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Funny thing about context...

Instapundit links to a post by Hanah Metchis, in which Metchis, saying "Christianity is a religion of peace," insinuates the opposite by citing a few passages from Hebrews ("I hadn't heard about before"):

Hebrews 10:28-30

Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY." And again, "THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE."

And this bit, just above it, Hebrews 10:11-13

Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET.

As a recent convert, I must admit to not being a Biblical scholar. However, as a writer and one who has studied literature, I do know that context is a wonderful thing. That Hebrews 10 isn't an encouragement for believers to punish "infidels" should be clear to any who read the entire passage. This isn't a theologian's interpretation concocted to downplay a violent passage, but a direct reading of the words on the page.

In the first passage, many Bibles translate the "two or three witnesses" part in the past tense because it is a reference to the Jewish law that was meant to prevent conviction based on the testimony of a single witness. The "severer" punishment is a reference to judgement after death and is something that a person brings upon him or her self by rejecting God. Furthermore, Hebrews 10:17-18 states that God will forget sins once they are forgiven without the need for a sacrificial offering, supporting the idea that reconciliation is a matter between God and the individual. The second passage (which precedes the other, remember) addresses Christ's conquering sin by offering the one sacrifice: Himself.

While we're picking and choosing from this chapter, how about Hebrews 10:24:

Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good.

I've added points to this line of discussion here.

Posted by Justin Katz @ 07:51 PM EST


Well put. Pretty much voices my opinion when I read the piece.

It still boggles me mind how someone who admits to not being as scholar on such a topic would open it up in such a fashion.

Pearls before swine?

Mean Dean @ 11/17/2002 12:05 AM EST

And let's not let anyone insinuate that the Bible and the Koran are equal. The Bible is the inspired Word of the Living God. The Koran is an Arabain version of the Book of Mormon. A book that takes bits and pieces from the Old and New Testaments (and non-canonical and other tradition) and receives it's authority on the foundation of the Old and New Testaments yet denies the very truths of what it claims its authority from. The Koran denies the divinity of Christ. It is the book of a religion that was specificaly set-up in rebellion to the Living God of the Old and New Testaments; and it DOES command the murder of all 'infidels', and not just in 'taken out of context' passages. Violence and murder towards 'unbelievers' is at the heart of the Koran. The Bible, though a difficult book to get one's arms around, teaches a simple message that does not include violence and murder towards 'unbelievers', and in no way is comparable to the Koran's 'moonlight' that is a distorted and weak reflection of the the Bible's Sunlight.

ct @ 11/17/2002 01:37 AM EST