Torah and New Testament Foundations-The Torah and Paul-Part 3

As we move on, we will continue to quote from the article “The Ghost of Marcion” by Daniel Botkin as a source, taking portions as they apply. Botkin says, “Tertullian, a Church Father, wrote an essay called “Against Marcion” and he says “Antithesis” is a work strained into making such a division between Law and Gospel as thereby to make two separate gods, opposite to each other, one belonging to one instrument (or as it is more common to say “testament”) and the other to another instrument and thus lend it’s patronage to faith in another gospel, that according to ‘Antithesis.’ To this day we have the same thing going on between Old Testament “Law” and New Testament “Grace.” People have this conception that the two are not compatible, but opposed to each other. In other words, if you keep the Sabbath for instance, you have denied grace. On the other hand, if you have grace, you must deny the Law. You cannot have them in the same room.

The Torah is seen as obsolete and of little use to a Christian. This is a warped way to view the Torah, and this view will carry over into our view of God himself. If God’s Old Testament Torah is opposed to God’s New Testament Grace, we will end up with a schizophrenic God or Marcion’s two God’s. Tertullian says “Marcion sets up unequaled Gods, the one a judge, fierce and warlike and the other mild and peaceable, kind and supremely good.” Isn’t this what many Christians do? They shun the OT God because he is too stern and fierce, then they focus instead on the NT God who, in their minds, does not expect obedience to his laws. Tertullian describes the God presented by the Church today. Marcion’s god displays neither hostility or wrath. He neither condemns nor distrains and does not punish.” Botkin goes on to say that Tertullian sarcastically writes, “A better god has been discovered. One who is neither offended nor angry nor inflicts punishment. He is merely kind. Of course he forbids you to sin-but only in writing. It lies with you whether you consent to accord him obedience.” “To what purpose does he lay down commands? Tertullian asks. This god is exceptionally dull-witted if he is not offended by the doing of that which he dislikes to see being done. One thing that has helped the Ghost of Marcion to thrive so well in the twentieth century church is the popularity of the Schofield Reference Bible. Even Christians who have never seen a Schofield have probably been affected by it indirectly, through teachers and preachers who have been influenced by it. Several of Schofield’s notes, however, strongly suggest a Marcionite view of Law and Grace. A reader of Schofield’s notes is left with the impression that Law and Grace are mutually exclusive. Schofield’s anti-law bias has fed and nurtured and sustained the tares of nomo-phobia (fear of the law) that Marcion sowed in the Church 19 centuries ago.”

In 2 Thes 2.7 we have the word “lawless.” It is “anomos” in Greek and it means “opposed to or without the Torah.” How could Paul be described as against the Torah and yet Paul is warning those caught in this “anomos” doctrine? The truth is, Paul was not against the Torah ans was not like Marcion, and others, describe him. Paul was a Torah observant Jew (Acts 21.24). The article goes on to say, “In Against Marcion, Tertullian accuses Maracion and his followers of ‘Forbidding what God commands and commanding what he forbids.’ The Ghost of Marcion continues to do this in the Church today. Mainstream Christianity and criticized believers for keeping the Sabbath, for celebrating the biblical holy days, for practicing the dietary laws and refusing to shave their beards-things God has commanded.” There are Bible schools and seminaries that command their students to shave their beards. “Mainstream Christianity often commands what God forbids.” Botkin goes on and says, “Marcion, like many church leaders today, have misused the words of Yeshua and the words of Paul to support this nomo-phobic (fear of the Torah), anti-Jewish, pro-Paul gospel. Tertullian rightly points out that Yeshua’s verbal attacks on the Teachers of the Law were not aimed at the Law itself, but at man’s perversion and misuse of God’s Law. ‘He is not criticizing the burdens of the Law’ Tertullian writes. The burdens Yeshua criticized were, according to Tertullian ‘Those which they piled on of their own, teaching for precepts the doctrines of men.'”

Now, we can see this same attitude in Isaiah 1.10-17 where Isaiah was saying that the hearts of the people were wrong and they were missing the point of the Torah. Isa 58.1-14 does the same things In these passages, many have taught that God was against the Torah, against the korbanot (sacrifices) and against the festivals. This was long before Yeshua decreed that these were supposedly evil, that the Jews “picked these things up from pagan sources” and these things were things “he didn’t desire.” But the context of these passages is that God did institute these things, but the people did not approach God in the right way. False teachers have used these things Paul has said about the Law in the same way they have misused the word’s of Isaiah. People felt that by doing these things they were justified before God and that they were “Ok” before him. The real villain in all of this is not Paul and his letters, but it is the false interpreters of Paul. Botkin’s article goes on to say, “Tertullian opposes Marcion’s misuse of Paul’s writings by pointing out the Jewishness of Paul’s faith, and then asking ‘What had Paul still to do with Jewish custom, if he was a destroyer of Judaism? He also refers to Rom 7.7 to combat Marcion’ss hatred of the Law. “What shall we say then? That the Law is sin? God forbid.” Shame on you Marcion! God forbid: the apostles expresses abhorence of complaint against the Law. Yet he adds even more. The Law is holy, and its commandments are just and good. As Tertullian points out later, “You cannot make a promoter of the Law into an opponent of it.”

Botkin’s article on Marcion continues, “Unfortunately, the church ignored Paul’s positive statements about the Law and Yeshua’s high regard for practicing and teaching the Old Testament commandments (see Matt 5.17-19). The Epistle of Barnabas (once was being considered as Scripture and very anti-semitic), an influential letter from the second century, indicates the general direction was heading in its attitude to the Old Testament. The main theme of Barnabas, writes one church historian, is a spiritualization of the Mosaic law. The writer holds that the Jews were wrong to take the Old Testament literally (Eerdman’s Handbook to the History of Christianity). Even the dietary restrictions were said to represent not actual food, but various kinds of sinful habits. Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho” also shows early Christianity’s negative attitudes to the Law. Trypho the Jew expresses bewilderment when he tells Justin, “You (Christians) spurn the commands…and then try to convince us (Jews) that you know God, when you fail to do these things that every God-fearing person would do. If, therefore, you can give a satisfactory reply to these charges and can show us on what you place your hopes, even though you refuse to obey the Law, we will listen to you most willingly, and then we can go on and examine in the same manner other differences.” Justin replies by saying the Law is “obsolete”, “abrogated”, “voided,” and tells Trypho, “You understand all in a carnal way. After Trypho asks Justin about the possibility of believing in Yeshua and continuing to observe the commandments, Justin writes his reply: “Yes, Trypho,’ I conceded, ‘there are some Christians who desire to observe as many of the Mosaic precepts as possible, while at the same time they place their hope in Christ.” Justin obviously disagreed with these Law-abiding believers, but he does not acknowledge their existence.”

We would like to recommend that you read all of this article called “The Ghost of Marcion” by Daniel Botkin. It is a must read, and you can get it on the Internet by searching “The Ghost of Marcion.” Most people think that Marcion was out of his mind, even Replacement Theology people. But, this Marcionic Theology, anti-Torah, anti-semitism had a tremendous impact on Christianity, which was coming out of the Gnostic influences among the people right into this one. The people realized that Gnosticism was against the New Testament, was anti-law and very anti-semitic.

In Part 4, we will begin to talk about how Gnosticism was absorbed into Christianity and how they took the writings of Paul and his statements on the Torah and saw something totally different than what Paul actually meant.

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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