The Agora
Bible Articles and Lessons: E

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Errors in Crete

It is quite clear that some professing believers on Crete were not spiritually healthy, nor sober, nor teaching good and beautiful things: "For there are many unruly, and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Tit 1:10,11).

These Jews, many of whom had probably first heard the Truth from Peter at Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2:11), planted the seeds of "Jewish fables" (Tit 1:14)         in Crete. They were guilty of the "foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law" to which Paul refers in Tit 3:9.

It is clear that as far as they were allowed, these Judaistic Christians practiced the rites, customs, and traditions of the written and oral law, and thus maintained their separateness as a people. It is also clear that they, jealous of the traditions of their fathers, ruthlessly opposed any teaching which condemned or supplanted these. A man like Titus, a Gentile whom Paul refused to circumcise, as a "test case", would be "anathema" to such as these.

This "heresy" was characterized by speculative intellectualism and pride. The Jewish intellectuals, confident in their greater knowledge, set themselves on a plane above ordinary believers, and tried to make the blessings of the gospel the exclusive property of the elite. Anyone who stood in their way could expect vigorous and hateful opposition.

Such teachings, whatever they might have been in their details, were dangerous, more because of their irrelevance than because of their falseness. To the extent such doubtful questions and pride-gratifying speculations were pursued, to that same extent emphasis upon true godliness and sobriety and good works must be set aside. This was the danger! And it is still a danger for us today. Even in our age, the Truth has not been immune to crotchets of every sort: profitless discussions about remote types of the law, the quality of the bread and wine at the Memorial meeting, the relation of God's foreknowledge to man's free agency, the exact nature of the benefit Christ received from his own sacrifice, teetotalism, and so forth, and so forth. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges for modern believers is to put such questions as these firmly to the side, and maintain a balanced, sober view of the Truth as a whole. The crowning glories of the Truth shine with the brilliance of the mid-day sun. Let us relegate "the moles and the bats" of mystifying speculation to the caves where they belong. Following Paul's advice to Titus and the Cretans, let us: "... live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of... our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works" (Tit 2:12-14).

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