There is something inhibiting about four pots of coffee combined with restless patterns of binge thinking.
Many college students discover the hard way that staying up all night cramming for a major test rarely produces fluid recall. It seems counter-intuitive to shut off the brain before a test, but there is something healthy about alternate pattern thinking that studies, applies, reflects, sleeps, and recalls. It doesn’t seem very mathematical, but it is often more effective.
Western logic derives its approach from Greco-Roman thought patterns which build upon successive developments. Time order dictates impact such that what comes first tends to underpin whatever follows. In this manner, the Socratic method begins with a general premise, adds to it a more specific and subordinate observation, and from there offers a natural conclusion derived from the convergence of the prior statements.
Within Scripture, the Apostle Paul effectively uses this linear format in presenting his testimony of the centrality of Christ. However, most scriptural authors of the New Testament and all of the Old Testament writers utilize a more holistic, spiraling approach. This difference has significant implications for how biblical students today ought to think about divine revelation as recorded in the Holy Book.
As our family read over the brief review of the New Covenant, as one of over a dozen major recorded biblical agreements, in our weekly review of Wineskins, we diverged long enough to consider how these very different approaches affect our grasp of revelation.
For example, when the bible notes that Jesus is the second Adam, it does so using Paul’s Greco-linear pattern: that the first man Adam came first in human time order, and the second representative of man, Jesus, entered human history subsequently and thus second in time order. However, all the biblical evidence comparing these two “Adams” is that Jesus has always been the primary representative, the most significant of the two, and the ultimate pattern from which the “first Adam” gains his existence, identity, and value. In this regard, we are told that the second Adam created the first “in our Image”.
In other words, the holistic pattern of thought puts emphasis on the first-ness of Jesus: “so that in all things he might have the supremacy.” The point here is that even though Adam appears first on the human scene, he is not the foundation for the second, but rather the shadow of the second. He just happens to be recognized historically before the main reality is displayed through the incarnation.
The importance of this difference in logic directly impacts how Christians ought to view the roles between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant.
As a brief aside, imagine the challenge of conveying this truth so that pre-teen kids can easily recognize not only the distinctions being made, but also why it matters. I guess that is why it is being considered as part of a family study and not as something toward which one just points and sends off the little lambs to discover on their own. The truth’s of God are meant to be absorbed within context of his holy Body, as each part does its work, and not primarily within the privacy of our own thoughts.
Within the recorded revelations of Scripture, the Old Covenant dominates recorded history, setting the stage for all that will follow. The role of that stage-setting is the focus being considered here. Christians would not be able to grasp the reality of atonement, forgiveness, corporate worship, or many other fundamental truths if not for the evidences unveiled during that governing agreement. The time order is significant and deeply instructive, but shockingly to some, it was never designed to be the foundation for Christian faith.
Holistic patterns do not elevate time order over inherent significance. In other words, what is most significant, the primary focus, the cornerstone of all revelation is not by necessity that which comes first in human history. Like is often demonstrated in how numerous Psalms have been written, the focus is actually at the center and both introductions and conclusions derive their ultimate informative value from what resides at the hub of revelatory activity.
In spite of its secondary appearance, the New Covenant gains its value from the blood of Jesus. In this sense it is founded upon declared Life and not upon declared law. God spoke the Ten Commandments into existence and he spoke incarnate Life into existence. In this case, the latter supersedes the former, not in time order, but in fundamental significance. Only one is allowed to operate as the foundation for faith; the other which certainly informs our understanding of the “house” has been revealed to be only the “shadow, not the reality itself”. That reality, that focus, that foundation, that centrality, that source cannot be anything but what is offered through the eternal blood of Christ: the New Covenant.
This is why Scripture announces that “he set aside the first in order to establish the second.” They cannot coexist as foundational. Holistic thought as well as biblical theology puts the focus upon the center, not upon the initial. The account of the transfiguration places Moses, Elijah and Jesus together and then thunders from heaven, not by elevating the Law or the Prophets or an equal mixture, but by emphasizing the third of the three, the first of all:
“This is my Son, listen to him.”
How has the New Covenant dominated the practice of your faith while upholding the holiness of all Scripture?