How to Respond to Critics That Claim the Bible Condones Stoning

Many Christians and non-Christians, alike, routinely have confusion over how to frame, communicate and comprehend the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, often times questioning how to reconcile some of the controversial contents of the Old with the overarching message of the New.

This is typically the case when it comes to the sometimes controversial laws that are presented in the books of Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy, as a key question emerges as a result of these texts: which of these laws still stand today?

And considering verses like Deuteronomy 21:18-21 — which talks about stoning defiant children — among other similar verses, it’s a viable curiosity worth exploring.

“We know for a fact that stealing, lying and coveting — as spelled out in the Ten Commandments — are still as wrong today as they were during Moses’ time,” Patrick Mabilog recently wrote for Christian Today. “But stoning, excommunicating children and staying away from certain foods are no longer commanded.”

Mabilog said God didn’t simply give humanity the initial laws without purpose, explaining that dietary laws, for example, were intended to protect individuals’ health among a “nomadic Israel with no hospitals,” while civil laws were intended to assist in governing the people. And he’s not alone in his perspective.

Pastor Mark Driscoll of The Trinity Church in Phoenix, Arizona, tackled these same issues earlier this year in a video he released on his website — a clip that focused specifically on whether the Bible bans tattoos.

“When it comes to tattoos, there’s only one place in the Bible that seems to say you can’t get a tattoo — that’s way back in Leviticus chapter 19 verses 26 through 30,” Driscoll said. “What we’re in there is the Old Testament, not the New Testament, and we’re into a section called ‘the law.’”

He went on to say that the first five books of the Bible deal with three different types of law: civil, ceremonial and moral. Driscoll said the first two — civil and ceremonial — were fulfilled during Jesus’ first coming, with moral laws having a presence in both the Old and the New Testaments. Tattoos, he said, don’t fall under moral law.

“What’s the bottom line?” Driscoll continued. “When we come to all of the Old Testament law, we have to figure out what category was it in? Is it binding upon us today?”

Pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City has also spoken out in-depth about this issue, penning an explainer in 2012 that offered “a short course on the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament.”

The article also offered a response to critics who claim Christians are guilty of “inconsistency” for purportedly picking and choosing which Bible commands they will embrace in the modern era. Keller wrote, in part:

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This story originally appeared at Faithwire.

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