The Bible clearly provides a model for disagreeing with the definitive teaching of the Bible.
I don’t have to provide all the chapters and all the verses of the Bible’s incontrovertible teaching that to be part of God’s people, males are to be circumcised.
Any uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin shall be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant. Genesis 17:14
[… and notice that the Bible’s God gives slaves no choice. The slave is to be circumcised…]
And then, centuries and centuries after consistently abiding by this clear teaching, something happened.
While Peter was still speaking [to the uncircumcised people at Caesarea], the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter said, ‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?’ So he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they invited him to stay for several days. (Acts 10:44-48)
Although the Bible was clear, is clear, that circumcision is essential, the evident reality of God’s action and presence in the lives of the uncircumcised led to breaking the incontestable, consistent biblical requirement.
A synod or council was held (Acts 15) to debate the reality that God was seen active in the lives of those where that activity had been understood not to be possible in this way. The rite of baptism, until then reserved to the circumcised, was extended to the uncircumcised. A great proportion of St Paul’s reflections in his letters in the Bible deal with how all this is possible. The departure from the biblical teaching was not applied rigorously universally. And some, unwilling to go against the Bible, held to the original biblical teaching.
Here then, is a clear biblical paradigm for following a practice that disagrees with the clear teaching of the Bible – a teaching that is ascertained using the best exegetical processes available.
What do you think?
To be continued… at Disagreeing With The Bible Part 3