Christians pick and choose what parts of the bible they want to follow.
Unbelieving critics of the Christian faith are known to assert that Christians cherry pick what parts of the bible they want to follow. Typically what happens is a criticism is made towards the Old Testament. Usually a reference to slavery, murder, stoning or something of the kind and an assumption is then made that Christians condone the acts mentioned in the Old Testament since these acts are in fact, in the bible and apart of their faith. If a believer professes that Christians do not take part in these acts or condone them then the accusation is made by an unbelieving critic that Christians simply cherry pick what they choose to believe, as it suits them, or rather as it justifies the position of the Christian. This claim, or accusation is just patently false. A Christian doesn’t choose which part of the bible to follow any more than a baseball player chooses to wear a baseball uniform instead of a football uniform. Now, to be fair to the unbelievers there are Christians who have done the body of Christ absolutely no favors by being wishy-washy and compromising certain Biblical truths. This “wavering” of the Faith undoubtedly adds to the confusion of unbelievers as they look at Christendom with a critical eye. In the mind of an unbeliever this compromising mixes with their overall view that Christians have chosen to deny the Old Testament with its harsh laws or commands and have opted for the more friendlier and humanitarian based New Testament. Representing some sort of dichotomy of a hateful vs loving God. However, this is simply untrue. As confusing as this problem may seem there is a simple answer as to what Christians follow and why. Let’s start with how to read the bible and jump to defining the bible and its 2 parts.
One of the common mistakes unbelievers and even at times “Christians” make with the bible is reading it incorrectly. So how does one go about reading the bible correctly? The answer is hermeneutically. Simply put, biblical hermeneutics is the practice or science of interpreting the bible so we may know and come to understand the Word of God accurately. This means we as Christians interpret the bible in its literal and plain meaning as the authoritative Word of God. We interpret bible passages in their historical, grammatical and contextual meanings. Biblical literature is read as the author intended their passages to be read, paying attention to the intended audience, the time period, current situations, culture and surrounding passages or verses.
So what we can conclude is that the bible can not be read in a way that suggests all passages or books of the bible are meant for Christians today or that all passages are timeliness, applying to our current day. However, typically unbelievers will read the bible in this very same, inaccurate fashion.
The next question revolves around defining what the bible is.
The bible is the story about man’s fall from grace and God’s plan to redeem man. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. The bible delivers an answer concerning creation, how man came to be, his creator, sin and suffering that exists in the world, the purpose of man and the afterlife of man. The bible contains two parts. Part one is the Old Testament (39 books). Part two is the New Testament (27 books).
The Old Testament
The Old Testament gives us the creation account, the declaration of who God is, His covenant with Israel, His dealings with Israel and the revelation of God’s plan to redeem man which is Christ Jesus. (Isaiah 53:1-12) We get a bit of history from the Old Testament as it displays a timeline of God’s role with Israel all the way up to the New Testament. We see certain God given laws as well as traditions established specifically for Israel, for specific reasons, for a specific time period. We see the Old Covenant established with Israel concerning the keeping of the Mosaic Law. This entailed constant sacrifices and rituals in order for Israel to stay within God’s grace, being forgiven for their sins to avoid death and eternal separation from God due to the consequences of sin.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
Let’s also note that a common mistake made by unbelievers is the lumping of all people together in reference to the bible. It should be noted the children of ancient Israel were Jewish, not Christian. The Old Testament, revolved around the Jews.
The New Testament
The New Testament delivers the “new covenant”, the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy which is the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Messiah. It gives us the message of salvation not just for the Jews but also to the Gentiles, effectively all who would repent and believe in Jesus Christ. With the delivering of the messiah a new covenant is established and the old covenant, in the Old Testament is ended. This new covenant promises eternal salvation for “all” who repent and believe in Christ Jesus. (John 3:16) If we look back at the Old Testament we see that God makes known that He will indeed establish a new covenant in the future.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah,” (Jeremiah 31:31)
In the New Testament Christ Jesus makes it known the new covenant has now been established, removing the burden of God’s people trying to keep the law (which was impossible) as the law is now fulfilled in Him.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
“Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15)
Any man who is in Christ is now forgiven by God, by God’s grace and mercy, for all eternity. The days of sacrifices, rituals and traditions are over. The ultimate and eternal sacrifice which was foreshadowed, Jesus Christ, was given. Christians are not under old covenant law but instead, new covenant grace. Christians follow the New Testament.