Henry Neufeld spoke on Mark 7:1-8, returning to the previous week’s talk on rules. When introducing the topic, Henry told of people who use scripture to prove that certain disciplinary actions ought to be taken when people break rules. Henry then asked, Just how do we use scripture? The Pharisees generally received ‘bad press’ in the New Testament. Henry, however, described them as part of a reformed movement whose teachings were sound. Pharisees were serious about their faith, they were laity who meditated on the Law and tried to find ways to apply it to their living. In key respects, they were similar to evangelicals of our time. Jesus, however, often had disagreements with this group of devout laity, particularly as the movement of the Pharisees aged and as the small group of their more radical members became rule-bound rather than a vibrant revival movement. Jesus essentially asked those radicals to return to their roots, to re-examine why they had rules and not just follow them slavishly. Henry then reminded us that, like some Pharisees, people today want clear answers, and even rules. But if we focus on rules, we will become an angry and misguided people. The bible is not a rule book—it is rather a window on God, who does not coerce us but sets us free. (JEK)
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