The Old Testament in the News

Every day, the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is mentioned in secular newspapers, magazines, and religious publications. Sometimes secular and religious publications provide information about the content of the Bible. Other times, people cite the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament in order to prove a point or to illustrate the message they are trying to communicate.

From time to time I will blog on some of the articles where the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament is mentioned. Whenever I mention an article in a publication, I am not endorsing the content or the information found in the article. My only goal is to examine how the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament was used in that article.

The examples below shows how the Old Testament is mentioned in secular newspapers:

Micah 6:8 and LGBTQ Rights

Recently, Democratic presidential candidate Cory Booker quoted the Old Testament Bible to defend the rights of the LGBTQ community. Booker cited Micah 6:8 to defend LGBTQ rights.

“It said in Micah, ‘What do you want from your Lord, but what is it you want from your people? ‘Which is to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly’ – walk humbly – and, so for me, I cannot allow, as a leader, that people are going to use religion as a justification for discrimination.”

I respect Senator Booker’s defense of LGBTQ rights, but honestly, I do not believe that Micah 6:8 is the right text to use in defending LGBTQ rights.

In a post on Micah 6:8 I wrote: “‘To walk humbly with God’ refers to a way of life in which an individual does not live independently of God but lives within the will and ways of God. This expression also means to live in a personal relationship with God. Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22) and so did Noah (Genesis 6:9).”

The Old Testament as an Elective Class

“Florida Representative Kim Daniels, a Democrat and author of various faith-based books, proposed House Bill 341, which requires each school district to offer specified courses relating to religion, Hebrew Scriptures, & Bible to certain students as elective courses. This bill would require Florida public high schools to offer an elective course on the Old Testament and the New Testament.”

There are people in favor and against this proposal.

Noah Kurtz, a University of Tampa sophomore agrees: “No one should be forced to learn about any religion. However, I do think the Bible has a lot to offer in value and teachings and coming from a Catholic background I know it helps develop morals and character. Nevertheless, there should be equal education available to teach about other world religions to avoid any kind of religious discrimination.”

Ryan Radke, a University of Tampa sophomore disagrees: “I understand the importance of educating children about religion and about the Bible, but giving the children and their parents a choice on whether or not to take a class that applies to their beliefs is also important. This bill would be significantly better if it included other world religions.”

I agree with Kurtz: The Bible helps people “develop morals and character.”

Frogs in a Farm in Scotland

Jamie Blackett tells about the vicissitudes of living on a farm in Scotland: “It seems to have been a bumper year for frogs, toads and wasps. The latter have presented a particular challenge with a marked tendency to take up residence in our holiday-cottage roofs. There’s something consoling about the Old Testament plagues, which show that these freak natural population booms are nothing new.”

Jamie is correct: Frogs, locust, gnats, and flying insects, “these freak natural population booms” are nothing new; they happened in Egypt and they can also happen in Scotland. Those Old Testament plagues happen even in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Rapper and the Book of Daniel

British rapper Earl Sweatshirt has a new album, “Feet of Clay” a title that comes from “the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament about an idol made of metal (iron legs, brass body, golden head) and clay feet that symbolized a empire liable to break apart at its very foundation.”

Even when using the Old Testament as inspiration, the album has received mixed reviews:

“Feet of Clay is such a maze of compellingly crudded-up soundwork that it’s hard to focus on the words. This isn’t a bad thing for the listening experience, which ranges from pleasantly abstract to hypnotically haunted. But for the meaning experience, it’s hard to connect the words, especially to the possibly political theme, except to discern that Earl isn’t proud to be drinking off the Trump years.”

Maybe this is the problem with the album: Earl the rapper is “drinking off the Trump years.”

Watching the Words We Speak

The Reverend Kathy Brumbaugh said that “In today’s society, we hear all kinds of words spoken that are anything but soft, anything but uplifting, anything but kind. It seems to be the way of the world. The Bible has a lot to say about how we speak and how we should speak. A careless word spoken in a time of stress never helps a situation and can do much harm.”

She then uses the Old Testament book of Proverbs to offer perspective about the words that should come out of our mouths. She wrote that many of the proverbs in the book “remind us that kind, soft-spoken words are healing and encouraging to those who hear them. They help to remind us to speak with kindness and gentleness.”

The Reverend is right, “the words we use need to be tempered with love.”

Sin is who we are

The Reverend Mike Ruffin in his sermon on sin said that the Old Testament “has an altogether different view of sin.” He quotes Isaiah 64:6 to prove his point. He wrote:

“The Old Testament verse that comes to mind can be found in Isaiah. ‘But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags’ (Isaiah 64:6). Isaiah’s point is we are born to sin. In other words, ‘nice’ doesn’t get you into heaven. Unless and until the sinner views sin as something he can never personally overcome, he will never see the need for a savior.”

The title of his sermon was “Sin is who we are, not what we do!”

I have problems with his view that “Sin is who we are.” We are sinners, but we are not sin.

Claude Mariottini
Emeritus Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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