Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Key to Knowledge and the Lawyers

While lawyers have been among the most influential individuals in our society for over a millennia, lawyers have also always been a source of trouble in society. This was even true in ancient times. Witness Jesus’ discussion with an expert in the Mosaic Law in Luke chapter 12, verses 44-52.
Jesus has just finished discussing some of the errors of the Pharisees when a lawyer pipes up: “One of the experts in the law answered him, ‘Teacher when you say these things, you insult us also.’” Jesus replied:

“And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them. Woe to you, because you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your forefathers who killed them. So you testify that you approve of what your forefathers did; they killed the prophets and you build their tombs. Because of this, God in his wisdom said, I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and others they will persecute. Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all. 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.”

How true this is, not only about lawyers, but frequently about religious people. Especially lawyers and religious people in our own day. So often we take God’s basic rules and in order to create a boundary so that people do not even get close to violating God’s basic rules, we set up a perimeter of extra-biblical and unnecessary rules in a perimeter around the area actually marked off by God’s rules. In the government, in order to achieve specific purposes, we invent complicated regulations. When these complicated regulations prove inadequate or in some way full of loopholes, we do not junk them and go back to having freedom in the area. Instead, we add yet another layer of regulations which likewise prove inadequate. Eventually, there are so many rules and regulations about everything that no one can know what they all are at any given time. We are doomed to live in a world in which all of us probably violate some government rule intentionality on a regular basis without even knowing the rule exists.
Rules become a greater and greater burden but the people who create them do almost nothing to help people comply with them. They have no compassion on the people who are burdened by rule upon rule. Rules help contribute to keeping people poor by making it difficult for them to go into business. Rules prevent social mobility by taking away people’s money and resources as quickly as they’re able to earn money or save resources. Rules distract us from the really important things in life like God and family, and add hours of extra work to our day. Undoubtedly, they were all created with some good and beneficial thing in mind.
I am in no way saying that we shouldn’t have the rule of law or that we don’t need regulations for various activities. But the point is that we tend to make these man-made regulations and rules more and more burdensome without making any provision to either help people abide by them or to provide grace to people who fail to do so. Instead of grace, we currently live in a society that comes to rigidly emphasize “zero tolerance” because it is incapable of making the moral judgments necessary to equitably apply rules with exceptions and justice rather than in a rigid and unjust fashion. We think that treating everyone the same way whether or not they are really in the same circumstances is “equality.”
God’s law is not meant to be a heavy burden, even though we as fallen human beings don’t keep it. But God Himself through Jesus Christ can give us the power to be obedient to His law when we’re willing to choose to use that power to be obedient. We need to commit our lives to Christ and then the Holy Spirit and the Word of God sanctify us and provide us with the ability to be obedient to God if we will but use that ability. And even more important for us, God’s grace is there when we fail to obey His law. Our sins are covered by the blood of Christ and the atonement and forgiveness for our sins has already been made. God not only gave us His law, but He provided a way to obey the law and a way to be forgiven for not obeying the law. He Himself bore our burdens and was punished for our iniquities. Much more, we should have the same attitude with our own human laws as much as we can.

Next, Jesus criticizes the teachers of the law because they build tombs for the prophets put to death by their forefathers. At first, this is a confusing passage. But I think the key is in the fact that God knows why we do things and what the true significance behind our actions is. Undoubtedly, people could build tombs for martyred prophets because they approved of what the prophets spoke. But God knows that these people do not approve of the message of the prophets. Why does He know that they do not approve of it? Because Jesus Himself is the message of the prophets. As the Logos of God, Jesus is the representative to mankind, the intercession to mankind of God’s order, God’s plan, God’s ways, God’s logic, God’s reason, God’s being and God’s communication to us. He is the message of the prophets. When the ancient Israelites killed the prophets, they were rejecting Christ one piece at a time. When the teachers of the law and the Pharisees of Jesus’ day rejected Jesus’ message and identity, they were rejecting the whole of the message of the prophets all at one time. This is why Jesus says that the generation in which He is walking the earth is responsible for the blood of all the prophets—they have rejected the words of all of the prophets just as their forefathers rejected them one at a time in rejecting Jesus, the Word of God. But we shouldn’t gloat or think that they were any better than we were. We too do the same things. Sometimes people reject Christ as a whole and refuse to have anything to do with Him. But at other times, even people who want to be Christians reject a part of God’s truth and a part of God’s message. We put to death a prophet—we refuse to listen to some part of God’s Word and God’s communication. We say that we know and experience a relationship with Jesus, but then we reject who Jesus really was and deny the propositional truths expressed about Him in the Bible. When we do this, we’re effectively putting to death one of the prophets. When we build a great church or a great organization that is fueled by a rejection of part of God’s identity and part of God’s message, we build the tomb of one of the prophets. May God help us to accept the whole of His Word, the whole of who He is and the whole of His divine Logos.

Last in this passage, Jesus mentions that the experts in the law have “taken away the key to knowledge.” They have not used the key and they have prevented other people from using it. What is this key to knowledge? Again, it is Jesus Himself. The Logos of God is the key to understanding the universe. Through the intercession of Christ, God provides the divine light to all human beings. The divine light is that general revelation communication from God that enables us to know or learn anything. It is connected with our being created in the image of God. Without the basic information the God gives us—logic, reason, moral knowledge, the existence of God Himself—we could not make sense out of the universe or understand or know anything. Yet in enlightenment philosophy, human beings arrogantly try to focus and begin with themselves rather than focusing on and beginning with the Logos. They sought to use human reason and human sensation alone to try to develop certain knowledge. But as the successive philosophies of Hobbs, Hume, Neitzche and others make clear, modernism is a failure. If all we do is start with human reason and human sensation from the human perspective, in the end we cannot know and be certain of anything. Only subjective will is left.
It is only when we begin with the Logos, with the key to knowledge, that we can work our way back around to completing the philosophical puzzle as best as human beings can and understand and truly know things through the general revelation and special revelation that God has given us. It is actually the foundation of God’s revelation that makes possible all knowledge whether theological, philosophical, scientific, empirical or commonsensical. Today in the post-modern era, many people have realized the inadequacy of modernism and the empirical philosophy that dominated the modern period. But, instead of embracing the Logos, they have sought an anti-Logocentric philosophy that recognizes man’s ignorance but instead of turning to God, embraces human culture as the ultimate authority. Instead of turning to the objective authority of God’s revelation, many post-modernists seek authority in the will and power of the community. Just as there were many Christians among the moderns, there are still Christians among the post-moderns.
But just as starting with human reason and sensation does not lead to true knowledge, so, too, starting with the will of the community does not lead to true knowledge. Both the human individual as a radically autonomous source and the human community as a self-constructing entity are fallible and no adequate foundation for knowledge, wisdom or truth. In order to enter into true knowledge, we must start with the key to knowledge, with Jesus, the divine Logos, and with the Word of God as revealed in Scripture and made knowable by general revelation. We must bow our autonomous will and the folk tales of our communities to God Himself and to what He has to say to us. Instead of weighing the Bible by either our personal will or desire or our community’s will and desire, we should accept what it says and allow God’s Word to change both our community and ourselves as individuals. This is not to say that there are not hermeneutical difficulties or that our understanding of God’s Word is ever perfect. But it is to say that it is much easier to head in the right direction if you start from the right place and follow the real path instead of wandering all around the countryside. There are enough hermeneutical difficulties and difficulties with human sin even when we make God’s Word the center. We have no fewer difficulties when we make the individual or the community the center. May God guide us into His truth and help us to worship Him in spirit and in truth, recognizing the truth of His Word and seeking after that truth with all of our mind, soul, strength, will and power.

1 comment:

Bo said...

I would like to compliment you on your blog, about lawyers, and the key to knowledge.....Jesus Christ.

Oddly a friend and I talk about the bible often, to his commenting on how lawyers, manipulate the interprepretation of things.

The thing is with me and my friend is, it is said, when I may utilize a point I am trying to make (or comment on) and a verse comes to mind, as is often the case in all my travels (if you abide in me, and my words abide in you)- Jesus...

It is then that he is directed in thought to that being a personal interpretation...and then the comparison to crooked lawyers, with selfish endeavors, and how they manipulate.

The blog made it quite clear, to me at least, how things have been distorted over time by legal folk over history.

Reading your blog brought upon me a wish to go to law school, and learn the PROPER way, (Biblical foundational) of course at 45 that isn't my goal, but it was that interesting.

Ironically there isnt too many feedbacks to your topic.....and I must laugh.

You either made ALOT of folks eat crow, or crumpled their stylish views of lawyers and their imaginations of them. Those who want "We the Government" instead of "We the People".

I also wish that those who are not necessarily a bad apple, to look upon another venue into law, that perhaps has been soured talking through the wrong people....(but if meant to be will be)

Its obvious at a glance that the lawmakers along with the legal system, from Police to the lawyers and all in between or in communion, has been, will be the problem in society, when what they do, is not from a righteous foundation, but a personal "self" one, or as you said, serving community, and NOT GOD.

Though as Paul said, Submit to all authorities, and if one does what is right, one does not have to worry or FEAR those authorities.

Which is sooo true..It does truly protect those who are innocent.

I just wanted to thank you for such a clear descript of what I was trying to say to my friend.

Its not the saying, its where the desire to say it comes from.

John 16-12-15 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Look forward to reading more Thanks again

God bless