doctrine

I read this today:

Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” He answered them, “And why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ But you say, ‘If anyone tells his father or his mother, “What you would have gained from me is given to God,” he need not honor his father.’ So for the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God. You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said:

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’”

(Matthew 15:1-9 ESV)

 

I think it’s an interesting passage. It’s a good reminder too. We like to work our way around God’s laws. Sometimes we even do it unintentionally, because we have an idea about how we think something should be. Sometimes we just have personal preferences that we decide to follow because of our own egos. Sometimes we refuse to let God lead because we find it uncomfortable or it doesn’t line up with our plans or ideas. Sometimes we do things our own way because it better follows our politics or personal philosophies, or we just think things are somehow better if we do them our way. I think usually we don’t elevate these to the point of “doctrine” as the Pharisees are doing here, but we do that sometimes too.

There are passages and teachings in the Bible that I don’t understand. There are even some that I’m inclined to disagree with. It is important for me to check myself at this point and remember that I’m not God and therefore am not allowed to set the rules. If I was God, I probably would have done a few things differently. Oddly enough, I only think that because I’m not perfect like God, so I’m not wise enough to see that he did things in a perfect way. You and I aren’t the measure of what is right and good and just. That is up to God. If we disagree with him, then we are the ones who need to change, not him.

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    • Mark
    • September 6th, 2012

    Peter, Part of me agrees with you, and part of me doesn;t. He is the Lord, and is rightly to be praised and feared, but if we’re not supposed to question God, how come so many of the fathers of our faith not only questioned him but outright changed his mind. A good example of this is Moses, in Numbers 14. Moses had just come down from Mt Sinai and the israelites were worshipping idols again. And him and God were rightfully angry. Moses, literally talks him out of it. How does that fit in with let God lead?

    • Peter
    • September 6th, 2012

    That’s a pretty complicated issue/passage, and answers will vary depending on whether you ask a Calvinist, Molinist, Armenian, Open Theist, etc. I think no matter how you look at those passages, though, the character of God is never called into question. In Numbers 14, God is just in his desire to punish the Israelites, and this justice is consistent with his character. He ends up sparing them, by his grace and compassion, through intercession by Moses (Jesus is often shown as an upgraded version of Moses, so the mirrored themes here make sense), and this act is also consistent with his character. So I guess I don’t entirely know how to address your question, I’m far less studied in these sorts of things than I should be, but I know that in the end, God is always in the right and we are in the wrong.

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