In Jesus’ day there were Jewish rabbi’s as there is today. Rabbi’s taught the law and covenants to the Hebrews. Some of these rabbi’s were referred to as proto-rabbi’s as they would study the law and interpret it differently than the other rabbi’s. They would then start teaching this new/different interpretation of the law and develop a following called “disciples”. Jesus came along and would become the most “defiant” rabbi ever. He not only taught the law, he not only said he came to fulfill the law, he said the law couldn’t save them and he really pissed ’em off when he said that he was God, the Law Giver himself. He said he held the highest position possible in Judaism as the great high priest over all others, including the priests themselves, and no one could come to God, but only through Him. They were infuriated as this took away power. Power to say who was in good standing with God and who was not. He ripped their authority away from their white knuckled fists. By the way, “proto” means first, or before. We then get our word prototype.
Jesus started a group of followers from a rag tag bunch of guys who I would imagine spent a large degree of time boasting of their adventures or arguing over who would be the first in this proto-rabbi’s kingdom. His disciples would argue with other disciples about what each groups proto-rabbi had taught them. The key in all of this though, was that regardless of when he came to earth, date wise, he is still the first, the highest priest, the only avenue to right standing with God. The only way to God.
Now, jump ahead to today. Christians often refer to Jesus as their “great high priest”, but if you think about it, many if not most of them, align themselves more with a certain teacher or pastor. “Oh I just love Charles Stanley” or “did you read Ravi Zacharias’ newest book?”. I don’t have any problems with either men, and have read and own books written by both as well. The crux is: am I looking to them for my God answers more than God himself? The question of why there are so many denominations is always awake. I believe we, being finite beings, struggle to conclude an infinite God. Hence, we tend to gravitate more to other beings, who we think have understood or have a better understanding of God than we. Chuck Swindoll wrote a book called The Grace Awakening. It’s a great book especially if you were brought up in a very legalistic home. My thoughts on God and his grace/judgement were greatly challenged by his book. I think it was a necessary read for me at that time in my life. The tragedy is though, that too often, someone has said something or wrote something that has a dramatic influence on our life, and we then push God to the back burner finding our answers from another man. This then tends to lead to what the bible describes as “what our itching ears want to hear”. This is why prosperity preachers are so popular. They claim that God is out to bless you, and who doesn’t want to have more, more, more?
In all of this, the notion of multiple proto-rabbi’s come back even in gentile churches. I posted a couple of times about a guy who finds the five points of Calvinism to be essential. On his blog, he gives reference to other bloggers or leaders in the church. Ironically, most of what he then writes is then very similar to these other “influences”. Hmmm, I wonder why. At the same time, he accredits his writings to the word of God. I debate that it is not necessarily the word of God revealed to him, but more the word of God revealed to someone else (for their personal issues) and he has latched on to it. These others, have become his pseudo-rabbis. He says Jesus is his great high priest, but only because someone else read it and said it to be so.
I have to look at my own life and examine who is my rabbi. Is it Zacharias, Clive Staples Lewis, or another? Or, is it Christ alone. I have felt challenged, since I resigned the ministry, to spend more time reading and thinking about what God wrote instead of spending time reading what someone else thinks about what God wrote. It’s so much easier to just cut out the middle man. It’s also a good way to get some preachers wound up. I’ve only found one pastor who agrees with this whole concept. Perhaps that’s why I attend his church.
I’m just doing my part to cut out the middle man. Right?