For example, let’s say we approach the Bible with this question: How should we treat our enemies? Matthew 5:44 tells us to love them. Romans 12:17–21 tells us to do good to them and never seek revenge against them. First Peter 3:13–17 tells us to suffer at their hands and set an example for them. Psalm 137:9 says we should joyfully dash their infants against a rock. Psalm 139:19 says we should hate them. Deuteronomy 7:1–6 says we should destroy them utterly and show them no mercy. If we want to call down fire on them, we can reference 1 Kings 18:20–40, but before we do so, we’d better check Luke 9:51–56, which condemns that kind of thinking. Similarly, we could find verse precedents in the Bible to justify polygamy and celibacy as equal or better alternatives to monogamy (Gen. 4:19; Exod. 21:10; Deut. 25:5–10; Titus 1:6; 1 Cor. 7:1, 29), not to mention a wide array of rules governing dietary, sanitary, clothing, personal grooming, and agricultural matters.
Source: A New Kind of Christianity: Ten Questions That Are Transforming the Faith (McLaren, Brian D.)
I have admitted several times on this blog that for the last several years I have focused almost entirely on the New Testament. The Old Testament seems to be, well old! One of the biggest mistakes I made in my early Christian life was not that of moving away from it during my teenage years but instead trying to re-enter it by reading the Bible from cover-to-cover.
About half way through Genesis I found myself thinking “do I really want to be a Christian this bad?” It took several months for me to struggle through the Old Testament. By the time I reached anything to do with Jesus I was for the most part burned out on my cover-to-cover exercise. I must admit that as a result I pretty much only skimmed the New Testament. In other words I got it totally “bass-ackwards” so to speak.
Luckily I happened upon a few authors who gave me reason to go back and start again with a different view of the Bible. It has been years since I have done any serious study of the old stuff. I occasionally browse through Proverbs and Psalms. There are some very inspiring words in those two books. But I stay away from pretty much the rest.
When I do venture into the Old Testament now I come across much of the dichotomy found in the quote above. The god of the Old Testament just doesn’t seem to be the same god as Jesus told me about. Some say that the purpose of the Old Testament was to point to Jesus. In trying to justify that stand they give me this and that verse that if I hold my tongue just right and stand on one leg I maybe can see the link.
I might be doomed for the proverbial fires of hell because of these beliefs (I’m pretty sure some of the past clergy in my life would agree) but just give me Jesus. I will put my heavenly status on him and his messages alone.