It was on this day, in 1553, that Pope Julius III ordered the confiscation and destruction of the Palestinian and Babylonian Talmuds. Pope Julius felt these works contained derogatory and anti-Christian remarks and should be destroyed. On the other hand, Judaism takes the position that the Pope ordered these books to be destroyed because he felt it would hasten conversions from Judaism to Christianity. Whatever the reason, the issue revolved around a war of words — words written by men that inspired some and insulted others.
The Talmud is a collection of rabbinical commentaries that, to many Jews, have become just as important as the words of Moses. But at the end of the day, Talmud is just commentary. The same is true for Christian writers such as Matthew Henry; his and other such works are men who shared their opinions and interpretation of Scripture for others to consider. Of course, we can gain insight and wisdom from some of these men and the thoughts they have shared, as long as we understand that, among the kernels of wisdom, there is also error. Whether its the Talmud or Henry, the fact is that men are fallible and, thus, subject to propagating flawed ideas.
That’s not to say that we shouldn’t listen to or read someone’s opinion. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t offer our own input and opinion, as long as we acknowledge that it’s just that — an opinion. Whether we look to Jewish or Christians writers for wisdom, we need to understand that, along with valuable information that gives us insight into the Word, we are also presented with the very often flawed opinions of men. I’ll be the first to admit that there are valuable things to glean from the writings in Judaism, but we’re also going to come across some things that are very wrong. The same is true for the different writings in Christianity; some are insightful and useful and some are way off base. Outside of the Word of God, whichever side of the theological tree you pick from, it will be like picking from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
I say that because there’s only one infallible and irrefutable source for truth — the Word of God. And so, while it’s okay to hear and contemplate the opinion of others — you’re considering my opinion, right now — we must go to the Word of God for clarity and an authoritative conclusion on any matter. In those cases where the Word of God seems vague and a bit ambiguous, we should rely upon the Spirit of God to give us understanding and lead us into all truth, just as Yeshua said the Spirit of God would do. To do otherwise is to subject ourselves to a formula advanced by men, whether it’s Judaism or Christianity. Adhering to this one’s opinion, that particular dogma and the prescribed formula of others is religion and, frankly, we don’t need more religion. What we need is a genuine and intimate relationship with the Almighty.
When we have a proper relationship with our Father, He will give us the insight and understanding we need to follow His Word in a way that pleases Him. The Spirit of Truth is the greatest of teachers and He will gladly offer us the wisdom we need as we seek Him for guidance. Yes, we can still look to others to help us in this effort and, Yes, we should lend assistance to others by sharing what we have learned. But if we are to come into the fulness of God’s purpose for us, we must be dependent upon His Spirit to guide, lead and teach us. There is no other guide or commentary that can match that.