Bible Review 6:1, February 1990

The Old Testament Among Christian Theologians

By Hemchand Gossai

Let’s face it. Christians have a problem when it comes to the use of the Old Testament in the church. We have found a variety of ways of overlooking or de-emphasizing or simply dismissing the Old Testament and its inherent value for the church.

True, a fair number of texts in the Old Testament are troublesome. An example is Proverbs 23:13, which endorses and encourages corporal punishment for a child (“Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you beat him with a rod, he will not die”); or Proverbs 5, 6 and 7, which describe women in a most derogatory manner. And, as if this were not enough, large sections of the Pentateuch focus on dietary laws and the different types of offerings and sacrifices.

For the most part, the church has been content simply to have the Old Testament “be there.” Others, however, have encountered deeper difficulties with the Old Testament and have actively sought to eliminate it altogether from the Christian canon. In so doing, they have decisively extinguished any glimmer of usefulness that was thought to have been there.

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