Of Talmuds, Rabbis, Pharisees and the Order of the Law

What is the Talmud?

Traditionally the Talmud is the supreme source-book of law, as it takes the rules listed in the Torah and describes how to apply them to different circumstances.  Although technically not a legal code (other works were created for that purpose) it is the ultimate source material that is used to decide all matters of Halakha (Jewish law).

Hmm. sounds strangely like the Bible Doctrine and Practice and Conference Decisions, with the BD&P being the Talmud and the Conference decisions being the “other works.”  You know, the one used to decide all matters of Holdeman law.

What is the Mishnah?

The Mishnah is a document that describes a life of sanctification, in which the rituals of the Temple are adapted for communal participation in a world that has no Temple, which escapes the ups and downs of history.

So we see here that the Jews took the Torah, the early scriptures, and begin to create writings about them. They interpreted the Torah, they elaborated on it, and they described it. In order to keep the law, they began to create more laws to protect the law.  They built a fence around the law in order to keep the people at a far enough distance from breaking the law that the law might be kept safe. In this manner they laid many heavy burdens upon the backs of the people and began to be very judgmental and self righteous.

Let us take a look at Mark, chapter 7. In this chapter the Pharisees are complaining to Jesus that the disciples have been eating without washing their hands.  Verse 3 says “For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash [their] hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders.”  Now notice this…it says “following the tradition of the elders.”   It was not in the law that it was a sin to eat without washing the hands, but in fact it was a tradition of the elders.  The Pharisees were trying to condemn the disciples for something that was not a commandment of God, but rather one that had developed out of a wish to make the law more legal and more perfectly kept. Verse 4 goes on to explain other ways in which the ritual of washing had evolved. Verse 5 says “Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands?”  Oh,the Pharisees were judgmental tale bearers.  They wanted to see someone condemned. They were laying a trap.  The Pharisees were not about mercy, but judgment.

Then Jesus has some very stern words for them. (verses 6,7)  He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me.  Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.

Jesus calls them HYPOCRITES for the way they want to pass judgment on their fellow brethren for things that are the commandments of men. This scripture should convincingly prove that God does not go along with the commandments of men. He knows that when men make their own commandments with the self righteous hypocritical goal of keeping the law safe, that they are actually doing nothing more than laying traps for others and creating legal means to do away with those who displease them.  Jesus did not speak well of these men.  Look at what he says in verses 9 and 10; For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.  And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.”

This should be quite alarming.  Jesus did not smile and pat them on the head for their strictness in keeping the law. Instead he condemned them in the harshest terms. He is angered by the fact that they try to stand in the place of God and condemn and judge.  Further on in the chapter Jesus goes on to interpret other parts of the law for them, as it seemed that the Pharisees were interested in the strictness of the letter, and not the aspect of love and mercy, and the true condition of the heart.  They loved to condemn, and all the while Jesus knew that inside their own hearts they were ravening wolves, whited sepulchers  full of dead men’s bones. How can it be any different today?  If you write a book of legal definitions, taking a stand on many things and defining them according to the traditions of the elders (the lineage) and you make a legal document, such as the conference decisions which determines the fact that people can be punished thus and so for various infractions, then how can you be anything  but a Pharisee?  If you have Rabbinical Writings, how are you any different?  There is no need for interpretation, there is no need for defining, there is no need for making punishments that fit the crime.   Read the Word of God.  Study who Jesus was.  Strive to be like him.  Love your fellow man. Do good to others.  Love God.  Or, you could go to the BD&P and study the consistent wearing of the beard, the proper way to greet a brother (kissing with dry lips) or the proper way to carry out a baptism, an ordination, etc. These are important things no doubt, but not things that need to be written in legal terms and followed to the letter.  The wearing of a headcovering can become an extremely technical and legally charged issue.  This is not the way it is meant to be.  The message of Jesus has been so misunderstood.  What will it take to make people see the truth of his message?

These “laws” can seem harmless enough under ordinary circumstances, but when the ministers wish to do away with someone who is an irritation to them, they can so readily then invoke the law. They can expel someone by pointing out where they broke the law. What rank legalism!  What a shame!  What would Jesus say?  And don’t tell me that this doesn’t happen.  People can find themselves not so much afoul of he law, but rather in fact of the fence that was built to protect the law.  If they listen to a radio, they are bumping up against the fence. The admonition against the radio is said to keep people safe from the danger of listening to much ungodly talk and sensually charged music. It might be true that this is a helpful law, but YOU CANNOT MAKE A LAW TO PROTECT THE PEOPLE AND ENFORCE IT BY EXCOMMUNICATION AND HAVE GOD’S FAVOR.  Jesus taught strongly against this. Do these men read the Bible? Do they have the most basic understanding?  What demon of deception and self righteousness has so ensnared their minds that they cannot see?

May God have mercy, we need all we can get.


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8 Responses to Of Talmuds, Rabbis, Pharisees and the Order of the Law

  1. Hiram says:

    I see a further difficulty. When a group claims exclusivity and perfection to such a degree, then they must distance themselves further and further from all others. That is the reason BD&P was restructured from a book called Doctrines of the Bible, I think, by Daniel Kaufman. Because he was not Holdeman, although of conservative Anabaptist background, they recoiled from any identification with any other group and made their own book which more clearly delineated their own particular position. One that was better, more holy, and more exclusive. I see them creating rather odd documents these days describing their stand on various doctrinal and cultural issues, and they are always backing further and further away from other denominations. They seem to absolutely loathe having any teaching in common with anyone else. For one thing, this would make the assumption that someone else might be semi-right about something, and that must never be admitted. If someone holds a particular view of the endtimes that seems to mesh somewhat with ours, they think, then we must change ours just a bit so we don’t seem to be endorsing their teachings. This is all very odd, and above all, very shameful. They should look to embrace other Christians and fellowship with them wherever they can. To shun the rest of the world as those who know nothing about God is a shameful thing indeed.

    • lotsaquestions says:

      Indeed, no one can legislate righteouness! That’s my motto. But I have been hearing for years that the Conference Decision book is not a rule book, JUST guidelines! if it’s JUST guidelines then why is it hauled out all the time and quoted when they want it to justify their control over you?

      • Hello lotsaquestions,you raise a vital point. I too, all of my life have heard it said that conference decisions are “guidelines.” However, that is duplicitous, or at worst an outright lie. Turn to page 107 in the Conference Reports book. In the 1974 General Conference you will see
        Article 6: Resolved, Conference Decisions are mandatory and that we teach and practice them. The next time you hear someone say that conference decisions are “guidelines,” call them out for lying.

        Conference Decisions are MANDATORY.

  2. Hiram says:

    Stand by friends, very soon I shall embark upon a destructuring of the beliefs of the end-times, as postulated by the Church of God in Christ Mennonite.

  3. wink says:

    Hiram, how about cellphone ringtones, internet filters and colors of cars and clothing? do these qualify as fences? some of the stuff i hear about doesn’t make much sense.

    • cagedbutterfly says:

      I’ve been thinking about the martyr brethren. I don’t think they were concerned about the color of their shirt, the part in their hair or if they had a belt on when they were being taken to be burned at the stake. They weren’t holdemans either.

      • That is one of the dangers of having too many rules. If the time came for any kind of martyrdom, people would be hard-pressed to decide what to die for. I don’t think one should ever die for a cell-phone ringtone, do you? But there might be some misguided youth who would think it a noble thing. I don’t think anyone should die for a beard or a headcovering, however, there are plenty of staunch and legalistic church members who think that would prove how holy they are. One should ponder very very carefully what is worth dying for. If is not worth dying for, it is not worth fighting to incorporate into your daily life. This is where, as they say, the rubber finally meets the road. What could be taken from you before you would say NO! What would you die for? They must actually be invisible things; principles of faith and belief. It surely must always be something that you have to say or do,not something that you own….Are you following me here?

  4. lotsaquestions says:

    Thank you for providing me with this info. I will aquaint myself with this and do as you advise.

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