Rituals and Heresies
II Kings 17:33 —They feared the Lord, and served their own gods, after the manner [rituals] of the nations whom they carried away from thence.
II Peter 2:1 —But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
Let’s imagine this Sabbath I decide to put a basin of water just inside the entryway to the room in which we worship. You see me come in, dip my hand in it, and bless myself by making the sign of the cross. And then as I go to sit down, I kneel beside my seat and bless myself again. For sake of discussion: Is there anything necessarily wrong with doing those things? The action is relatively harmless in-and-of-itself. But, what kind of message would that convey? Does it line up with who we are in Messiah and what we are trying to convey at our Sabbath meetings?
I imagine at some point I would be asked why I am blessing myself by making the sign of the cross. My answer could be that “there’s nothing wrong with it and, besides, it keeps me connected to a people group that are very dear to my heart.” I have to think I might raise some eyebrows and cause some questions as to what it is I really do believe.
I would like to postulate by way of inference that, for us Messianic believers, the rituals of wearing a Kippah and Prayer Shawl (as well as blessing ourselves with the sign of the cross) don’t give off the proper identification markers. Most would automatically associate those things with Rabbinic Judaism and Catholicism — and rightly so.
Give it some thought.
Let’s imagine this Sabbath I came into congregation and said to rip the book of Matthew out of your Bible and then add the Book of Jasher. For sake of discussion: Is there anything necessarily wrong with doing those things? In other words, if some in the Messianic movement are telling us the book of Hebrews is not inspired while also telling us the book of Enoch is — why can’t I pick and chose for myself? I venture to say that, if I did, some might think that Heresy — and rightly so.
Also, let’s imagine I came into the congregation and announced that I believe if Rashi had been alive when Yeshua lived that Rashi would have become a believer in Yeshua. Therefore, based upon that conclusion, I say it’s more than fine to use his writings as a basis of our beliefs and practices. I venture to say some might think that Heresy — and rightly so.
I would like to postulate that, for Messianic believers, picking-and-choosing which books aught to be in the Bible along with following unsaved Jewish writers and teachers don’t give off the proper identification markers. And, perhaps, we should not be inviting these people into our congregations or suggest to those in our congregations that it’s fine to use their teaching materials.
Give it some thought.
Now, let’s suppose:
Suppose you’re on a dessert island and a Kippah and a Prayer Shawl fall into your lap. How would you determine if you could or should wear these?
Suppose also that some tsitsiyot (tassels) without a cord of blue fall into your lap. How would you determine if you could or should wear them?
Suppose also that a Bible falls into your lap, which books would be in it? (Interesting thought isn’t it?) Do we or do we not have a definite Book from God that we are to base our lives and eternity on? I for one don’t want to put myself in the risky position of deciding what’s in and what’s out. It seems to me God took care of this issue awhile ago??
Suppose also that some commentaries fall into your lap. They are written by several different authors. How would you determine which ones you would input into your knowledge base? Which of these authors/teachers would you invite to your desert island congregation to teach and instruct you? Do they need to be saved through the shed blood or Yeshua? Do they need to know which books make up the Inspired Word of God? Do they need to believe in Yeshua as the Way, the Truth, and the Life apart from whom no man comes to the Father?
Is any of this important!?!?
Rituals? Heresies? Should we even care??
Just a few … “thoughts.”