Many small groups have an uncomfortable relationship with the Old Testament, that is if they have any relationship at all. I’ve asked John Walton, PhD., to answer some questions on this important topic. John is a professor at Wheaton College and prolific author, notably of the popular series, The Lost World of…, which seeks to help modern readers wrestle with what the authors of the Old Testament were trying to communicate. I’ve known John for nearly 30 years, when I began my undergraduate studies at the Moody Bible Institute. Then, as now, I am struck by his love for Scripture and his love for ministry. I regularly consult his work and when I’m particularly stuck I email him. Always gracious and ministry-minded, John is the perfect person to help us sort out the role of small groups and the Old Testament.
John, thanks for participating in this interview. Let me start with a “why” question. Given the challenges of studying a portion of the Bible well over 2,000 years old, why should a small group undertake this endeavor? Why study it? Why not just stick with the New Testament?
The Bible offers revelation of God’s plans and purposes, which have been in motion since creation. The Old Testament (OT) offers God’s story, which eventuates in the New Testament (NT) where we find the climax of God’s story as we encounter Jesus’ story. Many aspects of God’s story would be lost to us if we had only the NT. We believe that Scripture is God’s revelation—why would we ever want to neglect any of God’s revelation, let alone a full two-thirds of it (represented in the OT).
On that note, a famous pastor recently suggested that since the Old Testament is the ...