Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Deception of Vain Philosophy and the Traditions of Men

"Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ," Colossians 2:8.

     A little over 100 years ago, the Freudian revolution swept through the western world, promising to replace the so called myths and superstitions of Biblical thought with a new understanding.  The new revolution promised a revival of empowerment through the wisdom of men by exploring the mind, the psyche and the emotions, unshackled from the supposed tyranny of revealed, God given truth.    The new priests would be psychiatrist's schooled in phrenology, medicine, eastern/pagan traditions and they would emancipate us from our shame and empower us.  We would be free and not held bound by superstition.  Well, how has that worked for us?  We live in a day and age where everything is a disorder, disease or phobia.  We allow doctors to prescribe drugs for disorders which cannot even be detected physiologically.  Our emancipation has closed in on us and we are boxed in all sides.  We cannot run in any direction from the onslaught of ism's and phobias.  We are all nuts now!
     While this has happened in the wider world, Christendom is slowing succumbing to the same madness.  There are two places at least where this has happened: scoffing at a literal six day creation which is clearly laid out by Moses and in the issue of what is called, the synoptic problem, specifically concerning the order of the Gospels.  I think the issue concerning creation is of far more importance and is a hill I am will to die on, but I have dealt with this issue before.  The second issue is the one that concerns me today and is important but not something to be dogmatic about.
     It has been postulated in the last 100 years especially, that the order of the Gospels in the New Testament is not the real order of their origin.  Most, even evangelical scholars, believe that the correct order is not Matthew then Mark and then Luke and John but more like Mark, Luke, Matthew and John.  They base this on their belief that the internal testimony of the Gospel's indicates that Mark was written first.  One of their main evidences is that Matthew and Luke contain almost everything in Mark.  They also believe that Mark is shorter which is evidence that it is sort of a blue print, a template for the other Gospel writers to expand upon.  It is not my intention to dig deep into this argument and it is more complex than all that I have presented here but my issue is this: why do we believe that scholars who lived 1800-1900 years after the Gospels were written are authoritative over the men who were first hand witnesses and/or within a couple of hundred years of their writing?
      I believe that this is an example of vain philosophy polluting the scholarship of the Bible and specifically the New Testament.  For example, I was reading through the account in Matthew concerning the paralytic who was healed and forgiven by Jesus.  Matthew's account was sparse and does not include the rich imagery and details that the Gospel of Mark does.  Matthew does not mention the friends of the man in a personal way as Mark does.  Matthew does not share how they lowered the man through the roof nor how crowded the house was that Jesus was preaching in.  It would seem that, if anything, Matthew's account was a blue print/template for Mark's richer and fuller account.  This would place Matthew back into his place, historically speaking.  I just find it hard to believe a bunch of pointy headed scholars, two millenia removed, have a better understanding of the proper sequence of the Gospel's than the men who were there(or far closer to there) at the time!
     The passage in Colossian's, quoted above, explains how we are to be rooted in Christ and the doctrine of His word.  We are to subject all of our thoughts and philosophies to the Gospel of Christ, His word, and allow our thoughts to be sifted out if they are not obedient to Christ.  Furthermore, verses 9 and 10 of Colossians 2 tells us of our immense wisdom and power in Christ!  We are not dependent on every silly whim of man regarding either the things in the wider world like phsycotherapy nor the intrusion of vain traditions into the study of our beloved word.  "We must take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ" as Paul told the Corinthians.
     I will wrap this up with a quote from John MacArhtur, "The traditional view that the Gospel writers were inspired by God and wrote independently of each other-except that all three were moved by the same Holy Spirit- remains the only plausible view."  Good words from Pastor John, now, lets learn, live and love the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

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