HUMAN LAW . . . Honoring the parameters of God’s commandments

See that you do all I command you; do not add to it or take away from it. “ (Reference: Deuteronomy 12:32 )

In studying the Talmud Jewish scholars would be very careful not to add anything to the passages nor take away (not one letter, not one symbol) from passage. But studying and understanding it, discerning what it meant, they did will great glee and sometimes with abandon! I mention this because at times Jews remind me of historic Anabaptists. And, historic Anabaptists remind me of Jews sometimes.

Historic Anabaptist Peter Riedeman wrote, “God did not wish to have heathens in his worship services, [Exod. 12:43; Ezra 4:1-3] nor did he wish his people to learn the ceremonies of the heathen. [Deut. 12:1-3] In fact, he threatened that if they did that, he would do to them as he had intended to do to the heathen. [Num. 33:55-56] For the same reason, at the time of the apostles, unbelievers were not permitted to join the believers. [Acts 5:3-13] Paul, too, separates the faithful from the unbelievers. [Acts 19:9; 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1] Accordingly, we also wish in this matter and in all things, to be worthy to receive with him the promise of the inheritance. This is possible, insofar as it is in us to follow Christ as our Master. With his help we will keep his command and covenant, not turning aside from it to the right or to the left. [Josh. 1:7; 23:6; Deut. 5:32-33; 12:32; Prov. 4:27] May he give us and all others who wholeheartedly want it, his grace to do this, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Modern Anabaptists/Mennonite also strives also to keep the boundaries of faith and Christian living clear and tidy. We had created for ourselves a faith creed/confession that outlines our commonly shared beliefs – at the time of its creation. But that was something written at least one generation ago, and this creed and confession reflects understandings that no longer the way some Mennonites practice their faith. And it has caused problems.

Humanity, no matter how hard we try not to, does add things to the bible when we read it. Jewish scholars might when they interpret scripture. The Mishnah & Midrash are the ommentaries (sort of) on the Torah that have been written over the years. But unlike Christian commentaries they are read as part of scripture reading instead of just used for study. Does this mean something is added to God’s commandments?

The historic Anabaptists added understandings when they read scripture for themselves instead of relying on religious leaders. Does that mean the historic Anabaptists added something to God’s commandments? Did the religious leaders of the established church of that time add something that should not have been? Or did they take something away that the historic Anabaptists added back in?

And what of other religious that are based on the belief of one God? Have they added or taken away from God’s commandments? Because the problem is, beloved, only the Almighty truly and clearly knows what what meant. Anabaptists/Mennonites then and now rely on the inspiration and direction of the Holy Spirit when trying to discern scripture. And that is a fine thing; but still, it is dependent on the discernment of human and so fallible beings.

I have no words of advise on this; no blessing that will insure that a correct and precise understanding is gained. All I can do is ask that the blessing of the Spirit be on your scriptural study and understanding. Selah!