Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Unloading 35 Loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" 4/35

Steve Ray has a list of 35 loaded Questions for "Bible Christians" (quotation marks his)(link to the whole list). This is number 4/35. I'm trying to provide the answers in a common format, for easy reference.

4) Some Protestants claim that Jesus condemned all oral tradition (e.g., Matt 15:3, 6; Mark 7:813). If so, why does He bind His listeners to oral tradition by telling them to obey the scribes and Pharisees when they “sit on Moses’ seat” (Matt 23:2)?

Simple Answer(s):

1) We don't necessarily condemn oral tradition.

2) Jesus' binding of his listeners wasn't absolute. In fact, when Jesus' listeners came before the scribes and Pharisees who sat in Moses' seat they responded:

Acts 5:29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

Important Qualification(s):

1) "Oral tradition" can refer to various things. There's a sense in which the minister preaching the gospel is tradition-ing (passing on) the word of God in an oral form. This in itself is not a problem, but it should never be given an authority equal or greater to the Word of God itself.

2) If the Roman Catholics want to suggest that the Pharisees and Scribes had the same kind of authority as the Roman Catholic Church has, we simply note that Jesus himself opposed the traditions of the Pharisees and Scribes.

3) The danger of human traditions corrupting theology were not a problem only for the Old Testament times:

Colossians 2:8 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

- TurretinFan


John Bugay said...

TF, Ray's simplistic use of Matt 23:2 also needs to be addressed.

He talks about "Moses' seat" as if it were some kind of magisterium, and then he just assumes that the Catholic Magisterium follows from that. Neither is the case.

Further, Jesus is using biting irony to attack the Jewish leaders; he is in fact stating that they "have seated themselves" in the seat of Moses but do not, in fact, belong there, but are presumptuously arrogating the position to themselves. Does that sound familiar?

Ray ignores the need to consider the entire pericope when considering this passage. The initial criticism vs. the pharisees involves a discrepancy betwen their words and deeds. Their "teaching" is criticized as burdensome (v4), they are criticized for something Jesus mentioned earlier, and that is "taking the first seat" when it is not due them, and later on, they are subject to a long string of "woes" to these individuals. In fact, Jesus reserves some of his harshest words for these individuals.

So in fact, Jesus is not only not "binding listeners to oral tradition," but he is also putting harsh, harsh limits on what is to be considered "oral tradition."

louis said...

By his reference to "Moses' seat", I believe the Lord is clearly referring to their role in teaching the law. We see this in Malachi 2:7: "The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction fom his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts."

But their authority is limited to the teaching of God's word (see, e.g., Deut. 4:2: "you shall not add to the word that I command you, nor take from it"). When they go beyond God's word in their instruction, Malachi 2:8 has this to say: "But you have turned aside from the way. You have caused many to stumble by your instruction. you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the Lord of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people...."

And we see this very thing in Matthew 23. After telling the people to listen to the scribes and pharisees, because they sit in Moses' seat, the Lord goes on to say, "But woe to you, scribes and pharisees... for you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in..... you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves." (vv. 13-15).

So again, there is legitimate authority, but it is circumscribed by the word. The Roman church would have us believe that authority is co-extensive with certain individuals that God has place 'in charge', but God is no repsecter of position. Authority is merely authority to preach the gospel.

Turretinfan said...

What's worse is that, from what I've seen, Steve Ray (being a pilgrimage profiteer and all) actually promotes the mistaken idea that there was a literal seat of Moses (carved in stone). The idea of the entire Sanhedrin cramming into a stone chair is too funny for words.

But yes, the Sanhedrin was the government of Israel. Just as Jesus instructed his disciples to pay taxes to Caesar, he also instructed them to obey the Sanhedrin.

Jesus didn't command his disciples to follow the "traditions of the elders" - quite to the contrary he encouraged their neglect of those human traditions.

John Bugay said...

Steve Ray (being a pilgrimage profiteer and all) actually promotes the mistaken idea that there was a literal seat of Moses (carved in stone).

If this is true, it's very ironic. The one really blatant error that Boettner made in "Roman Catholicism" was thinking that popes really had to sit in the chair to speak "ex cathedra". At least, that was the criticism of him.

natamllc said...

What naturally came about with the Jewish leaders, by their "taking" the bull by the horns against the Will of God and running with it, ended up looking like what Jesus was addressing when He was, that is, the Torah vs. the Talmud.

Here, now with the RCC, we see something similar in that they naturally took the "Life" as written and as spoken and ran with it, ending itself up looking like it is with their advents, the Councils, the Vatican 1 and 2 and so on.

Here is a good example, IMO, of this being done correctly and made a part of the Bible for our learning and admonition.

What do I mean is what we have as an example, Peter taking the "oral" Word of God and it ending up becoming the "written" Word of God.

Two verses we are familiar with should suffice to set the example plain?

Luk 9:34 As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.
Luk 9:35 And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"


2Pe 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
2Pe 1:17 For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,"
2Pe 1:18 we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
2Pe 1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts,
2Pe 1:20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
2Pe 1:21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

All the Word of God is "spoken" first.

Gen 1:3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.

It was and still is God's idea to write down His Word and make it plain.

What isn't God's idea is just what History proves, the Torah/Talmud dealings and now the Early Church Life/the writings of the papacy.

I hope you can sense the parallels I am pointing too?

What I want to know, I suppose, is just how the Devil plans on bringing about a "forensic" false righteous one who is the false mystical one we are anticipating coming into the world in the last days to be that antichrist at that end of the age?

And just one more thought, along the lines of "Moses'" seat.

At the great council in Jerusalem recorded in the Book of Acts, James says this:

Act 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
Act 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.
Act 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,


Act 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.
Act 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.

The only seat here worth sitting on is the one at the Right Hand of God Almighty, waiting until He makes our enemies a footstool for our feet:::>

Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.


Heb 2:2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward;
Heb 2:3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;