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The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses Paperback – March 1, 1995
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Top Customer Reviews
The second half of the book deal with modern society. That is, how does the Law of Moses affect us today? How should it affect our 21st century laws? He also includes a critique of modern prisons (which he rightly sees as complete failures), a critique of theonomy and a lengthy discussion of what Jesus meant with he said he came to fulfill the law.
This book is good but not great. If you are looking for an easy introduction this is a good place to start.
Poythress gives us biblical guidelines in both the social sciences (in past works), and now in its application to public policy. Although he is professor of New Testament Interpretation at Westminster Theological Seminary, he develops most of his biblical public policy guidelines from the Old Testament. The assumption is that the Old Testament is relevant to contemporary civil law. Poythress discusses the role of the state and the individual, the restructuring of our present prison system, false worship, and holy war. He spends a great deal of time outlining the biblical sanctions against specific crimes like theft, adultery, premarital sex, murder, bodily injury, verbal crimes, and even disobedience to parents.
Many will find great difficulty with Poythress' thesis that all the world is under God's law. Poythress doesn't spiritualize away the law. Neither does he lift it out of the Old Testament and ancient cultural context. But rather than searching for balance, he applies the truth of the law for today. In his treatment, there is something for everyone to agree and disagree with. This isn't to say that Poythress talks out of both sides of his mouth. It is just that there are so many issues.
From my point of view, Poythress would do well to go back to first base and decide on his hermeneutics. They are fuzzy throughout his applications. He applies some penalties directly to contemporary society, advocating for legal reform and, without adequate justification, he pleads ignorance about application of others. For example, biblical punishments for theft, murder, manslaughter, and even the incorrigibility of teenagers are applied directly to today. Yet he advocates either cultural relativity or believes that modern society should take precedent in the applications of biblical laws on polygamy, prostitution, adultery, and other sexual sins. In other words, without biblical rationale, and sometimes without any rationale, Poythress doesn't want to legalize polygamy or prostitution in modern society, though the Scriptures do, and in the former case sometimes even encourage the practice for specific situations. His assumption appears to be that if he can't explain why God made the law in the first place, or didn't make a law, then it must not apply to today. In this, Poythress either demonstrates his own bias for modern culture, or advocates cultural relativity.
Despite these drawbacks, this book is a must reading for those who are trying to apply the Scriptures to questions of public policy, and especially family public policy. Poythress' answers will not only surprise and offend you, they will provoke you to higher critical thought.