A revival of Marcion’s mistake29-07-2016 - Posted by Andre Piet
While I was answering a letter from Holland from someone defending that the ‘violent God of Old Testament is not the Father of Jesus Christ’, I received a request from the USA to respond to an English article which claims exactly the same. Although I once before came into contact with this vision, the allegations were too bizarre to me to give attention to it in a blog. But now on one day it presents itself so empathically, maybe it is good to look carefully at the argumentation.
The vision in a nutshell
The God revealed by Jesus, represents love. That cannot be (that is the argumentation) the god who makes himself known in the Old Testament as the One who caused the world to perish in the flood. Or the god who turned over Sodom and Gomorrah. Or the god who gave order to evict and kill people. If God has no shadow of return, then the god of the Old Testament cannot be the same as the God who revealed Jesus. According to Jesus God gives indeed rain over the righteous and those who are not, while the God of the Old Testament sometimes closed the heavens for the unrighteous. Does not Jesus say to his fellow countrymen that they never heard His voice nor have seen a perception of Him (John 5: 37)? And does not Jesus also say that whoever came before Him were thieves and robbers (John 10: 8)? And that He came that they may have life eonian, and that they have it superabundantly (John 10: 10).
As this far the reasoning. Within this movement there are more approaches of the Old Testament. The extreme variant rejects the entire Old Testament, while others believe that we should judge from the criterion of love as Jesus taught it. This ‘mild’ variant imagines the Old Testament as an unclear pre-stage, until everything will be clear in the acts and the preaching of Jesus.
Those who are a little bit familiar with church history, recognize in this vision immediately the doctrine of Marcion. Marcion was the son of a bishop around the first turn of century of our era. He lived in the region of Pontus, south of the Black Sea. From him we read in Wikipedia:
Marcion taught that the one who was proclaimed as God by the Law and the Prophets is not the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (who stood for charity. For that reason he did not attach particular importance to the Old Testament.)… Marcion was the first to introduce an early Christian canon. His canon consisted of only eleven books grouped into two sections: the Evangelikon based on Luke with parts removed that did not agree with his views, and the Apostolikon, a selection of ten epistles of Paul the Apostle.
This teaching is called the Marcionism, and for convenience I include the variant that puts a filter on the Old Testament.
The most striking in the type of argumentation of this doctrine is that it is entirely based on a reasoning. A reasoning which assumes that the God of love, preached by Jesus, can never be the same as the God Who reveals himself in anger, revenge, condemnation and death. The Marcionism invokes to Biblical texts, but even in de Evangels one is not able to point only one passage where Jesus Himself teaches their reasoning. The Marcionism concludes from the Bible, but is not taught in the Bible. One of the weakest links in the entire argumentation of the Marcionism is that even the One to whom one is always invoked (Jesus), never taught their teachings!
Jesus Himself about the God of the Old Testament
But even more fatal than Jesus’ silence, is the explicit education that shows a contrary of what Marcion claimed. So Jesus warned that for the land of Sodom, the day of judging shall be more tolerable than for Capernaum (Matthew 11: 23, 24). Also Jesus foretells a repeat of the rain of fire and sulphur, as happened in Sodom, on the day in which the Son of Mankind will be unveiled (Luke 17: 29-30). Moreover, Jesus said Himself, in those days according as it occurred in the days of Noah, thus will it be in the days of the Son of Mankind also (Luke 17: 26-28). Jesus calls it “days of vengeance”, to fulfill all what is written (Luke 21: 22). And what about the fire of Gehenna, for which Jesus repeatedly warned (Matthew 23: 33; Luke 12: 5)?
While Marcionism claims that the God who appeared to Moses is a false god, Jesus Himself recognizes that this God is the same as His God, and also as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Matthew 12: 27). How could Jesus teach so emphatically that one should listen to “Moses and the prophets” (Luke 16: 29-31), while these would allegedly miss the point so often? If Moses served another God, how could Jesus explain that if they believed Moses, they also would believe Him (John 5: 46)? If Marcionists were right, then Jesus had to say: you should not believe in Moses, but in Me.
The New Testament based on the Old Testament
The Marcionism is not only contrary to the Old Testament, but not least also to the New Testament. For entire New Testament teaching is based on the writings of the Old Testament. Jesus claims to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament, and not one iota or one serif (the smallest Hebrew writing and characters) may by no means passing by from the law, Moses and the prophets, till all should be occurring (Matthew 5: 17, 18). “The Scriptures cannot be annulled”, Jesus spoke about the Hebrew Bible (John 10: 35). What remains, with such a statement, of any form of Marcionism? The disciples in Berea were called more noble than those of Thessalonica, because they examined the scriptures (Tanakh), to see if these have it thus (Acts 17: 11). The Marcionism does exactly opposite of the Bereans: they reject the Tanakh because they think (!!) that it does not correspond with Paul.
If Jesus had believed that the God of the Old Testament indeed is different from the God Who He Himself revealed, then we should also expect that education from his disciples. But we do not find anything of that in Peter’s and John’s writings. And listen to Peter’s and Paul’s testimonies in the book of Acts. They are strings of quotations from the Old Testament. Jesus’ resurrection is the fulfillment of Psalm 2, in which YWHW says to Him: My Son are You; I, today, have begotten you (Acts 13: 33; Hebrews 5: 5; Psalm 2: 7). But listen also to the continuation in Psalm 2 in which YWHW speaks about the Son who will smash the nations with a club of iron and will shatter them like a vessel of a potter (Psalm 2: 9). Note: also this is quoted in New Testament and applied to the Messiah (Revelation 2: 27; 12: 5). It is an illusion that revenge and anger only belong to the Old Testament and not to the New Testament. Read the Hebrews letter in which the judgment of Jerusalem is announced, and that it is fearful to be falling in the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10: 31). Or what about the last book of the Bible? In vivid colours is written about the judgments that will strike the earth by God and about the indignation of the Lambkin (Revelation 6: 16). Not languid at all. Precisely in the book ‘Revelation’, written by Jesus’ beloved disciple, we are like on Old Testamentic soil.
Psalm 2: 7 plays an important role in New Testamentic quotes, Psalm 110: 1 even more. YHWH speaks (prophetic) to the Son of David: Sit at My right until I should set Your enemies as a stool for Your feet. Many times this is mentioned in the Evangels, Acts, and the letters and especially in Hebrews. The foretelling speaks about Jesus’ present position at the right hand of God. But also about his future supremacy from Sion (Psalm 110: 2). This is said to the Messiah:
5 YHWH is at Your right. He will transfix kings in the day of His anger.
6 He will adjudicate among the nations; He will fill them with dead bodies; he will transfix heads over the vast earth.
If Psalm 110 is so vital in entire New Testament, then also the subsequent words are. The Scripture may not teach hell or endless damnation, judgment is nevertheless real and even essential. God will correct what is wrong and painful interventions are necessary in the realization of His plans.
Although in the second century the Marcionists were left with only a few writings of Paul, they were hopelessly tangled up by the contents of their selection. In Romans 9 Paul argues for example that God was hardening pharaoh’s heart, so that God could be displaying His power in him and that God’s name would be published in the entire earth (Romans 9: 17, 18). Such a passage must be a source of irritation for Marcionists.
Marcionists divide the Bible in two parts in a totally artificial way. On the one hand also the Old Testament speaks royal of God’s love and kindness (Psalm 30: 6), while on the other hand the New Testament speaks of judgment.
Marcionists wrongly see a contradiction between Jesus’ words that Gods gives rain over the righteous and those who are not, while God in specific circumstances locked heaven that there was no shower of rain, as in the days of Elijah (1 Kings 17: 1). Moreover Revelation speaks of two witnesses, who will have authority to lock heaven in future (Revelation 11: 6).
Marcionists wrongly claim John 10: 8 where Jesus speaks about thieves and robbers, who came before Him; obviously that does not refer to the prophets of the Old Testament, but to the Jewish leaders who listened to Him (John 10: 6). That includes Jesus’ statement that they neither have heard His voice nor have seen a perception of Him (John 5: 37). Jesus refers to the open sky at His baptism, what the Jewish leaders didn’t attend.
Marcionists do not recognize that God, who closed the old covenant with Israel, is the same God who will close a new covenant with them (Jeremiah 31: 31, 32; Hebrews 8: 8, 9). Indeed, the old covenant is a model for condemnation and death, as the new covenant is a model for justification and life (2 Corinthians 3: 6-9). But He is one God who created the contrast deliberately.
Marcionists rightly believe that God is only good and that He edits peace, but they wrongly deny that God also creates evil. Although God declares through Isaiah (chapter 45):
6 That they may know, From the rising of the sun and from the west, That there is no one apart from Me; I am Yahweh, and there is no other.
7 Former of light and Creator of darkness, Maker of good and Creator of evil, I, Yahweh, make all these things.
Judgment, death, pain, shortly “evil”, fulfil an essential function in God’s plan. Praise Him that nothing happens outside of Him and that also the evil is in His good hands. Without that recognition all reasoning is truly leading nowhere. Then it will be darkened in an unintelligent heart (Romans 1: 21). The Marcionism is a sad example.