Mark 7:8

You neglect God’s commandments and hold to human traditions.

when in doubt

read revolutionary prophets

old or new

read them aloud

taste their word

the sour bile

the umami hope

the spiced critique

chew their word

the salty phrase

the lingering courage

the forgotten promise

use their word

the negating greed

the raw power

the pervasive suffering

The Isaiah quote in 7:6b–7 was a lead-in to its application in an accusatorial setting. (Yes, questions are a way we can put another on the spot with built-in wiggle room to claim that it was just an honest question, not an accusation.)

The word behind “ignore” is much stronger in that it is active ignoring or “abandon”/”forsake”/ ”leave”. An irony here is the way the early and continuing church prefers to ignore the radical insight of Jesus by declaiming its own oral tradition and deciding certain groups of people are incompatible with their doctrine or teaching.

This insight applies to today’s Church as well as Mark’s. Charles W. Hedrick writes in an article, “The Church’s Gospel and the Idiom of Jesus”, in the Fourth R: An Advocate for Religious Literacy (Volume 30, Number 4, page 5):

Perhaps the most notable shift from Jesus to the church was that the proclaimer became the proclaimed: whereas Jesus proclaimed the Empire of God, the church proclaimed Jesus—specifically his crucifixion and resurrection. And this proclamation became known as “the gospel” in churches that thought of themselves as part of the “universal” (catholic) church. The short of the matter is that Jesus did not proclaim the “gospel” that the church proclaimed. The church’s gospel is couched in the language of religious institutionalism: it is direct, unambiguous, authoritarian, confessional, propositional, and intolerant.

This is nothing new since Hermann Samuel Reimarus and his work, On the Intentions of Jesus and his Disciples, written before 1678 and partly published by Gotthold Lessing in 1778. This is still worth reflecting on as a source of difficulty of continuing the church in today’s culture—Jesus versus Christianity.

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