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Bugg's Third Rebuttal

Myles has affirmed in his most recent argument that the teachings of the Tanakh (the Torah, Prophets, and Writings) are still relevant today – as indeed all Christians who would claim to be Biblical must.  Without the Tanakh there would be no Messiah, no New Covenant, and no Salvation, as we both agree.  However, his attempt to divorce the teachings of the Torah from its commandments really amounts to saying that we should be hearers of the Word, but not doers of it, contrary to Rom. 2:13 and Jas. 1:22.

Myles goes on to attempt to make a great deal out of my admission that the Torah has “changed.”  However, this fails to deal with (or even acknowledge) my point that only a limited part of the Torah—the High Priesthood—has been transferred to the Messiah Yeshua.  However, it does not automatically follow that this change to the priesthood automatically results in changes to “the Sabbath, circumcision, animal sacrifices, and etc.” as well.  Myles’ is committing the error of eisegesis, reading back into the text his presupposition that the Sabbath, Feastdays, circumcision, etc. are done away with by this amendment, not getting such a teaching from the text (exegesis).

Myles, exactly why would a change to the Levitical priesthood, which was established nearly a year after Passover and the Sabbath (the first Feasts) and 430 years after circumcision (Gal. 3:17) automatically affect a change in those as well?  Unless you can provide a solid line of reasoning from the Scriptures, you have to concede the argument.

It is not enough to simply claim, without a shred of Scriptural support, that “All COMMANDMENTS that are not repeated in the New Testament (which are mainly those which are commanded for Jews only) have changed,” as Myles does.  After all and as I pointed out in my debate with Mr. Donahue, the commands against bestiality and incest are nowhere directly repeated in the NT; we have to turn to the Torah in order to find out what constitutes fornication.

Myles might argue that this only shows that we can understand commands directly linked to commands in the NT as also being binding.  Very well, let’s follow that argument:  The Sabbath is repeated in Heb. 4:1-11, as well as in the repeated example of the Messiah and His first disciples.  Tell me, Myles, which is more important: What one says or what one does?  Should we not then emulate our L-RD by doing the deeds He did?

Or for another example, Yeshua commands us to keep the Passover in remembrance of Him; when He says “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me" (Luke 22:20f, 1 Co. 11:25), He is referring specifically to the Cup of Redemption which was served as a part of the Passover, not to the thimbleful of grape juice and scrap of cracker that we euphemistically call the Lord’s Supper!  Likewise, Paul says to keep the Feast of the Passover in 1 Co. 5:7-8. 

What is the most important commandment?  "You shall love the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deu. 6:5, Mat. 22:37).  What we often fail to note is that this commandment does not end there, but continues to explain how we should go about loving our Father: 

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deu. 6:6-9)

Note the clause in bold above.  In traditional Judaism, this is the verse from which the rabbis derive the practice of wearing teffilim (phylacteries) in worship.  However, if we go back to the first time this phrase is used, we find something interesting.  After telling the Israelites to observe Passover and use it as an opportunity to teach their children, God says,

"So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt." (Exo. 13:14-16)

Therefore, binding God’s Word as a sign on our hands and as frontlets between our eyes means to do and look upon symbolic things to remind us of what He has done for us.  Specifically, Israel was commanded to keep the Passover to remind them of how God redeemed their bodies from slavery – how much more should we who God has redeemed from the bondage of sin unto eternal death, especially when He did so on the very day of Passover through an even greater Lamb!

So what about circumcision?  Wasn’t circumcision a requirement for keeping the Passover (Exo. 12:48)?  Indeed it was; the question we must ask ourselves is why?  The answer is that only those who had totally identified themselves with Israel so that it was as if their own ancestors had likewise been redeemed had the right to partake of the Feast celebrating that redemption.  Likewise, we must be totally identified with the People of the Messiah to partake of His Seder (1 Co. 11:29), our hearts being circumcised “without hands” (Col. 2:11).

Note that the idea of having a circumcised heart is not a uniquely New Covenant concept, but is also commanded in the Torah (Deu. 10:16, 30:6).  Therefore, Myles cannot claim this as a change in the Law.  Nor was it a change that the uncircumcised, Gentiles, could be saved, as seen in the examples of Namaan and Nebuchadnezzar and the whole city of Ninevah.  In fact, it was to combat this then-prevailing rabbinic error that the Apostles forbade Gentile believers to circumcise, as explained before. The command to be made righteous by trusting in God alone (Gen. 15:6) preceded (both chronologically and in importance) the command to be circumcised (Gen. 17).  So long as the misperception ruled that one had to be circumcised to be saved, and to be circumcised meant to become a Jew, the two were in conflict. 

In order to preserve both the true way of salvation as commanded by the Torah—by faith—and to preserve God’s promise to call Gentiles—not just proselytized Jews—by His Name, the Apostles had to put the command of faith ahead of the command of circumcision.  They did not annul the Torah by so doing: They actually preserved and upheld it according to its true meaning!

To answer Myles’ use of Jer. 31 and Heb. 8, I have already explained (in my first rebuttal) why a change in covenant does not require, or even imply, a change in the commandments.  Myles has not addressed these arguments in any substantive manner, so this simply amounts to repeating an already discredited position.  Nor does the use of the term “Law of Christ” in the NT imply a “new law,” since Yeshua’s command was to keep even the least of the Torah’s commands (Mat. 5:17-19)!  For this reason, there is no contradiction between belonging to Yeshua and keeping the Torah (even no longer being “under” it), as indeed His disciples all did.

Using any part of James’ epistle to substantiate a “new law” is an exercise in futility, as James specifically wrote to the Jewish believers (the “twelve tribes,” 1:1) and was the Apostle who enjoined Paul to prove that he kept the “old law” by taking a Nazrite vow and making the necessary sacrifices in Acts 21.

And finally, Myles’ attempt to negate my point about his over-reliance on a single source misses the point:  Granted that only John wrote “Jesus wept,” but there are no doctrines that depend on that event alone!  On the other hand, Myles position does result in pitting Paul’s writings against the rest of Scripture—which I demonstrated in my opening statement by showing just how overwhelmingly positive the Bible as a whole views Torah-observance—and indeed, against other writings by Paul and the very way he practiced his faith.

In answer to his assertion that I must follow all of the Torah, I agree: We don’t get to simply pick and choose what we want to follow of God’s commands:  “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jas. 2:10).  That is why we who know the Torah are doubly grateful for God’s Grace.

Again, note that Myles still has not touched on any of my major counter-arguments (see my previous rebuttal), but simply keeps repeating variants of already discredited ones.   He has to either provide an argument that I cannot answer or show why my answers do not work with sound exegesis, or he has lost this debate.



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