayings, and narratives nearly enough. We’ve reached back into Reformation concepts, teaching, and sayings. And the great leaders of the Reformation were reaching back into the concepts, teaching, and sayings of the Scholastic period before them. But Jesus did reach back into the concepts, teaching, sayings, and narratives of the Old Testament, so we must do the same.

We will not understand Jesus by forcing his words into a conceptual frame he did not use. His frame was the Old Testament. If we try to understand Jesus without reaching back into old covenant concepts, teaching, sayings, and narratives, we will simply substitute our concerns for God’s and transform Jesus into a 21st century American rather than a first century Jew.

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