meta dynamics

Christ Jesus and the doctrine of inerrancy

April 17, 2005

From: Richard, a disciple of Christ Jesus by a gift of faith by the grace of the Father,

To: Timothy, my beloved pastor at Eagles’ Nest Church,

Regarding: The Doctrine of Inerrancy

Long before I was saved, I grew up in a Jewish community in St. Louis, Missouri. Though most of my childhood friends were Reformed Jews, I also encountered some Orthodox Jews and even some citizens of modern Israel.  For many reasons that I will touch on here, I strongly rejected the Jewish belief in the divinity of Torah (the belief in the inerrancy of the Old Testament) at that time.

In contrast to Torah, I have found Jesus' lessons to be a resounding voice of Truth. For me, this is largely because Jesus, in his famous Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7), criticized and corrected the Torah, and then went on to present an ethical view so far reaching and so beautiful that I fully believe it must represent the will of God.

Because of this, I have struggled with our Church's doctrine of inerrancy.  After further investigation, I have developed a strong conviction that Christ Jesus came and risked his life, in part, to correct the errors and misunderstandings of the Old Testament.  This letter is my attempt to share with you the key passages of our savior's Holy Word which convey this revelation.

First, I will start with Christ's own introductory proclamation regarding the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17), which is often cited to demonstrate Christ’s belief in the inerrancy of the Old Testament, and I will show that the common translation of this passage is taken out of context, and that the word most commonly translated as fulfill, is better translated as restore, complete and fulfill.  Only then does this introductory proclamation coincide with the other messages addressing the Torah that are contained in The Sermon on the Mount.

Next, I will cover the six specific topics regarding the Law and the Prophets that Christ clarified and corrected immediately following his introductory proclamation. These six topics are:

  • Murder, where He provides a deeper understanding of the Law of Moses, by teaching us the dangers of anger,

  • Adultery, where again He deepens our understanding of the law, by teaching us the dangers of lust, and also, during his ministry, demonstrates that the capital punishment required by Torah is not God's will,

  • Divorce, where He teaches that the Law of Moses is a law written by men, even though the Torah claims it was written by God, and that the law and the claim that the law originated from God are in error,

  • Oaths, where He teaches that the Law of Moses offends God and that the law is in error,

  • An Eye for an Eye, where He teaches that the Law of Moses opposes God's will, blocks the path to the Kingdom of Heaven, and is in error, and

  • Hating your Enemies, where He teaches that the spirit of several of the Psalms is in error, and that this inappropriate spirit blocks the path to the kingdom, which requires us to love our enemies and forgive their transgressions.

In each case, Jesus deepens our understanding of God's will, and in five of the six cases he specifically points out errors in the written word of the Old Testament, itself.
These six points provide the complete context for Matthew 5:17, making the True intent of His message clear: Jesus came to restore, complete and fulfill the Law and the Prophets, not to declare the existing texts inerrant.

After this discussion of The Sermon on the Mount, I will cover other well known corrections that Jesus made to the written law during his ministry, including corrections to:

  • The Ten Commandments, where He provides essential clarifications and teaches that many of the ritual sacrifices and punishments required by the Law of Moses are in error,

  • The Treatment of Rebellious Sons, where, through His parable of the Prodigal Son, He teaches that the harsh Law of Moses is far from God's heart and is in error,

  • The Law of the Sabbath, where He teaches that the Law of Moses has forgotten the true purpose of the Sabbath, and that the punishments proscribed in the Law of Moses are in error,

  • And The Cleanliness Laws, where He teaches that the Law of Moses strains gnats while swallowing camels, and that the laws are in error.

I am sure that all of Jesus’ teachings will be quite familiar to you; however, I am also sure that the direct quotations from the Old Testament books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy and Psalms will help illuminate Christ’s True message: that the written Word contains errors, and that only Christ’s restored commandments define the straight and narrow path, which can lead us all to the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Introductory Proclamation of
Christ Jesus On the Law and the Prophets

Jesus testified that God’s inspiration permeated the Law and the Prophets, and in The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaimed:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV [emphasis mine]

The word fulfill seems to suggest that Jesus came to fulfill prophecy, but as we look back at the Greek root word, plhrwsai (plerosai, Strong’s Index 4137 pleroo, related to pleroma), translated as fulfill in the above passage, we see that Jesus’ meaning in this passage is not so clear.  Strong’s Index lists all of the following translations as possible meanings for the last word in the passage:

Literally to make replete/complete, i.e. (literally) to cram (a net), level up (a hollow), or (figuratively) to furnish (or imbue, diffuse, influence), satisfy, execute (an office), finish (a period or task), verify (or coincide with a prediction), etc.:--accomplish, X after, (be) complete, end, expire, fill (up), fulfill, (be, make) full (come), fully preach, perfect, supply.

When we study the rest of the context of his message that this proclamation introduced in The Sermon on the Mount, we discover that Jesus meant that he would restore, complete and fulfill the Law and the Prophets; He would provide their full and correct meaning and eliminate the errors in their current understanding (Restore the Truth); He would add teachings to them to complete them (Complete the Path); and He would serve as a perfect example of how to live by them (Fulfill the Law; Provide the Light).

It is only this restored and completed Law that Jesus proclaims will never perish and that he wants us to take as our foundation of rock.

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to restore, complete and fulfill them.

Matthew 5:17 Revised NKJV

Jesus also taught us (through parables) that he could not restore (repair) the written Law and the Prophets (damaged old cloth) by adding New Teachings (new cloth from a new garment).

"No one puts a piece from a new garment on an old one; otherwise the new makes a tear, and also the piece that was taken out of the new does not match the old.

Luke 5:36 NKJV

Furthermore, Jesus warned that he could not provide the new Spirit (new wine), to those who were predisposed to the old beliefs regarding the Spirit (those having drunk old wine).  Jesus said his teachings were meant for the open minded (new wineskins), who were flexible enough to accept the new Holy Spirit (new wine).

And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, and the wineskins will be ruined.  But new wine must be put into new wineskins, and both are preserved.  And no one, having drunk old wine, immediately desires new; for he says, "The old is better."

Luke 5:37-39 NKJV

His new Holy Spirit (new wine) was not compatible with the damaged remnants of the Old Written Law (old wineskins), which were upheld by the scribes and Pharisees, and which Jesus proclaimed no longer contained the path to the Holy Spirit and to the Kingdom of God (the wineskins were empty; the path to the kingdom was blocked).

"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

Matthew 23:13 NKJV [emphasis mine]

"Woe to you experts in the law, because you have taken away the key to knowledge. You yourselves have not entered, and you have hindered those who were entering."

Luke 11:52 NIV [emphasis mine]

To summarize, the line often quoted from Matthew 5:17 as an argument for Jesus' belief in the inerrancy of the Holy Scriptures is actually an introductory proclamation by Jesus that the Holy Scriptures of the Old Testament are errant and no longer present the true Law and the Prophets.  As we shall discover, the remainder of His famous Sermon on the Mount makes this quite clear:

Jesus came to restore, complete and fulfill the Father's eternal law, and thereby illuminate the path to the Kingdom of Heaven.

On Murder

The Old Testament law regarding murder is summarized below, in the following quotations from Exodus:

And God spake all these words, saying, ".... Thou shalt not kill."

Exodus 20:13 KJV

And God spoke all these words: ".... You shall not murder."

Exodus 20:13 NIV

Then the LORD said to Moses, ".... These are the laws you are to set
before them: .... Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death.  However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate.  But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death."

Exodus 21:12-14 NIV

Immediately after His introductory proclamation, Jesus began his lesson on the Law and the Prophets with the following discussion of murder:

You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.'  But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment.  Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca', is answerable to the Sanhedrin.
But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.

Matthew 5:21-22 NIV

In this, the first of Christ's lessons regarding the Law and the Prophets, Jesus provides the deeper meaning of the law against murder: that anger is at the root of murder and many other related sins, and anger is what endangers us to hell fire.  Jesus does not find error in the old law, but he completes it, by teaching us that we must control our anger and seek to live in harmony with our neighbors to serve the Kingdom of God.

The Old Testament law prohibits murder, but makes no reference to the dangers of anger.  Jesus teaches us that anger is the root cause of murder and many other sins (including assault), and warns us that uncontrolled anger leads to hell fire.  So immediately following his introductory proclamation regarding the Law and the Prophets, Jesus taught us that the Old Testament law was incomplete.

On Adultery

Next in The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus turned his attention to the subject of adultery.  The Old Testament law concerning adultery is summarized below in a passage from Leviticus. The Old Testament claims the law is based on a direct communication from God.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, ".... And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death."

Leviticus 20:10 KJV [emphasis mine]

In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus again makes the law fuller, by extending the prohibition to its cause: an adulterous heart.

You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart....

Jesus, Matthew 5:27-28 NSRV

By demonstrating a fuller context for the law, Jesus clarifies the message he gave in Matthew 5:17; he came to make the law fuller, not to fulfill prophecy. Still, one might argue that this is not an error in the old law, merely a clarification.

Beyond this clarification, Jesus is again confronted with the laws concerning adultery in the book of John. Here he subtly disputes the law, indicating that it is not God’s will that the woman surely be put to death:

They said to him,

Teacher, this woman was caught in
the very act of committing adultery.

Now in the law Moses commanded us

to stone such women.

Now what do you say?

. He straightened up and said to them,

Let anyone among you who is without sin

be the first to throw a stone.

John 8:3-7 NSRV

The narrative goes on to show that Jesus does not condemn the woman, showing that the law demanding her condemnation and death was not God’s will, and was in error.

Jesus straightened up and asked her,
Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?

No one, sir, she said.

Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared.

Go now and leave your life of sin.

John 8:10-11 NIV

One might argue that somehow the will of God changed over time as a result of humankind’s failures. This is the sort of confused doctrine that results from the insistence that the Old Testament is inerrant. God, and therefore Jesus, knew the hearts of men from the beginning of Creation, so His message here couldn't be any clearer:

I.  The Old Testament said God commands us to surely put adulterers and adulteresses to death.  Jesus demonstrated that the punishment for adultery proscribed by the Old Testament law is not God’s will; Jesus showed us that mercy is God's true will. Jesus showed us that the Old Testament is in error.

On Divorce

The next topic Jesus addressed in The Sermon on the Mount was divorce.  Though Jesus only subtly corrected the laws concerning adultery, his corrections to the Old Testament law concerning divorce were fundamental. Deuteronomy states:

When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it comes to pass that she finds no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

Deuteronomy 24:1 KJV

In Mark’s gospel, Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees with the law concerning divorce:

Some Pharisees came and tested him [Jesus] by asking,
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?

What did Moses command you? he [Jesus] replied.

They said, Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.

It was because your hearts were hard that Moses wrote you this law, Jesus replied. But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one.

Therefore what God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Jesus, Mark 10:6-9 Hybrid KJV/NIV [emphasis mine]

Jesus here says that the law was written by Moses, not by the Father, and claims that it is simply wrong. This is a critical revelation, because Jesus is attesting that many remarks attributed to the Father in the Old Testament are not from the Father at all, but are simply the laws of men.

Again, Jesus directly opposed the Old Testament law in The Sermon on the Mount:

It was also said, Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce. But I say to you that anyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of unchastity, causes her to commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Jesus, Matthew 5:31-32 NSRV

II.  The Old Testament says that a man can divorce his wife over minor issues; Jesus said, "What God has joined together, let no man put asunder."
Jesus taught us that the Old Testament is in error.

On Oaths

Next, Jesus taught us about the taking of oaths.  The Old Testament instructed people to make oaths in the name of the LORD, and to obey them out of fear:

Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: .... You must fear the LORD your God and serve him.  When you take an oath, you must use only his name.

Deuteronomy 6:13 KJV

However, Jesus, in The Sermon on the Mount, instructed us to be truthful in our hearts. Jesus stated that by making vows before God, we show disrespect to him in an attempt to establish credibility for our sinful selves.

Again, you have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, "You shall not swear falsely, but carry out the vows you have made to the Lord."

But I say to you, Do not swear at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one [self].

Jesus, Matthew 5:34-37 NSRV

III.  The Old Testament told us to make oaths to the LORD; Jesus taught us not to make oaths to the LORD, but to be truthful in our hearts. Jesus taught us that the Old Testament is in error.

On an Eye for Eye

The next point Jesus addressed in The Sermon on the Mount was the law of retribution.  The Old Testament frequently recommended retaliation in kind, in an effort to cause obedience by means of fear:

And God spake all these words, saying, .....  Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.....  And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Exodus 21:23-25 KJV

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,.... And if a man cause a blemish in his neighbour; as he hath done, so shall it be done to him; breach for breach, eye for eye, tooth for tooth: as he hath caused a blemish in a man, so shall it be done to him again.

Leviticus 24:19-20 KJV

And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 19:20-21 KJV

Deuteronomy 19:21 is especially harsh, because it demands that there be no pity, and also states that the direct goal of this law is to cause people to fear retribution.

Fortunately, Jesus took exception to this portrayal of God’s will. Jesus demanded more than forgiveness; he demanded love and support of the transgressor, both in his discourse on the Law and the Prophets and in The Lord’s Prayer, both of which come from The Sermon on the Mount:

You have heard that it was said, "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you.

Jesus, Matthew 5:38-42 NSRV

After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil;
For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, for ever. Amen.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Jesus, Matthew 6:9-15 KJV [emphasis mine]

IV.  The Old Testament said show no pity, induce fear, and take an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a life for a life; Jesus taught us that the pathway to the Kingdom of Heaven required the forgiveness of transgressions. Jesus taught us that the Old Testament is in error.

On Hating Your Enemies

The final topic that Jesus addressed directly after his introductory proclamation regarding the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 5:17) was hating your enemies.  The Psalms contain numerous requests for God to condemn the enemies of Israel, due to their unrighteousness:

Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!

Psalm 3:7 KJV

I chased my enemies and caught them; I did not stop until they were conquered. I struck them down so they could not get up; they fell beneath my feet. You have armed me with strength for the battle; you have subdued my enemies under my feet. You made them turn and run; I have destroyed all who hated me.

Psalm 18:37-40 KJV

Perhaps the most scathing Psalm, teaching the doctrine of hatred, is the following:

O LORD, shouldn't I hate those who hate you? Shouldn't I despise those who resist you? Yes, I hate them with complete hatred, for your enemies are my enemies.

Psalm 139:20-21 KJV [emphasis mine]

Here, those that oppose the LORD are to be treated with complete hatred. Though obviously, this is not the general teaching of the Old Testament, still clearly it is the teaching of this Psalm.

Jesus was aware of this flaw in the scriptures, and addressed it during The Sermon on the Mount:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.

Jesus, Matthew 5:9 NIV

You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy."

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.

Jesus, Matthew 5:43-45 NSRV

V.  The Old Testament told us to hate the enemies of the Lord; Jesus taught us that the peacemakers were the children of God, and that the path to the Kingdom of Heaven involves loving your enemies. Jesus taught us that the Old Testament was in error.

On The Ten Commandments

Christ's corrections to the Torah were not restricted to The Sermon on the Mount. During his earthly ministry, Jesus clarified, corrected and provided insight into many other aspects of the Old Testament law.  In presenting His new teachings, Jesus showed great respect to the original divine teachings of the Mosaic Law.  With regards to the following two commandments Jesus gave his full support, elevating them to the forefront of his teachings.

And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV

Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself.  I am the LORD.

Leviticus 19:18 KJV

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment.

And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Jesus, Matthew 22:37-40 NIV [emphasis mine]

With this greatest teaching, Jesus gave us the foundation for discerning the Truth of God's law.  For any commandment that is not derived from the commandment to love God and to love that which God loves, is not of the Father.

Jesus also gave witness to the divine origin of the Ten Commandments, though (1) He chose to clarify the first three commandments as loving God with all your heart, mind and soul, and (2) He also clarified the prohibition against coveting, equating it with loving your neighbor as yourself:

If you want to enter [eternal] life, obey the commandments."

"Which ones?" the man inquired.

Jesus replied, "'Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother', and 'love your neighbor as yourself.' "

Matthew 19:16-19 NIV [emphasis mine]

These two clarifications dramatically improve our understanding of the Old Testament law, shown below.

Exodus 20:2-17 KJV

The original form of the first three commandments suggests that God is jealous and vengeful; the greatest commandment makes God's meaning quite clear.  In addition, the clarification of the tenth commandment increased our understanding and greatly expanded its scope, while elegantly reducing it to its essential elements.

On Punishments related to The Ten Commandments

While Jesus' restoration may have only clarified the written text of The Ten Commandments, we will soon see that He was fully against the system of punishments proscribed for the violations of these commandments; punishments that The Old Testament also proclaimed to be direct commandments of God.  

We have already discussed Jesus' teachings concerning "an eye for an eye".   Some other Old Testament punishments are shown below:

If a member of the community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD's commands, he is guilty.  When he is made aware of the sin he committed, he must bring as his offering for the sin he committed a female goat without defect.

Leviticus 4:27-27 NIV [emphasis mine]

If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to death.
He has cursed his father or his mother, and his blood will be on his own head.

Leviticus 20:9 NIV [emphasis mine]

If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.

Leviticus 20:10 NIV [emphasis mine]

Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out.

Leviticus 20:22 NIV [emphasis mine]

Where the Old Testament demanded ritual sacrifices and harsh punishments to induce fear, Jesus taught us:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.

Jesus, Matthew 7:1-5, KJV

Mercy, Not Sacrifice
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.

Jesus, Matthew 5:7 KJV

But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’
[Hosea 6:6]   For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.

Jesus, Matthew 9:13 NKJV [emphasis mine]

If you had known what these words mean, 'I desire mercy, not sacrifice', [Hosea 6:6] you would not have condemned the innocent....'

Jesus, Mathew 12:7 NIV [emphasis mine]

And Forgiveness
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Jesus, Matthew 6:14-15 KJV

VI.  The Old Testament told us that ritual sacrifices and harsh punishments would induce fear, so people would obey the law; Jesus taught us that non-judgment, mercy and forgiveness were the True path of divinity.  Jesus taught us that the Old Testament is in error.

On Rebellious and Prodigal Sons

Everyone is familiar with the fifth commandment, which tells us to honor our father and mother, but few remember the Old Testament law regarding disobedience to this commandment:

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, .... All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense.

Leviticus 20:9 KJV

The Old Testament even includes a hypothetical case study referred to as “The Rebellious Son” in some translations of the Bible.

Suppose a man has a stubborn, rebellious son who will not obey his father or mother, even though they discipline him.

In such cases, the father and mother must take the son before the leaders of the town.  They must declare: ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious and refuses to obey. He is a worthless drunkard.’

Then all the men of the town must stone him to death.  In this way, you will cleanse this evil from among you, and all Israel will hear about it and be afraid.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 KJV [emphasis mine]

The case study gives specific instructions to parents to abandon their lost children, and states that the goal of the law is to cleanse Israel and to maintain fear.

How did Jesus respond? Virtually everyone is familiar with Jesus’ parable of “The Prodigal Son”, but few realize that the parable is presented in direct opposition to the proscribed law and hypothetical case study presented in the Old Testament. At the end of the parable, the self-righteous son asks his father to explain why he rewarded his rebellious son (who by law should have been killed):

But he answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes; you killed the fatted calf for him!”

Then the father said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he once was lost and now he’s found.”

Luke 15:29-32 Edited NSRV

VII.  The Old Testament taught condemnation of youthful transgressions and the absolute authority of parents; Jesus taught the everlasting, long-suffering love of the Father, the forgiveness of sins, and the celebration of the returning lost sheep.  Jesus taught us that the Old Testament was in error.

On the Sabbath

Another area of the Old Testament law that Jesus addressed during his ministry was the keeping of the Sabbath.  Once again, everyone is familiar with the fourth commandment, urging us to keep the Sabbath Holy, but few are familiar with the punishment imposed on those who violate Shabbat.

One day while the people of Israel were in the wilderness, they caught a man gathering wood on the Sabbath day. He was apprehended and taken before Moses, Aaron, and the rest of the community. They held him in custody because they did not know what to do with him.

Then the LORD said to Moses, The man must be put to death! The whole community must stone him outside the camp. So the whole community took the man outside the camp and stoned him to death, just as the LORD had commanded Moses.

Numbers 15:32-36 KJV

The Old Testament claims that the LORD commanded Moses to have the whole community stone a man to death for a relatively minor Sabbath violation. What modern man or woman can claim to have not committed such an act?

The Pharisees accused Jesus and his followers of violating the Sabbath numerous times:

And the Pharisees said unto him,

"Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?"

... And he [Jesus] said unto them,

"The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath"

Mark 2:24-27 KJV

And here, once again, Jesus states that the Old Testament does not represent the will of the Father.

VIII.  The Old Testament states that those who violate the Sabbath must surely be put to death; Jesus taught that "The Sabbath was made for man; not man for the Sabbath".  Jesus taught us that the Old Testament was in error.

On Cleanliness Laws

The last area I will present in regard to Jesus' teachings about the Old Testament is the cleanliness laws.

The entire eleventh chapter of Leviticus is devoted to the discussion of clean and unclean food; I will only present the initial portion for this discussion:

Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Give the following instructions to the Israelites: The animals you may use for food include those that have completely divided hooves and chew the cud.

You may not, however, eat the animals named here because they either have split hooves or chew the cud, but not both. You may not eat the meat of these animals or touch their dead bodies. They are ceremonially unclean for you.

Leviticus 11:1-7 KJV

The twelfth chapter of Leviticus addresses child birth and menstruation:

The LORD said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites: 'A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period.  On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised.  Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over.  If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.

" 'When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering.  He shall offer them before the LORD to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood...."

Leviticus 12:1-7 NIV

The thirteenth chapter of Leviticus is devoted to the discussion of infectious skin diseases, and is summarized below:

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron,

When anyone has a swelling or a rash or a bright spot on his skin that may become an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to ... the priest ....

When anyone has an infectious skin disease, he must be brought to the priest....

When someone has a boil on his skin and it heals, and in the place where the boil was, a white swelling or reddish-white spot appears, he must present himself to the priest...

When someone has a burn on his skin and a reddish-white or white spot appears in the raw flesh of the burn, the priest is to examine the spot....

If a man or woman has a sore on the head or on the chin, the priest is to examine the sore, and if it appears to be more than skin deep and the hair in it is yellow and thin, the priest shall pronounce that person unclean....

The person with such an infectious disease must wear torn clothes, let his hair be unkempt, cover the lower part of his face and cry out, 'Unclean! Unclean!'  As long as he has the infection he remains unclean.  He must live alone; he must live outside the camp.

Leviticus 13:1-45 NIV [emphasis mine]

It is also important to remember that anyone who violated these cleanliness laws had to be cut off from their community.

If a man lies with a woman during her monthly period and has sexual relations with her, he has exposed the source of her flow, and she has also uncovered it. Both of them must be cut off from their people.

Leviticus 20:18 NIV

The Old Testament claimed that eating the wrong foods, menstruating, contacting a woman who is menstruating or has menstruated within the last seven days, having a disease such as leprosy, and many, many other acts made you unclean, and consequently, unworthy to take part in community affairs.

In several places in the gospels, Jesus confronted the erroneous nature of these laws (straining gnats and swallowing camels; cleaning the outside of the pot, but not the inside; ). In fact in Mark, Jesus made a straight declaration that the food laws were wrong:

There is nothing from without a man that entering into him can defile him;
but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man.

Jesus, Mark 7:15 KJV

IX.  The Old Testament taught us that eating a slice of ham, being in the company of a woman during menstruation, and being in the presence of lepers defiled a man; Jesus taught us that only a corrupt heart can defile a man.  Jesus taught us that the Old Testament was in error.


At the conclusion of The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says:

Everyone then who hears these words of mine
and acts on them will be like a wise man
built his house on rock.

And everyone who hears these words of mine
and does not act on them will be like a foolish man
built his house on sand.

Matthew 7:24-26 NSRV

Jesus courageously taught his disciples the difference between The Sermon on the Mount and the Old Testament books of Exodus, Numbers, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  Jesus testified that his Father's Holy Word permeated these teachings, but that the teachings of men had been sown there as well.  This letter has discussed nine great errors that Jesus focused on correcting during his earthly ministry to restore the Law and the Prophets; it would be foolish to believe that these were the only ones.

On the authority of Christ's Holy Word, I fully believe the doctrine of inerrancy to be wrong.  I know that this is an unpopular position within our Church and an even more unpopular position within the Christian community in general.  However, the foundation of rock on which Jesus is building his church, was, is, and always shall be Jesus' teachings, and this is where I choose to stand.

Your brother in Christ,

Richard Malina
Metadynamics Ministry

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