Friday, June 15, 2012

Why I am not a Catholic, Part 3 (The heart of the matter)

Jesus was eating with His disciples once, and the Pharisees and scribes came up to Him and asked, “Why are your disciples breaking the tradition of the elders? They don’t wash before they eat.” Overlooking the reality that washing one’s hands before eating isn’t a bad idea from a health standpoint, the issue here is authority.

The Judaism of Jesus’ day did many things correctly in the eyes of God, for they had the Bible and followed it in many ways. But they had one large error that blinded their priests. Over the years, authoritative Rabbis had written their interpretations of the Bible. These interpretations became known as the “Mishnah.” In itself the Mishnah, or the traditions of the Rabbis, was like a commentary on the Bible. But the Jewish leaders of the day considered the traditions of the Rabbis equal in their authority to the teachings of the Bible. Why? Because authoritative teachers, interpreting the Bible, were assumed to have been correct in their applications; therefore, to disobey the Rabbis teachings was to disobey the Bible.

So when they saw the disciples not washing in the way described in the Mishnah, they objected. Of course, Jesus wasn’t bound by the Mishnah. He wrote the Bible and knew what it said. The disciples weren’t sinning.

Jesus, knowing that the issue was bigger than hand washing, went for the heart of the matter by asking the Priests this question: “Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?” He then went on to give an illustration regarding the use of money. The Rabbis taught that money given to the Temple could substitute for money given in charity. Jesus pointed out that they were teaching people to neglect one’s impoverished parents provided they were giving to the Temple. They had set aside the word of God in favor of the traditions of men. Read more

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