Thursday, 11 July 2013

"adding to the Gospel" Heresy - final (for now)

5. Prohibiting certain foods and/or emphasizing Sabbath keeping.

You are less likely to come across this, although as I said earlier it was a problem for the denomination I grew up in. But just in case; I will give you some relevant scriptures.

Both these things were commanded in the Old Testament as you will notice reading through it. However the New Testament makes it clear that they no longer apply. As Colossians rather cryptically says they were shadows of the things that were to come but the reality is found in Christ.
Colossians 2.16
16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

Stressing as a religious duty things that God does not command turns these things into a human addition to the Gospel. As I said earlier any human addition to the Gospel ends up taking our attention away from Christ just as surely as carbon monoxide saturates our blood and prevents it absorbing oxygen.

Jesus also spelled out how these human additions actually manage to take over from God's commands – what I have been comparing to carbon-monoxide poisoning – and can end up with people doing the very opposite of what God desires. Both Matthew and Mark record the following event when Jesus made this quite clear:
Mark 7 1-13
(New International Version)
The Pharisees and some of the teachers of the law who had come from Jerusalem gathered around Jesus 2 and saw some of his disciples eating food with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. 3 (The Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they give their hands a ceremonial washing, holding to the tradition of the elders. 4 When they come from the marketplace they do not eat unless they wash. And they observe many other traditions, such as the washing of cups, pitchers and kettles.

5 So the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked Jesus, “Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with defiled hands?”

6 He replied, “Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
“‘These people honour me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
7 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.’

8 You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions.”

9 And he continued, “You have a fine way of setting aside the commands of God in order to observe your own traditions! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honour your father and mother,’and, ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 11 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is Corban (that is, devoted to God)— 12 then you no longer let them do anything for their father or mother. 13 Thus you nullify the word of God by your tradition that you have handed down. And you do many things like that.”

The part where Jesus talks specifically about food regulations follows:
Mark 7 : 14-22 (esp v.19) (emphasis added)
 14 Again Jesus called the crowd to him and said, “Listen to me, everyone, and understand this. Nothing outside you can defile you by going into you. Rather, it is what comes out of you that defiles you.”
 17 After he had left the crowd and entered the house, his disciples asked him about this parable. 18 “Are you so dull?” he asked. “Don’t you see that nothing that enters you from the outside can defile you? 19 For it doesn’t go into your heart but into your stomach, and then out of your body.” (In saying this, Jesus declared all foods clean.)
 20 He went on: “What comes out of you is what defiles you. 21 For from within, out of your hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 22 adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. 23 All these evils come from inside and defile you.”
So beware of human “traditions” and human additions to the Gospel.
Next post I will start looking at the other main sort of heresy - mixing Christianity with a bit (or a lot!) of some human religion. The technical name for this is "Syncretism". 

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