Monday, December 26, 2022

5 Inconsistencies in Church Doctrine

When it comes to doctrine, a lot of what the Church teaches (at least concerning conservative and fundamentalist churches and ministries) is perfectly consistent with other teachings by the Church.  And many of these teachings I actually agree with, even if a lot of my posts do spend a lot of time criticizing the Church for a lot of its teachings.  But I've also found, over the years, many teachings that are inconsistent with other teachings.  We will take a look at five of these inconsistencies and look to Scripture for the resolution.  This list is in no particular order, and there will be overlaps!

1. Obedience to God's Commandments

Most mainstream ministries will teach that because we have Yeshua, there is no need to keep God's Law.  They will often label this the "Old Testament Law" to further cement this point.  However, there are many commandments within the Law of God that the Church expects you to keep.  For example, "do not lie", "do not commit adultery", "do not covet", and "do not worship idols".

One "resolution" to this inconsistency is to assert that we only need to keep the commands that were reiterated in the "New Testament".  But those who make such claims fail to realize that if the Law no longer needs to be kept, then whether they are reiterated in the "New Testament" is irrelevant.  This rationalization however, proves that they know that there is a need to keep at least some of God's Law.  Bit it is still inconsistent with the doctrine that we don't need to keep his Law.

Another rationalization is to divide the commandments within the Law into three laws:  The "moral" law.  The "civil" law.  And the "ceremonial" law.  The claim is that the "moral" law applies to everyone, the "civil" law applies only to the land of Israel, and the "ceremonial" law only applied before Yeshua's work on the cross and that it's this law that we don't need to keep.  But this too conflicts with the core teaching that the body of the Messiah does not need to keep the Law of God.

Some will say that we only need to keep the Ten Commandments.  But every Christmas they put up a nativity with an image of Jesus in direct violation of the Second Commandment, which forbids the creation of an image of anything, anywhere!  Whoever sets up an image of Jesus is worshiping the image, not Jesus.  They also change the Sabbath (Fourth Commandment) from the seventh day (Saturday) to the first day (Sunday), which is literally named after the sun in the sky.  Whoever observes the first day of the week as the Sabbath worships a ball of plasma!  And changing God's Law is rebellion, not obedience!  And once again, if the Law is no longer needed, then neither are the Ten Commandments

In order to resolve the inconsistencies in the first two doctrines, the have made three additional teachings which also conflict with the first.  As I mentioned earlier, Christians know in their heart that that there are some laws that must be kept, proving false the doctrine that we don't need to keep God's Law.  So it's the heart and mind of man that testifies against this doctrine.  But we're going to look into Scripture to see for sure what we are supposed to do.  And just to prove the point, I will only use "New Testament" passages to prove just how false this doctrine really is.

Jesus himself said in Matthew 4:4 that man is to live on every word that comes from the mouth of God.  And in Matthew 5:17-20, he made such obedience mandatory for membership in God's Kingdom.  Note in verse 17 how "destroying the Law" and "fulfilling the Law" are framed as being mutually-exclusive.  If he didn't come to do away with it, then he must have come to teach it (I'm ignoring the Hebrew idiom here).  He also said in Matthew 19:17 that keeping the commandments is a requirement for "entering life".  And you can find numerous places where Jesus called-out the Pharisees for nullifying the Law of God for the sake of their traditions.  For example, Mark 7:5-13.  So according to Yeshua himself, we are to keep the Law of God.

What about Paul, whom the Church practically worships (funny how it's not Jesus who is treated as the ultimate authority of the Christian)?  In Romans 2:13, Paul says that it's those who keep the Law who will be justified before God.  In Romans 3:20 and 7:7, he says that the Law defines sin.  And in Romans 3:31, he states that we who believe in Jesus uphold the Law of God.  So much for Paul teaching against God's Law.

Let's see what James says.  In James 1:22-25, he says we should look into the perfect Law of liberty with the intent of obeying it.  And that if we do, we will be blessed in all that we do.  James 2:12 says we should act as if we will be judged by this law.  So James also teaches obedience to the Law.  Of course, if Jesus and the Apostles were teaching from the Law with the expectation for us to obey it, then we should expect to find many of the commandments being reiterated throughout the "New Testament".  And if the Law did not have to be followed (or should not be followed), then they would not be reiterating any of the commandments.

2. Biblical Inerrancy

One of the most blatant inconsistencies between two doctrines has to do with the doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy.  Which doctrine runs afoul of Biblical Inerrancy?  The doctrine that forbidding the consumption of certain meats (eg: pork) is a "doctrine of demons."  God's Law forbids us from eating pigs or even touching the dead bodies of pigs (Leviticus 11:7-8).  And Isaiah prophecies against such people in Isaiah 65:4 and 66:17, declaring that they will perish.  Yet because Paul wrote about those who forbid "certain foods" in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 (among other passages that are twisted by the Church), the Church insists that anyone who says we shouldn't eat pork (or other animals that God said to not eat) is teaching a doctrine of demons.

Think about it:  If the command not to eat certain animals is really a doctrine of demons, then it means that the Bible is in error about the origins of such commands, and the prophecies against those who break such commands.  If there is even one error in Scripture, then the Bible is by definition, not inerrant, and the inerrancy doctrine is therefore wrong.

On a related note, if 1 Timothy 4:1-5 means what the Church claims, then Paul is going against his own teachings that we should keep the Law of God.  We already went over this in the previous section.  It would also mean that if the Law and the Prophets are correct about the origin of the commandment and prophecies against those who break it, then Paul is the one who is wrong, and the Bible is not inerrant.  And if Paul is teaching both obedience to the Law and rebellion against it, one of those teachings is wrong by definition and the Bible is also not inerrant.  And it also lends credence to those who claim that Paul was a deceiver.  And if Paul was a deceiver, then the Bible is definitely not inerrant.

Peter warns us in 2 Peter 3:16 that Paul is hard to understand, and that uneducated people twist his words to their own destruction.  So the solution is an interpretation that is hard to see just by reading the passage, but is consistent with Paul's teaching of obedience to God's Law.  We'll start with the definition of "food".  Since Paul taught obedience to the Law of God and the Law of God tells us what is and is not food for us, the definition of food that Paul (and the other Apostles, and Jesus) is using is that which God's Law defines as food.  And guess what:  The Law explicitly states that pigs are not food.

Now that we know the definition of food that Paul is using, we can see that the "creatures of God" refers to the clean animals that God gave for us as food.  Although God made all animals, both the clean and the unclean, only the clean animals are referred to here as the "creatures of God".  Finally, we see that these animals are set apart by the word of God and by prayer.  If everything is set apart, then nothing is set apart.  The words "sanctified" and "holy" lose all of their meaning if everything is said to be set apart.  And the word of God (which is referring specifically to God's Law in this instance) did not set apart pigs as food.  What Paul is actually teaching against are teachings about food that are contrary to God's Law.

3. The Shame of Nakedness

I've covered the topic of nakedness a lot on this blog.  And a search through my posts will reveal that quite quickly.  But what about the shame of nakedness?  The Church teaches that before there was sin, there was no shame in being naked.  In fact, we read in Genesis 1 and 2 that mankind was designed to always be naked and that this nakedness was very good.  But in Genesis 3, Adam and Eve sinned, became ashamed of their nakedness, and after they failed to provide adequate clothing for themselves, God himself provided them with clothing.  The Church teaches that ever since then, there has been a universal shame of nakedness.  So where's the inconsistency:  Well, Jesus took away our sins by his blood, wiping-out the record of our transgressions.  Since our sins have been taken away, so has the source of our shame of being naked.  And the Bible says in numerous places that those who believe in him shall by no means be put to shame (1 Peter 2:6).  And in Romans 8:35, Paul says that nakedness is incapable of keeping us from God's love.

While I have been teaching for a long time on this blog that there is no requirement in Scripture to be clothed (except for the priests when they are performing their duties), I still didn't realize the inconsistency about the shame of nakedness before finding this article on the topic, which also inspired me to write this post on 5 of the Church's doctrinal inconsistencies.  If sin truly is the only source of the shame of nakedness as the Church teaches it is, then those who have had their sins taken away should not be ashamed of such a thing.  But the Church still teaches us to be ashamed of being naked because of sin.  The very sin that the Church rightly says is taken away by the blood of Jesus just by believing in him!  In my post on Genesis 3, I proved that it was the serpent who told Adam and Eve that they were naked.  That, by extension, means that the source of the shame of nakedness came from the serpent, not from the sin that they had just committed.

Just like with the first inconsistency I pointed-out, for this one, I'm only going to use the "New Testament" to expose the magnitude of this inconsistency.  And I'm also going to do it using the view that sin is the only source of the shame of nakedness.

When Yeshua came to Jerusalem on a donkey, many in the crowd took off their garments and laid them on the road before Jesus.  This is recorded in Matthew 21:8, Mark 11:7 (the Disciples put their garments on the donkey for Jesus to sit on), and Mark 11:8.  Many of these only had a single garment, yet took it off for Jesus, and Jesus accepted it.  This of course, is perfectly consistent with the teaching that the shame of nakedness comes from sin, because they were not actively sinning when they greeted their Savior and our Savior at the gates of Jerusalem.

In John 13:4, Jesus himself set aside his garments in front of the Twelve and proceeded to wash the feet of his Disciples.  This too is consistent with the doctrine that sin is the source of the shame of nakedness because Jesus never sinned and therefore had nothing to bring him shame.

In John 21:7 (after the resurrection of the Lord), Peter is fishing with his friends naked (go read the context).  This was actually common place back then, for a laborer to work without clothing.  And this may have also been the reason why Mary mistook Jesus for the gardener in John 20:15, for Yeshua left all of his grave clothes behind when he rose from the dead (Luke 24:12, John 20:6-7).  This of course is perfectly consistent with the doctrine that sin is the source of the shame of nakedness.

4. Avoiding Salvation by Works

It is often said that anyone who keeps God's Law is by definition, trying to work for his or her salvation.  And whoever teaches obedience to God's Law is by definition, teaching works-based salvation.  For some reason, the Church absolutely hates the idea of keeping God's Law and actively teaches that such things are not only not necessary, but also evil.  Now this overlaps with the first inconsistency listed in this post, because the Church actually teaches obedience to some of the commandments in God's Law (chiefly, the Ten Commandments) along with most, if not all, of Leviticus 18, among some other commands also found in God's Law.

Interestingly enough, nobody says that obedience to Yeshua's commandments is salvation by works, even though his commandments seem more difficult to keep than the Law of God.  For example, as pointed-out in my post on what Jesus meant by "but I say", Jesus linked coveting your neighbor's wife with committing adultery with her.  He also linked bearing a grudge against your neighbor with committing murder.

Now, when writing this post, I realized I made a mistake on the post I just linked.  I accidentally wrote:

So according to Jesus himself, anyone who nullifies the Law of God is guilty of sin.  This means that it can't be that Jesus is nullifying Deuteronomy 24:1 by forbidding adultery.

But I meant to say this:

So according to Jesus himself, anyone who nullifies the Law of God is guilty of sin.  This means that it can't be that Jesus is nullifying Deuteronomy 24:1 by forbidding divorce.

I'm going to be leaving that mistake in because I have a policy that once a blog post is published, it does not get any edits done to it for any reason.

Speaking of divorce:  As mentioned in that post right after the mistake, I mentioned that the intent of Deuteronomy 24:1 is being ignored.  The intent of the verse is to give provision to terminate a marriage in very specific situations (eg: a woman hiding any premarital indiscretions from her husband).  The Pharisees twisted it to allow for divorce for any reason.

So not only is Jesus teaching obedience to the Law, he's linking commandments together that are usually considered separately, making the Law harder to follow simply by keeping Jesus's commands.  But Jesus didn't make the Law harder to follow.  He simply exposed the intent of the Law and gave the correct interpretation of the Law, which is harder to follow simply because of human nature.  So if keeping our flawed understanding of God's Law is "salvation by works", then so is keeping Yeshua's commands.

But how exactly do with solve this inconsistency of obedience being salvation by works?  Simple:  There is absolutely zero Biblical support for the assertion that obedience to the Law of God is by definition, works-based salvation.  None!  In fact, those who make such assertions prove that they do not know God, and are lying when they claim to know him (1 John 2:3-4).  The Bible also says that keeping God's Law is by definition, loving God (1 John 5:2-3).  There's also the passages referenced for inconsistency #1.  And James 2:14-26 explains in detail how faith is made complete by our works and how works prove our faith.  It also refutes the "faith alone" doctrine, which is used to justify rebellion against God.  So we keep God's commands because we love God, not to somehow earn our salvation.  And this keeping of God's Law proves our faith.

5. To Sin or Not to Sin

One common objection to the teaching that Christians should keep God's Law is that we allegedly cannot keep it, so we shouldn't even try.  This overlaps with inconsistencies 1 and 4 quite a bit.  You might have heard the phrase, "you will sin every day in thought or deed", which I covered in a previous post.  Often, this saying will have a context that implies, "you're going to sin anyways, so don't even try to not sin".  These same people will also rightfully say that we should not lie, steal, murder, or commit adultery, for example.  Other examples of things that they will tell us not to do include "lusting" after a woman, becoming drunk, or judging others.  In some cases, they have many additional rules in place to try to avoid sinning, which are themselves considered sinful to break.

On one hand, they teach that we shouldn't try not to sin, because will will sin anyways, or because trying not to sin is "salvation by works".  And on the other hand, not only say that we should not sin, but that we should any situation where we could potentially sin at all costs.  But what does the Bible say?

Jesus said "sin no more" [John 5:14] and Paul said "do not sin" [1 Corinthians 15:34].  In John 9:21, we read that God does not listen to the sinner.  That explains the lack of healings in the Church.  And in Romans 6, we are told not to allow sin to have any power over us because we have been freed from sin.  In fact, he states that sin does not have any power over those who believe in the Lord Yeshua.  And 1 John 5:8 says that whoever is born of God does not sin.  Now who is it that says "you will sin every day in thought or deed"?  Oh right, the one who's mind is driven by the flesh instead of the spirit.  Such a person is unable to submit to God's commandments [Romans 8:7].  And that explains why conservative Christians have so many heretical rules to try to avoid sin.  They're treating the symptom instead of the cause.  The one who is delivered from will naturally keep God's Law and be able to avoid sinning.  And even when such a person does stumble (which is contrary to that person's nature), that person has an advocate with the Father [1 John 2:1].

Change of Heart, Change of Style

A while ago, on social media, a posted a rather harsh reply to something that a pastor posted, and got rebuked for not making my reply in a ...