by J. C. Rooney
New Covenant Theology (NCT) emphasizes the understanding of the Bible through whom scripture ultimately reveals… Christ Himself. In other words, NCT advocates that Jesus is to be the lens by which the meaning of sacred writ is to be grasped.
Colossians 2:9-10 (HCSB)
For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
To approach anything which God has said (devoid of being understood in the light of Christ), is to approach what God has said with that which the previous verse in Colossians had just sternly warned against basing our thinking upon…
Colossians 2:8 (HCSB)
Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.
The “elemental forces of the world,” the never-ending and unbiblical, evil powers in our fallen world are hard at work, eager to get us to evaluate what God has said through “philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition.”
The Captivity of the Mind in the Garden of Eden
Such trickery is not new. It was first successfully attempted in the Garden of Eden. There, Eve was taken in by the words of the serpent, which then took her mind captive to that which was not God Himself…
Genesis 3:1 (HCSB)
Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden’?”
To ever replace Christ (who is God) with anything besides Himself as our hermeneutical lens, is to simply repeat the embracement of deception demonstrated by Eve. This acceptance by her would then lead to Adam’s bringing of us all into iniquity…
Genesis 3:2-7 (HCSB)
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit from the trees in the garden. But about the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You must not eat it or touch it, or you will die.’” “No! You will not die,” the serpent said to the woman. “In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took some of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.
Adam’s failure to both correct Eve’s thinking and to resist the serpent’s cunning ways, put himself, his wife, and his progeny (all of us) on the path to death…
1 Corinthians 15:22a (HCSB)
For as in Adam all die…
As a result, we must now deal with the constant challenging of what God has said from both the “elemental forces of the world” and our flesh. The psalmist captures the reality of our condition from the moment we arrived…
Psalms 51:5 (HCSB)
Indeed, I was guilty when I was born;
I was sinful when my mother conceived me.
The Mind of Christ
We (Christians) must never ignore what Paul had reminded the Corinthians of; that they had already possessed something which Adam and Eve both lacked…
1 Corinthians 2:16b (HCSB)
…we have the mind of Christ.
The same is true for us today. We must also be careful to avoid the temptation to look through the lens of something other than God (just as Eve did) when confronted with what God has said.
Tradition vs. Christ
For some of us, sadly, tradition is the lens of choice; not even realizing that by choosing such, Christ is put aside.
Does this mean that all tradition is inappropriate for properly understanding scripture?
No… The apostolic “tradition” referenced by Paul, when he wrote to the Thessalonians, is NOT what is to be avoided…
2 Thessalonians 3:6 (HCSB)
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from every brother who walks irresponsibly and not according to the tradition received from us.
No, what we are to avoid is a tradition which is akin to what Jesus referenced when He rebuked the Pharisees…
Mark 7:6-8 (HCSB)
He answered them, “Isaiah prophesied correctly about you hypocrites, as it is written:
These people honor Me with their lips,
but their heart is far from Me.
They worship Me in vain,
teaching as doctrines the commands of men.
Disregarding the command of God, you keep the tradition of men.”
What NCT is Careful About
The “commands” or “traditions of men,” which are the doctrinal foundations of so many brethren throughout history (and also today), is what NCT is careful to avoid when looking at what God has said. To champion a perspective or an interpretive lens which does not originate from Christ Himself is to turn away from what we have already received, and that should give us pause…
Hebrews 10:26-27 (HCSB)
For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire about to consume the adversaries.
Error in the Camp
Unfortunately, there are still some within the “NCT camp” who (even though Christ might be their interpretive lens) disregard the Old Testament, almost entirely, as being part of their guide for life. To not see both Testaments as equally important in this regard, is to miss the point of what Paul wrote to Timothy…
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
To not view everything that God has said as being relevant to our lives, is to bring upon ourselves a severe pronouncement. It is a terrifying thing.
The writer of Hebrews goes on…
Hebrews 10:28-31 (HCSB)
If anyone disregards Moses’ law, he dies without mercy, based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment do you think one will deserve who has trampled on the Son of God, regarded as profane the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know the One who has said, Vengeance belongs to Me, I will repay, and again, The Lord will judge His people. It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
May we never trample on the Son of God, nor may we ever trample on the New Covenant which was provided for us through the shedding of His blood, by looking at what He has said through the lens of tradition… rather than through Christ Himself.
Godspeed, to the brethren!
 J. C. Rooney is a homeschool father of three, who has been married since 1991. His wife became a Christian in 2000, and then the Lord converted him in 2001. He is currently a deacon in his church from Long Island, NY, and also teaches regularly and fills the pulpit when needed. He has had no formal education or seminary training with respect to Biblical study. He graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Physical Education in 1991, where he also played Division I tennis. After graduating, he became a tennis professional for 17 years, and is now in charge of the Recreation Department for a municipality. He has two blogs: theidolbabbler.com (where I babble about what I have learned since walking with Christ), and thetennisbabbler.wordpress.com (where I babble about tennis).