Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Dietary Laws and Pork

So there are people out there seeking to deny even that the Dietary Laws don't apply to Christians.  Especially in regards to Pork.

They say Acts 10/11 isn't about food at all.  That is indeed not the main point, the main point is about not excluding Gentiles.  But the fact remains Jesus told Peter to Eat.

Even under the Old Testament it was not something required of Gentiles.  If you were not circumscribed dietary laws didn't apply to you.  Pork is included in no scholar's version of the hypothetical Noahide Laws.  The only dietary law to predate Moses is the law against eating live animals and drinking blood from Genesis 9.

I'm fully aware that it actually is healthy to follow the dietary laws.  Pork isn't healthy.  The issue is beneficial vs unlawful.  In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul says "all things are lawful unto me but not all things are beneficial".  People want to take the last part as undermining the first, but it's only in regards to Biblical Laws people play that game.  The fact that it's legal to smoke tobacco but not healthy doesn't mean cops are gonna arrest you anyway.  (They might actually under our horribly corrupt government but that's not how a just legal system works).  The ramifications for doing something unhealthy is that your health will be hurt.  Nothing more and nothing less.

They point to lots of references to Pigs being a favorite animal to use in pagan sacrifices. (I didn't see any sources but I'll take their word on it for now).  Then point to the commands not to eat foods sacrificed to animals and say, that means Pork.

No, it means don't eat the meat of an animal sacrificed to an idol.  Sacrificial meat does get eaten, including in Biblical sacrifices.  Pig, lamb, beef, or even vegetables doesn't matter eating food offered to idols we are told we shouldn't do.

It doesn't mean any animals considered eligible for a pagan sacrifice.  Lots of the same animals that are Biblically clean were eligible also.  Especially Bulls, I've read a lot in the past about Bulls in pagan sacrifices.  In Egypt bulls were offered to Apis their bull god.  Apis was probably what inspired the Golden Calf, which in turn inspired Jeroboam's calf Idols he built at Bethel and Dan.

But even on the subject of meats sacrificed onto Idols, Paul clarifies.
1 Corinthians 8:4 "As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one."
 1 Corinthians 10:25-26 "Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake: For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.  If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.  But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that showed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:  Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
We're to refuse to eat it only if we're specifically told it was offered to an Idol  And the issue is setting an example, not the meat itself.   These same teachers of Paul are discussed in this article.

Now I've seen people say that "The Jews didn't even think of Pork as food" to try and render verses like the above irrelevant.  If it wasn't thought of as something eligible to be food God would never have commented it in any dispensation.  Just as he never goes out of his way to condemn eating dirt or feces.

Rob Skiba, who is actually the main person I've had in mind this entire post (and some guests he's had on his show), actually refers to when Antiochus Epiphanes offered a Pig on the Altar as if that event is recorded in the Book of Maccabees.  It's not, I've read first and second Maccabees, there is no reference to a pig being offered there.  There is no verification Anitochus was personally in Jerusalem at all when the Idol was consecrated.  It refers to sacrifices to the Idol on the Altar but not what kind of animal was sacrificed.  Since second Maccabees implies it was Dionysus festivals celebrated in the Temple, it seems more plausible the sacrifices made were animals sacred to Bacchus.

Nor is the whole Menorah burring for 7 days on 1 days worth of oil story in them. Nor is either incident mentioned in the Biblical authentications of Hanukkah, not in Daniel not in Haggai not in John 10.  Both events would be included in the Epic miniseries I want to make about the Maccabean Revolt, because they're things the audience will want to see.  But their historical foundation is non existent, they're more pharisaic fables.

Now I don't want to accuse Rob of lying, but it's difficult when he specifically says the Book of Maccabees defines the Abomination of Desolation as being when the Pig was killed on the Altar. Maccabees doesn't mention a Pig but it mentions the Idol, Dios Olympos placed in The Temple.  The Hebrew word for Abomination used in Daniel isn't the one from Leviticus 18 that can mean any unclean act, it's the one used when it's a derogatory term for the Idol itself, like in 1 Kings 11.

That was the first Abomination of Desolation.  The future one will be a Man deifying Himself in the Holy Place.  Proclaiming himself to be God. In the Holy of Holies.

If the Pig being offered did happen.  That it was a Levitically unclean animal only added insult to injury.  The point was it was an offering made to an Idol.

I did find a reference to Swine's Flesh being sacrificed in I Maccabees.  But it's not directly connected to the Abomination, to the Temple or said to be something Antiochus did personally.  However I did find in Josephus Antiquities of The Jews Book 12 Chapter 5 a reference to Antiochus sacrificing Swine's Flesh on the Altar, and a similar claim exists from a Pagan POV in Diodorus Siculus.  None of that changes that the Abomination of Desolation is defined as being the Idol, not the Swine's Flesh.

Now they go on to insist that eating Pork isn't even discussed in Acts 15 as something those Gentile believers were doing.  That's irrelevant.  In the end there are only three restrictions we are held to.  No idolatry, no prostitution (that is what fornication meant in 1611 and what Proneia means in Greek) and no eating Blood.

Eating Blood was distinct from the other dietary laws.  Being the only one with a basis that goes back to Genesis 9.  And likewise it is in Acts 15 treated as distinct from the food offered to Idols.

These people trying to undermine how we aren't under the Law of Moses like to say things like "does God change" as if saying yes to that would be a horrible heresy.  Actually The Hebrew Scriptures record God repenting (repent means a change of mind) many times.  I point this out elsewhere to refute those who think repent always means repenting of Sin.  He repented in Numbers and He repented of what he was going to do to Nineveh in Jonah.

It's actually a Gnostic heresy to see God as completely unchangeable.  Augustine of Hippo was a Gnostic and the main thing keeping him from converting to Christianity was that he was uncomfortable with the Old Testament depicting an emotional God who sometimes changes his mind.  It was when Ambrose convinced him those emotions could be allegorized away that he became a Christian but brought much of his Platonism and Gnosticism with him.  And thus both Catholicism and Calvinism were born.

When God makes a Promise or a Covenant or swears an Oath then He won't change on that.  Which is why you can be assured you are saved by faith and salvation can't be lost.  So yes in certain senses God doesn't change as Malachi said, but Calvinists take that verse out of the grander context of Scripture.

Specifically on the idea of God changing what people are or are not allowed to do.  That He does change those can be proven form The Torah alone.

Before The Flood we weren't allowed to eat meat at all, not just certain meats, read Genesis 1 and 2 carefully.  After The Flood God gave Noah permission to eat animals.  We have this movement of people acting like it's insulting to The Torah to suggest a restriction on Pork could be lifted, but an even bigger restriction was lifted in Genesis.

God ordained Capital Punishment in Genesis 9, when in Genesis 4 he goes out of his way to protect Cain form being killed for his murder.  Now I believe it's disallowed again.

Abraham was married to his Sister and it wasn't a problem.  Adam and Eve's first children only had that option.  But brother-sister incest was condemned in Leviticus and Deuteronomy.  1 Corinthians 5 I feel shows that Incest restrictions still apply.  But that was not a purely ceremonial or cleanliness issue.

So yes Malachi says God doesn't change.  But the greater testimony of Scripture shows what is and isn't legal clearly is not what is meant by that.

The dietary laws are exactly the issue in Romans 14.  Where Paul goes on to explain not to judge someone either way on keeping or not keeping the dietary laws.

That is important. There is in response to people like Skiba, others, (like the pastor I do not name) who want to act like it's a Sin to keep any Jewish laws.  That is absurd, to suggest you can Sin by following Jesus example in observing Passover, Tabernacles and Hanukkah.  These people are the other side of the same coin.  So I've coined the phrase Reverse-Legalism.

As long as you're not under any delusion that it matters one way or the others to your Salvation keeping the Jewish laws is fine, imposing them on others is not.  Colossians 2:16 makes clear not to let any man judge us either way in regards to "meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days."  Now the Reverse-Legalists will point to the next verse calling them mere shadows of things to come.  That does mean we don't have to keep them, but we can observe them as long as we remember that are fulfilled in Jesus.

Back to regular legalists, they engage in the Lexical fallacy by wanting to read 1 John 3:4 into every verse that uses the word Sin.

They also objects to the word legalist, saying it should only be used of Judaizers.  The word Judaizer I would only use of Judaizers, but I tend not to use it at all because I don't want to sound anti-semitic.
Legalism is an illness with three levels, each level can manifest differently.

The top level is believing the Law particularly circumcision is required for Salvation.  The Judaizers were top level.

Middle is thinking it's needed to keep salvation or to prove salvation, hence denying Eternal Security.  And I include "perseverance of the saints" as a denial of Eternal Security.

The low level is I think where Rob Skiba is, he's certainly not top level. Saying that the Law is needed for qualifying as a good faithful Christian.  That too is wrong, at the Bema Judgment we'll be judged based on our obedience to The Holy Spirit, not keeping a written law code, yes I mean even specific New Testament commands when I say that.

Low level can be harmless.  But I know people who started there and were in time lured into the higher more dangerous levels.

The Law of Moses was always imperfect.  Now it is done away with.  Jesus fulfilled the Law by living a perfectly sinful life.  Now the Law is written on our Hearts not in Stone.

As commander William Riker once said "When has Justice ever as simple as a rule book".

If The Holy Spirit is personally convicting you to do or not do something then you should listen.  But the Holy Spirit has different plans for each individual.  The Spirit convicts me often, but my enjoyment of Pork it doesn't convict.

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