Saturday, June 25, 2011

Is orthodox doctrine the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees?

Mat 16:6,11 & 12  Then Jesus said to them, "Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees."  …..(11)  How is it you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?—but to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."  (12)  Then they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus warned his followers to beware, look out for, and avoid the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. This is not simply a warning but also a prophecy. If they were not going to be confronted with the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees there would be no reason for the warning. Therefore, one can count on the fact that his followers were confronted with the doctrine of the Pharisees. Further, it is obvious from the warning that they would be tempted and deceived by the doctrine/teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. It follows that one must be aware of the warning in perpetuity. One of the main premises of this blog is that Orthodox Christian Doctrine is off the mark and my diagnosis is that it has been affected by the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees which is just like leaven. It automatically permeates the body of Christ.

A very informative book that I recommend everyone have in their personal library is entitled Everyman’s Talmud by Abraham Cohen. The reason I like it so much is that it categorizes the teachings of first through third century Judaism in a systematic theology format. In other words it gives a good picture of the teachings or doctrine of the Pharisees and the Sadducees which Jesus referred to. The Talmud is comprised of writings that are meant to exegete and interpret the scripture. It gives a clear understanding of what the Jews taught about everything from God to man. It includes but is not limited to such categories as the soul, God, Prophecy, man, sin, repentance and, revelation etc.

One of the first teachings to look at is their doctrine of scripture or revelation to humans. Just like in Christian systematic theology, the Talmud gives a doctrine of scripture. One of the points made in the Talmud is that of all the prophets Moses is pre-eminent. It is referred to as specularia and is based upon Numbers 12:6-8. In this view the other prophets are not as important as Moses. I have written several posts about specularia in the past.

The Epistle to the Hebrews establishes a new specularia. It has Jesus preempting Moses. What does that mean? Well, since we have shown over and over again in this blog that Jesus redefined the phrase Word of God this is one place where Christian Orthodoxy should take some instruction. The Word of God, according to Jesus and his followers, is the gospel and Jesus, and... the scripture is the scripture. Identifying scripture as the word of God puts the Old specularia, the preeminence of Moses in place. This is the reason that there is so much legalism in evangelical Christianity.

It is my firm belief that while Jesus taught a new hermeneutic that saw him as the Messiah--  the early church fathers actually incorporated the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees, and it has spread like leaven. Leaven is a perfect metaphor for the way that the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees have impacted orthodox Christian doctrine.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Day of the Lord

Is the day of the Lord or, the day of the Lord’s anger a day for the entire world or, is it a day of judgment prophesied to Israel alone? I say that it is the latter. It is a warning to Israel. In fact, God plainly states that he will use the Gentiles to bring about this judgment. This causes a very different understanding of biblical prophecy. The day of the Lord is not a cosmic judgment against the whole world, but rather a day of judgment for those who have been specially called and chosen by God to bring forth the Messiah and his kingdom.

When one gets this wrong the entire prophetic scenario is then wrong. When one looks at the actual prophecy of the judgment called the day of the Lord a very different scenario comes into view. The day of the Lord came. It was accomplished between 70 and 135AD. In 70AD Jerusalem and the temple was destroyed and in 135AD Jerusalem was literally plowed under and all of Israel was dispersed from the land (Luke 19:41-44.) This was the fulfillment of the day of the Lord’s anger and should be seen as such.
Here are just a few of the references to the day of the Lord that clearly shows who it was prophesied to:
 (Lam 2:22)  "You have invited as to a feast day The terrors that surround me. In the day of the LORD's anger There was no refugee or survivor. Those whom I have borne and brought up My enemies have destroyed."
 (Eze 30:3)  For the day is near, Even the day of the LORD is near; It will be a day of clouds, the time of the Gentiles. (Joe 2:11)  The LORD gives voice before His army, For His camp is very great; For strong is the One who executes His word. For the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; Who can endure it? (Zec 14:1)  Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, And your spoil will be divided in your midst. (Mal 4:5)  Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
The time of the Gentiles… that is, the time when the Gentiles will overrun Jerusalem and drive Israel out is the day of the Lord. The day of the Lord is a time when the spoils of Israel will be divided up among the Gentiles in the midst of Israel.

Jesus stated unequivocally that Elijah had indeed come. He said that it was John the Baptist. John had acted as the final prophet to warn of the impending day of the Lord. Still Israel did not listen and Jesus warned them of it.
Matthew 23:37-39  "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!  (38)  See! Your house is left to you desolate;  (39)  for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!' "
When we misunderstand the identity of the day of the Lord it is little wonder that we misunderstand all of the prophecy in the bible.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Jesus teaching on hell; II

Read Mark 9:30-40 in context: 
"Then they departed from there and passed through Galilee, and He did not want anyone to know it. For He taught His disciples and said to them, "The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day." But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him. 
Then He came to Capernaum. And when He was in the house He asked them, "What was it you disputed among yourselves on the road?" But they kept silent, for on the road they had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest. And He sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, "If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." 
Then He took a little child and set him in the midst of them. And when He had taken him in His arms, He said to them, "Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me." Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side. 
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. "But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. 
If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.'
And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, rather than having two feet, to be cast into hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' 
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire— where 'THEIR WORM DOES NOT DIE AND THE FIRE IS NOT QUENCHED.' "For everyone will be seasoned with fire, and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another."”
(Mar 9:30-50)
So then, is Jesus teaching eternal punishment in this passage? It is not very likely. Remember that we saw in the last post that his midrashic use of Isaiah 66:24 pointed to the destruction of the temple. Jesus is clearly laying out for his disciples the precise sins of the unbelieving Jews. They are teaching the little ones NOT to believe in him. They are using the Torah as a reason to not believe that Jesus is the Messiah (John 7:49.) It is bad enough that they are rejecting him but, they are teaching the young not to believe.


Love letter to the brokenhearted: Part 2

Matthew 11:28-30 HCSB "Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (29) All of you, take up My yoke an...