Friday, August 29, 2008

OT God vs. NT Jesus

Per the New Testament, Jesus is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and God is Jesus. It's the enigmatic Trilogy that is somewhat difficult to understand in human terms. But one thing that is easy to understand about the Trilogy is that they are united in Their purposes, goals, and knowledge. They share a common mind, or at least a common mindset. One part of the Trilogy could never transgress the will of another other part of the Trilogy. They are all three together in perfection of love and knowledge and justice.

OT God vs. NT Jesus
The trouble is that the Bible does not provide the Trilogy with a uniform front. Fundamental philosophical differences do exist. While the Holy Spirit is mostly silent, the Father and the Son appear to have some Family issues to work out. Below are a few examples of the Holy discord.

Jesus has something to say about murder and adultery in the Sermon on the Mount. In Matthew 5:21-22, the former: “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder'...But I tell you...” and in Matthew 5:27-28 the latter: “You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you...” In these passages, Jesus redefines, enhances, and expands the intents of these Commandments to more stringent requirements. At first glance, the views may seem to be in line with the Commandments and in tune with God. But this standpoint falls apart under closer scrutiny.

There are two sources of incongruency here. The first is the disowning of authorship of the Commandments. The second is the admission of the imperfection of God.

Consider the manner in which Jesus words these sentences. I'll paraphrase them together for simplicity: “The elder generations were told [this], but I tell you [that].” The trouble is that the source of these Commandments is not the elders or the prophets or some other detached being. The source of these Commandments is God (Exodus 20:13-14). So by substitution, that makes the expressions rephrased as “God told the elder generations [this], but I tell you [that].” This makes Jesus disagree with God. Now, because Jesus is God, another substitution could be made to “I told the elder generations [this], but I tell you [that]” or “God told the elder generations [this], but God tells you [that].” Take your pick; God disagrees with Jesus, Jesus disagrees with Himself, or God disagrees with Himself. Any way you slice it, there is discord in the Trinity. The word choice of these verses sets Jesus at some distance from the source of the original Commandments, but He does not actually have that distance because the original source was God.

Secondly, when we consider that Jesus is either raising the bar or clarifying the Law, it prompts the question of why. Why is it necessary? Why was God's original Commandment not perfect in and of itself? If it was imperfect, or maybe just incomplete, why didn't God set it right to begin with? If the original Commandments did fall short, then God made a mistake.

Am I reading too much into the literal meanings and not the intentional meanings? Is there really no conflict in your mind because Jesus is simply revealing God's intent with these laws? Well then, let's move on.

The third time is the charm, so to speak. Jesus does a similar disowning with divorcement in Matthew 5:31-32. Although in this case, He turns the permission given by the Law into a sin. This point is repeated in an ill-context-fitting one-liner in Luke 16:18, but with more greater detail and context in Mark 10:2-12 and Matthew 19:3-9 when the Pharisees ask Jesus if divorce is OK. In both of those detailed cases, Jesus included in His replies that Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts (Mark 10:5, Matthew 19:8), but that Jesus considers it a sin. That's a nice story, but it's not true to what God said in the Old Testament.

You see, Deuteronomy is where you will explicitly find the permission to divorce. Deuteronomy is mostly composed of information and laws passed to the Jews from God through Moses. Starting from Deuteronomy 1:6 and continuing to 26:15 (and beyond there too), Moses tells the Jews everything that God commanded him to say (Deuteronomy 1:3). Deuteronomy 24:1-4 is where a man is permitted to divorce his wife, even explaining that the man may not remarry his ex-wife, as that would be an abomination to God. It is very unlikely that Moses would insert his own feelings on what should be permitted into a list of laws given by God, especially because one of those laws is not to add to or take away from the Law (Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32), and because Moses repeatedly says that these laws are from God, like in Deuteronomy 8:11; “Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day.” NIV

For Jesus to explicitly disown Holy involvement and say that it was Moses that permitted the Jews to divorce, as opposed to God, is either a lie or a mistake. (Either that, or Moses is part of the Godhead and it's actually a Quartet!) We know God can't make a mistake, so it must be a lie. But we also know that God can't lie, so it must be a mistake. It's a bit of a conundrum; a conundrum repeated in two of the four Gospels.

(I find it particularly interesting that Luke records that Jesus disapproves of divorce in the previously mentioned ill-context-fitting one-liner in Luke 16:18. One theory of the creation of the synoptic Gospels is that they were iterations; starting with Mark, progressing to Matthew and Luke using Mark and another now-lost document as a source. If so, it may be that the writer of Luke realized that there was a little trouble with the way Jesus had said that Moses made the divorce law, so he deleted the preceding context for Jesus' declaration against divorce.)

God decreed divorce was acceptable in Deuteronomy. Jesus plainly says that divorce is not permissible (although, Matthew added it's OK in the case of a cheating spouse). Jesus disagrees with God's Law on marriage, and the two viewpoints are incongruent. But because of the nature of the Trilogy, this can't possibly occur.

What is the aftermath of such a finding? It seems that verses repeated in multiple Gospels are flawed. Even though there is concordance between the Gospels that would seem to indicate reliability (if they were truly produced by independent sources), they fundamentally do not agree with Scripture. In Jesus' own words, “the Scripture cannot be broken.” So I guess we'll have to remove these passages from Scripture to keep Scripture true. What do you think?


  1. Finally someone who will do more with Matthew 19:8 than try to wiggle out of their marriage with it! I mean, what a Biblical paradox! For Jesus himself to mention that Moses added to the law apart from God's perfect law ... and for Moses to claim that the entirety of the law is from God ... stalemate?

    I'm onboard with your blog. I'll be reading more in the morning.

  2. Thanks Nate. I am trying to point out some of the more subtle conflicts and themes that are not caught in the common religious dialogs.