The Problem With Old School Theology

I knew there was a problem with the old school Protestant System of theology!  I knew it!

For years I have said that this system, in various forms, essentially turns back to the old covenant for its foundation.  It is as though Christ is not enough.

Now, as I am reading Doug Campbell’s Deliverance of God, I see the arguments laid out with an incredible depth and clarity.  This old school system is bankrupt and lacks clear biblical warrant.  Indeed in some ways, it promotes another gospel.

I know this may sound shocking, but I challenge anyone to read/study/discuss this book along with me and come away with a hearty approval of the fundamental Protestant system.  Now, that does not at all mean that I am endorsing or approving Roman Catholicism either.  No, the issues are far deeper than an “either this or that” conclusion.

Indeed, there is nothing new in trying to grasp the truth and depth of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Read Galatians or Hebrews and we see the early church struggled with how truly liberating it is.

But, those who know me recall my Reformed phase not too many years ago, and how I walked away from that system for one primary reason: it is grounded in the old covenant.  It affirms Christ, yet reaches back for the chains of the old system.  And let’s be honest, folks, that denies Christ in many, many ways.

I still have quite a bit of respect for the Reformers.  But, Campbell’s book certainly lays out a solid argument that this system of thought should at least be questioned and at best be replaced.

I read on…and will post more as I go!

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5 thoughts on “The Problem With Old School Theology

  1. rob says:

    hmm….very interesting take. To me it seems you oversimplify it as being simply Protestant vs. Catholic. (or the author). I don’t quite follow how its “another gospel” by referring to the Old Covenant? The Old Covenant must precede the New, otherwise, the cross is futile. Also, this leaves open other options, not just “either/or” Protestant or Catholic. There are variations of Protestant, so upon reading your post, it would seem to me that you could even consider the Calvinistic Baptists (1689’ers). I once came from that circle and they rather did emphasize Jer. 31:31-34.

    I actually came to a clearer understanding of Covenant Theology that solved alot of “disjointed” issues of the Bible from the OT to the NT that the Dispensationalists and Catholics seemed to erroneously believe. One divided the word so much that the unity was thrown away and God had plan A (the Jews) and plan B (the Gentiles) and this modern mess that has affected American foreign policy in the middle east because of the secret rapture-rebuild the temple-going back to sacrifices teaching. Rome also destroys Hebrews 1 by going back to the “old covenant” of again sacrificing Christ at every mass. This seems to contradict the scriptures where Christ in the Gospels says He gives his sheep “eternal” life. Eternal means that we cannot “lose” this. He is the Great Shepherd and He will lose NONE. Not even my sins can pluck me out of His Love for me.

    I recommend this book (available online for free), “The Proper Distinction Between Law & Gospel”: “http://www.lutherantheology.com/uploads/works/walther/LG/”

    Based on what you wrote, I’m thinking that the accusation of things being grounded in the Old Covenant is unfounded. Covenant Theology unifies the Bible and solves the reason for the Cross. It seems other views never solves the “why” of the Cross in that manner, nor unify why “there is neither Jew nor Greek”.

    I don’t want to unfairly accuse you of this, but it still seems to me you haven’t been fully convinced of the Reformed position and are still holding on to some Anabaptist fragments. Maybe we can discuss and clarify further. 🙂

    • John says:

      Thanks for the comments, Rob!

      I think this post was more of a rant than an actual presentation of Campbell’s or my own views. I hope to get more substatial posts up soon.

      I certainly do not see it as a simple “either/or”, in fact I did write that the interpretive options are far deeper than that.

      I think that we really need to search for meaning in a way that is free from denominational and theological baggage. It is clear to me that in the first century, there were no Lutherans, Calvinists or Anabaptists. So why bring that system to the table?

      Having grown up a Lutheran, I do understand their Law/Gospel distinction. But I guess my point is that I don’t feel the need to find support for any theological systems any more.

      Look at the early church. They simply did not have long, well manicured confessions of faith. Seems the very basics were good enough. So my desire is to shed the weight of the theological systems to get to the essence of what the church was about – what they believed and what they did – what mattered most to them.

      So, I guess I am automatically predisposed to be enamoured by a book like Campbell’s, when he says, “Hey, perhaps this whole Justification theory is wrong?”

      I am only a couple hundred pages into the book, but I like his angle, and I think this is going to rattle some old intrepretive chains.

      I’ll write more on why and how I think some turn to the old covenant. One of the big ones off the top of my head is the Regulative Principle. Perhaps I’ll start there. But then again, my blog isn’t meant to throw spears at denominations. I am simply seeking out the early church in the early texts and traditions.

      I’m sure as I read on, I’ll see some connections and post them up.

      Thanks for reading and for the dialogue!

  2. rob says:

    To add…much confusion in reading the old was the confusion between Moses and Abraham. Check out this post “Abraham Was Not Moses which clarifies the confusion I think. :0)

  3. alam says:

    Interesting post – and thank you for your blog! I’ve just ‘found it’ and am getting into it. Your most recent post is something which seems to dominate a number of sites I visit. The discussion between Law and Grace. To me (after 62 yrs of church life you pick upa trick or two) the answer seems to take away all the human-devised divisions of scripture (OT/NT, chapters, verses, books etc) and simply just kinda read it! It’s a history book of God’s dealings with men. It’s a progression of God’s activity as He reveals aspects of His personality and ability. All we need to know is there, and all that is there we need to know! Both bathwater and baby have an immense value and the ‘whole counsel of God’ should be preached. Am I being too simplistic?

    • John says:

      Hi Alan,

      No, I don’t think you are being too simplistic. Sometimes I think too complex is more of a problem!

      And that’s just it…the early church functioned quite well on far less theological knowledge or certainty than many claim to have today. Not that I don’t see value in depth of ideas, just that many times in life as well as in scripture, we see people developing what appear to be good religious beliefs and practices that turn out to be not only the inverse of God’s heart, but quite simply damning to mankind!

      I see no reason to import old covenant practices upon a new covenant standing in Christ. It just makes no sense at all.

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