This article was originally published in the July/August 2009 issue of Plain Truth. Enjoy!
Subj: An urgent message requiring your attention. PLEASE RE. IMMEDIATELY!!!
It has come to our attention that you have been sending questionable and downright dangerous messages to our people. We have tried to give you the benefit of the doubt, but after your last message, we feel this issue must be addressed. John the Baptist we could overlook—he was a strange one, to be sure, and his rants could be attributed to insanity. But the Carpenter—the Carpenter was taking things too far. We are beginning to think you have no regard for the Law of Moses.
We know that you sent Jesus—there’s no use denying that. We did our utmost to convince people he was not associated with you, to salvage what little is left of your good name here in Jerusalem, but he was raising people from the dead, for heaven’s sake! It’s hard to brush that off as a common parlor trick. And then you raised him from the dead—we tried to warn you to leave well enough alone, but did you listen to our wise counsel? No.
And so we are forced to file a list of formal complaints against this Jesus and his followers. (Uneducated rabble, most of them, many with questionable pasts and a vested interest in this “grace” you’re pushing so hard lately. What does THAT tell you, hmm?) They are as follows:
1. They play fast and loose with the law.
We teachers of the law have done our utmost to preserve and protect the law you yourself handed down to our ancestor Moses on Mount Sinai. Our scribes have been meticulous, our adherence above reproach. Even Jesus admitted that we taught the truth—see Matthew 23: 2-3. But he himself showed little regard for the way of life you laid out for us—healing on the Sabbath, allowing capital offenses to go unpunished, touching the unclean, and ignoring the ritual washings.
Jesus and his disciples claim to be following the spirit, or guiding principles, of the law. But you did not give us principals. You gave us the law. And even if the exact specifications you gave our ancestors do seem a bit outmoded in some situations, the law is the law, like it or not. Besides, following principals is risky—what if, even with the best of intentions, we made a mistake and did something wrong? Then how could we be counted as righteous in your eyes? No, it is too dangerous. Better to cling fast to objective, written rules than be blown hither and thither by a living, active Spirit impossible to ensnare in pen and ink.
2. They are undermining the foundations of our families and society.
Well, we hardly know where to begin, here. Jesus and his band of vagabonds was enough—men, women, and children abandoning productive lives to trail him around the countryside like a herd of storm-blown sheep, bleating for their shepherd to lead them to green pastures. His disciples have taken it a step further. Let’s just say that Jesus dining with sinners seems tame when you consider that his followers are WORHIPPING alongside UNCIRCUMCISED GENTILES!!! That traitor Saul even had the audacity to write that as far as you are concerned, there is NO difference between Jew and Gentile, man and woman, slave and free. If that is not an assault on the traditional Jewish household, we don’t know what is.
The damage is already beginning to show—Jews and Gentiles are dining at the same table, masters are treating their slaves like brothers, women are being educated and even entrusted with messages from you. And what is the deal with that, anyways? A woman cannot even stand up and give testimony in court, and yet you thought it was a good idea to send a woman to the Jesus’ disciples, to testify to his resurrection. (One would think the fact that even they wouldn’t believe her would tell you something!) How do you expect women to remain silent when you are forever giving them messages to deliver?
Mark our words—if this is allowed to continue, it will be the end of society as we know it. Racial distinctions will be dismissed as unimportant, slaves will demand their freedom, and women will clamor to be afforded the same rights as men. And we all know we don’t want that to happen.
3. They are selling their possessions and holding everything in common.
Perhaps no one has clued you into this, God, but socialism is a failed experiment. What could possibly motivate people to do anything worthwhile when you are offering everything they need for abundant life free of charge? Believe us, if you don’t make people toil for every scrap of food or approval that comes their way, they will become shiftless good-for-nothings within a generation. People are not motivated by love, they are motivated by money. Regrettable, but true.
In any case, don’t expect us to sell our possessions and dole the money out to pathetic losers looking for a hand-out. We worked hard for our money; it is not easy being a teacher of the law, especially nowadays, and we fully intend on keeping what few benefits we reap from it. Maybe, if a person showed some signs of attempting to pull their lives together, we’d see what we could do to help them. But throwing our time and money after hopeless causes—no thank you!
We could go on and on, but the Sabbath is approaching, and we need to make our preparations. Given the seriousness of the charges against you and your followers, and the fact that you are not content to sit in submission under our teachings, we are left with no option but to ask you to leave our fellowship. You may scoff and wonder how a religion can run without God himself, but I assure you, we have been carrying on just fine without you thus far, and will continue to do so.
The Teachers of the Law