Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Why Some Christians Disregard the "Old Testament Scriptures"
Why do so many "Christians" express disdain, and even contempt, toward the Old Testament Scriptures? Why do some people sneer, "That's in the Old Testament, but I'm a New Testament Christian!" Some claim the book of Genesis is mainly a "metaphor" and not historical, and are on the verge of rejecting the Old Testament entirely! Why? Where did this trend and attitude originate?
by David C. Whitaker
The other evening, the inevitable finally happened when a member of a local Assembly of God Church retorted at me, "Well, I don't think the Old Testament should be a part of the Christian Bible, anyway!" He used this ruse instead of wanting to take the time and interest to pursue a better understanding of Bible truth!
Most Christians have absolutely no idea about the many and unusual historical occurrences surrounding the Christian possession of the Old and New Testament Jewish Scriptures!
Although some Christians are willing to concede that the "scriptures" mentioned by Paul in II Timothy 3:15 are the "Old Testament" Hebrew Scriptures, this is where the subject ends and is not pursued farther. In the thinking of many people, Paul's remark to Timothy, "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus", means that the "holy scriptures" contained in the Old Testament writings are of value only when they bring people to the Messiah; otherwise, the "holy scriptures" (Old Testament writings) have no practical value in regard to the practices, doctrines, and beliefs of the modern Christian!
This popular attitude against the Old Testament writings, which Paul defines as the "holy scriptures," began with the ancient origins of the Apostolic Catholic Church in Rome in the last two decades of the First Century of the Christian era. The Gentile pagans of ancient Rome sought to identify Biblical personages (such as Abraham, Moses, Samson, King David, etc.) with mythological figures in their native Roman system of gods and goddesses. This led to a rejection of the Jewish culture as the means by which to better understand and interpret the Jewish Hebrew Scriptures!
Some of the early Catholic "Church Fathers," such as Tertullian (160-230 A.D.), actually taught that YEHOVAH God had inspired the formation of Greek pagan mythology to assist with bringing the Christian Gospel to the Gentile world! The developing ancient Catholic Church sought to interpret both the Old and New Testament writings using the pagan oracles of Roman and Hellenic religion, rather than using the cultural background of the Jewish men who penned the Holy Scriptures.
The early Gentiles formulated the idea that YEHOVAH God gave the Holy Scriptures "through" the Jews, but the Holy Scriptures, themselves have no relevance to the spiritual or physical culture of the Jews. Hence, the "holy scriptures" came to be viewed as given to humanity through the Jews, but as having no divine relevance to any one particular ethnic race or peoples. Thus, the early Catholics reasoned that the Jewish scriptures were just as much the rightful possession of Gentiles as they were the original possession of the Jewish people!
Since the early Catholic Church accepted the Jewish "holy scriptures," but at the same time refused to accept the knowledge of the Jewish oral culture by which the Jews had always understood the Holy Scriptures, the Catholic Church had to create for itself an "ecclesiastical authority" to develop non-Jewish criteria for interpreting the Scriptures! Historian Luther H. Martin mentions, "...and by the second century, Christianity had assumed many of the forms and practices of the mystery cults" (Hellenistic Religions, p. 162).
Within two centuries later, the situation had developed to such a great extent that, "Baptism turned a pagan into a Christian....What constituted a 'pagan' was a matter of definition by clerical authority; in practice it meant what evaded the bishop's control. Gregory the Great's decision that English converts to Christianity might continue to use their traditional places of worship provided they were sprinkled with holy water was a revolutionary extension of clerical tolerance, with momentous implications for later missionary activity" (Oxford History of Christianity, p. 85).
Ultimately, Christianity came to be viewed as a kind of "reformed paganism" (See: The Origins of And-Semitism: Attitudes Toward Judaism in Pagan and Christian Antiquity, by John G. Gager, pp. 102-115).
The ancient Israelites (Jews) always understood and interpreted the Hebrew-language Holy Scriptures from the knowledge contained in their "oral culture." The Israelite oral culture provided immense detailed information about Torah, morals, ethics, mysticism, history, and taught the Jew how to literally "live by every word of God" as revealed in "traditions" ("kabbalot") handed down orally from Abraham and Moses. Some of this information was put into written form around the fifth century A.D., and was called the TALMUD (meaning, "Study") by Jewish authorities.
While the Talmud is certainly NOT Scripture -- and contains many of the dos and don'ts that the apostle Paul termed "a yoke of bondage" (Galatians 5:1) -- it can be a useful tool in the study of the Old Testament and shouldn't be rejected out of hand. Caution is the word when delving into the Talmud. We must remember that it contains many of the doctrines that the Messiah clashed with the Scribes and Pharisees over.
However, because of the Catholic rejection of the Jewish "oral culture," "the Gentile converts to the Messiah no longer used the Hebrew texts to bring about the conversion of many other nations. Because of the infusion of foreign doctrines by Christianity, the Gentile bishops and teachers avoided the Hebrew Scriptures, relying mostly on the Greek texts." In the view of Jewish authorities, "this was a deliberate policy on the part of the Christian leaders, who did not want to have their doctrines demolished by the scholars grounded in the Scriptures who were numerous among the Jews" (The Jewish Christians of the Early Centuries of Christianity According to a New Source, by Shlomo Pinas).
Refusing to use Jewish sources to help accurately understand and better interpret both Old and New Testament Scriptures, the Medieval Catholic Church finally sought to destroy all knowledge of the ancient Jewish oral culture contained in the TALMUD. "In the medieval world, some Christian leaders concluded that if the Talmud were destroyed, and the Jews were left only with the Bible, they would be more amenable to converting to Christianity.
On fifteen occasions, Catholic officials, sometimes even popes, declared the Talmud a forbidden work and ordered it burned. The most famous such burning occurred in 1240 after the Talmud was put on trial in Paris and convicted of blasphemy...Two years later, on June 17, 1242 -- in response to an order issued by an inquisitorial committee -- twenty-four wagonloads of hand-written volumes of the Talmud were cremated" (Jewish Literacy: The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People, and Its History, by Rabbi Joseph Talushkin, p. 186).
Thus, the anti-Semitism of the medieval Catholic Church served to sever for many centuries the Christian converts from the cultural understanding of the original Jewish Apostles! And so it is even yet to this very day!!!
Whenever anyone today, who claims to be a follower of the Messiah and the apostles, says to me that perhaps the Old Testament writings shouldn't be included as part of our Christian Bible, all I can do is wonder to what extent believers can ever be truly "converted" to a Faith and Person whom they refuse to accurately understand because of Gentile religious prejudice against the Jews and Judaism!! The TRUE God is the Judge of us all, and until Christians really come to truly believe and accept this Fact -- and ACT UPON IT-- Christian faith will continue to be a confusing blend of ancient Greek and Roman influences with as many theories about Bible teaching as there are Gentiles to purport them!
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