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Bugg's Fourth Rebuttal

In Myles’ latest rebuttal, he falls back on several arguments that have already been raised and refuted, without giving adequate (or in some cases, any) explanation as to why those refutations are not valid.  This seems to me to demonstrate the weakness of his overall argument; the audience will have to decide for themselves whether repetition of the refuted is compelling.

However, he does address one of my major arguments in detail, and this is what we will primarily deal with in this rebuttal; that is, my argument that the Mosaic Covenant and the commandments of the Torah should not be confused.  To briefly reiterate my arguments:

  1. The terms of the New Covenant specify that under it we will have God’s Torah written on our hearts (Jer. 31:31-34)—He does not say that He will write a new or different Torah, but the one already known to Jeremiah!
  2. On a previous occasion (that of the Golden Calf) a covenant was broken by Israel’s disobedience and then renewed by God after the intercession of His Prophet, but after the renewal the commandments of the covenant (those written on the stone tablets) remained the same.  Therefore, the breaking and renewal (chadasha in Hebrew means both “new” and “renewed”) of a covenant does not by default change the commandments associated with the broken covenant.
  3. The Apostles as they lived their lives and guided the early Jewish believers clearly taught that the whole Torah was still binding, including circumcision and even the Temple service and “optional” commands like the Nazrite vow (cf. Acts 21). 
  4. And most importantly, Yeshua Himself kept the whole Torah and commanded us to do the same (Mat. 5:17-19). 

To counter this, Myles has once again single-sourced an argument; in this case, he has referred to the Torah itself:  “And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments, and he wrote them on two tablets of stone” (Due. 4:13).  This is actually the same passage from which I derived the symbolism of the broken tablets representing a broken covenant and the new tablets representing a New Covenant—with the same commandments!  That in and of itself constitutes my reply to Myles, and was given many pages ago.  They would keep the Covenant by keeping the Commandments because they had covenanted to keep the commandments (Exo. 19:8, 24:3).  That fact by no means supports the hypothesis that a change or renewing of the Covenant requires or even implies the complete trashing of one set of commandments and replacing them with a new set.

In answer to Myles’ question about the Gentiles who left Egypt, the Torah says that there was a “mixed multitude” that went with Israel (Exo. 12:38), and in that very same passage commands, “One Torah shall be to him who is born at home, and to the stranger who lives as a foreigner among you” (v. 49). 

I must confess that I do not understand Myles’ argument from the word b’rit.  It seems to be simply a restating of his earlier argument from the word “covenant,” but since no argument has been made that the words used in the Torah and Jeremiah are different, I do not see that the Hebrew changes my response any.

Myles next attempts a very rabbinic midrash based on the Transfiguration.  However, his argument falls short on two fronts:  First, one cannot overthrow a p’shat, a plain-meaning interpretation, on the basis of an illustration; one can only use a midrash (teaching, homily, or illustration) to support a plain meaning derived elsewhere.  Thus, for example, I established from the plain text of Jeremiah that the Torah is a part of the New Covenant, and only then pointed to the two sets of stone tablets as an illustration of this truth. 

But secondly, Myles’ whole argument here is based on an imagined tension between the Torah, the Prophets, and Yeshua.  Where in the Transfiguration do we see such a tension?  Nowhere at all.  Yeshua, Moses, and Elijah are described as talking (v. 5) about Yeshua’s mission (Luke 9:31).  If anything, this passage demonstrates the essential unity, the perfect agreement of the Torah, the Prophets, and the Messiah.  That being the case, why would Col. 3:17 suggest to anyone that doing everything in the Name of the Lord Yeshua somehow contradicts keeping the Torah that He Himself kept? 

Myles continues to insist on a “law of Christ” that stands in contrast to the Torah of Moses.  If the two are not in agreement and one must stop following the Torah in order to follow this “law of Christ,” then it follows that Yeshua lied when He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Torah and the prophets.  I have not come to abolish but to make full” (Mat. 5:17).  I know Myles does not mean to call the Lord a liar, but that is the logical conclusion of his argument.

It is also the logical conclusion of his argument that those closest in space, time, and culture to our Lord did not understand the Gospel nearly as well as he, since they went on being “zealous for the Torah” and participating in the Temple worship.  If those who wrote of the “law of Christ” went on keeping the whole Torah, including it’s “optional” parts like the Nazrite oath (remember that when Paul arrived in Jerusalem, there were already four individuals who just happened to already be under the oath, and he himself took it independently some time earlier in Acts 18:18), then on what basis can we separate the Law of the Messiah from the Law that the Messiah, the Divine Presence of Adonai, gave to Moses when He met with him “face to face”?

Myles next argues in a circle.  We have already established that metathesis refers to a movement, not a wholesale abrogation, of the Torah in Hebrews.  I have pointed out that even granting an amendment to the priesthood—specifically, that Yeshua has become our true High Priest (which, by the way, the Torah does not mandate against).  It was in regards to that point that I said, “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?”  Myles offers no new argument here; he simply repeats the already-refuted again—he does not even attempt to address the definition of metathesis, but simply states that the English “change” means whatever he wants it to mean! 

I’m not the one “dodging” this point, Myles.  You are.

Finally, he quotes 2 Co. 3 and asks what “that which is done away with” in v. 11 means.  In response, we note that Paul does not refer to the Torah being done away with (or indeed, at all), but to the ministration of death and condemnation being done away with (vv. 7-10). 

How then does this effect the question of whether the Torah is still binding—that is, whether the Redeemed should still obey it?

Myles may object that the reference to that which is done away with being “glorious” means that it must refer to the Torah, for what could be glorious about condemnation and death?  In answer, it must be pointed out that God’s judgment of sin too is a reflection of His Glory, His perfect judgment and righteousness.  However, the greater glory is reflected not in His power to judge, condemn, and destroy, but in His power to show mercy, redeem, and heal. 

And in answer to his question about v. 15, let us point out that the veil over Moses’ face obscured the Glory of God in him because the people were not ready to see that glory, but it did not prevent them from receiving and following God’s commandments.  In like fashion, most of the Jewish people at present are blinded from seeing the full Glory of God in the Messiah and His redemption of the Gentiles as well as the Jews even though they could still read and observe the Torah (albeit imperfectly).  But when one repents and turns towards the Lord, one sees His full Glory, His perfect work of redemption in history and in the Messiah.

And finally, Myles once again raises the long-refuted argument from Galatians.  This argument has already been answered in full:  If keeping the Torah for any reason at all means the loss of salvation, then not a single Apostle was saved.  Obviously this is absurd.  The actual meaning of this warning was that if one became Jewish (was circumcised) in order to become saved (per Acts 15:1), then Messiah was of no avail—as indeed any attempt to win God’s favor by keeping any law is doomed to fail.

This does not mean that we should not keep His commandments out of love after we are already saved.



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