The Old Testament law is seen as irrelevant by most modern Christians today. Christians are now under the blood of Jesus Christ, which is said to abrogate the Law. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (NASB). The law of Christ is to love God and your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40). This does not mean, however, that the Old Testament Law does not apply to Christians today. Author J. Daniel Hays expounds on this topic in his article, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today,” and focuses on the method of Principlism. This approach allows the Old Testament Law to be viewed in light of the New Testament.
Reflection of Principlism
The traditional approach to the Mosaic Law is categorized by moral, civil, and ceremonial laws. Hays postulates this approach is not correct as it has three major weaknesses: it has no textual support, it ignores the narrative context, and it fails to reflect the changes from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Hays asserts the correct method is Principlism, a five method approach to applying the Law.
The five methods of Principlism are identifying what specific laws meant to the target audience, determining the differences between the original audience and Christians today, developing universal principles from the Bible, correlating a law from the Old Testament and applying it to the New Testament, and applying a universal principle to life today. Each approach has strengths, but at the same time has weaknesses. The first method identifies a specific law and applies it to the context of the Scripture. Hays says, “Connecting texts to their contexts is a basic tenet of proper interpretive method. The Law is part of a story, and ...
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...t. This law is repeated as Christians are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and God views the blood the same way He did in the Old Testament. The life of the flesh is in the blood, this time it is the life of Jesus Christ, and sins are forgiven by His shed blood. This is the reason Christians are restricted from eating blood.
Principlism is a five step approach to interpret the Old Testament Law in light of the New Testament. This approach allows believers to apply these principles to their lives today. This does not destroy the teachings of the Old Testament, but allows for reflection on the text without diminishing the New Testament. Principlism also has weaknesses as Hays says that Principlism “may tend to oversimplify some of the complex issues,” however Principlism is more simplified and easier to understand than the traditional method.
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