The Baby with the bathwater

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On the day of Pentecost, Peter descended the stairs from the upper room just as Moses descended Mt. Sinai on Pentecost; 50 days removed from Israel’s slavery in Egypt. So too, Peter descended the upper room on the 50th day removed from Calvary. Oh wait! What? Yep! That’s right.

The 50 days are called the counting of the Omer. During the 50 days that Israel journeyed between Egypt and Mount Sinai, the nation grew in the knowledge of the Lord. They learned to trust Him. Well guess what? The same thing happened on the 50-day journey from the Cross to the upper room. The Apostles and the disciples grew in the knowledge of the Lord as they journeyed toward the upper room.

That’s right, both the Israelites and the Christians traveled for 50 days to Pentecost. Moses descended the mountain and delivered the law written on stone to the Israelites. Peter descended the upper room and delivered the Holy Spirit to the new nation of Christ. What was once written in stone is now written on the believers’ heart; The Living Word.

Moses waited on the mountain for the promise. Peter and the disciples waited in the upper room for the promise. Let’s summarize what happened:

  • Moses received the law and descended the mountain. And he presented the Covenant to the nation of Israel. At Pentecost, Israel ratified the contract between the nation and their God.
  • Conversely, Peter received the promise in the upper room and descended to present the contract to the people, the new Kingdom of God; those gathered at the foot of the upper room. At Pentecost, the followers of Christ received the covenant. And on that day, they ratified the new contract between Christ and the new Kingdom of God.

As Paul said, Christ was our Passover. He was the differentiating between the old and the new. Likewise, our Pentecost revealed the distinction between Moses and Peter.

So, what’s this about?

I wanted to show the parallelism between the Old Testament journey and the Christian journey beyond Calvary. God showed me several years ago, if that’s how you say it, that I needed to focus on the big picture. And, once you see this parallelism between the old and the new, it’s easy to see.

In my book, The Church That Emerged, I built a large narrative on several fronts that bring together a cohesive picture of these parallel journeys. It is really astounding. I needed to see this big picture for myself. So, like it did me, I hope it helps others see and understand, what both the disciples and the Judean’s would have understood at the time of Christ.

Let’s look at what happened immediately after Peter descended the stairs from the upper room. Peter began his speech before the large crowd that had assembled. He needed to clarify that all the disciples that were with him were not drunk; they were filled with the Holy Spirit thus able to speak in multiple languages.  

Those assembled were able to listen to the proclamation in their native tongues. This was incredibly important. They needed to fully understand what it was they would be agreeing to when they ratified the Covenant before God.

What was the first thing the Holy Spirit did in this during this speech? The Holy Spirit translated! There was no sacred language. There was no proclamation of a holy language. Everyone heard in their own tongue. The Gospel of Jesus Christ, this ratified covenant, was to be proclaimed to the entire world and not just Judea. The disciples were commissioned to go forth, preaching this Gospel to people of the world.

(Sidenote: it is important to see this transition. Jerusalem was the center of Judea. It was the center of the Israelite nation. The Gospel is presented to the entire world. Hence the Apostles found it necessary to move their “headquarters” to Rome. Rome was the center of the rest world. The “Chair” (center of authority) transitioned from Jerusalem to Rome.)

So, what’s this about? There is no holy language. The Holy Spirit showed us by translating.

The Baby with the Bathwater

I have grown to take issue with orthodox Christianity. It reminds me of all the different factions and divisions of Jews today. We are either Christian or not. During my Evangelical days, it seemed to be a common yearning to seek out the 1st century church. Nobody even believed it to be in existence today.

Modernism is a fallacy. It sounds good because everyone wants to be modern. However, wisdom is wisdom and that does not change. So, we seek that first church. The deposit of faith was “once delivered” unto the apostles, and onto the saints. There is no need for us to go seeking some sort of new gospel that suits us better. Still, we think we’re smarter. We believe wisdom is transient. In essence, wisdom is what we say it is.

Just as Protestants are seeking the first Church, Catholics are flocking to traditional Masses. While the traditional Mass is extremely important, the Latin is not. This will bring the ire of those devout Catholic Traditionalists, but when they focus on Latin, they are throwing the proverbial baby out with the bathwater. There are far more critical issues that have been lost in the bathwater.

Before we get to that, however, let’s focus on Latin. Latin is formal and it is reverent. Yet, there were 3 languages written on the Cross: Hebrew, Latin, and Greek. Why was that? It was because those were the common languages at the time in Judea. And nothing else. There was no other reason, and tradition doesn’t challenge us.

We need to remember, there are 6 Rites to the Catholic Church. One Rite is not more important to than another, and yet Rome is. The “Chair” relocated to the center of “civilization” at the time. It remains the center of the Christin world today. However, Latin does not.

Within the Latin Rite, there is only one Catholic Church, Roman Catholic. But there are twenty-three other Catholic Churches within the five other liturgical Rites of the Catholic Church. There are Greek speaking Catholic Churches and there are Hebrew speaking Catholic Churches. There are Rites that speak a multitude of languages. Each of these Churches are in communion with the Chair, and the Church at Rome.

 It is easy to believe that each Rite and Church is precious in God’s eyes. And also, that each of these Rites has reverent and God fearing liturgy. There are reverent Spanish Masses and there are reverent Marian Masses, there are Russian Masses and Egyptian Masses. The Chair aside, none are more important than others in God’s eyes.

Yes, Latin Rite Catholics can pray and worship in Latin. That is not the issue. My issue is twofold. First is spiritual pride and the second is what remains beyond the Latin.

Protestant Infiltration

Likewise, Protestantism has been infiltrated by the belief that the Hebrew language is the sacred language. I first encountered this in the nineties. Suddenly there was this overwhelming onslaught of all things Hebrew across what seemed like the entire Protestant landscape.

This was a movement. You could become more “spiritual” by adopting this movement with both hands. There were Star of David necklaces and charm bracelets. There were Jewish prayer shawls. Television pastors decorated their churches and invited guests who would teach all things-Old Testament.

There were documentaries on the coming third Temple. And, calling Jesus, Yeshua, not only became imperative; It made you look more ‘learn’-ed.  And that is what is important. You say Yeshua; I say Yehoshua. There were many more “Hebrew” names for Jesus debated.

The Hebrew Roots movement was, and is far reaching. It’s fingers reaching far into most if not all of Protestantism. It seems to have all permeated from the breakup of the Worldwide Church of God. Herbert W Armstrong’s church splintered into thousands of groups and many new church denominations were formed.

The doctrine, and many of the Worldwide Church of God’s disciples, infiltrated many small churches and independent churches across America. They began teaching the doctrines of the Worldwide Church of God without explaining that that’s what they were doing. And it mostly worked. Christians adopted these doctrines near and far.

I met a young girl, a friend of my sons, who came from one of these small churches. They had a small non-denominational church in a farm community. The church readily ate up everything the new pastor taught. They had no idea how wrong their beliefs were before he came. He clued them. They were hooked.

She came and stayed in our guest quarters, and at one point she asked if she could make a tent and live in it. I asked her to show me where that was in the bible. She tried to show me. We discussed her biblical dilemma. She needed to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, set up her makeshift tent there.

She was not buying it. With Scripture cast to the wind, she needed her tent in south Florida. She had convinced herself she was Jewish. A growing prerequisite within the movement. We discussed many of the dogmas she had adopted while she stayed with us.

She lived everything Jewish while claiming she was a Christian. She was a Nordic, blue-haired blue-eyed Messianic Jew. Finally, everything had to be Hebrew. Hebrew this and Hebrew that. She believed Hebrew was, and always will be, the sacred language. Period.

I am certainly not against the Hebrew language, or the Old Testament. I wrote a book on it. I’ve studied the Israelite’s journey all the way to Calvary. However, Hebrew is not a sacred language.

This movement puffs you up. I’ve had a lot of contact with it. People seem to rise above others. They know something you don’t know. It is spiritual pride. Sometimes haughtiness. I am familiar with spiritual pride. God has dealt with me about it before in my past.

Whether Hebrew, or Latin, don’t be a Pharisee!

Spiritual Pride- Don’t be a Pharisee.

Spiritual pride is a personal issue for me. It has reared its head in my life numerous times, so I may be over sensitive to it. It’s a matter of, “oh, you have to do this, or you have to do that, to be ‘spiritual’.” You may hear a podcaster beginning their podcast by praying in Latin. You then think, “Oh my do, I have to do that to be more spiritual?”

(Side Note: This is NOT a condemnation of Catholicism or it’s tenets. It is not a condemnation of Moral teaching, and alike. Still, when we make things a ‘law’ when they aren’t, is a problem)

While it is important to teach and practice the Latin liturgy, (I learned it as a kid when I first became an alter boy) it is also important to be mindful of others; to be mindful of where others are spiritually. I was a part of a seeker-sensitive outreach evangelical church. Whether it was our Sunday seeker sensitive service, our Wednesday service, or our small groups, we were always aware of where people were at in our discipleship.

I understand that’s not the Mass. The Mass is something quite different. The Mass is the integral center of our faith, whether Marian, Coptic, or Latin. Sadly, it seems Catholic discipleship is either that you grew up in the Church, someone hits you on the head with the Catechism, or you find new online resources to aid in learning and growing in the faith.

Jesus sought out the children. So did Mary. There have been Marian apparitions in various parts of the world. She appeared to children. She spoke their language. I don’t think she spoke Latin; I think she interpreted in the same fashion as the day of Pentecost. They were kids. We contend for the faith. And The Church commissioned to make disciples of all.

I am constantly reminded…Praying in Latin doesn’t make me more spiritual…And, don’t be a Pharisee.

On to the bathwater.

What is So Important Then

It is the bathwater. It is what remains. It is the Mass. It is our connection to our God. Christ is the bridegroom; we are His bride. He abides in us. We abide in Him. He knows us; we know Him. He gave His life for His bride. Today, He ministers in the Heavenly Tabernacle on our behalf. (We do not wait for a third temple at some future date.)

Let’s identify a few more parallels from the Old Testament. Christ gave himself up as a sacrificial lamb. And today He ministers, unceasingly, at the true Tabernacle, not made with human hands. The High Priest needed a sacrifice, so he offered Himself.

God says these will be my people. They will be a royal priesthood and the holy nation. So here’s a distinction between the old and the new. Only the priests of the Old Testament Tabernacle could eat the lamb. The nation could not. But, that curtain has been torn from top to bottom.

Without getting into the hierarchical nature of the priesthood, we are a royal priesthood. With the curtain rent, we can now enter in and partake of the Lamb. The Lamb of God. The Lamb given once for all. Now, that is quite a difference.

As we enter into the new Tabernacle, or the new sanctuary, we come before the Lord. We come to worship God, so we face the Tabernacle. The priest faces the Tabernacle. This is not about us; this is about Him.

 In this glorious mystery, we approached the altar. With humility and reverence, We approach the Tabernacle of the Lord and kneel in his presence. In this mystery, the body and blood of the sacrificial Lamb is made present for us for the remission of sin.

The priest, in persona Christi, offers the Lamb. The altar boy carefully protects the Lamb from falling to the ground. And, as commanded, we partake of his Body and Blood. From consecrated hands to our tongue, the feast continues.

In all the Rites, in the 24 churches of the Catholic Church, in one accord, in all languages, and every minute that goes by, Christ offers Himself for you and for me; for our sins….Now, that’s something to write home about.

Let us proclaim the good news. Let’s declare it from the rooftops.

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