Friday, June 8, 2012

Similar Patterns in Old and New Covenants

Just something I noticed.... There seems to be a similar pattern of development in both the Old Covenant and the New when it comes to the structure of God's people as far as leadership and the written word. 

Old testament structure:

1.God chose a people--Hebrews/Israel:

God decides that from the seed of Abraham He would bring forth His people. The Old Covenant people were from the Isaac then Jacob.
2. He established leaders:

God establishes His leaders for this people. Obviously Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (the Patriarchs) were the tribal leaders then later to lead them out of Egypt He chose Moses, Aaron and then Joshua. 

3. Around four or five centuries after establishing a people, He gives them the written word:

The scholars I have read place Abraham around 2000 BC and then the Exodus about 1600 BC (give or take a hundred years.) So if we add in the lives of the Patriarchs plus the time the were in Egypt we get almost 500 years. Even if the scholars' timeline gives it less. But either way, this is when God spoke at Mt. Sinai and gave His people the Torah, the law. The writings of the prophets and other historical writings were gradually added. 

 4. God’s leaders continued and a group of Bible interpreters was established: 

The written word didn't take the place of God's leaders and authorities. The 
Sanhedrin with a high priest and judges were established to interpret the law. Then a king was set up to implement the law with force. So there was a triangulation of authority: God's appointed High Priest, the Sanhedrin (other appointed religious leaders) and God's Word. 

It looks to me like this same pattern was followed in His New Covenant church.


The New Testament structure:

1. God chose a people--Christians:

Still from the seed of Abraham God brought forth His people, but this was with a New Covenant with Christ, fully revealing and fulfilling the Old Covenant. This came through the Hebrews, but was opened up to the Gentiles.  

2. He established leaders:

He gave the keys to Peter and consecrated the Apostles before He established the church at Pentecost. Then after the Apostles came the Patristic Fathers (like the Patriarchs) and their successors. 

3. Around four or five centuries later, after establishing a people, He gives them the written word. 

It wasn't until the end of the fourth century and into the fifth century that the canon (set of books) was compiled into what we know today as the Bible. Up until then it was a loosely formed set of gospels and letters that each area of Christendom were using and they all weren't alike. So the bishops began calling for a unified set of Christian inspired writings for use in church (they were not even thinking of a book for the people--just a set of unified church readings!) After the fifth century, complete Bibles were copied, bound and sent out into the many church areas so that each church could have a set of Christian scriptures.

4. God's leaders interpreted the Word of God.

This is a little different as far as timeframe from the Old Covenant, because Christians had writings from the beginning--letters and gospels. Yet even they needed to be interpreted. Acts 15 records the Council at Jerusalem deciding if circumcision was necessary for the Christian. The general council of elders decided it was not and their authority was expected to be obeyed by all Christians through out the world. Later councils, through the Holy Spirit, interpreted the Word of God to arrive at a written understanding of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ and even what books would be in scripture. 

So, again, if we follow the pattern, the Written Word did not replace God's chosen leaders, but it was used to triangulate truth--with God's chosen leadership and God's word.

Not that this is a big deal, just thought the pattern was interesting.....

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Ellen White

Questions for Adventists:

Have you ever really thought about why you believe Ellen White's writings? Why do you think they are authoritative? Because your parents or pastors told you?

Do you believe her because of her visions? Because there were hundreds of people at the time she was alive claiming to have visions too--including Joseph Smith? Every kook in America was claiming special revelation from God and many of them amassed a devoted following. Why was Ellen's visions different?

Why do you believe her visions? How do you know she wasn't just having hallucinations from her head injury?

Really examine why you believe what Ellen wrote more than St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, Dr. Martin Luther, Dr. John Calvin, or any other Biblical scholar? Why was she above all of them when she didn't have but a third-grade education and couldn't read Hebrew or Greek?

Her take on lots of texts were unique in all Christian history. And that isn't a good thing. Why believe her opinion--when she wasn't anointed by God or mentioned in the Bible or anything. She expected her followers to have faith that her visions were from God and held as much authority as the Bible. How did she get this authority to say her visions were from God?

Please explain why anyone should believe what Ellen wrote, when Joseph Smith claimed the same thing and had all kinds of miracles accompany his claims (including the stars falling!). Why should we believe Ellen over other contemporary messengers of God who had visions and miracles, etc?