Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Rabbinic Judaism and Roman Christianity

Recently I've been reading "Rabbinic Judaism: The Theological System" by Jacob Neusner. This book is fascinating and instructive on many levels. I won't dive into all of that in this post however, because I want to discuss something I've learned that isn't in the book, but which the book demonstrates nonetheless.

That is, that the so-called Oral Torah, which Neusner discusses at length, is the product of the sages, men who wrestled with The Torah, that is written Scripture. Rather than something which was handed down from Moses and Aaron on through the generations, the Oral Torah is the product of thought and philosophy by the sages. 

There is much in the Oral Torah which is interesting, even enlightening on several levels, but it should never be taken as something given by God, because that's clearly not the case, despite what rabbis will teach you. Reading Neusner's work, this becomes self-evident, though he doesn't state. (Whether Oral Torah is from God or not isn't Neusner's concern so he doesn't touch that.) I won't argue with such a preeminent scholar as Neusner-his work proves what the Oral Torah is even if he doesn't set out to do so.

And here is the tie-in with Roman Christianity: it's the same story as so much of human tradition which was basically derived from scripture by the so-called church fathers (most of whom had pagan backgrounds and were virulently anti-Jewish.) I should clarify here that when I say "Roman Christianity" I include Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, even Orthodoxy, all flavors and brands of Christianity which have adopted man-made doctrines which have no biblical origin. I call it Roman because that is truly the origin of the category error which has manifested itself in the faith of so many, a faith which has become a new religion; something I'm convinced the Messiah never intended. Just as He never intended there to be Bishops, child baptism, fining people when they don't go to 'church', etc. I digress.

Both Rabbinic Judaism and Roman Christianity have a feature in common: that they have layered countless man-made features on top of Scripture and have (whether on purpose or not) distorted the message of God and have confused/misled many people. Now, not all of the traditions are bad, per se, but what's bad is that it's presented as something it's not. If Rabbinic Judaism and Roman Christianity would simply admit that they are layering on top of what God has told us, that would be fine. But that doesn't happen because of pride and probably a whole host of other reasons.

What we have in our world are two extremes on either side of the Messiah. One side which not only denies Him, but which says terrible and slanderous things about Him and claims to do so by authority it doesn't have, by words it never received from God. The other side holds Him up but goes astray too far in the other direction, also by authority it doesn't have, by words it never received from God.

The LORD has given us His Word. He has sent us His Messiah. Men are always welcome to wrestle with the details, and that can lead to some very interesting thoughts and debates. But to usurp the LORD's authority is a grave and deadly error.