“The Lord says: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish, the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish.” (Reference: Isaiah 29:13-14 )
Usually I can discern the connection between the themes that the editors of Reading the Anabaptist Bible have determined and the scripture passages. But with the theme of “Human Law” I confess the connection has alluded me – until today. The scripture, as it appears is their book, uses the term “human commandment learned by rote” in place of “rules taught by men”. And for me that makes plain the connection.
It is hard to know then if “Human Law” is a good thing or not. Yesterday, when images/pictures were used in place of words, that determination was not needed. Images are – it is human judgment that decides if they are good or bad. Of course, with some images that judgment is easy, instant, and unquestionable. With other images it is more nebulous. (But trust me beloved, I would not chose pictures that would offend.) The day before that, Oct 2 and the first day of this theme, I focused on the idea of not adding, taking away, or altering God’s word; while I did not say it then, it occurs to me that we often change God’s words like it was a set of clothes that did not quite fit.
The historic Anabaptist quoted today, Balthasar Hubmaier, contend that the religious leaders of the established church in his time altered scripture to fit with their own personal beliefs – one of which was infant baptism. Hubmaier said, “I test the holy fathers, councils, and human teachings by the touchstone of Holy Scripture, 1 John 4:1.” And not finding infant baptism in scripture, did not feel it should be done. Hubmaier also said, “For one honors God in vain with human teachings, Isa. 29:13; Matt. 15:9.”
That might well be the point and meaning of this theme – does human law or teachings match and reflect God’s law and teachings? And it is very true that when human law and teachings – that is, human wisdom – tries to match or best God’s wisdom, human wisdom will fail each time. But if human wisdom is guided by God’s (which the historic Anabaptists felt they did and most every other human religion thinks it does, and tries to do) then we are on safe ground.
We have a few more days with the theme of “Human Law.” Now that we have a firmed grasp on the theme, let us see what the coming scripture as to say. And, as I have said many times before, may God’s wisdom and love guide you every day. Selah!