Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Who is the 'one new man' of Ephesians 2.15? Part3

The ‘one new man… being joined together, grows into a Holy Temple in the LORD, BUT it can only grow into a Holy Temple in the LORD when the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers in Christ Jesus join together.

On what basis of belief and behaviour can the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers in Christ Jesus join together?

There is only one standard basis of belief and behaviour the Jewish believers and the Gentile believers in Christ Jesus join together....and that standard basis is the Bible.

BUT….the problem is that there is strong resistance and opposition to to using the Bible as THE standard of belief and behaviour.  This resistance and opposition takes the form of TRADITION!

Why is so much authority given to Tradition?  The simple answer is that if the authority of Tradition is raised to the same level, or higher than, the authority of the Bible, then the result is that the Rabbis and the   leaders of the Church can control the people.  The power of the authority of Tradition sets up a situation in which it is claimed that God has delegated access to Himself, and the interpretation of His Word, the Bible, to the leaders. 

The Roman Catholic Church argues that the Bible was given to men by the Church, and therefore the Church has equal or greater authority to it.  It sees Christian truth as contained in the Bible and Tradition, and the Church’s developing understanding of both is promulgated infallibly as doctrines binding on Catholics through Councils and the Papacy.

For example, the Council of Trent, 1545-63, decreed that the Bible and tradition were to be received as of equal authority.  The Second Vatican Council, 1962-65, taught on Tradition and Scripture:
Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture form one sacred deposit of the Word of God, committed to the Church. ...It is clear, therefore, that Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture and the teaching authority of the Church, in accord with God's most wise design, are so linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way, under the action of the one Holy Spirit, contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.

Protestantism originally appealed to the Bible alone for authority, interpreted by individuals under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. However, Confessions of Faith and Church authority soon provided a fresh ‘Tradition’.  Christians have often claimed that reason can by itself discover some religious truths as well as interpret revelation. In the West, since the 18th century, reason has sometimes seemed to overshadow Church authority.   

Rabbinic Judaism decrees the authority of Tradition today  for exactly the same reason that the Christian Church decrees the authority of Tradition.  The reason is control.  If the Rabbis and the Church can establish their authority, they can exercise control over the people.  The battleground is over the issue of who is in control, God or Man, and the two cannot walk together unless they are agreed.

The famous Rabbinic doctrine of Lo Bashmayim Hi, ‘It is not in Heaven’, was promulgated by the Rabbis at least as early as the first century. 

The Rabbis taught that God delegated all His earthly jurisdiction to them, and this teaching was derived from Deuteronomy 30.12:
It is not in Heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into Heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’

The Rabbis taught that it is forbidden to annul what they teach, and furthermore, their teaching can only be improved on by a court of Rabbis that is ‘greater in wisdom and numerical strength’.  In addition, anyone who gave an opinion contrary to Tradition, even if he was one of the Biblical Prophets, is to be ignored.  To illustrate this teaching, and to establish its authority, Maimonides, wrote in the 12th century:
If there are 1000 prophets, all of them of the stature of Elijah and Elisha, giving a certain interpretation, and 1001 Rabbis giving the opposite interpretation, you shall ‘incline after the majority’ and the Law is according to the 1001 Rabbis, not according to the 1000   venerable prophets. And thus our Sages said, ‘By God, if we heard the matter directly from the mouth of Joshua the son of Nun, we would not obey him, nor would we listen to him!’….Thus God did not permit us to learn from the Prophets, but only from the Rabbis who are men of logic and reason.3

The Rabbis deliberately misinterpreted this verse for the sole purpose of establishing a proof text for the authority of their Tradition.

So….what can be done to resist the cultural attractions of Tradition in both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism?

Until the next blog.... 

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