Have you ever heard the claim that Christians are walking contradictions because they don’t follow all the Old Testament laws (e.g., offering sin offerings, Leviticus 5:5–6)? Consider the following verses and think about whether Christians obey these commands, and if they do not, why don’t they?
Nevertheless these you shall not eat . . . the swine, though it divides the hoof, having cloven hooves, yet does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. (Leviticus 11:4, 7)
You shall not wear a garment of different sorts, such as wool and linen mixed together. (Deuteronomy 22:11)
Many Christians eat bacon or wear garments made of different materials (which was but one of many illicit mixtures that defile). So how can they possibly claim to believe the Bible and follow God?
The answer is not as difficult as it may seem, and yet is overlooked by non-Christians, and even some Christians, who have not read or at least fail to understand some basic theology. Did rules ever change in the Bible? Of course they did. Let’s look at one example.
From the beginning man was vegetarian (Genesis 1:30). The Bible lists a number of covenants after this and usually there were some associated rule changes at this time. When there was a new covenant with Noah, man was allowed to eat clean and unclean meat (Genesis 9:3). With Moses, meat eating was even more strict, limiting them to eat only meat that was clean (e.g., Leviticus 11:47). In the new covenant in Christ’s blood, this was further opened up (Romans 14:1–4).1 And in heaven, we will be vegetarian again to complete the cycle (there will be no death in heaven [Revelation 21:4], so no meat will be available).2
Food permitted to be eaten
|Noahic||Vegetarian foods, clean and unclean meats|
|Mosaic||Vegetarian foods, clean meats|
|New Covenant in Christ||Vegetarian foods, clean and unclean meats|
For instance, Christians recognize from the Bible that when a new covenant came about, certain rules changed, were modified, or affirmed. Some of these covenants are the original Edenic,3 Noahic, and the new one in Christ’s blood.
So God’s rules to man can change at various covenants (but God’s character has never changed). With regards to various laws, there are also some changes, but it may not be as “cut and dried” as the example above regarding food.
Two Major Schools of Thought
Now here is the tricky part: developing a theological basis from the Bible on the subject regarding law changes. Let’s look from a bird’s-eye view at the change from the Mosaic to New Covenant. From a big picture, there are two popular theological schools of thought (with many variations). They are dispensational and covenant theology.4 These views have similarities and differences. They differ in the way they look at how the laws change. There is more to it than this, but we will get to that in a moment:
- Covenant Theology:
- rules apply unless done away with in the next covenant. In other words, each covenant is seen as part of a greater covenant that now has modifications where the rules are still in effect unless abrogated or modified ultimately by the New Testament by God.5
- Dispensational Theology:
- previous rules tend to be done away with in the New Covenant unless reiterated in that covenant. In other words, the New Dispensation generally does away with previous Mosaic rules because those rules were given to a specific group of people, and new rules need to be stated.6
Both of these schools of thought affect the way Old Testament laws are viewed. Both sides agree on many laws because so much was reiterted, changed, or commented on in the New Testament.7 But some things went away, such as the sacrificial stuff in Leviticus 5:5–6, which Christ fulfilled. Both of these schools of thought answer why Christians do not adhere to all the Mosaic laws.
There are Christians whose theologies do not fit into either of these camps or are variations of them. For example, within Dispensationalism there is (among others) Classic Dispensationalism, Revised Dispensational, Progressive Dispensationalism, and one theologian even used the term “Leaky” Dispensationalism.
On the other side of the coin, there is New Covenant Theology which finds some middle ground between Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology, but starts with a Covenant Theology basis as opposed to Dispensational basis.
This short response keeps me from going into the details of each position and their nuances. Furthermore, Answers in Genesis does not take a position on this theological debate.8 We encourage people to know what they believe on this debate as the authors and editors know where they stand on this issue, but have refrained from giving those positions favor in this response.
From here, we let your denomination go further. So if you are interested in pursuing these theologies in more detail, then I suggest you contact your local pastor and elders and do further research to get into the finer details. This is all said to teach the reader that Christians have a biblical basis for certain law changes and can easily answer the claim that Christians are walking contradictions.